Where Did You Go To School?

I read this post yesterday that says that 40% of VC investors went to either Stanford or Harvard.

Frankly, I am not surprised.

I’ve worked in this industry for over thirty years. It is full of Stanford and Harvard grads.

I’ve got nothing against either school. They are wonderful education institutions and full of great people.

We have Stanford and Harvard alums at USV so we are certainly a contributor to this statistic. But we don’t have 40% of our team from those two schools.

We don’t ask where you went to school on our analyst application. We ask you to answer four questions and we go from there.

I learned the VC business from a man who went to Case Western Reserve University, my co-founder of Flatiron Partners went to Queens College, and my co-founder of USV went to Wesleyan University.

We have hired analysts at USV that did not graduate from college and maybe didn’t even go, I really don’t know and don’t care.

What I have learned from all of these individuals is that curious and brilliant people come from all places, all genders, and all ethnic and racial backgrounds.

The VC business is making some progress on gender diversity. This chart is from the same post that I linked to at the start of this post.

Eighteen percent is not a number to be proud of, but 60% growth in two years is. If we continue at that rate of gender diversity growth, the VC business could be gender neutral by the middle of next decade. It would not surprise me if that happens. I feel the desire for gender diversity pulsing through our industry so powerfully right now.

But in most other ways, the VC business is still a very homogenous place. Mostly white and, it turns out, mostly educated at a handful of higher education institutions.

We can do better. We must do better. And, I hope, we will do better. Looking in the mirror and not liking what you are seeing is the first step to rehabilitation.

#VC & Technology

Comments (Archived):

  1. kidmercury

    Lol you sure you want comments on for this one? :)Equality of access is different than equality of outcome. I think many people are conflating these goals.

    1. jason wright

      surprising, but i think he’s making up for it by not replying.

  2. LIAD

    Irony is successful VC inherently requires contrarian thinking. It seems antithetical to hire cookie-cutter candidates.Lawyers, accountants doing that makes sense for sure. Here are the lines, learn them inside out, make sure you draw within them. But a VC. Nope. At least not an early stage one .

    1. David Albrecht

      Yes and no.Watch Moneyball. Being unconventional can be career-ending, especially when it doesn’t work.People love success. But if you’re going to fail, it’s far better to fail in a conventional way. Especially when a 2 and 20 compensation scheme is attached.

  3. icopaolo

    Refreshing to hear this point of view. You may enjoy this Forbes post about the problem of recruiting from top schools https://www.forbes.com/site

  4. Rob Underwood

    Whenever I encounter a young person who has been fed the line “where you go to college doesn’t matter” — nearly always given them by a well meaning, affluent, white, graduate of an Ivy League school who has already “made it” — I tell them “Where you go to school matters a lot, especially in certain careers”, especially in “progressive” east coast cities like NYC. It’s a status marker, a social marker, and for many a marker of intelligence and achievement, however flawed a marker it may be.When I was a year in at Deloitte I heard the recruiters were going to Brunswick, Maine to recruit students to our strategy practice from Bowdoin. I told the HR person “Hey, that’s a long drive for a small school. Are you inviting Colby (my alma mater) and Bates students too as is pretty standard up there?”. Her response, knowing where I went “No, Bates and Colby aren’t prestigious enough for Deloitte.” Had I been a 21 year old instead of a 34 year old, I’d have never gotten the job at Deloitte simply because they thought Colby is too s****y a school for Deloitte’s reputation.Academic background and history is absolutely another form of diversity we should consider. I remember my friend Jason who turned down Harvard for a full ride scholarship at the University of Maine — that bit of history would get lost if a recruiter only measured him by the school listed on his resume. The strong bias towards the Ivy League (and schools like Stanford, which are not technically an Ivy buy exceed nearly all of them in reputation) in investment banking, consulting, and the VC industry are a huge form of institutional bias that works again diversity. When you see an org that has people from all over the world, of every race, creed, sexual orientation, gender identify, etc. but nearly all of them have come from the same 4-5 schools (and maybe that correlates to nearly all being from upper middle to affluent families as well), is your org really diverse?

    1. jason wright

      The ‘where did you go to school?’ question is class social signalling by those seeking reassurance and validation of their support for a corrupt system that promotes inequality by denial of access to the many to knowledge.

      1. Rob Underwood

        I grew up in Kennebunkport, Maine and now live in Park Slope, Brooklyn. I know this reality all too well.We like to tell ourselves this little lie that anyone can make it, anyone can become Mark Zuckerberg, that we have this exceptional, even globally unique, economic dynamism that would be the price we’d pay for, say, health insurance for all. iId argue that this country does do a bit better at letting the truly exceptional emerge and succeed, but for the other 99.9% of us out there in the US, we live in a very classist, rigid society where (the lack of) economic mobility and social constraints are akin to those in Europe, but without as wide a social safety net. (see https://www.businessinsider… for but one example of how this is playing out)What’s interesting to watch in cities like NYC is when affluent, self-proclaimed progressive white couples (e.g., those couples who will share every detail at the food co-op about the non profit work of one partner, but will simply say about the other partner that “they/he/she/I work finance”) talk a big game about ending school segregation and promoting integration, maybe even going to various protests and speaking at public hearings. Then their school or district is brought a diversity plan that would diversity their school and they freak out (see https://www.ny1.com/nyc/all…, protest, assert their white privilege, and throw their previously expressed committed to diversity out the window. Why is this? I think it’s because their previous public “Free to Be You and Me” virtual signaling has run head long into what they think (know) privately — that were you go to school matters a lot. They now – disgustingly, wrongly – have become worried that their daughter or son may not get that cherished spot at Yale and that internship at the i-bank if their child’s publicly middle school is expected to accommodate more students of color in a school system that is 66% Hispanic and African American (this tweet sums up well the NYC school system currently –> https://twitter.com/nhannah

        1. CJ

          Can I subscribe to your newsletter? This is true the country over, even in a small suburb of Chicago. To quote JLM, I agree with you more than you agree with yourself.

          1. Rob Underwood

            Thanks CJ. I blog at http://www.robunderwood.com/ (newsletter/mailchimp is http://www.robunderwood.com/) and have written extensively about my experience as a white, advantaged, straight father navigating the NYC school system on my blog at http://www.robunderwood.com, especially during my time as an elected member of CEC 13 when I was one of the voters on the rezoning that NHJ (author of tweet above and a national leader on the topic of school segregation) writes about and impacted her daughter’s school.Some examples: http://www.robunderwood.com…, http://www.robunderwood.com…, http://www.robunderwood.com… and http://www.robunderwood.com

        2. jason wright

          well said.

      2. JamesHRH

        It’s also a great filtering system. You get into Harvard because you want to beat out 19,000 applicants.That says something about you.

    2. Matt Zagaja

      Nobody ever got fired for purchasing IBM and nobody is going to get fired for hiring a Harvard or MIT graduate.

      1. Pointsandfigures

        Exactly. It’s about risk. A friend of mine said when you sell to a corporation, you need to know who everyone is trying to keep happy. Find out what keeps them happy and keep doing it.

    3. Ronnie Rendel

      In Israel we have this thing called the Army. Israeli VC is probably more then 50% 8200 graduates.

      1. Pointsandfigures

        Israel is pretty amazing when it comes to networking. Everyone has one common bond and rite of passage that they went through. It speeds connection and communication.

        1. Ronnie Rendel

          In NYC I coudn’t get a warm intro to save my life… In the Israeli tech industry my experience has been that I met with 100% of the VCs and corporate customers I set out to meet. 0%-100%, it’s not me, it’s the environment. Problem is with Seed rounds at $5M we could never show enough traction to raise money, but since gaining new customers is more productive in Israel then we are actually doing alright.

      2. JLM

        .Of course in Israel everybody serves in the Army. After service, they stay in the reserves.I spent some time there in the 1970s and came away with a huge appreciation for how much skin every Israeli had in the game.It was right after the 1973 war and Israel had beaten Egypt and Syria by a whisker. It took US tanks from Pres Nixon to turn the tide.Israel is in a tough spot with enemies on all sides. It is only going to get dicier for the next few years.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

    4. BillMcNeely

      I got hired on for a project in Saudi Arabia at BearingPoint, now apart of Deliotte, strictly because of my knowledge of the Middle East and Project Management. I was the only non big name school graduate on the 30 person team. Tarleton State University ’01 whoop whoop. when the project was over I left to take a job in TX. I was told I was crazy to do so because I would never have otherwise been hired there. No performance issues in the 12 months

      1. Rob Underwood

        Did the partners communicate with you directly? Or just through their au pair’s?

