UC Berkeley third-largest producer of entrepreneurs, report says

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Steve Wozniak of Apple Inc., Gordon Moore of Intel Corp. and Tom Anderson of Myspace LLC are among the many UC Berkeley alumni who have founded successful corporations, and according to a recent report by open-source data analytics service CrunchBase, UC Berkeley is the third-largest producer of successful entrepreneurs.

The report considered both undergraduate and graduate degrees earned by founders from 1920 onward and found that UC Berkeley alumni started more than 150 of the 4,500 companies studied. UC Berkeley was beaten only by Stanford University, which had more than 350 founders, and Harvard University, which had approximately 250.

Other schools in the top 10 included the University of Pennsylvania, Columbia University, USC, MIT and Yale University. The vast majority of founders had studied computer science, but many came from economics, electrical engineering, business and computer engineering fields.

“The numbers are in computer science and engineering — there’s no question,” said Shankar Sastry, dean of UC Berkeley’s College of Engineering. “It’s where the most money is going; it’s where the most money is being made. Not surprisingly, it’s where the most entrepreneurs are.”

Sastry also said that founders of companies tend to have visionary qualities that go beyond simple business skill and that that type of person is more likely to study engineering than business.

Eddy Kim, the research analyst who authored the report, said highly ranked schools might have benefited from geographic location as well as selectivity. Kim added that there were too many factors in play to point to just one.

“That would be a entire article, if not a thesis, on its own,” he said.

Andre Marquis, executive director of UC Berkeley’s Lester Center for Entrepreneurship, also pointed to location as a source of success for UC Berkeley alumni. He said that the Bay Area is a perfect incubator for startups due to the large amount of venture capital available.

Rosemary Hua, a student at Haas School of Business, founded Empathy FX International — a nonprofit that uses funds from a travel service to build schools in Ghana — and said that the culture at UC Berkeley nurtures budding entrepreneurs and encourages them to start businesses.

“The Haas School of Business puts a really big emphasis on innovation and creativity,” Hua said. “There’s a huge innovation movement going on campus.”

CrunchBase relies on individuals reporting their information, including schools they have attended and companies they have founded. The report notes that it took eight years on average for the companies to be founded but qualifies that figure by saying that the report had a small sample size, as few contributors reported their graduation dates.

Contact Simon Greenhill at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @simondgreenhill.