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Ten Billionaires Who Dropped Out of Schools and Universities (and Probably Did Not Regret It)

© AFP 2023 / MICHAEL COHENBill Gates, Co-Chair, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation speaks onstage at 2019 New York Times Dealbook on November 06, 2019 in New York City.
Bill Gates, Co-Chair, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation speaks onstage at 2019 New York Times Dealbook on November 06, 2019 in New York City. - Sputnik International, 1920, 07.02.2022
Despite abandoning their studies, some of them actually attributed their success to their often brief stay at these institutions and the knowledge they got out of it.
Graduating and getting a degree is not a mandatory prerequisite for being successful in your life. And while a lot of billionaires and top-notch professionals in their spheres did complete their education, a lot of them did not. Here are ten top examples, when grand businesses were built by the people who dropped out of universities and sometimes finished their education even earlier than that.

Bill Gates (Microsoft)

Probably one of the first names to come to mind when mentioning billionaire drop-outs is Bill Gates. He left Harvard after just two years in order to pursue the goal of building his own business. Gates became a millionaire at the age of 26. Now, his net worth is around $131 billion, with Gates continuing to keep the top positions in the Forbes' charts despite trading his position at Microsoft for charity and promoting mass vaccination against COVID-19, along with other gigs. Talking about his two years at Harvard, Gates admitted that he regretted only one thing and that's not failing to finish his education: "I wish I had been more sociable."

Mark Zuckerberg, Dustin Moskovitz (Facebook)

Another easy-to-recall name in the world of billionaire dropouts is Mark Zuckerberg, who became the world’s youngest self-made billionaire within several years after starting Facebook – the company that brought him his fortune, which is about $90 billion now, give or take.
Like Gates, he also dropped out of Harvard having spent less than two years there. However, the university did play a part in him becoming a billionaire, as Facebook originally was created as a networking site for other Harvard students.
Speaking of Facebook: its creation also awarded billions to another Harvard dropout - Zuckerberg's roommate and the social network's co-founder Dustin Moskovitz, whose net worth is evaluated around $20.9 billion.

Larry Page (Google/Alphabet)

Unlike many peers among the heads of the tech giants, Google co-founder Larry Page did graduate from a university. Why is he on the drop-out list? Because technically he did bail – on getting his PhD at the University of Michigan. This, however, would’ve prevented him from amassing $117 billion in net worth.

Larry Ellison (Oracle)

In a sense, Larry Ellison beats other people on this list, since he dropped out twice: the first time in his sophomore year at the University of Illinois due to the death of his adoptive mother and the second time from the University of Chicago. But he used the computer design knowledge he obtained in the latter to start Oracle and earn $101 billion.

Amancio Ortega (Inditex /Zara)

While Page made it to the two universities, some billionaires didn't make it that far. For example, billionaire Amancio Ortega, who started Inditex, which controls the Zara brand and over 7,000 stores, dropped out of school when he was 14. That did not prevent him from earning a net worth of about $70 billion.

Michael Dell (Dell Company)

Michael Dell started his own company, which would later bring him around $49 billion, after dropping out of the University of Texas, where he enrolled in pre-med at the age of 19. He went there to follow his parents' wishes, but soon realized that his future lay elsewhere – in high technologies instead of being a doctor.

Jack Dorsey (Twitter)

Facebook is not the only social media platform built by a university drop-out. Twitter's founder Jack Dorsey abandoned his studies at the Missouri University of Science and Technology for the same reason as Zuckerberg – to dedicate himself to developing his own social network that eventually brought him around $13.7 billion in fortune.

Simon Nixon (Moneysupermarket and SimonEscapes)

Simon Nixon's reason for dropping out of Nottingham University might seem hardly justifiable, but nonetheless, it landed him on the list of billionaires with $2.44 billion in his pockets. After finding the University "too boring," Nixon helped found Moneysupermarket service for providing mortgage information. He later used the money he earned out of it to fund several promising start-ups, such as Airbnb and retail investing broker app Robinhood, as well as establish luxury homes rental dubbed SimonEscapes.

Ben Francis (Gymshark)

Some of the billionaires actually credited their brief education at a university with their business success. Among them is Ben Francis, whose Gymshark started as hand-made sportswear produced at his parents’ house, but eventually grew into a business valued at around $1.36 billion. Francis later said that studies at Aston University, which he left before graduating, gave him "a strong foundation on which to build a business."
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