mead cohen berger shevtsova garfinkle michta grygiel blankenhorn
Some People Don't Need to Go to School

By now you’ve probably heard about Yahoo’s purchase of the social networking/publishing platform Tumblr for an eye-popping $1.1 billion, which made its founder David Karp about $265 million richer overnight.

The 26 year old, whom Yahoo’s Marissa Mayer characterized as “one of the most perceptive, capable entrepreneurs I’ve worked with,” is cut from the same cloth as the late Steve Jobs, according to Marco Arment, Karp’s early collaborator and Tumblr co-founder:

David always obsessed over his newest ideas, features, and designs until they were completely polished and ready to go. He’s a workaholic—he truly lives and breathes Tumblr. I’ve never even seen him show any desire to work on a side project. David is all Tumblr, all the time.

He expects people around him to be similarly into work and Tumblr, and often drove me hard with seemingly impossible demands. But David has a lot of Steve Jobs-like qualities, and like many people who worked for Steve, I look back on Tumblr’s crunch times with mixed feelings: I don’t want to return to that stress level, but David pushed me to do amazing work that I didn’t think was possible.

He sounds like a remarkable young man.

He’s also a high school dropout who never got a GED or went to college—even though he was admitted to the Bronx High School of Science. As we’re fond of pointing out here on VM, more brains does not automatically mean you should spend more years in school. In some cases, it means you should spend less.

Features Icon
show comments
  • Tim Godfrey

    As with most people who seem to succeed without credentials his success depended on him having the right connections to the right people. In this case, his mother got him a job with Fred Seibert – after that his own talent propelled him forward.

    Credentials are essential to the vast majority of people who are not well connected to people with money and it is mistake to dismiss them. That said, I agree with Via Media that the ‘time served’ model of getting credentials is outdated and needs reform.

  • Luke Lea

    If you happen to be a software genius.

    Most brains, the really good ones especially, need educating in the history and values of our culture and civilization above all . That is something that can only occur in a good liberal arts institution in my opinion. Places like Stanford and Harvard and Yale. And it ain’t happening now by and large.

    Hey, hey, ho, ho.

    • Anthony

      Hey, are you related fmr Sen. Luke Lea of Tennessee?

    • Jim Luebke

      The classics are open to anyone to read, at any time. Many of them are free on Kindle, or less than $10-$15 at Barnes and Noble.

      I wonder if Professor Mead would be willing to cruise around YouTube for a while to identify good free lectures online?

    • Anthony

      Luke, that’s not my question below.

  • John Burke

    Interesting possibility: the explosion of new computer-driven technology is creating business opportunities a lot faster than the education system can keep up, spawning a return to entrepreneurship of the kind we saw for a nearly a century with creative businessmen who had little formal education like Cornelius Vanderbilt, JD Rockefeller, Andrew Carnegie, Thomas Edison and Henry Ford.

  • Jim Luebke

    More people should be encouraged to be obsessive. It seems to be a way to get the best out of them.

    It would certainly be a way to get them out of the “ordinary” category that is so despised and neglected by the current crop of Credentialed Elites.

© The American Interest LLC 2005-2016 About Us Masthead Submissions Advertise Customer Service