Reading Lounge / Spotlight

21 Self Made Billionaires Who Are School Dropouts

Reading Lounge / Spotlight school dropouts, maktoub magazine

Successful School Dropouts – Not having a college degree will be a hindrance to some avenues of success, but not all.  It does tend to make it harder to get a job with big companies (in particular) or with companies that are founded by individuals who place great value on academic degrees. These types of people are increasingly less common, especially in tech, as you’ll notice from this list, but there’s still a lot of them.

#1. Henry Ford  (Ford)


Net Worth $199 Billion – Dropped out at 16.

Henry Ford dropped out at 16 and later founded Ford Motor Company in 1903. By 1908 he dropped the famous Model T and the assembly line, which has affected all of our lives, literally shaping the world. If he was still alive today, he’d be worth $199 Billion.

#2. Bill Gates (Microsoft)


Net Worth $78.8 Billion – Dropped out at 19.

Gates attended Harvard in the fall of 1973, only to drop out two years later to found Microsoft with childhood buddy Paul Allen. In 2007, he ended up receiving an honorary degree from Harvard.

#3. Larry Ellison (Oracle)


Net Worth $56.6 Billion – Dropped out at 20.

Larry Ellison is a serial entrepreneur, programmer and philanthropist who made a good chunk of his billions via the multinational tech corp, Oracle. Oh yea, he also own an island in Hawaii named, “Larry Ellison Island.”

#4. Amancio Ortega (Zara)


Net Worth $66.2 Billion – Dropped out at 14.

At 27, Ortega founded his own company, producing quality yet affordable garments, and in 1975, he opened his first retail store, Zara. Ortega is now the richest man in Spain.

#5. Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook)


Net Worth $33.7 Billion – Dropped out at 19.

Surely you’ve heard of Mark Zuckerberg. If not, he’s the guy who founded the second highest traffic website in the world, Facebook. Remember the hoodie he wore to all of his press conferences and public events?

#6. Li Ka Shing (Cheung Kong Holdings)


Net Worth $33.5 Billion – Dropped out at 15.

Li Ka Shing said “deuces” to school at age 15 and started selling watch bands. Today he’s the world’s largest operator of container terminals, world’s largest health and beauty retailer, Chinese energy supplier and real estate developer.

#7. Sheldon Adelson (Las Vegas Sands)


Net Worth $30.2 Billion – Dropped out at 19.

While you may not know his face, you may have partied at one of his Vegas establishments for your 21st. Aside from Sheldon Adelson being a casino tycoon, he also owns the Israeli Daily newspaper and dabbles in politics.

#8. Larry Page (Google)


Net Worth $29.1 Billion – Dropped out at 21.

Larry page is known for co-founding a little site called Google. He technically graduated from University of Michigan but later dropped out of his PhD. program which why he’s on the list.

#9. Michael Dell (Dell)


Net Worth $21.8 Billion – Dropped out at 19.

Michael Dell truly caught the entrepreneurial bug in college. Selling upgrade mods for personal computers from his dorm, ultimately led to him getting a license from the State of Texas to bid on (large) contracts. The rest is history.

#10. Paul Allen (Microsoft)


Net Worth $17 Billion – Dropped out at 20.

This Microsoft co-founder is a sports fanatic, owning the Seattle Seahawks, and the NBA’s Portland Trailblazer’s. He’s known for having fun with his cash thanks to ridiculous toys ranging from submarines to 400ft yachts.

#11. Azim Premji (Wipro)


Net Worth $16.4 Billion – Dropped out at 22.

Mr. Premji has been at the helm of Wipro Limited for four decades. In that time he’s grown them into one of the Indian leaders in the software industry.

#12. Kirk Kerkorian (Tracinda)


Net Worth $10 Billion – Dropped out at 12.

Kirk Kerkorian is known as the “father of the megaresort” and has helped develop, shape and grow Las Vegas. An 8th grade dropout, Kirk is a former boxer, WWII fighter pilot and CEO of the successful investment firm Tracinda.

#13. Steve Jobs (Apple)


Net Worth $8.3 Billion – Dropped out at 21.

Jobs dropped out of college after one semester and recycled cans and bottles to make ends meet. A vegetarian Buddhist who frequently experimented with LSD, Jobs has been hailed as the Ford and Edison of our Time.

#14. Dustin Moskovitz (Facebook)


Net Worth $8.2 Billion – Dropped out at 21.

Forbes reported Moskovitz to be the youngest self-made billionaire in history. Zuckerberg’s roommate at Harvard and Facebook’s third employee, Dustin left Facebook in 2008 to start hist software firm Asana.

#15. Lex Wexner (L Brands)


Net Worth $7.7 Billion – Dropped out at 22

Over the years Lex has built up some of the most famous brands in the world, including Abercrombie & Fitch, Lane Bryant, Limited Too and Express. Btw, he’s the shot caller aka current owner of Victoria Secret.

#16. Jan Koum (WhatsApp)


Net Worth $7.2 Billion – Dropped out at 20.

Koum made $6.8 billion when Facebook acquired his mobile messaging startup WhatsApp for $19 billion. He had originally dropped out of school to Yahoo, where he oversaw security and infrastructure for the internet giant.

 #17. Ralph Lauren (Ralph Lauren)


Net Worth $7.1 Billion – Dropped out at 20.

This billionaire fashion mogul studied business for 2 years before dropping out. In 1967, after leaving his clerk position at Brooks Brothers, Lauren sold $500,000 worth of ties. He started Polo the next year.

 #18. David Geffen (Geffen Records)


Net Worth $6.9 Billion – Dropped out at 19.

This guy founded Asylum Records and Geffen Records and co-founded DreamWorks. He also founded Hobby Lobby, a popular American chain of arts and crafts stores.

 #19. Walt Disney (Disney)


Net Worth $5 billion (2015) – Dropped out at 16.

Walt Disney dropped out of at 16 and founded Walt Disney; a company which now has an annual revenue of about $30 billion. He’s regarded as the most influential animator ever.

 #20. David Green (Hobby Lobby)


Net Worth $4.7 Billion – Dropped out at 18.

Billionaire founder of Hobby Lobby, religious philanthropist. Did not attend college. Started the Hobby Lobby chain with a $600 loan.

 #21. Orji Uzor Kalu (Slok)


Net Worth $1 Billion – Dropped out at 20.

The Nigerian born billionaire and war survivor, made his billions in television and media after being expelled from University for leading student riots and taking a $35 loan from his mother.


Interesting and inspiring selection I think you will agree. Not all are complete dropouts – some actually have pretty impressive academic achievements to their name but alas the call of their Entrepreneurial Ventures took them to leave those studies and instead go on to create considerable wealth plus businesses that in some case have touched Billions of people.


  1. Mehn! Hmm…. How do one explain this. Well, I think they are jus determined to make the most out life, and it did worked for them.
    Quite a number of dropped out are still living in frustration. Some died penniless. These ones made it not because they dropped out but because they decided to do something with their lives. They educate themselves. They were hardworking, focused, and positive.

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