        1. Adam Sher


    5. jason wright

      “When you see an org that has people from all over the world, of every race, creed, sexual orientation, gender identify, etc. but nearly all of them have come from the same 4-5 schools (and maybe that correlates to nearly all being from upper middle to affluent families as well), is your org really diverse?” Nailed it.

    6. Kirsten Lambertsen

      I think this bubble is about to burst. It’s not sustainable. A lot of really smart, capable kids are choosing *not* to go to college now because of the enormous debt. They’re going straight into getting experience and creating their own jobs. They can teach themselves to do just about anything they want to learn online.To your point, though, it’s interesting to see how tech has become classist. Wasn’t always that way. When I first started in 1997, it was far more diverse than it is now.Now it seems like venture-backed tech companies (not all, but a lot) are either all Ivy Leaguers or all scrappy folks with no degree or a degree from some mainstream school. I’ve never witnessed what makes an Ivy Leaguer more capable, productive or even intelligent than the non-Ivy-Leaguer. And I’ve worked with them all. I have observed that they’re more likely to be difficult to work with, though.The good news is that nothing can stop a scrappy entrepreneur. And when that person is successful, she hires people based upon everything but where they went to school. So, hopefully the playing field is getting evened out.

      1. Lawrence Brass

        Access to higher education should be free, based on merit. But how can you implement that without scaring people who fear socialism?Conscious capitalism could be the answer.https://www.consciouscapita

        1. sigmaalgebra

          In the US, largely higher education really IS “free, based on merit”.At each step, high school to college, college to grad school, demonstrated merit unlocks the door. Likely the easiest demonstration is just high school CEEB scores and college GRE scores. After a Ph.D., if want to stay in academics, then the three most important criteria, in no particular order, are research, research, and research. Then it is also expected that there will be various honors that will improve the prestige of the school and various research grants where the 60% or so of overhead helps fund the school.It was always implicit from my parents that the purpose of education was to prepare for a good career outside of academics. Then in education one reason I focused on math and physics was the promise, from the Space Race, etc., that they would be good for such a career. I went to grad school and got a Ph.D. JUST to help with the good career outside academics I already had going and never had any interest of being a college prof. For a while, to help my ill wife, I took a slot as a B-school prof but understood only later just how research academics worked. Maybe I could have done okay as an academic researcher, but I never thought that it was a good career direction and still don’t.Gee, I guessed that a B-school would be clinical like law and medicine — nope, it has physics envy, wants to see itself as applied social science like engineering is applied math and physics. They are very interested in progress in the question P versus NP but hardly at all interested in how some business can do better in employee and job scheduling. They are interested in grand, macro theories of the economy but much less in how to do well in investing. Prestige counts for a lot; connection with the non-academic world hardly at all. Any idea that the MBA students are in apprenticeship as in medicine is rejected.E.g., in high school, I was pretty good in math and science, e.g., got sent to one state math tournament and to one NSF funded summer program in math and physics, but otherwise I did not look like such a good student. Dad knew a LOT about education and was happy when I did well learning and otherwise didn’t care what grades I made. In high school, learned enough of what had much value except in math and physics learned a lot more.Then what got me into a selective college was my SAT Math score — no one ever beat me by much, and I didn’t know the test was important and made no effort to prepare for it. I met personally with the director of admissions, showed my Math SAT score, and, presto, bingo I was in.And my GRE math scores were also really good.Later for graduate school, I got accepted to Princeton, Brown, Cornell, and a few others. This was based also on what I’d already done in my career, e.g., Director of Operations Research at FedEx.E.g., for Princeton I wrote Professor Tukey, mentioned that “in my work, I keep running into your work” — Tukey’s lemma statement of the axiom of choice, convergence and uniformity in topology, step wise regression, the fast Fourier transform, the measurement of power spectra, exploratory data analysis, etc. I asked if there were a career in such things. The Chair of the math department, good shot at the best in the world, got the letter and wrote me back enthusiastically, claiming that there was a career in such work and that they had the best program. One Tukey student is time series expert D. Brillinger long at Berkeley.My wife, from a tiny, rural high school, was Valedictorian then at a Big 10 school was PBK, Summa Cum Laude, Woodrow Wilson, and NSF Fellow so got accepted right away for graduate school at University of Chicago. She had her NSF Fellowship, one award for two years.I have a niece who did REALLY well at a very competitive, rural high school, got PBK in college, and went to Harvard Law and then to Cravath-Swain. Soon she decided that she didn’t like law, got an MD, and now is practicing.I never paid even a penny for graduate school tuition. In my graduate school, one professor confessed that the department had excess tuition scholarships but that the applicant pool was not very good.Net, quite broadly, US education from college on is “free, based on merit”.

          1. jason wright

            publish, publish, publish…or be damned. that’s the academic way.

          2. sigmaalgebra

            Yes, there are pros/cons to this publish or be damned stuff:(1) Pro. Really don’t want to be teaching material that is all 100+ years old. Really don’t want to stop the good research that is done. The best research is much of the best stuff there is for progress in civilization. Often if take what is in the text books to practice, see places where the research should be stronger, can see more to do.(2) Con. Commonly connections with practice are neglected. E.g., in a B-school, see lots of profs and grad students giving talks with solutions looking for problems but way too few non-academic people with problems looking for solutions. If medicine were run like a B-school, then nearly no one would want to go to a hospital no matter how badly they hurt. Too much of the research that is done is make-work, junk-think, busy-work, prof-scam.An individual prof can look at the system, see it, see what opportunities there are for them, and try to make something good. Here typically the prof has to be out on the bleeding edge alone: His education didn’t really give him solid preparation for the work; so, he has to continue his education. It’s easy to get lost in the library; just what materials he should use is not clear but is up to his judgment. Since connections with practice do take time and effort, e.g., data handling, working with people who can’t directly help research, the prof has to guess what research directions might yield useful results, right away or just one more level in a tall tower that might be useful. There isn’t much support for this work; instead largely the prof is out on his own.In a good case, the prof is hot on the trail of some good results, gets smaller results right along, has lots more hot leads to chase than he has time, has lots of good research problems to pass out to grad students — such good cases are rare.Whatever he does that really is research is new and possibly advanced so that usually other people won’t jump to see the value. So, the rule is, if can publish the work in a good journal, then that counts, is a check mark — one more paper published, more to go. E.g., prof colleagues in the department, the department Chair, the Deans, the university President, the Board of Trustees will nearly never understand the details of the research or even know much about it. E.g., the prof’s work was not directly appreciated in his own department; if the work is appreciated, then that is more likely by a tiny collection of profs scattered around the world where the first communications are often via the journals. If the paper results in an invitation to present at a good conference, that’s an extra decoration on the check mark. Likely the best result is winning a top prize in the field, e.g., Abel, Turing, Nobel. For some on such prizes in math, see the currenthttps://www.quantamagazine….If some funding agencies, especially NSF/NIH are impressed enough to send money, then that is close to the best possible result other than a top prize. With enough fame, prestige, interest, some famous, rich university that wants to have expertise in that field may invite a talk or offer a full prof or chaired prof slot.How the system works is really pretty simple but rarely made as clear and explicit as I have here. Yes, in the end, still, “money talks”, that is, it’s no joke that the interest in research grants is high just because of the money.A lot of parents see for their children education as a golden ticket to a good life, a Bachelor’s degree, good, a Masters, better, a Ph.D. best of all, without understanding much or anything about the role or workings of research. As a result, far, far too many students go into such education in pursuit of that golden ticket, or some objective of theirs, and get hurt. E.g., one problem is a big change in the rules: In K-12, there are some really diligent, talented, good students. They do really well at just what the teacher says, teaches, and wants. That work approach also works in college: Work really hard on just the assigned tasks and please the teachers. Then we can draw a quote hidden in Knuth’s documentation for his software TeX:The traditional way is to put off all creative aspects until the last part of graduate school. For seventeen or more years, a student is taught examsmanship, then suddenly after passing enough exams in graduate school he’s told to do something original.So, too often, the students regarded as really good did only what they were told with no attention to anything new and in grad school suddenly are not told what to do except to do something new. A lot of really good students get hurt really badly; they were highly determined, worked really hard, got lots of praise, and now are lost, no matter how hard they work are criticized, etc. The result way too often is crushed lives and death, the dead kind — no joke.It’s a system that too often is rotten, wasteful, and destructive.What’s going on is not very difficult to explain; so I gave a start here.Lesson: Parents, students, a Ph.D. is a research degree, not technical training, not really for practice, not really training for a job outside academics, really aimed at a career in research in academics. That research is about a person with a lot of interest and ideas pursuing some directions and finding results that are at least new, correct, and significant. Since the results are new, they are not in the library. Good research directions are not easy to find, and usually each researcher needs to guess and find such directions on their own. The situation is no longer doing what a teacher says; instead the student is to find what to do, do it, have it good, and tell the teacher. There is a personality conflict: K-12 and college reward doing what the teacher says. Research rewards people who have their own ideas and pursue them successfully and essentially alone and then slowly get others to appreciate the value of the new work.Well, now, with computing and the Internet and the high interest in valuable, interesting, entertaining, whatever new information, might build a valuable business using computers and the Internet to generate and provide cases of such information.Well, information is necessarily mathematically something, so maybe some math would help in generating that information? Turns out, yes: Some parts of math are just awash in grand, even brilliant, powerful, valuable means of taking data, manipulating it, and generating such new information or some as close as we please approximations to it. So, now we can have ways to generate new information. Computers can do the data manipulations. The Internet can deliver the information to people and please them. And, yes, along the way, there can be some opportunities to do some research that might help.So, for all that education, my original goal was just a good job. But in the end, academics is also heavily about money. And some of that education provides some tools, techniques, research training, if only by example, for how to use parts of the education to make money, a lot more money, made a lot more directly and, really, easily than in academics. So, that’s what I’m doing.Some of the blinding brilliance of some of the math I learned is that the broad goals of the research really are what I’m using the math for — find and/or approximate the information don’t have but want.Nearly no one, not even relevant college profs, clearly see the money making opportunities of some of the math. And, yes, I was able to add on some original work they also don’t see. Net, for the math I’m using, I’m likely and apparently the only one in the world and have no very direct competition. For the real problem I’m solving, some people flounder around at the edges with weak techniques, but they don’t understand the math I do, don’t see how to apply it, and, thus, don’t apply it.Some of what hurt me in K-12 was that I wanted to charge off in directions I saw; what saved me in grad school is much the same. Maybe I could have had a good academic career, but (i) I didn’t understand how the system worked as I explained here and (ii) never had an academic career as a goal. Really also an academic career is about money, and I believe that entrepreneurship is a much better path to money and an especially good use of the math I learned and invented. So, for me, entrepreneurship is what I’m doing.For others? I believe that math and the sciences should have more contact with practice and to reward good results there.Partly that door is already open: Get a Ph.D. in an engineering school. There can start with a practical problem, try to get a solution, e.g., with some math, maybe in the effort stir up some new math that has value for what it does for the practical problem even if not otherwise, and solve the problem. If the work is “new, correct, and significant”, then there are plenty of journals that want to publish good papers on applications; so can get published.This is a doable path, but the academic world will denigrate it because it’s not another E = mc^2 which is what they really dream about.Academics will for a while take more seriously the path I’m taking once I’m worth billions and make donations to help them do more for this path! Did I mention, money talks??

