Peter Thiel offers $100,000 to bypass school for entrepreneurship
Peter Thiel is a high-tech billionaire who was one of the first investors in Facebook. He is known for his flamboyant lifestyle and over-the-top libertarian ideology. Last month Thiel invited controversy by announcing the Thiel Fellowship, a program offering young entrepreneurs $100,000 to drop out of college and launch high-tech start-ups.
The Thiel Fellowship
Peter Thiel’s Thiel Fellowship will award 20 entrepreneurs younger than 20 with grants of up to $100,000. In a press release, Thiel said some of the innovations that changed the world the most were created by college dropouts who had “ideas that couldn’t wait until graduation.” Thiel, who has made billions with PayPal, Facebook and the Clarium hedge fund, cites such rare examples as Elon Musk, who dropped out of graduate school to start Zip2, which he sold to Compaq for $307 million.
Reaction to Peter Thiel’s offer
The reaction to Peter Thiel’s $100,000 offer to drop out of school has been negative and positive. Jacob Weisberg at Slate said Thiel is simply feeding his enormous ego by encouraging kids to emulate him and that his offer deflects college students “from the love of knowledge to the love of money.” On the other hand, Nick Saint at Business Insider said “it’s ridiculous to suggest that most people who go to college do so from the love of knowledge for its own sake.” Jesse Walker at Reason points out that Thiel has a graduate degree, so the Thiel Fellowship college dropouts aren’t exactly emulating their benefactor.
What a university thinks about Thiel
Higher education, directly confronted by the Thiel Fellowship, has also weighed in. Dr. Jeff Cornwall at Belmont University posted an invitation for Thiel to come visit Belmont’s programs for experimental learning. Cornwall wrote that he would introduce Thiel to some student and alumni entrepreneurs who came back to school after they dropped out when they realized what they were missing.