College can be a time of personal development—and app development. Many students launch tech careers in their dorm rooms, and some even sell their product and idea for billions of dollars soon after graduating (sometimes even before they get the diploma).
To find our list of the Best Colleges for the Next Billion-Dollar App, we took a look at colleges that produced at least two founders of some of the most popular apps and startups of today. While the universities didn’t necessarily produce the ideas, they can lay claim to the students who went on to start billion-dollar companies.
Thanks to David Fincher’s The Social Network, we all know how Facebook came about. But other companies that were the brainchild of Harvard students include Twitter (co-founder Noah Glass*), AirBNB (co-founder Nathan Blecharczyk), and Gilt (Alexis Maybank and Alexandra Wilkis Wilson).
E*Trade (co-founder William A. Porter**), Dropbox (founders Drew Houston and Arash Ferdowsi*), and GrubHub (co-founder Mike Evans) all have founders and co-founders from this institute in Cambridge, Mass.
AirBNB co-founders Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia met each other as undergrads at this school in Providence, where they were both studying industrial design.
Snapchat’s founders Evan Spiegel* and Bobby Murphy created the app while they were undergrads at this university in Stanford, Calif., and if you Google who these founders are, you’re utilizing a search engine created by two Stanford Ph.D. students, Larry Page and Sergey Brin. In fact, fellow search engine Yahoo! was also developed by Stanford alumni, so it’s hard to do anything on the Internet without running into something created by a Cardinal. Other famous companies with Stanford brains behind their products include Expedia, Instagram, Jawbone, Netflix (co-founder Reed Hastings**), Tesla Motors (co-founder J.B. Strauss), Tango (co-founder Eric Setton**), and WhatsApp (co-founder Brian Acton).
In addition to Nobel laureates, Rhodes Scholars, and Fields Medalists, U of C also boasts the co-founders of Pinterest (Evan Sharp) and GrubHub (Matt Maloney**).
Any time you watch a stupid cat video on YouTube, you can thank site co-founders Steve Chen and Jawed Karim, both graduates of Urbana-Champaign. Other notable grads who’ve made a deep tech impact include Yelp’s Jeremy Stoppelman and Russel Simmons, Tesla Motors co-founder Martin Eberhard, and PayPal’s Max Levchin.
Aside from Pinterest’s connection to the University of Chicago, the two other co-founders of the visual discovery tool include Yale alumni Ben Silbermann and Paul Sciarra.
*Denotes students that dropped out.
**Denotes master’s and Ph.D. students.
All statistics are from 2012-2013 IPEDS data.