        2. Adam Sher

          I disagree that we should make college free. Make high schools better and reduce the need for college.

          1. Kirsten Lambertsen

            Make it all free *and* better. Why do we have to choose? :0)

        3. Kirsten Lambertsen

          Have you been reading Albert’s “World After Capital?”

          1. Lawrence Brass

            I read some chapters when he published them but still have to read the finished book.

      2. LE

        because of the enormous debt.Again it is not only the debt but thinking of college as a place to have fun and experiences vs. getting an education that will allow you to get a job after graduation which is what it is all about. (Or in the case of a top college get the branding that will server you later in life (which it does btw)).This is really just another example of middle class people (I will leave out poor because they don’t pay for college, right?) trying to act like rich people. [1]There are many things that go bad when middle class people try to emulate rich people. You see if you are rich then your kid can have experiences and fun in college and even do liberal arts and have end game plan. Because they are finally set for life. What they do after college doesn’t matter (financially). But if you are middle class it does matter and nobody seems to get that through their heads. They keep wanting to stay level with the Jones and do what other parents (wrongly do) ‘you can only be as honest as the competition’. That is on them. Would be nice if that experience was less expensive but it’s not. If they thought in terms of preparation for a job or career (which as I’ve said spans 35 years) then the cost of the degree (if needed) would not be anywhere near as much of a factor. But sure if you graduate with debt and have no job prospects as Phil Sugar would say ‘you are in for a world of pain’. Kids will do fine in life if they don’t have experiences and fun in college. There is later life to have that.[1] Here is another example of middle class trying to emulate the rich. The rich throw big expensive parties. Because they can afford to do so. So the middle class tries to emulate the rich by throwing big expensive parties and in some cases actually taking out a 2nd mortgage to pay for the party (I am saying weddings or bat mitzvahs and so on). Not the way needs to be. Only reason people blow money like that is that they mimick what others do and don’t have the guts to level with their kids and say ‘we can’t afford to do that’.

        1. sigmaalgebra

          The rich want to throw big, expensive parties because that’s what the European royals did!!!

          1. LE

            Good point! And the Europeans were copying the Romans!Have also noticed that in the area that I live in, Russian and Indian immigrants tend to decorate their homes in the style of the rich in their native countries. The Russians look (to me anyway) like they are decorated like a Russian Czar would [1] and the Indian homes often look like they are decorated in the style of Indian Maharaja. [1] Big furniture with bold statements. For that matter Italians do similar things.[1] The yiddish term for this is ‘ungapatch’ which translates roughly to ‘overdone’ (in an outlandish way) in the eye of the person throwing the jab that is.

      3. LE

        I’ve never witnessed what makes an Ivy Leaguer more capable, productive or even intelligent than the non-Ivy-Leaguer.While not every person who went to a top school (IVY or otherwise) is going to outperform someone who didn’t the fact is the set of people that are at those school absolutely tend to be more driven and capable. You simply can’t escape that fact. That has not only been my experience attending one of those schools (and surrounded by those people who take things very seriously) but also dealing with people that have graduated from those schools. They are what I call by and large (once again of course there will be exceptions) ‘high capacity circuits’. Sure they are also lucky (because as we know those schools can’t accept everyone who applies and is qualified) but that doesn’t negate the fact that those who are capable and lucky are going to be a top cut of beef. Top shelf in most every way.One other thing that isn’t taken into account is also that when you get a concentration of those types of people in the same place there is also a synergy that happens and learning among those people which makes them smarter as a group or at least better educated by sharing knowledge and ideas and driving each other. This is super important. If you are surrounded by average it is different. (Not that there aren’t pockets of high achievers in other places there are. But it’s also easier to not drift in that direction and be distracted. [1]are either all Ivy Leaguers or all scrappy folks with no degree or a degreeLet’s look at what you said. “Scrappy” – ok so when someone is scrappy they are able to overcome odds in some creative or high effort way. So that makes sense. But likewise there are a group of people who managed to get into a good school (IVY or otherwise) who are also scrappy and that is how they got into those schools. [2] And if they got into those schools by outperforming others who applied then that definitely shows something.[1] This is similar to what Fred gets to experience by who he is able to associate with. He gets to learn from others. And that learning wouldn’t take place if he didn’t have access to those people by virtue of who he is and what he has achieved. Anyone who doesn’t think this is true or doesn’t believe it isn’t paying attention to how things in real life actually work.[2] This was me because it wasn’t grades or SAT scores that did it.

        1. Kirsten Lambertsen

          “…the fact is the set of people that are at those school absolutely tend to be more driven and capable. You simply can’t escape that fact…”Somehow I’ve managed to escape that fact without even trying 😉

          1. LE

            If the ‘merchandise’ didn’t have value people wouldn’t continue to pay for it and buy it.

          2. Adam Sher

            I think it depends on the setting. I would expect that Ivy League grads will outperform others on average in corporate settings because corporations institutionalized onboarding, training, and their work product (e.g. a white-collar factory). That is a continuation of many an Ivy student’s process of studying, being tutored, etc… through college. In other words, performance in a corporate environment is judged more similarly to ones academic performance up to that point than compared to a start-up or small-business environment.

          3. LE

            And it’s kind of nonsense to think that things that do matter don’t really matter and hey it’s almost the opposite. As in ‘we are all the same no difference’. In the case of Kirsten she is saying ‘I’ve never witnessed what makes an Ivy Leaguer more capable, productive or even intelligent than the non-Ivy-Leaguer.’. Because just on the fact that the top schools (IVY or otherwise) have a huge amount of people to choose from would make the end result most likely ‘better’ as a group.Other examples of this ‘it doesn’t matter’ are typically looks which of course do matter (for both men and women). We all know that. Ditto for height in men. Yes it matters. Having a full head of hair as a man? Yes definite advantage as well usually at least. Not being obese and overweight in how you are treated? Yes makes a difference. How you dress? Yes makes a difference. Car you drive? Yes makes a difference. The only thing that ever varies is the amount of people that care but it’s foolish to say that it doesn’t matter.

