Bill Gates     

William Henry Gates III (1955-), along with Paul Allen, co-founded Microsoft
Corporation, the world’s largest software maker. Bill Gates, the wealthiest
person in the world with an estimated net worth of $480 crores (Rs 211,200
crore!), is probably the best-known college dropout.

Gates attended an exclusive prep school in Seattle, went on to study at
Harvard University, then dropped out to pursue software development. As students
in the mid-70s, he and Paul Allen wrote the original Altair BASIC interpreter
for the Altair 8800, the first commercially successful PC.

In 1975, Micro-Soft – later Microsoft Corporation – was born. Three decades
on, Gates has been Number One on the Forbes 400 for over a dozen years. And
here’s something you probably didn’t know: The Bill & Melinda Gates
Foundation currently provides 90 per cent of the world budget for the attempted
eradication of polio.

Larry Ellison  

Lawrence Joseph Ellison (1944-) , co-founder and CEO of Oracle Corporation,
founded his company in 1977 with a sum of $2,000. Once a school dropout, he is
now, according to Forbes, one of the richest people in America with a net worth
of around $184 crores. The figure also makes him the ninth richest in the

As a young man, Ellison worked for the Ampex Corporation, where one of his
projects was a database for the CIA. He called it Oracle, a name he was to reuse
years later for the company that made him famous. Interestingly, the
organisation’s initial release was Oracle 2. The number supposedly implied that
all bugs had been eliminated from an earlier version.

Ellison is quite a colourful man, and has long dabbled in all kinds of
things. Want to learn more? Try his biography, The Difference Between God and
Larry Ellison.

Dhirubhai Ambani  

Dhirajlal Hirachand Ambani (1932-2002) was born into the family of a
schoolteacher. It was a family of modest means. When he turned 16, Dhirubhai
moved to Aden, working first as a gas-station attendant, then as a clerk in an
oil company.

He returned to India at 26, starting a business with a meagre capital of
$375. By the time of his demise, his company – Reliance Industries Ltd – had
grown to become an empire, with an estimated annual turnover of $120 crores!

Dhirubhai was, in his lifetime, conferred the Indian Entrepreneur of the 20th
Century Award by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry. A
Times of India poll in the year 2000 also voted him one of the biggest creators
of wealth in this century.

Dhirubhai’s is not just the usual rags-to-riches story. He will be remembered
as the one who rewrote Indian corporate history and built a truly global
corporate group. He is also credited with having single-handedly breathed life
into the Indian stock markets and bringing in thousands of investors to the

Steve Jobs  

Steven Paul Jobs (1955-) and Apple Computer are names that have long gone

Born in the United States to an unknown Egyptian-Arab father, Jobs was
adopted soon after birth. After graduating high school, he enrolled in Reed
College, dropping out after one semester.

In 1976, 21-year-old Jobs and 26-year old Steve Wozniak founded Apple
Computer Co. in the family garage. Jobs revolutionised the industry by
popularising the concept of home computers.

By 1984, the Macintosh was introduced. He had an influential role in the
building of the World-Wide Web, and also happens to be Chairman and CEO of Pixar
Animation Studios.

Today, with the iPod, Apple is bigger than ever. Incidentally, Jobs worked
for several years at an annual salary of $1. It got him a listing in the
Guinness Book as `Lowest Paid Chief Executive Officer.’ He was once gifted a $9
crores jet by the company though. And his net worth? Moer than $3 billion.

Michael Dell    

Michael Saul Dell (1965- ) joined the University of Texas at Austin with the
intention of becoming a physician. While studying there, he started a computer
company in his dormitory, calling it PC’s Limited. By the time he turned 19, it
had notched up enough success to prompt Dell to dropout.

In 1987, PC’s Limited changed its name to Dell Computer Corporation. By 2003,
Dell, Inc. was the world’s most profitable PC manufacturer.

Dell has won more than his fair share of accolades, including Man of the Year
from PC Magazine and EM>CEO of the Year from Financial World . Forbes, in
2005, lists him as the 18th richest in the world with a net worth of around
$1600 Crores. Not bad for just another dropout.

Subhash Chandra Goel    

Here’s something not many people know about Subhash Chandra Goel : The Zee
chairman dropped out after standard 12.Subhash Chandra started his own vegetable
oils unit at 19. It was, in a manner of speaking, his first job. Years later, a
casual visit to a friend at Doordarshan gave him the idea of starting his own
broadcasting company. We all know how that story ran.

Chandra knew nothing about programming, distribution or film rights. What he
did understand quite well was the Indian sensibility though. Funded by UK
businessmen, Zee came into being as India’s first satellite TV network.

Today, it reaches 320 lakhs homes, connecting with 20 crores people in South
Asia alone. The network also covers Asians in America, the Middle East, Europe,
Australia and Africa, making this dropout a very rich one.

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