Stanford University has bred some of the most influential tech entrepreneurs since the beginning of Silicon Valley.
Whether it’s due to the top-notch engineering and business programs, extensive alumni network, or university-affiliated accelerator programs, many of the industry’s most important figures have earned degrees here, starting with Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard in the mid-30s and continuing on to today’s startup founders.
We’ve rounded up some of the most notable Stanford alums in tech.
Hewlett and Packard, considered by many to be the founding fathers of Silicon Valley, were Stanford students.
The pair first met in the early 1930s while attending radio engineering classes taught by professor Fred Terman, who would later be essential to the founding of HP.
They both tried out for Stanford's football team, though only Packard would make it.
Perhaps the most well-known founders to come out of Stanford, students Larry Page and Sergey Brin started Google while working towards their Ph.D's in computer science.
The pair first met in 1995. Page, a recent graduate of the University of Michigan, was considering attending Stanford; Brin was assigned to show him around.
The following year, they began work on a search engine they called BackRub, which operated on Stanford servers for more than a year before it began to take up too much bandwidth.
Sun Microsystems cofounders Vinod Khosla, Scott McNealy, and Andy Bechtolsheim named their company after the university's network.
Khosla, McNealy, and Bechtolsheim were Stanford grad students when they founded software company Sun Microsystems in 1982.
The company's name is an acronym for Stanford University Network, the campus' computer system.
Bill Joy, who was a Ph.D. student at Berkeley at the time, is also considered an original founder of Sun.
Four out of the five founders of LinkedIn attended Stanford, though they didn't all know each other at the time.
Hoffman and Lee, however, were in the same program.
'(Eric and I were) both symbolic systems majors. We'd talk about symbolic systems things. We became friends later,' Hoffman told Business Insider's Nich Carlson. 'Our most memorable event was that we both had these projects that really, really needed to be done, so we holed up in a lab at the Center for the Study of Language and basically lived there for three days. He programmed Tetris for the NEXT and I wrote a paper on the vision of frogs.'
After graduating in 2006 with a degree in management science and engineering, Kevin Systrom started developing a location-based photo-sharing app. When he realised he needed a cofounder, he turned to the Stanford network and partnered with Mike Krieger, a Brazilian native who graduated with a degree in symbolic systems two years after Systrom.
'When people say that college isn't worthwhile and paying all this money isn't worthwhile, I really disagree,' Systrom said to Forbes. 'I think those experiences and those classes that may not necessarily seem applicable in the moment end up coming back to you time and time again.'
Interestingly enough, in 2004, Mark Zuckerberg tried to convince Systrom to ditch his senior year at Stanford to come develop a photo service for Facebook. Systrom decided to finish his degree instead.
Marissa Mayer has two degrees from Stanford -- a B.S. in symbolic systems and a M.S. in computer science with an emphasis on artificial intelligence.
She stood out from the beginning, becoming a sort of campus icon for being a blonde engineer in upper-level computer science classes.
Upon graduation, she immediately received 14 job offers before choosing to be Google's 20th employee and its first female engineer.
Snapchat cofounders Evan Spiegel and Bobby Murphy lived across the hall from each other in Stanford's Kappa Sigma fraternity house.
'We weren't cool,' Murphy told Forbes. 'So we tried to build things to be cool.'
Reggie Brown, another Kappa Sigma brother, is currently suing Spiegel, Murphy, and their investors on the grounds that the disappearing-photo app was his idea and that he was unfairly ousted from the company.
Thiel graduated from Stanford in 1989 with an undergraduate degree in 20th-century philosophy. He then graduated from Stanford Law School in 1992.
He went on to become a billionaire, founding PayPal, Palantir, global hedge fund Clarium Capital, and VC firm Founders Fund. He also made early investments in major successes like Facebook and LinkedIn.
Lonsdale graduated from Stanford in 2004 with a B.S. in computer science. During his time as a student, he worked at the Stanford Review, the libertarian newspaper Thiel had founded.
'Meeting a lot of alumni (of) The Review was great, because they were all working with Peter Thiel at PayPal at that time,' Lonsdale told The Stanford Daily. 'Being able to access that Stanford alumni network was huge -- I actually interned at PayPal while I was at Stanford and learned a lot. Being in that environment and learning about it as a student was really fun.'
After leaving Palantir in 2009, Lonsdale went on to found Addepar, a wealth management platform.
Acton, a new billionaire after the messaging app he cofounded with Jan Koum was acquired by Facebook for $US19 billion, graduated from Stanford in 1994 with a degree in computer science.
During his time at Stanford, he worked as a residential computing consultant, helping students to troubleshoot issues on their computers.
He went on to work for Adobe, Apple, and Yahoo before founding WhatsApp.
Karim got lucky when PayPal, the company he had joined early on, was purchased by eBay. He got lucky again when YouTube, which he cofounded with Chad Hurley and Steve Chen, was bought by Google for a cool $US1.65 billion.
But shortly after founding the video-sharing platform, he decided to return to school, enrolling in graduate classes at Stanford.
He went on to found Y Ventures, a VC firm that focuses on current and former students at Stanford and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where Karim earned his undergraduate degree. He remains an advisor to YouTube, but never took a salary, benefits, or formal title from the company.
'I was focused on school,' he told the New York Times.
Yang and Filo met while pursuing master's degrees in electrical engineering at Stanford. It was there that the duo first developed Yahoo, which they initially called 'Jerry and David's Guide to the World Wide Web.'
Yang earned both his bachelor's and master's engineering degrees in just four years.
Hastings attended Stanford shortly after returning from Swaziland, where he had spent two years teaching maths as a Peace Corps volunteer.
He graduated with his master's degree in computer science in 1988.
'I didn't get into my first choice, which was M.I.T. I got accepted to Stanford. I had never been to California and arrived in late summer,' he told the New York Times' Amy Zipkin. 'Driving up to the campus I saw palm trees. It was dry and brown. I asked myself, 'Where's the ivy?' Within a week I had fallen in love with California.'
Lerner and Bosack are both graduates of Stanford -- Lerner got her master's in economics in 1981, while Bosack earned his master's degree in computer science that same year.
The two cofounded Cisco Systems in 1984, while both were working on the university's computer support staff. Cisco was formed to commercialize Stanford's campus-wide network and integrate multiple local networks into one.
Barrett spent a lot of time at Stanford, earning his B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. there before joining the faculty of the Department of Materials Science and Engineering in 1964.
He served as CEO of Intel for seven years, starting in 1998.
These days, he's an advocate for using technology to improve education and economic and social conditions.
Nelson has both a B.S. and an M.A. from Stanford, where he dove into his passion for anthropology and biological sciences.
When asked by the Silicon Valley Business Journal what he would be doing if he wasn't the CEO of a major tech company, Nelson replied, 'I think I'd probably be an archaeologist. I actually got my master's degree from Stanford in anthropology. It's just always been something that's fascinating to me. Even as a kid, I used to go out and dig up the yard, hoping to find arrowheads. I never did, but that was the dream.'
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