          4. sigmaalgebra

            I vote with LE on this one.I’m especially proud when I can get one up on an Ivy League guy, or a Nobel prize winner (as I did in one paper I published)!!!I’m even proud that one of my fellow grad students, very interested in academics, rose quickly in research and became a full prof at Princeton. He was bright when I knew him. He was an ugrad double major in math and German and later studied for a year or so in Germany. When I needed to pass my Ph.D. foreign language requirement, following what my faculty advisor said, from the library I got a math paper in German, reviewed my German grammar, used my English-German dictionary, and translated the paper. My prof had that student grade my translation — he slightly objected to my translation of one word once! Tough grader, but I passed!

        2. Vasudev Ram

          There’s also the echo chamber / hive mind effect, though, with Ivy Leaguers, Silicon Valley types, VCs and probably every other cliquish group, that ever existed, anywhere.Seen some of it myself in dealing with some of said groups.

      4. Pointsandfigures

        I like to tell college students the Ivy leaguers fail just as much as the state schoolers. : ). On the VC funding side, I am not sure I agree with you. On the company getting funded side, possible.

      5. Vasudev Ram

        “I have never let my schooling interfere with my education.”― Mark Twainhttps://www.goodreads.com/q…

        1. Kirsten Lambertsen

          Yessss 🙂

      6. sigmaalgebra

        The Ivy League undergraduate students have DARNED high CEEB scores, and that SHOWS in a lot of the most difficult academic work and sometimes otherwise.Occasionally an Ivy League undergraduate gets one one on one attention from a world class guy. E.g., Harvard had a graduate math student, Andrew Gleason. About 1900 David Hilbert published a list of problems that should keep math busy for the 20th century. Well, grad student Gleason solved one of Hilbert’s outstanding problems! Presto, bingo, do not pass Go, do not collect $100, do not get a Ph.D., do not graduate and, instead, become a Harvard Fellow and on a fast path to a full prof. Well at an NSF summer math thingy at Vanderbilt, I met the guy — he was an undergraduate at Harvard and getting one on one attention from Gleason. He was darned bright and also getting a uniquely good education from Gleason.That summer the student was lecturing on differential geometry (Gleason’s field was geometry) and using some notes from Shiing-Shen Chern. Early in one lecture he mentioned that the course needed just the inverse and implicit function theorems. NOW I understand!!!! My ugrad math major, as good as it was, and it was good, had not covered those two — bummer. LATER I understood the theorems quite well from W. Fleming, Functions of Several Variables. They are just local non-linear versions of results just trivially easy to read off a little use of Gauss elimination for systems of linear equations. The results are good for results in Lagrange multipliers, the fundamental result in linear algebra, the polar decomposition, and, thus, crucial in a lot of current floundering around in machine learning and artificial intelligence, and, yes, differential geometry and, sure, also exterior algebra of differential forms, the high end approach to relativity theory. And, sure, that’s Chern as in the Chern-Simons result where that’s James Simons of Renaissance Technologies. Yup, a prof there at Vandy should have taken me aside and outlined the inverse and implicit function theorems for me and given me a reference. Then in one nice evening I would have been up to speed for the lectures.Net, this bright guy WAS getting a better start in math from Gleason at Harvard than I had gotten in my relatively good ugrad school.Except for rare cases like that, you are right — tough to see what get as an undergraduate at Harvard can’t get well enough elsewhere except the brand name.

      7. JamesHRH

        I don’t know where you were in ‘97, but where’s you had worked, who you had gone to school with & who you knew were incredibly important for the gigs I was working.

    7. creative group

      Rob Underwood:Rob did you lose weight or dye your hair? You look so different in this current photo.Captain Obvious!#UNEQUIVOCALLYUNAPOLOGETICALLYINDEPENDENT

      1. Rob Underwood

        I think Gravatar switched to a pic of me from 4 years ago. Less gray.

    8. Adam Sher

      During the Great Recession, the large Philly law firms contracted their target school list to mostly Ivys (hometown schools like Villanova, Temple, and recently, Drexel, get consideration). My wife went to Temple for her 1L and applied to transfer to UPenn who accepted her. At that time, she already had a job offer at the law firm of her choice so UPenn’s reputation couldn’t improve her job prospect. She transferred anyway. In every networking situation, (10 years out), people want to know where she graduated. They come away impressed (and say so). In addition, her alma mater comes up in litigation and it has almost always helped her cause (because UPenn means she’s a smarty).

      1. LE

        They come away impressed. In additionThe other dynamic going on here is what I have called the ‘party in your brain’. That is it’s not always what people think but what you think they think. So even if they aren’t impressed (and they are laughing at you) if you think they are impressed and it helps what you think of yourself (even wrongly) that is a good thing not a bad thing.It’s like my really old aunt. She looks like hell (at her age honestly) but every day dresses up with makeup and jewelry and in her brain she feels much better and thinks she is a hot number (close to 90 years old not likely right). That is the party in action. She walks around feeling much better than she looks. And it helps to feel that way even if others don’t share that view.That said the degree does matter actually and has the impact but what I am trying to say is that is not all of it.

        1. Adam Sher

          AKA swagger.

          1. PhilipSugar


          2. LE

            Swagger is also why women can’t often do what men can do. They don’t sound like men and their face isn’t a man’s face which is respected in a different way.Likewise there are cases where men can’t do what women can do.I have noted that there is even an impact on what I call ‘smilers’. That is people who can smile their way out of a situation and disarm the other party. (My wife can do this). I am sure you have also seen that behavior in men and in children. That is in a way related to swagger.This is why it’s foolish for people to try and replicate behavior that is simply not something they are inherently able to pull off.My wife is a really good example. She is the type that if she nicked my car she might then laugh and smile and all the pain and anger in me would completely drain out of me. (That has never happened but it has for other things..). That is a really super valuable skill and I think it’s why many men get away with bad behavior with their wives. (Think of how Dennis Quaid smiled in the move ‘The Right Stuff’ for an example of men).

      2. JLM

        .I bought a controlling interest in a company which had a huge amount of litigation on its books and a cash reserve for the outcome. So large were the contingent liabilities, I paid next to nothing for the company.The play was to finish off the litigation at less than the cash reserve, pocket the difference, and sell off the company now without any legal issues.Who do you hire in a situation like that? Somebody good in the courtroom and obnoxious outside the courtroom and who knows the Judges.I settled some cases I thought would go to trial for peanuts. Everybody was tired of screwing with each other. Remember, I was new and fresh, so I wasn’t tired. I had no ego involved in any of the cases.I won several cases which I thought I should have lost.I lost a couple of cases I thought I should have won.In the end, I was able to clear the books for less than half of the legal reserve.The lawyer who I used was a night school grad of some “no name” law school in Florida. He’d been a clerk to a Judge and had seen a million trials.He was almost idiot savant quality. He correctly predicted the outcome of every one of 32 cases.If you actually have to try cases or to settle when you don’t actually know the case, you need a person like that. A Judge had recommended this guy to me. He said, “He can talk directly to juries if he has to.”The guy was unkempt, lacked in the grooming department, used to drink during the day, but on everything he said, he performed like a wizard. Interestingly enough, his kid went to Harvard Law.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

        1. Chimpwithcans

          Great story. Well played.

    9. Adam Sher

      I am fond of the Northeast liberal arts schools. I played against Colby and Bates (UAA school here). UAA and NESCAC schools have their own annoying prestige (and sometimes inferiority complex as many students who attend only do so because they are safety schools for Ivy applicants). Deloitte’s loss to single some out. Ernst & Young didn’t (I was a part of EY’s Transaction Real Estate Services group). My college tennis coach, who is still the coach, went to Bates. He’s a great guy. Pretty much every competitive DIII tennis conference was filled with smart and hard working students. That’s why they’re student-athletes. 🙂

    10. JamesHRH

      On this very blog I asked Fred what the main benefits of his MIT degree were:- met great faculty & built relationships- met great students & built relationships- incredible brand equity in the phrase ‘MIT Engineering’Could not agree with you more that where you go to school matters, with one exception.You don’tt have to go Ivy or Standford, But you do have to go to a place that is known for what you want to take ( Journalsimn @ Northwestern say ).This post is some of Fred’s worst advice & it comes from his best intentions.

  5. jason wright

    Venture Contrarian. Why is the emphasis on (Venture) *Capital*? Capital is just one part of the mix, and in many ways is the least interesting or important part.

  6. jason wright

    Scandinavia is an interesting case study. Denmark, Norway, and Sweden have come the closest in the western world to levelling the gender playing field. The outcome is that men as a gender group and women as a gender group are observed to behave more differently from each other than anywhere else in the western world. I find that interesting. I think the PC mafia would want to ignore it.

