Forbes Billionaires and Student Entrepreneurs

Each year Forbes The World’s Billionaire list is released and its as clear as a punch in the nose that student founders build some of the most important, impactful and wealth creating ventures in the world. Here are a few from the 2016 World’s Billionaires list.

Bill Gates (1), Mark Zuckerberg (6), Larry Page and Sergey Brin (12 & 13), Phil Knight (24), Michael Dell (35), Elizabeth Holmes (435), and Kevin Plank (527) are some of the student founders on the list. Facebook and Microsoft appear to have the ability to field basketball squads from members of the list.

The basic Forbe’s  billionaire story provides an overview of the shrinking and churn of the list… number of billionaires is down as more moved out than in and total wealth and average wealth are down from 2015.



Zuckerberg Backed Org Launches Contest to Help Grow Internet in India

A massive 69% of India’s population does not have access to the Internet. A non-profit back by Mark Zuckerberg — probably the most successful student entrepreneur of the past 10 years — has put up $1 million in prizes for creative solutions to this problem.

From TechCrunch:

The contest from Facebook-backed Internet accessibility partnership could help millions of people recognize the value of the Internet, pursue access, and gain knowledge and opportunities that can help them get better jobs and improve their lives. That could in turn help’s flagship sponsor Facebook gain new users that it can connect to the world.

While Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg have a clear interest in getting all those folks online, its seems there is more going on. This is philanthropy in action, making funds available to people, but demanding that they produce something that continues to provide returns to society – in this case apps that connect more people to the internet.

Social Impact, the New Venture Capital? Harvard Business Review

My work at Mason has allowed me to engage daily with amazing people and organizations in the fields of social innovation, entrepreneurship and the growing sector of social impact investing. Some thoughts on impact investing from Cohen and Sahlam in HBR:

We believe we are on the threshold of a major change not unlike the early days of the modern venture capital industry. In the mid-1960s and early 1970s, a new type of investment vehicle was created: the professionally managed venture capital partnership. This organizational innovation drew investment capital from institutional players like pension funds and endowments and allowed for appropriate time horizons. Soon venture capital became a core part of many economies and those bold moves changed everything. Entrepreneurship has never been the same.

Just as the formation of the venture capital industry ushered a new approach and mindset toward funding innovation within the private sector, impact investment has started to bring opportunities to harness entrepreneurship and capital markets to drive social improvement. This in time will bring much needed change to the social sector.

We’re already beginning to see innovation. People are developing new securities that link social performance to financial returns. There are new experiments — models that use the tools of finance to try things in different ways — sometimes creating income streams from novel concepts, like funding cancer research. There are also hybrid organizations like the Acumen Fund, Bridges Ventures and Root Capital that channel patient capital to high social return investments around the world. There are even organizations like Endeavor and Social Finance that help entrepreneurs gain access to global capital markets to fuel growth in employment and social impact.

via Social Impact Investing Will Be the New Venture Capital – Sir Ronald Cohen and William A. Sahlman – Harvard Business Review.

Stanford MBA Gives $150 M to Fight Global Poverty | #SOCENT #SOCINN

Like many philanthropists before him, Stanford MBA graduate and successful venture capitalist (Peninsula Capital) Bob King sees higher education as a central platform for improving society. From Kathryn Roethel of the San Francisco Chronicle:

Stanford University will announce one of the largest cash gifts in school history today – $150 million to the Graduate School of Business to create an institute that develops creative ways to fight poverty worldwide.

It all began with $1.25.

That’s the amount of money that 1.4 billion people in developing countries live on each day, according to the World Bank. And that’s the statistic that Bob King, founder of Menlo Park investment firm Peninsula Capital, and his wife, Dottie, cite when explaining why they decided to make the gift.

“We wondered, how might we do something bold and significant,” said King, who earned his MBA at Stanford in 1960. “Something like giving light to the slums (without electricity) in Nairobi, or something to improve the health of the children born there. Something that could combat malaria or alleviate AIDS in Africa.”

King said he and Dottie considered all of the poverty-fighting charities they could support directly, but picked Stanford because it will give students and professors a platform to do research in other countries and then return to create solutions using university resources.

Entrepreneurs have been key builders of universities in America and its clear that their vision in business is often matched by a ‘societal’ vision through their ‘investment’ in students, professors, and lines of research. This investments provide ongoing impact rather than just filling short term needs (see charity).

The role of philanthropist in the growth of entrepreneurship and social entrepreneurship on campuses cannot be overlooked as we try to assess, understand, and improve entrepreneurship in higher education.

BTW, here is some of what Stanford will do with the funding:

Business School Professor Hau Lee will direct the program, called the Stanford Institute for Innovation in Developing Economies, known informally as Seed. He said many professors and students in the business, law, medical and engineering schools at Stanford already have been doing projects that fit the Kings’ goals, but the magnitude of their gift “will allow us to do something big.”

Plans include awarding travel grants – both to Stanford students who want to test products and ideas in developing countries, and to students from those countries who want to visit Stanford and seek support for their poverty-fighting solutions.

Lee said the institute also will offer stipends to students who want to take internships in developing countries for little or no pay – a big perk for those who have to weigh the humanitarian internships against well-paying summer jobs on Wall Street.

Institute leaders are creating entrepreneurial courses, some of which will begin this academic year. They also plan to expand many existing courses and bring them into the institute.

via Stanford gets $150 million to fight world poverty.