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March 20, 2019

14 Successful Entrepreneurs Who Went to Yale

As one of the most revered colleges in the country and as an Ivy League school, it's no surprise that Yale University is where many, many successful people got their education.

While many who grace the list of alumni include presidents and actors, technologists have their fair share of listings as well. Grace Hopper was an influential computer scientist who invented one of the first linkers and popularized the idea of machine-independent programming languages. Samuel F. B. Morse, meanwhile, invented Morse code.

In the spirit of looking at the accomplishments of Yale alumni, I decided to take a look at some of the tech entrepreneurs who graduated from Yale and founded successful companies. Read on to see our list.


Joseph Tsai - Alibaba Group

Joseph Tsai

Joseph Tsai is a Yale alum who received a Bachelor of Arts' degree in economics and East Asian studies from the school in 1986, and a juris doctor degree from Yale Law School four years later. He is Co-Founder and Executive Vice Chairman of the Alibaba Group, the multinational e-commerce, Internet, and retail company, which was founded in 1999. According to Wikipedia, he is worth an estimated $10B.


Ben Silbermann - Pinterest

Ben Silbermann

Ben Silbermann is the Co-Founder and CEO of Pinterest (Founded in 2010). He graduated from Yale in 2003 with a political science degree. Pinterest recently made a confidential filing for an IPO.


Justin Kan and Emmett Shear - Twitch

Justin and Emmett Twitch.tv

Justin Kan (left) and Emmett Shear (right) are two founders of Twitch, a popular website devoted to streaming video games over the Internet that was acquired by Amazon in 2014 for $970M. Kan graduated from Yale University in 2005 with degrees in physics and philosophy, and Shear graduated with a degree in Computer Science that same year. Kan and Shear were also co-founders at Justin.tv and Kiko Software, and Kan also had a hand in Socialcam, a now-defunct social mobile video app. Kan's latest startup is Atrium, a company that is disrupting the legal industry. Shear is still the CEO of Twitch.


Jonathan Swanson and Sander Daniels - Thumbtack

thumbtack founders

Jonathan Swanson (left) and Sander Daniels (right) are both co-founders of Thumbtack, an online marketplace that connects people with local professionals. Swanson got his B.A. in Ethics, Politics, and Economics in 2006. Sanders, meanwhile, got his B.S. in Environmental Engineering and International Studies in 2005 from the university, as well as law degree in 2009. To date, Thumbtack has raised $270M. Its last round of funding put the company at a unicorn valuation status.


Anne Wojcicki - 23andMe

Anne Wojcicki

Anne Wojcicki is a Co-Founder and CEO of 23andMe, a company that enables its users to study their ancestry, genealogy, and inherited traits. She graduated from Yale with a B.S. in Biology in 1996. According to Crunchbase, the company has raised $786M in funding and was valued at $1.75B in 2017.


Eric Ries - Entrepreneur and Creator of the Lean Startup Methodology

eric reis

Eric Ries is a serial entrepreneur, angel investor, author of multiple books, and the creator of the Lean Startup Methodology. Ries graduated in 2000 with a B.S. in Computer Science.


Michael Seibel - Justin.tv, Socialcam

Michael Seibel co-founded Justin.tv (the predecessor to Twitch) as well as Socialcam alongside Justin Kan and Emmett Shear. Seibel is currently the CEO and a Partner at Y Combinator. Seibel graduated from Yale with a B.A. in Political Science in 2005.


Kevin Ryan - DoubleClick, GILT, Business Insider, MongoDB

Kevin Ryan

Kevin Ryan is a serial entrepreneur and has founded many of NYC's most successful tech companies including Business Insider, MongoDB, GILT, Zola, and Kontor. He previously helped build DoubleClick as President and later as CEO from a startup to a publicly traded company (which was later acquired by Google). He graduated from Yale with a B.A. in Economics in 1985.


Brad Hargreaves, Jake Schwartz, and Matthew Brimer - General Assembly

General Assembly

Brad Hargreaves (left), Jake Schwartz (center), and Matthew Brimer (right) are three of the co-founders at General Assembly, which is an education company all about training and retraining for in-demand skills. Hargreaves went to Yale for a B.S. in Molecular Biology and Economics, Schwartz graduated with a B.A. in American Studies in 2000, and Brimer graduated with a B.A. in Sociology in 2009. Hargreaves is Founder and CEO at Common, while Brimer is Co-Founder and Managing Partner at The Fund. Schwarts is still the CEO at General Assembly which was acquired by The Adecco Group last April for $413M.


Seth Sternberg - Meebo and Honor

Seth Sternberg

Seth Sternberg is Co-Founder and former CEO of Meebo, a social media platform that was acquired by Google in 2012. He is currently CEO at Honor, a company that aims to reinvent in-home care for the elder population. Sternberg graduated from Yale with a B.A. in Political Science and International Relations in 2001.


Alexander Culafi is Producer & Editor for VentureFizz. He also edits and produces The VentureFizz Podcast. You can follow him on Twitter @culafia.