    1. Lawrence Brass

      Diversity! :)Scandinavia is interesting because they have demonstrated that a large welfare state can coexist with free market capitalism.https://fee.org/articles/th

      1. Chimpwithcans

        And with a whole lot of oil, in Norway’s case.

        1. Lawrence Brass

          True. Oil helps. :)What tax is applied to the oil industry there?.. will search+ found this: https://www2.deloitte.com/c…a bit long.. a “special tax” of 51% is mentioned but don’t know how it works

          1. Chimpwithcans

            Maybe a silly comment from me – Oil doesn’t = success of course. But Norway’s transformation has been extraordinary / exemplary in many ways compared to say Nigeria and its ‘oil curse’

          2. Lawrence Brass

            Not silly. A funded government can give better services to their people. But not without apt government.

        2. jason wright

          there’s a great tension in Norway over how the proceeds of this wealth should be spent. the conservative right fears that the socio economic status quo (the ordered class system and its traditions) may be disturbed by ‘excessive’ public expenditure. the left sees that as the best of reasons to spend. a classical socio political dichotomy.

          1. Chimpwithcans

            Didn’t know that – thanks. Seems to be a common refrain around the developed world. Traditions and free mkt vs. Progress and social support

      2. DJL

        Its actually quite a small welfare state when compared with US or China – and very ethno-centric. That is one of the reason it can “work”.

      3. PhilipSugar

        You have to finish that sentence…..and a completely homogeneous very insular society. I am white but not in some of those countries. I have a very distinct memory of asking where would I meet a driver….response he’ll find you. Does he have a picture? No.

  7. Frederic Mari

    Slight style suggestion – unless it was a deliberate and risky (in those days) pun, I suggest not using terms like “desire… pulsing through…” when talking about bringing more women on board… 🙂

  8. Ian Katz

    I am unclear why you care about one type of diversity but do not care about another? Surely each is as important?

  9. Mike Zamansky

    When I got my start at Goldman the halls were littered with mediocre individuals from elite institutions. The interesting thing was that from my “recruiting class,” one of the top five was from an elite institution, two from a mid level one and two from a more lowly regarded college. One particular higher up liked to hire from his well regarded alma mater and was blinded to candidate quality under the assumption that the institution pre-vetted the hires and others looked for a more diverse crew.Another thing I noticed throughout my career is while just about everyone in tech talks a good game – we’re looking to build a diverse team etc etc etc when pressed they admit that they largely look for candidates at places like Stanford, Harvard, MIT etc.I get it – it easier to let the institution do the vetting and to work off institutional reputation and no one ever got fired for hiring IBM but it would be nicer if more walked the walk.We’re at a point now where we have to work hard to overcome current impressions. What I’m finding now that I’m at Hunter College is that we’re just not on people’s radar. I spoke to a friend a couple of months ago about setting up kids for interviews and he said “Do we recruit there? I don’t know. Should we?”At the same time, I’ve got a bunch of talented kids but they’ve been brought up on the other side of the equation so they frequently think they’re not as worthy as a kid who goes to an elite school and wonders how they can compete with them and all the resources they have.Much work to do on all sides.

    1. Rick Mason

      The smartest programmer that I know never made it past the first interview at Google. That is because he didn’t go to an elite college. Google used elite schools at the time as a shortcut. Trust me Google is the loser.

    2. LE

      What you should try to do is to create a way to brand your top students at Hunter so that they can be special in a way that will allow them to rise above the lack of brand.As a example (non relevant but to prove a point) when someone goes to the Olympics and competes they have that success which certainly allows them to rise above where they went to college. It becomes much less relevant. Likewise when people graduate Medical School it is not really all that relevant where they went to Undergraduate school.When someone wins an Academy Award that is the thing that brands them.People use the fact (and it works in certain circles) that they are a YC company because that has been viewed as an important filter (impresses me actually).There is an endless list of these types of things that brand someone as special and would rise above where they went to school.Rhodes scholars is old but is similar rises about school:https://www.worldatlas.com/…What I am saying is you need to find a way to brand a group of Hunter kids such that they are not part of the pack thinking which is ‘not top school not IVY’. And brand them with some word, concept or award that doesn’t sound like every other thing out there. Has to be unique. And done by an outside organization. Something that makes them special.This will not solve all the problems but it will help in a big way.

      1. Mike Zamansky

        I’m not worried about my kids at Hunter – it’ll just take some time. I’m more worried about talented kids at the other CUNY schools where they don’t seem to have people actively working on the problem

        1. LE

          I am not telling you to be worried or not but responding to this which you said (and you said this, not me) which prompted my reply: I’ve got a bunch of talented kids but they’ve been brought up on the other side of the equation so they frequently think they’re not as worthy as a kid who goes to an elite school and wonders how they can compete with them and all the resources they have.Doesn’t matter if CUNY kids are worse off or not. What matters is that the most effort and even over effort is done (and this is important) in order to have every advantage and insure success.Obviously your kids somehow feel they are not ‘as special’. My idea is really just a way to attempt to overcome that. And not by saying that it doesn’t matter but by giving at least some of them something tangible that they can feel even better.

          1. Mike Zamansky

            Yes – good points. I think it’s been eye opening for the kids just to start going to tech events and meeting tech people and realizing that peoples is peoples and they fit in as well as anyone.

    3. Salt Shaker

      Interesting. I vividly recall interviewing somewhere and all the folks I met with went to Duke. I didn’t know this until I literally ran into one of my interviewers in the men’s room where we conversed further (and fortunately didn’t shake hands). When he shared that bit of alum-chum news, I knew I was toast.With respect to Hunter, any nyc institution should, in theory, have opportunities to exploit by virtue of location. What kind of marketing does Hunter do, if any, to the biz community? I frankly know of their nursing and social science programs, but nothing else. Its image is frankly somewhat nondescript. This really is a B2B opportunity. Would seem to be opportunities to “showcase,” even virtually, elite talent (w/ video) to HR personnel, although prob a lot easier said than done.

      1. Mike Zamansky

        Hunter doesn’t do any marketing. I do and will continue to do it until I become overloaded time wise. It takes time but it’s making a difference.I’ve been doing outreach to high schools and two years ago we were totally unknown but as of this year we have kids coming to us having realized that between the academic CS, being in NY and the extras that my honors program gives, it makes sense to spend nothing or next to nothing to come to Hunter rather than 40-60k a year to get basically the same academic background without the extras.Also doing outreach to tech companies but that’s also takes time.

        1. Salt Shaker

          Good luck to you and keep on fighting the fight! Those are (3) compelling reasons to study CS at Hunter. Suggest taping students and curriculum (both in and out of CS) to craft outward bound marketing for the college.

  10. Jan Schultink

    Having done tons of recruiting at McKinsey (disclaimer: end of the 1990s), big brand education probably helps you get through early stages of the recruiting funnel easier especially when looking at candidates with little other experience (“ok, this 25 year old person’s basic intelligence is probably not something to worry about at this stage”).After that, the playing field levels with more in-depth assessments, but many good candidates without a brand probably got lost in the CV-sifting stage of the hiring process.

    1. Rob Underwood

      Agreed. See my comments below re Deloitte’s strategy practice (http://disq.us/p/1ue7drx).And it’s worth noting that how investment banks and consultancies recruit (prestigious schools only please) does impact VC and the startup ecosystem more generally as an early job at such a firm is not an uncommon way that a future VC may get her/his first job in the big city before giving it up at 28 or 29 for something else.

      1. Pointsandfigures

        Or go on to an endowment, fund of funds etc

      2. LE

        noting that how investment banks and consultancies recruitIt is hard and foolish to mess with a formula that works. If those organizations (IB’s and Consultancies) have done that in the past and they are successful (their product sells) what is the business purpose or motivation to do otherwise? Usually you don’t tinker with a formula unless there is a compelling reason to do so. [1][1] Sure Detroit missed out on small cars ‘mini cars mini profits’ but ironically that era has passed and we are practically back to big cards (and trucks) as the key to profits.

      3. Adam Sher

        My school (jokingly, derisively, and enviously for some, called the Harvard of Waltham) had 0 Bulge Bracket and 0 Top TIer Consulting companies participate in on-campus recruiting. We had a strong Economics program and excellent b-school and many graduates went back home (b-school was mostly international students, I felt like the minority), government, or research.

    2. DJL

      Going to MIT in the 80’s it was a fairly easy cost-benefit analysis. You spend $100K and can earn it back quickly. Now the equation has changed completely. Is it worth spending $400K (or more) to send your kids to a prestige school, when you are now competing (upon graduation) with a worldwide pool of top talent? It takes longer for the payback and by then the school means less than experience.In the end it is hard work, discipline, grit and some luck. If college teaches you that – awesome. Some people just have it.

