It ought to be remembered that there is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things. Because the innovator has for enemies all those who have done well under the old conditions.
– Machiavelli, The Prince
I put the kids to bed and started reading Forbes’ Midas List, their list of the top 100 tech and life sciences VCs. As I browsed, looking at where they went to college, I started to notice something:
|Number of degrees by school, for the schools who issued more than one degree to a top investor. Many of the investors got more than one degree, so the numbers sum to more than 100.|
See the pattern? That’s right, they all went to the same schools*.
I have to admit to being surprised. Not by the ordering of the schools, but by the sheer lack of diversity. The top four schools issued more than half of the degrees. The top ten more than 70% of them. The top 15 schools include the ten bastions of the establishment: the Ivy League, Stanford and MIT.
It’s striking that in a field where us gatekeepers are supposed to be spending our time finding and backing unusual people–those willing to take inordinate risk, come up with world-changing ideas, and generally just think different–we all went to the same few schools, the schools whose graduates would have done well under the old conditions, as Machiavelli had it. I wonder what VC would look like if its top practitioners were more different.
* And, to avoid the appearance of hypocrisy, I should disclose that while I’m not on the list, I also went to one of these schools, Columbia.