Peter Thiel, Rapleaf’s biggest investor, made an interesting remark to me the other day that 4 of the 6 founders of PayPal had built bombs while in high school (and Peter was not one of them).
that is an amazing stat.
at the Founders Brunch yesterday i polled some of the top entrepreneurs and found that quite a few of them had also built bombs while in high school.
which concerned me because i was never adventurous to build a bomb (my only street cred is playing Dungeon and Dragons) …
Do homemade rockets count? The goal was a contained explosion.
Interestingly enough, rocket building is a family tradition for me. My dad actually suffered some minor injuries from the explosion of one of his homemade gunpowder rockets when he was a boy.
Dungeons and Dragons?
That’s more like Geek cred.
I didn’t even know how to use a computer until my sophomore year. I don’t think what we did then has a whole lotta bearing on what we are doing now. Unless we let it.
My friend Steve Silberman at Wired had a piece in a recent issue about how some of the Valley’s most accomplished entrepreneurs played with chemistry sets and the like when they were kids, but with post 9/11 rules such activity is harder to come by.
I read that one. It’s kinda sad. Chemistry class is what made me want to study chemical engineering. Chemical engineering got me a job I hated surrounded by a lot of old white men. Which made me want to plan ski trips so i could meet women. Which got me into marketing events for a living. If I didn’t have that chemistry set, who knows where I’d be.
In all seriousness, though. I did read that article. It is very sad. Without chemistry, we wouldn’t have an internet or any other manufactured product. It’s sad our children don’t get to explore this field.
One counter-example to mr Hoffman’s conjecture:
Shehrzad Tanweer: born and raised in Beeston, Yorkshire. Made bombs outside the mosque as a lad. Went to Leeds University, earning a BSc in sports psychology. Where’s he today? Well, last July, he got on a train at Luton, went to London. He then got on a bus and exploded himself in Tavistock Square. By comparison, his brother, who went to grade school with my cousin, is successfully employed at Nokia in Greece.