      1. LE

        Is it worth spending $400K (or more)Where are you getting $400k figure from? All in, top school is roughly $65/year +- and that is w/o any discounts, loans or otherwise. The loans can be paid for by the kids and that is a good thing for them to have to do.So you could pay for 1/2 of the bill. Let’s say $260k/2 = $130k and that is over 4 years. The child pays the other $130k over many more years with a loan.Now if you have more than one child then the number goes up. But I am not seeing $400k for 1 child for undergrad school.In your case if you spent $100k and felt that was value for an MIT degree (I think it is) then it would still be a value (over a lifetime) if you paid even $250k for the same degree. $250k for a liberal arts degree where you end up working in a normal job or waiting tables? Of course that is not a good idea.One other thing I will say about Ivy’s (or any top school) is this. You can lead the horse to water but not all will drink it. My daughter was doing great at the school she was going to (top) so I told her to try to transfer to Wharton. And that I would pay for it. She had no interest in doing that at all. Not applying, not attending, not getting that degree. And not because she didn’t think it had value. Just that she was happy where she was and honestly she wasn’t driven like I was when I was younger. To me getting in was super important and it was my idea and not my parent’s. I worked really hard to figure out a way to get accepted and hard while I was there. It was my total focus. Likewise many other students that I met. People discount that a great deal when they focus on just the school name and think it’s all about good grades it’s not.

        1. DJL

          I was making guesses (based on what I thought I head from friends). My kids are only 7 and 9. But I want to prepare in case they make it and want to choose Ivy.I totally get the last paragraph. I was in a frat (with our fearless leader). Some brilliant people failed out. Some coasted and graduated in 3 years. Most just worked their asses off. I always tell everyone, the most valuable lesson I learned at MIT was how to manage time and meet deadlines.

  11. awaldstein

    Amazing data.If correct, the VC biz is really a generational wealth class split of sorts.I came from a different world.My dad gave me $1200 which is what he collected from my Bar Mitzvah plus interest. That was all he could do and told me to work hard and smart.We play with the hand we are given.No complaints, no envy, just as it is.

    1. LE

      My dad gave me $1200Worth noting that when you went to college the cost was vastly less (as it was for me) than it is today. By my reading about $2k per year including room and board.https://www.ohio.edu/instre…Average cost in the 1970’shttps://deltacostproject.or…

  12. Lawrence Brass

    Great colleges are not great just because of themselves, it is because the great people they attract. Its a virtuous circle. You get the best education and the best peer network.The real problem is the paywall that prevents access to the less affluent, in my opinion.

  13. Twain Twain

    It’s the ratio of INVESTING PARTNERS that matters. There are women in VC firms who are treated as support rather than as revenue generators. More women need to get access to CARRIED INTEREST REWARDS.https://uploads.disquscdn.c

  14. Twain Twain

    Bear in mind that several $billionaire tech founders AND KYLIE JENNER didn’t graduate.https://uploads.disquscdn.c

  15. Ronnie Rendel

    Yet another data point why VC is an outdated service full of semi-intelligent self absorbed sheep. Present company excluded of course.

  16. CJ

    Dropped out of college and don’t regret it. I stopped pursuing what I thought was the way and found my own path. Worked out well.

  17. DJL

    Would the phrase “them that gots gets” apply here? Or how about “its not what you know, its who you know”. Amazing how these trite statements apply in the 21st century to the most forward looking businesses.

    1. Lawrence Brass

      It won’t end if referrals continue to be part of the selection process.I think that asking people you know for someone they know to fill a position or to do some work for you is completely natural and probably the source of segregation.

      1. DJL

        Agree. The club maintains the club. Just like the people who have already made (or even lost) VC money have a 1000% better chance of getting more money than a new person. Risk management.

    2. LE

      its who you knowWho you know only gets you the appointment it doesn’t get you the sale. There are other creative ways to get the appointment. People who have a hard time getting the appointment seem to think that things are not fair and they have been wronged. It’s also possible that they are not able to think in a creative way to get noticed. And that in itself says something about them. Doesn’t it? [1][1] Reminds me of the people who try to pitch Fred by a comment here instead of doing it in a way that gets his attention.

      1. DJL

        As JLM is fond of saying “I agree with you more that you do yourself”My Dad sat in the waiting room of Chrysler and Ford for 14 months while famous Detroit sports players went in and out like their personal closet, 30 years later he has a book of $500MM in business. High school diploma.

  18. Kirsten Lambertsen

    Great to see the growth. It’s not surprising. That ‘mostly white’ number really needs some work. In your experience, do VC’s talk much about this when they get together?https://cdn-images-1.medium

    1. aminTorres

      Hispanic 🙁

      1. creative group

        aminTorres:a little fact that will go generally underreported. The Hispanic Millionaires from Tech companies who cashed in their stocks but were only support workers in those companies but given the same opportunities as other employees to own stock. Very much underreported. Bet you they don’t even care if they cleaned a toilet or mopped a floor they are Millionaires on many tech stocks going public.Captain Obvious!#UNEQUIVOCALLYUNAPOLOGETICALLYINDEPENDENT

      2. Lawrence Brass

        Hispanic the term, is so misused, misplaced, mis-everything. I don’t know for certain if in the US it has a racial meaning, or ethnic. Or both.At a restaurant visiting New York I noticed a manager telling his people at the kitchen something like “Hey, speak english!”. I called him to the table and asked him if we could order in Spanish, then asked the person he sent “porque no les gusta que hablen en español?” – He couldn’t give a decent answer, just “a ellos no les gusta”.Must say that we got some free under the table extra drinks for that. :)Tales from a pink “hispanic”.

  19. curtissumpter

    This is a great post.

  20. JLM

    .In essence what is happening is that Harvard/Standford are becoming VC trade schools. There are many industries in which that happens.The Army is dominated – by design – by West Point, a trade school if ever there was one.My alma mater, Virginia Military Institute, the West Point of the South, is similarly a trade school which punches far above its weight class. At about 25% the size of WP, it supplied the top leadership for WWII in the person of Gen of the Armies George Catlett Marshall who surrounded homself (accidentally, he professed) by many VMI grads.There is no question that WP/VMI (I would also include the Citadel, Norwich, Tx A & M) grads are better prepared for their profession by dint of their training and education. It is the secret sauce of leadership training.You see it through the rank of Captain in the Army. At Captain, say 5 years total service, one’s actual performance record takes root and where you went to school is not as important.Still, the Army is dominated by “ring knockers” which is not necessarily a bad thing. In the Army, they actually acknowledge it calling them the WPPA, the West Point Protective Association.I always did what I could for a fellow VMI grad. Still do.Now, do they have a secret handshake at Standford?JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

  21. Pointsandfigures

    https://techcrunch.com/2018… Jason Rowley of TechCrunch wrote a similar article in April about what VCs studied, and in May of where they went to school https://techcrunch.com/2018…, it’s really Harvard, Stanford, Wharton, other Ivies, Cal and MIT for VC. Big drop off after that.When people ask me how to get into VC, one answer for them is to attend one of those schools. As we know “network” and “network effects” are hard to break.Lot of pattern recognition all through VC. Yet, we are supposed to be contrarians that go against the herdI would suggest that people read Prof Mike Gibbs “The Risky Hire” and think about it. It’s a very novel way to think about staffing an enterprise. https://www.wiley.com/en-us…I had a person ask me if they should attend business school to rise in their profession. My advice was to look at people in positions you aspired to and try and look exactly like them. (Not color of skin or gender, you can’t change that-but degrees and where you get your degree). If you want to be a CFO, going to undergrad at Univ of Illinois is a really good idea since a lot of CFOs at Fortune 500 firms did their undergrad at Illinois. Yes, the world will change someday and in certain professions it is-but it’s going to be slow.

  22. LaVonne Reimer

    This is all about how VCs who only know Stanford or Harvard–In 1998, I launched the first edtech company to to deliver branded, accredited degrees online. I invented the OPM business model and the course dev system that was our secret to cranking out high-quality rich media content on time and on budget. I will be writing much more about later but for this post what matters is I raised $20M in venture capital but not from any Stanford or Harvard grads. To a man they could not understand why anyone wouldn’t prefer sitting at the feet of a great professor in person as compared to online. We started pitching our model as “grad degrees for the rest of us” but they still didn’t get it. And no, I don’t believe it had anything to do with too early to market. Maybe the curriculum has evolved since then to promote a bit more sensitivity to others but pitching to alums of those schools really was like talking to an ivy-covered edifice.

