Thiel, the investor, philanthropist, and tech entrepreneur widely known for co-founding PayPal, argued for the motion; on the other side, entrepreneur turned academic, Wadhwa, argued in favor of higher education.
Today, Wadhwa directly challenged his opponent, once again, in his piece for PBS NewsHour, The Pernicious Myth that You Don’t Need College to Be an Entrepreneur. Under fire is the Thiel Fellowship, initiated in September 2010 to give young people $100,000 to become entrepreneurs and skip college, an education Thiel deems unnecessary. What’s become of this experiment after three years? Wadhwa argues, not a lot:
“If Thiel had delivered what he promised, these startups should have all been in the category of ‘world-changing,’ and a vast majority should still exist. The reality is that a bachelor's degree is an important foundation for success for most entrepreneurs…
“Thiel's experiment is beginning to prove that there are no shortcuts to success. Let me suggest an alternative experiment to Thiel: fund disadvantaged kids from non-elite schools... For [current fellows], this is a nice detour from their courses at elite universities. They can always go back to Princeton or Harvard without having lost anything. Why not give the same opportunity to children who are left out?”
At the IQ2US debate, Thiel and his partner, Charles Murray, were declared the night’s winners, with Wadhwa and his partner, Henry Bienen, close behind. Would the results be different today? Join the debate and let us know where you stand by voting online!
Pssst… Don’t miss Vivek Wadhwa’s return to our stage next month for Let Anyone Take A Job Anywhere!