Posts Tagged ‘Peter Thiel’

Dropping Out to Start Up: Think Twice

Wednesday, April 27th, 2011

Mark Zuckerberg: Facebook Founder & Harvard Drop Out A few months ago I attended a talk at Stanford. The room was packed with aspiring entrepreneurs — standing room only — and the atmosphere felt like the Dalai Lama of Silicon Valley was about to arrive. At 8pm, Peter Thiel, a Stanford Philosophy major and alum of the Stanford Law School, took the stage to give a short speech on the future of technology. As an entrepreneur, it was one of the most inspiring talks I had ever been to, and I left with a set of new ways to frame technological problems. While I agree and support many of the beliefs Thiel has on the future of technology, I take issue with his latest initiative to pay students to drop out of school.

In the last few weeks, a heated discussion in Silicon Valley has broken out in response to Thiel’s offer to pay twenty students $100,000 to drop out of school to start a company. Some think it is brilliant (1, 2), others think it is terrible (1, 2), but it is indubitable that Thiel’s offer has been effective: seventeen Stanford undergraduates applied to the 20 under 20 Fellowship.

The two sides of this discussion in the media have come from the viewpoint of journalists and investors. The only student that has written about it (that I know of) has himself dropped out to start a movement. I would like to offer my opinion in this discussion from the perspective of a current student who has co-founded a company in San Francisco before coming to Stanford and just launched ClassOwl as a student.

There are three things that students tend to overlook when they become excited by the Thiel Fellowship and programs similar to it: