In 2011, billionaire tech investor Peter Thiel made waves when he set up a fellowship to pay promising college students $US100,000 to drop out of school and start companies instead.
Four years later, how’s the program going?
Pretty good, according to a new California Sunday story on the teens of Silicon Valley.
In the first year, about 430 people applied. Last year, it was 3,100 people, and a lot of them were “normal-looking teens” instead of the geeks and prodigies that initially applied, according to the program’s director Danielle Strachman.
Of the 84 kids who started in the program, only 8 have gone back to college, and some of the entrepreneurs have already sold their companies to big names like Box and Palantir.
More lastingly, Thiel seems to have sparked a drive among bright high school kids with top-notch computer skills to skip college and head straight to Silicon Valley to take a shot at building a company. The risks are low, the potential rewards high.
As one 17-year-old entrepreneur, Ryan Orbuch, put it, “If I mess up, I go home and go to college. The worst that can happen is minimal.”