Billionaire Pays 20 More Students to Leave College

Billionaire investor Peter Thiel, who started Paypal and is now famous as Facebook's first, far-sighted investor, announced his next group of 20 young Thiel Fellows, who will each receive $100,000 to pursue personal technology projects, while skipping traditional college. This hefty stiped carries a rigorous demand: quickly learn entrepreneurship from the ground up, and begin to build the new and innovative companies of the future. Watch a video in the panel at right about the program's first class in 2011. Opting for tech bootcamp, this third group of "20 Under 20" Thiel Fellows includes Christopher Walker, who dropped out of college to form a software company, and Zach Hamed, a Harvard junior who's leaving to work on education software. Their iconoclastism reflects Thiel's contrarian opinion of higher education as an over-priced bubble, far away from necessary networks of angel investors and mentors. For two years, instead of attending college, each Thiel Fellow is immediately plugged into the Foundation's network of entrepreneurs and investors. This supportive environment will nourish endeavors spanning robotics through cyberdefense, neuroscience, and fashion. Peter Thiel also reflected on past classes in a recent press release, "When we created the fellowship more than two years ago, our intention was to help people learn and accomplish more than they might have. They exceeded our expectations, and proved that qualities like intellectual curiosity and grit are more important than a degree in determining success in life."

Would you be comfortable as a Thiel fellow?

Photos: Fellows, Thiel Foundation


I wish entrepreneurship was promoted like this when I graduated HS in 2002. After the 2008 economy and two layoffs, I finally started my own business at 27. All griping aside,I am glad to be a part of a group of entrepreneurs that promotes startups and entrepreneurship as a career to the local college community.