  23. Tom Labus

    For range of thinking and perspective, recruit out of Detroit or Cleveland. There be s slew of people ready hustle and work for a nice piece of pie, perhaps a la mode.

  24. aminTorres

    Alright then, next analyst job at USV I am applying since I wont be asked were I went to school. hehe!

  25. creative group

    CONTRIBUTORS:REPOST FROM YESTERDAY:SOURCE: Pro Rata By Dan Primack ·Jul 30, 2018VC’S lack of diversity in the industry analyzed a previously-unstudied metric educational background.Richard Kerby, one of Silicon Valley’s few black VCs, who first analyzed venture’s racial breakdown in 2016.He finds that the percentage of white VCs has fallen from 74% to 70%.Asian representation climbed from 23% to 26%.Black representation up slightly from 2% to 3% (black females created the difference, as they were at 0% last time around).Hispanics remain stuck at just 1%.Women still only make up 18% of VC professionals, up from 11%.Kerby also found that, among his sample of around 1,500 VCs, a whopping 40% went to either Harvard or Stanford. As for why it matters, I’m going to let him take it from here:The bar to create a more diverse industry is difficult when one looks for folks that most resemble themselves; and while talent is evenly distributed, unfortunately, opportunity is not.When you couple the lack of gender and racial diversity with the lack of educational institution diversity, you not only end up with teams that look similar, but you also end up with teams that think in a similar fashion. Not only is our industry lacking in gender and racial balance, but we also suffer from a lack of cognitive diversity.This insularity of the venture ecosystem has ripple effects throughout the tech industry…. If we want to have more successes in the venture and broader tech ecosystems, diversity in all fashions (racial, gender, cognitive) needs to be a part of what drives us forward.Captain Obvious!#UNEQUIVOCALLYUNAPOLOGETICALLYINDEPENDENT

  26. creative group

    CONTRIBUTORS:Does the College attended or Graduated matter?We are fortunate to have two Ivy League School Graduates whose major has nothing to do with the field we work. And they are not principals in the organization.One principal graduated from the Zicklin School of Business at Baruch College (CUNY) and the other school of hard knocks as is always boasted about.When reveiwing contemporaries within our field of work the major organizations have University graduates running the business. Have no idea is that based upon exclusivity or just the network of people who hire people that look like them and have identical experiences.We would not collectively hire lack of worldly experiences or people divorced from common sense and reality.Not even sure if we employ a Right Wing Republican (Independents) who would admit it. The company actively volunteers within the community and encourages that selflessness from day one throughtout the company.The culture of a company that we respect is a top down example. The character of a company highlights who runs the company. When companies copout and use the denialibilty of bad bahavior on lower management and staff that reflects what the company is actually about. Nothing!We would look forward to viewing what the Blue Bloods from the two schools think.Captain Obvious!#UNEQUIVOCALLYUNAPOLOGETICALLYINDEPENDENT

  27. Richard

    on the flip side, exclusion can ignite the spark that burns the fuel to success. There is a reason why excluded minoriotes, given the right parenting and philosophy, can succeed.

    1. jason wright

      that’s a misdirection projection coming from the self serving economic elite. ‘excluded minorities’, but no ‘excluded majority’ (which is the biggest cohort of all).

  28. Salt Shaker

    There’s almost a cult like atmosphere w/ the hiring of Harvard/Stanford grads. Although I am not a grad of either, I believe the imprimatur and networking opps those degrees provide actually supersede the education, as good as it may be. It’s a door opener and an image setter that does give those folk a leg up, sometimes fair and appropriate, sometimes not. They get a benefit of the doubt card that others don’t possess.

    1. awaldstein

      this is true.in specific, exceptional people are exceptional regardless and its the companies job to attract them.In my favorite startup of my career (not the most successful one though) i hired two MBAs from Rice and taught them BD and how to negotiate. Their network was simply astounding. As were they actually.

      1. Salt Shaker

        I think there’s a strong correlation between elite schools and elite talent, but it’s hardly the rule. I’ve worked w/ both Harvard and Stanford MBA’s who were exceptional and others who were far from that description. No doubt a huge advantage wrt opening doors and opportunities. Worth every penny, a claim you can no longer make w/ degrees in general.

  29. David Albrecht

    This is such a great post.Stuff like this seems to be the natural tendency unless you go out of your way to avoid it. It’s only natural, if you went to Stanford, the first few people you think of working with, hiring, etc. are going to be your friends — people from the same neighborhood, friend group (gender), socioeconomic background, university, etc. And it’s probably like, a 70% good heuristic. Which has its advantages, because it’s cheap to determine.If you want that other 30% that insularity leaves on the table, it takes a ton of work. You have to actively invest it in, and be a place like YC, where you look at 40,000 applications/year, which is probably 10-100x of the work of just selecting on pedigree.So much of human behavior is predictable if you just ask, “what is the laziest/easiest/most convenient way” to do this…very much including hiring.But I think it’s absolutely necessary if you want to be first-class, whether as an investor, as a company, or pretty much anything. It all comes down to what price people want to pay, to “get the right people on the bus”.

  30. karen_e

    This is very timely as I prepare a few remarks for tonight’s Founders’ Forum event with our local college alumni entrepreneurship group. Richard Kerby’s spreadsheet shows 60 of our alums among his ~1500 investors. Tonight’s audience should be aware of the lack of diversity within venture capital as well as the efforts to remedy the problems as Fred lays out. One thing about USV that Fred rarely mentions is that they hired three women pretty much all at once. One would have been tokenism; two would have created competition; three allows each to play off her distinctiveness. Well done.

    1. sigmaalgebra

      Of COURSE USV hired those women!I saw their pictures, smiling faces. I read some of their posts — just TERRIFIC verbal talent, skills, and results. And great evidence of just terrific social talent and skills. So, of COURSE, they will be MUCH more pleasant to have around the office than nearly any men their ages or any ages. And they will have MUCH better clerical skills, dotting i’s, crossing t’s, getting the spelling and grammar correct, getting better word choices, and generally, on paper, on the Internet, in e-mail, on the phone, in person MUCH better at communications. They will have MUCH better color, style, and artistic sense. Typically they will be better at going without sleep, when necessary. They will be MUCH better at understanding and analyzing people and personalities, guessing what they are thinking, remembering details, etc. They will be more disciplined, e.g., on weight — e.g., Newt Gingrich and his wife, Trump and his wife, etc. They will be MUCH more prudent, MUCH less willing to take risks. MUCH better. No joke. No competition.So, but, why not, why, …???? What’s going on????Well, e.g., to me, Laura Ingraham is MUCH brighter, much better educated, has MUCH better verbal talent and skills, thinks faster, is MUCH better understanding people, asks more perceptive interview questions, is MUCH better smiling at the audience, etc. than Hannity.But I take Hannity MUCH more seriously (although not nearly as seriously as I would wish or as seriously as I take JLM, Trump, James Simons, and more). Hannity is much closer to the on the ground, solid reality. Ingraham has the wrapping paper for the box; Hannity has more of the actual contents of the box. Ingraham has the means; Hannity still wins on the ends. To me, this situation is quite general.

