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MAR 16, 2020 • 7 min read
With all the universities out there, what makes some stand apart? Many look to the list of impressive alumni who have graduated from particular institutions. Who wouldn’t want to attend the school which produced the most US presidents? Or if wealth is a guiding factor, what about the universities who produced the Forbes 400 richest US citizens?
It’s important to bear in mind that there are 243 of the Forbes 400 that did not attend Ivies. Consider Michael Dell, founder and CEO of Dell Technologies, worth an estimated 31 billion. Dell did not attend an Ivy league, but instead a large state school: University of Texas at Austin.
Also important to note that over 20% of the Forbes 400 never graduated with any degree at all. These facts are not to imply your university will or will not make you a billionaire. Of course many other factors are at play here: inheritance, family prestige, work ethic, study habits, connections...just to name a few. However, all together, just under a quarter of the Forbes 400 graduated from an Ivy League.
Still, these statistics and patterns are quite compelling. Attending a top university will provide you with the skills and expertise required to succeed in a fast paced environment... and definitely wouldn’t hurt your chances of becoming one of the future Forbes 400 either!
While a student at Wharton Business School, space and electric vehicles sparked an interest SpaceX and Tesla founder, Elon Musk. Musk’s net worth comes in at $20.8 billion, and he ranks 23rd on Forbes' list.
Marc Rowan, cofounder of Apollo Global Management, one of the largest US private equity firms, is also a UPenn Quaker. Rowan also just donated $50 million to Wharton. Rowan ranks 251st on the list and has a net worth of $3.2 billion.
Both Larry Page and Sergey Brin, the founders of Google attended and graduated with P.H.Ds from Stanford University. Larry Page is the CEO of Alphabet, which is the parent company of Google. Page ranks #6 on the list and has a net worth of $57.5 billion.
Sergey Brin is the president of Alphabet and Waymo, the self-driving car development subsidiary. With a net worth of $55.4 billion, Brin ranks 7th on the list.
In 2011, while Fraternity brothers at Stanford, Bobby Murphy and Evan Spiegel began the venture of Snap. Snap owns Snapchat. Both Murphy and Spiegel are classified as self-made billionaires. Murphy ranks #217 with $3 billion net worth at only 31 years old. Spiegel ranks #225, with 2.9 billion net worth, and is only 29 years old.
Fred Smith, class of 1966, presented the idea of reliable, overnight delivery in a term paper to his professor. His professor was not very impressed by the idea and graded the paper a ‘C’. he later founded FedEx, a company that now generates $65 billion annually. 10 of the 14 Forbes 400 Yale graduates are heirs.
Most know the story of Bill Gates’ attending but dropping out of Harvard University before founding the software empire Microsoft. While studying at Harvard, Steve Ballmer lived just down the hall from Gates. Ballmer graduated from Harvard magana cum laude in 1977 and went on to work as Microsoft’s 30th employee, later becoming the CEO from 2000 until 2014.
In 1987, Ken Griffin, founder and CEO of Citadel LLC, put a satellite dish on the roof of his Harvard dorm room. He used this dish to trade stocks before founding Citadel in 1990. CItadel is an extremely successful Chicago-based hedge fund herm. Griffin ranks #38 on the Forbes list and has a net worth of $12.8 billion.
Griffin and Ballmer are just 2 of the 10 Forbes 400 to graduate from Harvard.
Marc Benioff, Salesforce founder and co-CEO of Salesforce, graduated from USC in 1986. Salesforce is an extremely successful, San-Francisco based, cloud-based software company connecting consumers and companies. Benioff ranks #93 on the list and has a net worth of $6.4 billion.
George Lucas, Star Wars creator, graduated from USC in 1967. Lucas is ranked #107 on the FOrbes 400 list and has a net worth of $5.9 billion. Lucas has donated over $20 million to the USC’s school of CInematic Arts to help fund scholarships for promising students from underrepresented communities.
It’s important to note that USC is NOT an ivy league, but still produced 10 of the Forbes 400.
Though the smallest of all the Ivies, Dartmouth still produced 8 of the Forbes 400. Leon Black, co-founder, chairman and CEO of Apollo Global Management, graduated from Dartmouth in 1973. Black has a net worth of $7.7 Billion and is ranked 63rd on this list. Black is an avid art patron and donated $48 million to build the school’s Visual Art center. Dartmouth has an additional 7 graduates on the Forbes 400 list.
Two of Columbia’s athletes have namesake stadiums and the University, and made it on the Forbes 400.
Rocco Commisso attended Columbia University on a full scholarship and played on their highly competitive soccer team. He was also the co-captain 1970 varsity team. Commisso went on to found Mediacom, a cable media giant based in New York. The soccer stadium was named after him for his contributions as a player and generous alumnus.
Robert Kraft, owner of the National Football League’s New England Patriots, played on the football team his freshman year. Kraft began his business ventures as a kid selling newspapers outside of the Braves stadium in Boston. He is now ranked #82 on the list and has a networth of $6.9 Billion. The football stadium was renamed after him after a generous contribution. Princeton University (7 graduates)
Jeff Bezos graduated from Princeton in 1986. He is now the #1 richest man in the world, after founding Amazon. He is still the CEO and owns 12% of the company’s shares. While at Princeton, Bezos studied electrical engineering and computer science.
Meg Whitman, CEO of eBay from 1998-2008, graduated from Princeton in 1977. Whitman is rated the second highest on Forbes’ list of self-made women. Whitman donated generously back to her alma mater. She is now CEO of Quibi, a new short-form video platform.
H. Fisk Johnson is the great-grandson of founder SC Johnson. Sc Johnson manufactures and sells household cleaning products. Some of their largest brands are Windex, Shout, Scrubbing Bubbles just to name a few. H. Fisk has 5 degrees from Cornell, including a bachelor’s in chemistry and physics, a master’s in engineering and one in physics, an M.B.A., and a Ph.D. in physics. All of his siblings also graduated from Cornell. In 2017, he and his siblings donated $150 million to the business school and it was renamed the Cornell SC Johnson College of Business.
David Rubenstein graduated magna cum laude from Duke in 1970. He is a co-founder of private equity firm Carlyle Group. He donated $13.6 million to Duke’s libraries. In his earlier days, Rubenstein raised money and managed Carlyle's table of advisers, which included George H.W. Bush.
NYU is only one of two non-ivies that make the cut for the top 10 universities that the Forbes 400 attended and graduated from.
Leonard N. Stern attended NYU and then worked for his father’s business after graduation. He changed the business to real estate after earning his MBA from NYU’s business school. In 1988, Stern donated $30 million to the school. The school is now renamed the NYU STern School of Business.