Posted Aug 25, 2011 11:51 pm CDT
Peter Thiel graduated from Stanford Law School. But the 43-year-old founder of PayPal became prominent as an entrepreneur rather than an attorney, and he hopes to encourage others to do the same.
Now a well-known name in Silicon Valley, Thiel operates the Clarium Capital hedge fund and is managing partner of the Founders Fund, a venture capital firm. Under his leadership, it launched a new “20 Under 20” program that is encouraging promising self-starters to avoid the high cost of higher education and chart their own course in life, reports Reuters.
Among the inaugural 20 Under 20 recipients is Dale Stephens, who as a home-schooled 19-year-old was offered $100,000 to forgo college and focus on his own business. He has created UnCollege for others like himself and is writing a book.
A critic of what he calls the “runaway credentialing process,” Thiel tells Reuters that pursuing an educational and career path that is “not entirely tracked” makes sense for a number of talented young individuals.
“When I look back, I was in this automatic default thing,” he said of his own decisions to pursue college and graduate degrees. “Higher education, it becomes strangely this way that most people don’t need to think about their lives–some sort of substitute for thinking about your future.”
He lasted exactly seven months and six days in a post-law-school job at Sullivan & Cromwell before quitting, Forbes reports.
A Bloomberg executive profile gives Thiel’s age as 44 and notes that he earned a Stanford juris doctor degree in 1992.