A self-titled “Unicorn League”, which can can be found here, has begun to identify the schooling of the founders of multiple billion-dollar startups, alongside their gender, experience and geographical placing.
Although the establishment of such a league is new, the members themselves are very well known. Companies such as Facebook, Uber, Airbnb and Deliveroo make up the prestigious businesses included in the League.
Unsurprisingly, 94 per cent of the founders of the companies included in the league are male and have attended expensive, selective institutions. The educational elites have become the financial elites.
The US is home to 144 ‘Unicorns’ and the UK trails behind with a mere nine. Of these startups, their founders are mainly concentrated in establishments such as Harvard, Stanford, California and Pennsylvania.
The University of Oxford is the most popular institution for successful UK-based startup founders, its alumni including Kevin Hartz, founder of Eventbrite, and Reid Hoffman of LinkedIn fame.
This crudely outlines the link between these elite educational forums and financial success. This is especially in light of growing opportunities online.
It is often suggested that startups represent the entrepreneurial spirit by which anyone can be successful provided they work hard enough, with the likes of Lord Sugar (who left education at 16) cited as an example of how elite education is not necessarily essential to achieve triumphant success. Mark Zuckerberg famously dropped out of his studies, taking after fellow tech billionaire forebearers Bill Gates and Steve Jobs.
Educational institutions also benefit from the overwhelming financial success of their ‘Unicorn’ founders. Travis Kalanick, co-founder of Uber (the highest ranked company in the Unicorn League), is a member of a venture capital fund specfically for his alma mater, UCLA.
Uber recently came under fire after a massive online boycott trended on Twitter, following an accusation that Uber attempted to profit from a protest opposing President Trump’s executive order banning immigrants and refugees entering the US. The scandal eventually led to Kalanick resigning from Trump’s economic advisory council.