- David Karp — Founded Tumblr at the age of 20
David Karp, American Web developer and entrepreneur who founded the blogging site Tumblr. Karp attended the Calhoun School from pre-school through eighth grade, where his mother taught science. At 11, he began learning HTML and began designing websites for businesses. Karp went on to attend The Bronx High School of Science for one year before dropping out when he was 15 and started homeschooling. At the time, Karp had aspirations of attending college in New York, or going to MIT and saw homeschooling and doing other projects on the side as a way to impress the colleges. Karp never returned to high school or earned his high school diploma.
2. Jan Koum — Founder of Whatsapp
Jan is a Ukrainian American billionaire businessman and computer programmer. He is the co-founder and was the CEO of WhatsApp, a mobile messaging application which was acquired by Facebook, Inc. in February 2014 for US$19.3 billion. In 2014, he entered the Forbes list of the 400 richest Americans at no 62, with an estimated net worth of $7.5 billion, the highest-ranked newcomer to the list that year. As of July 2021, his net worth was estimated at $10.4 billion. Jan Koum’s teenage self-education took place in the 1990s, before knowledge and information were so widely available and easily accessible. He disliked school and what he found to be the shallow relationships of high school students. He barely graduated, but during his teen years in the US, Jan began to teach himself. He became interested in computers and networks and bought books and manuals on these topics at a nearby used bookstore, returning them when finished to get his money back.
3. Amadeo Giannini — Bank of America’s founder
The son of Italian immigrants, A.P. left school at age 13 to work in a wholesale produce business in San Francisco. He retired at 31, married and financially secure. In 1904, A.P. founded the Bank of Italy. From the beginning, he was a unique banker, making loans to immigrants, farmers, small businesses, women and minorities. The bank’s loans and deposits quintupled within a year. In 1909 Giannini began purchasing banks throughout California, converting them into branches of the Bank of Italy. By 1918 the Bank of Italy had become the first statewide bank in the United States. In 1930 the Bank of Italy was renamed the Bank of America, and would soon become the largest banking institution in the world.
4. Ray Kroc — founder of McDonald’s chains
Raymond Albert Kroc was an American businessman. He purchased the fast food company McDonald’s in 1961 and served as its CEO from 1967 to 1973. Kroc is credited with the global expansion of McDonald’s, turning it into the most successful fast food corporation in the world. Due to the company’s growth under Kroc, he has also been referred to as the founder of the McDonald’s Corporation. After retiring from McDonald’s, he owned the San Diego Padres of Major League Baseball (MLB) from 1974 until his death in 1984. Kroc was born in Chicago, Illinois, the son of relatively poor parents. He went to public school in the Chicago suburb of Oak Park, but did not graduate from high school. Instead, he left school to open his own music store.
5. Joseph Pulitzer — newspaper publisher; established Pulitzer Prize
Joseph Pulitzer was a Hungarian-American newspaper publisher of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and the New York World. He became a leading national figure in the Democratic Party and was elected congressman from New York. He crusaded against big business and corruption, and helped keep the Statue of Liberty in New York. Today, his name is best known for the Pulitzer Prizes, which were established in 1917 as a result of his endowment to Columbia University. The prizes are given annually to recognize and reward excellence in American journalism, photography, literature, history, poetry, music, and drama. Joseph’s father was a respected businessman, regarded as the second of the “foremost merchants” of Makó. He was homeschooled by private tutors, and taught French and German.
6. Kevin Systrom — Instagram‘s CEO
Kevin Systrom is the co-founder of one of the most used social media platforms: Instagram. Kevin was just an ordinary kid interested in gaming and that lead him to develop several levels of the game “Doom 2”. He developed his interests in technology at an early age and started programming as a student. Kevin was born in Holliston, Massachusetts. He started studying at the Middlesex School in Concord and learned the basics of several programming languages. His parents Douglas Systrom and Diane supported his interests and let him pursue his dream of a tech enthusiast. His homeschooling journey thus began.
7. Soichiro Honda — creator of the Honda automobile company
Soichiro was a Japanese engineer and industrialist. In 1948, he established Honda Motor Co., Ltd. and oversaw its expansion from a wooden shack manufacturing bicycle motors to a multinational automobile and motorcycle manufacturer. Honda was not interested in traditional education. At 15, without any formal education, Honda left home and headed to Tokyo to look for work. He obtained an apprenticeship at a garage in 1922. After some hesitation over his employment, he stayed for six years, working as a car mechanic before returning home to start his own auto repair business in 1928 at the age of 22.
8. Emerson Spartz —12-year-old internet entrepreneur (MuggleNet)
Spartz was born in La Porte, Indiana to Tom and Maggi Spartz. He is the oldest of three brothers. At the age of twelve, Spartz convinced his parents to allow him to drop out of school and homeschool himself. He developed his own curriculum, which his parents supplemented by requiring him to read four single-page biographies of successful people every day, which were collected from the pages of Investor’s Business Daily. Spartz has subsequently attributed some of his entrepreneurial success to reading these short biographies. He founded the #1 fan site for Harry Potter, Muggle.net, OMG Facts and Spartz Media portfolio of sites and apps. Today his company launches a new site every month and to date earns 160 million monthly pageviews across its various properties.
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