Prospective freshman sample the Stanford University campus. Prospective freshman sample the Stanford University campus. Prospective freshmen sample the Stanford University campus. (Photo: Courtesy photo)

Want to launch a billion-dollar company? Then go to one of these colleges

The alumni from these 15 schools have the magic for creating 'unicorns.'

For all of us who saw "The Social Network," we watched as the now-mighty Facebook launched from humble beginnings in a dorm room at Harvard University. Jason Kilar, the founder of Hulu, also attended Harvard, as did Nathan Blecharczyk, who went on to create Airbnb.

And while the picturesque Massachusetts campus may be a breeding ground for startup culture, it's by far not the only such school to graduate students who went on to create billion-dollar companies (also known as "unicorns" in the tech industry). A newly released report from Sage, a British-based cloud computing company, reveals the top 15 universities where these founders attended school. The researchers started with a list of 250 unicorns and worked backwards, tracing which founders went to school where.

Topping the table is Stanford, boasting 51 unicorn founders as alumni, including those who launched LinkedIn, Shazam and WhatsApp.

Stanford University came in first place with 51 unicorn founders as alumni.Stanford University came in first place with 51 unicorn founders as alumni. (Photo: Sage)

U.S. institutions account for 9 of the top 15 universities among unicorn founders. Coming in at No. 8 is Tel Aviv University in Israel, which has previously been ranked as one of the most entrepreneurial colleges in the world. Other unicorn companies from Israel, which was recently ranked one of the healthiest startup ecosystems on earth, include driverless car company Mobileye and the Ashton Kutcher-backed Houzz. It's no wonder that there are more Israeli companies on the NASDAQ than all of Europe combined.

"Israeli universities function as the oxygen of the Israeli technology sector, which typically ranks just behind Silicon Valley as a great place to produce world-leading technology companies," explains Zack Miller, a partner in the online venture capital firm, Israel-based OurCrowd. "Israeli universities are producing the top talent behind the next generation of Apples, Googles and Facebooks."

Other international universities that made the list come from Britain, India, Germany, France and Canada.

According to the research, 2015 was by far the most prolific for unicorns when 86 billion-dollar companies were launched. Other well-known startups that are represented in the study include Dropbox, Evernote, GoPro, Lyft, Space X, Spotify, Survey Monkey, Twitter, Uber and Warby Parker.


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