Billionaire U: Why Harvard Mints Mega-Rich Alums
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology has its hedge-fund quants, the University of Southern California has its movie moguls. But if you really want your child to be a billionaire, you might want to send them to Harvard.
Harvard has graduated some 52 billionaires, with a collective fortune of $ 205 billion, to lead Wealth-X’s global list of universities ranked by alumni worth $ 1 billion or more. That’s nearly twice as many as the No. 2 school, the University of Pennsylvania, which has 28 billionaire alumni worth a collective $ 112 billion.
And these numbers don’t include either Microsoft‘s Bill Gates or Facebook‘s Mark Zuckerberg both of whom attended Harvard but didn’t stay to get their degree. Together they are worth some $ 45 billion.
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Before dismissing Harvard is a domain of rich kids who mostly inherit their wealth, consider that the school also claimed the highest percentage of self-made billionaires in the study. Seventy-four percent of the school’s billionaire alumni “built that,” Wealth-X found.
“It shows the power of networks,” said David Friedman, president of Wealth-X. “Harvard has this entrenched, powerful network that extends across so many sectors and is incredibly pro-active about connecting its alumni. You get a great education, but you also get access.”
Harvard’s success, said Friedman, “validates what we all whisper and now we know: It’s not just what you know, it’s who you know.”
Other schools can boast about their networks, too, particularly those with lines into technology and other leading fields for growing wealth.
As the chart below shows, Stanford University, in the heart of Silicon Valley, has 27 billionaires to its credit, ranking No. 3. M.I.T., whose alumni beat Harvard’s for highest average net worth, at $ 257 million, has sprinkled its number-crunching analysts throughout Wall Street and hedge funds. The University of Cambridge, the only school outside the United States to make the top 10, is a high-tech leader in the U.K.