Known globally as the university at the epicenter of the tech revolution in Silicon Valley, Stanford feeds hundreds of graduates every year into skilled positions at companies like Google, Apple, and Microsoft. Many of the students there can’t even seem to make it out of school before founding a multi-million dollar company of their own.
Technically named The Leland Stanford Junior University, Stanford is located in the Santa Clara Valley (aka Silicon Valley) on an 8,180-acre campus; one of the largest contiguous campuses in the world.
Stanford University was founded by Leland Stanford, railroad magnate, United States Senator, and former California governor, in honor of his deceased son, Leland Stanford, Jr.
As the story goes, Stanford Sr. visited Charles Eliot, the President of Harvard in 1884 and asked how much money it would take to build Harvard in California. Eliot replied that he supposed $15 million USD (in 1884 dollars) would do the trick.
Stanford alumni have started such a notable list of companies that Forbes magazine remarked, “it is almost impossible to name a leading-edge company in Silicon Valley that isn’t closely associated with Stanford.”
Indeed, just browsing a list of Stanford Alumni birthed companies forms a kind of constellation, the full gamut of our digital lives. The names, logos, and websites that occupy our web browsers and stream across our televisions seem to have all been birthed from the same university.
Steve Jobs gave one of the most famous commencement speeches of all time to Stanford graduates in 2005, despite never having graduated from university himself. In his speech, he told three stories of his life that led him to success. The main message was that you should follow your curiosity even if it leads you off the beaten path. And the most famous lines were: “Never give up. Don’t settle” and “Stay foolish. Stay hungry”.
Here’s just a few Stanford-alum founded companies that I’ve picked out:
- Cisco Systems
- Sun Microsystems
- Tesla Motors
- Pandora Radio
- Electronic Arts
- Trader Joe’s
- Dolby Laboratories
- Charles Schwab
- Capital One
- Victoria’s Secret