  31. sigmaalgebra

    The USV application for Analyst is interesting. Right, for what that position is, formal education is irrelevant except that, to do well in the video and the writing and the thinking those two communicate, quite a lot of education is necessary. Maybe it would be best to have gotten that education at home from parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, older siblings, some jobs with good learning opportunities, etc.; no doubt in principle can; no doubt in practice usually quite a lot appropriate formal education would be a huge help.USV is testing heavily on the first two of the 3Rs, on “curiosity”, and then quite broadly on socialization. Okay.So, USV is looking for the desired results, not some means that might yield the results. That seems to be a theme in VC — pay attention to the results, e.g., traction, and f’get about the means to those results. But that is not evidence that the means are irrelevant to the results!Quite broadly education, including the 3rs, curiosity, socialization, and much more, is a HUGE help in a person’s success in business and life more generally. And quite broadly the best education for those goals and more are from the HOME — parents, grandparents, older siblings, aunts, uncles, etc. Quite broadly the best way to do well in the US economy is, in the words of a recent Fred AVC post, to “be your own boss”; other paths are exceptions and have to be pursued cautiously.An Ivy League or Stanford undergraduate education can open some doors based on the prestige of the school and can help a lot with “who you know”, but bluntly the actual course based education is little or no better than what is readily available at many colleges and universities or even via well guided independent study. “Look Ma, no tuition! And I can reread the material as often as I want without any bad grades!”. E.g., on “who you know”, I got into FedEx because of a guy I knew in college, who wondered why I beat him and all the other students so badly in freshman physics, who had worked with FedEx founder Fred Smith on various projects and was already in FedEx. But a still better start in my career was in applied math and computing around DC for problems in US national security — there “who you know” played little role.In the US, there is another path open to essentially everyone: Teach yourself information technology. For more, teach yourself advanced technical parts of information technology and then start a business using that technology as the crucial core, technological advantage, and Buffett moat for a business in information technology. IMHO, the potential is astoundingly high and the competition too small to count or even find. The potential of the technology is shown with overwhelming power in parts of US national security; for the commercial world can look at, say, Qualcomm and a few more. Yes, there’s not much track record in the US commercial world; regard that as a rare opportunity! Gee, it does appear that the best opportunities are rare; how could that be????? :-)!!!Look, mostly business wants to hire obedient foot soldiers, not creative, charging generals or even colonels!For this technology, the keys are likely computer science and pure/applied math. The computer science is next to trivial and with some guidance can be learned well by the end of middle school. The key for the future is the math. Indeed, the non-trivial parts of computer science are really just applied math — to do well there, just learn the math first.For how to learn the math, mostly just get the best texts and study them. For a little more, can make some use of YouTube video clips and Wikipedia pages, but the quality levels are nearly always too low. E.g., IMHO Khan Academy is just JUNK. Garbage. D- grade stuff. Some help via broad guidance from some good mathematicians, say, university math profs, say, for a hour a month, should be fine — even an hour each three months. Of course, the home should be helping.So, how to find the good texts? Okay, via the Web, just go to the best courses in the best research university math departments and see what texts are used in the courses and for references. So, , just go to the math departments at, right, the usual suspects, NE to SW, Princeton, Harvard, MIT, Brown, Yale, Cornell, Columbia, Courant, SUNY, Chicago, Rice, UT Austin, the Big 10, U. Washington, Berkeley and sibling CA schools, Cal Tech, Stanford. That list is sufficient but not comprehensive.E.g., at one time could go to Harvard and their course Math55 and see texts Halmos, Finite Dimensional Vector Spaces, Rudin, Principles of Mathematical Analysis, and Spivak, Calculus on Manifolds. Right! Civilization doesn’t get any better than that! Crown jewels. But they were no secrets; before the Web I’d already worked carefully through all three, carefully as in about one hour per page. I’d had a course from Rudin but just read the other two on my own. Still, even after the course, I went through Rudin again at about an hour a page. Halmos is a bit advanced for a first course in the subject — linear algebra — and should be regarded as, say, a second, third, or fourth text. For me, it was after a stack of texts on linear algebra and its applications.For more, go through Royden, Real Analysis at about two hours a page; then do it twice more more quickly. Then do the first, real half, of Rudin, Real and Complex Analysis. Again go through it more than once.Then for some nice, easy ice cream for dessert, dive into, say, Earl A. Coddington, An Introduction to Ordinary Differential Equations which should go quickly. Then “to prove your worth”, dive into deterministic optimal control theory, from Athans and Falb, W. Fleming, etc. Presto, bingo, will in that subject be ahead of 99% of the math profs in the best research universities in the world. Lesson: Getting above nearly everyone else on one of the peaks is not so obscure or difficult!Do some more such and will be ready for your Ph.D. qualifying exams in pure/applied math. On your own? At least at one time, the Princeton math department Web site stated, IIRC, that “No courses are given for preparation for the qualifying exams. Courses are introductions to research by experts in their fields. Students are expected to prepare for the qualifying exams on their own.”. Oh, BTW, commonly the old qualifying exams are published — get copies and use them for exercises.Uh, somewhere along here, find a friendly university math prof who will talk to you and give you guidance for about an hour, once a month, quarter, or year. To meet such math proofs, use “networking”. Or just walk into a university math department, with a respected math text, knock on doors of some profs, and ask for help on an exercise. Or, attend the department’s weekly research seminars; typically there is a tea before the seminar, so walk in and meet some profs. Maybe start by asking them for a little on their field of research. If they ask about you, say that you are studying to be ready for graduate school and mention a text you have finished and one you are well into at present. Then, ask for some guidance.So, take it from Princeton: Learn math when you and a good book come together in a good chair in a quiet room. Math is not a spectator sport; course or not, learn the material in that chair in that room with those books. And for that, no courses, credits, grades, tuition, etc. are needed.That world is wide open for anyone with the books, chair, and room. Then the result is a unique, powerful advantage for being your own boss in an information technology startup. Uh, notice, even to define information is some challenging, advanced math. So, that that math should be powerful for information technology is no big surprise.Uh, can find VCs who went to Williams and majored in history and then got an MBA at Harvard. Well, they learned next to nothing technical that can be applied directly.Early at FedEx, we had some meetings on how to solve “the most important problem facing FedEx” (words of FedEx founder Fred Smith). At the time, I was a consultant in computing and applied math and teaching courses in computer science (right, before my Ph.D.) at Georgetown U.. So, we met in a conference room of the Georgetown library. At least one person at the meeting was from one of the famous management consulting firms. It appeared that his job had given him a stack of standard management consulting advice, but he made zero contribution to how the heck to solve the problem, scheduling the fleet. I assume he, or they, got paid, but they played no more role in the work. I accepted the challenge, designed and wrote the software, and with another guy at FedEx used the software to schedule the full, planned fleet, pleased the BoD, enabled funding, and saved the company. An undergraduate degree from Stanford or an Ivy League school and a Harvard or Stanford MBA won’t help in such technical work. First cut, what is learned in such education is next to useless; I’ve never seen it be useful, and USV ignores it. Bluntly what undergraduates learn in courses at Harvard and Stanford is little or no better, often less good, than what is readily available at many good teaching colleges.For women in challenging parts of the world of work, that conflicts strongly with love, home, family, motherhood, and a good, full, happy life. Sometimes some women can do all of that — good for them. Otherwise Darwin is rapidly removing from the gene pool women who try to be successful in challenging parts of the world of work.The goal of 50% women in such work is delusional, destructive, and even deadly.

  32. JLM

    .The real question is – why would the 40% of Harvard and Standford grads want more diversity?I suspect the answer is – “Uhhh, we really don’t cause we like it just like it is today. Sorry.”These are elite schools. Elite schools produce elitists. Elitists like elitism.[Please note that I mispelled “Stanford” on purpose for my friend who always corrects it. He is an elitist and a snob. Right, Jack?]JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

  33. AM

    I interviewed at a big prestigious VC firm and the first question was “did you go to public or private high school?”I left dejected for having went to public school. I also told all of my friends to never pitch this firm and that the investor was a total jerk.

  34. jason wright

    live the dream. stop playing VC golf? very incestuous.

  35. Steve Brant

    Congrats on using methods to determine aptitude, attitude and fit, I have found performance comes from many different areas. I applaud those that seek out diversity in the name of improving their culture, performance and bottom line, but it seems too many people are seeking diversity in order to check a box and do virtue signaling. Hiring based upon someone being a woman, man, white, black, old, young, Asian, Latino, etc is just as bad as not hiring someone for those reasons. Besides not everything is representative of the population and that’s ok. Do you think a pro basketball team should be representative of the population? If not, then why? The more we keep “grouping” people rather than looking at people as being the same and focusing on their aptitude towards the task at hand, the more we create a divisive culture.

  36. Jan Schultink

    One more thought came up. Students in top brand graduate schools have the opportunity to hang out with “people like us”. You see, hear, and work together with people who have been in positions at top brand VCs, consulting firms, tech giants, startups, and investment banks. So you know how to come across the required way (how you talk, how you react, subtle stuff) in interviews. A reinforcing loop. The challenge for the recruiter is to see through this, and the less-fortunate or wealthy candidate to absorb the “required” culture.I had an advantage being a Dutchman interviewing English graduates from Oxford and Cambridge while at McKinsey London, having had no experience whatsoever with these institutions and its graduates.

  37. Michael B. Aronson

    Another 10% went to UPENN/Wharton (including Fred) and 5% to MIT (including Fred), so 55% of VCs went to H,S, Penn, MIT which also happen to be the top four in venture creation (# of companies, dollars funded). Chicken or the egg? In our case (we ONLY do UPENN deals) its much easier for us to do due diligence on PENN founders via peer evaluation, comparison to others. In our case the “PENN” ties have actually boosted a number of minorty/female entrepreneurs that we have invested in.

  38. pakile

    I really appreciated this: “We have hired analysts at USV that did not graduate from college and maybe didn’t even go, I really don’t know and don’t care. What I have learned from all of these individuals is that curious and brilliant people come from all places, all genders, and all ethnic and racial backgrounds.” In our startup, we have both investors and employees who have not graduated from college, and I agree with this statement entirely.