CEOs of many US startups have degrees from top schools: study

May 31, 2018 11:32
People at the helm of heavily-funded US startups, in most cases, were alumni of prestigious universities, according to a study. Photo: Reuters

A study on the academic credentials of chief executives of American technology startups has found that many of the bosses had degrees from prestigious universities.

An analysis of 193 heavily-funded US startups showed that people at the helm of 24 firms had studied at Harvard and Stanford.

Among the remaining firms, most of the CEOs were found to have attended other US Ivy League schools and major research universities, according to Crunchbase News.

The University of Pennsylvania and UC Berkeley accounted for six CEOs each, among the top universities.

For the study, Crunchbase looked at 193 US startups which raised US$100 million or more and closed a venture capital (VC) round in the past three years.

Harvard and Stanford claimed the top spots in terms of alumni in CEO roles at heavily-funded startups.

Columbia and Northwestern accounted for five CEOs each, while three CEOs were alumni of University of Waterloo in Canada.

The survey came as a sequel to an earlier study of US universities with decent track records of producing prospective CEOs.

According to Crunchbase News, CEOs of well-funded startups attained a great portion of degrees from business schools, including MBAs.

All CEOs who are UPenn alumni attended the university’s Wharton School of Business. Over half of the Harvard-affiliated graduates attended its business school.

The findings, however, revealed that a university degree is not necessary before one can raise billions of dollars in funding. 

Co-working giant WeWork obtained over US$7 billion in VC and growth financing. Its CEO Adam Neumann finished his degree only last year, 15 years after he started the startup, the report noted.

In the past, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates and Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg had dropped out of university but went to build global tech behemoths.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on May 30

Translation by Jonathan Chong with additional reporting

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Hong Kong Economic Journal