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MIT Drop-Out, Alexandr Wang Became The World’s Youngest Self-Made Billionaire at 25
Making a self-made millionaire is most often attributed to dedication and hard work. It’s a status many aspire to have, as the world revolves around money, and well, millionaires have that.
But there are very few people that ever grow up thinking that they’ll become a billionaire. Instead, there is a preconceived idea that a lot of work and a huge amount of time are needed to get there. But is this notion correct?
Well, for some, like Alexandr Wang (now 26), the co-owner of Scale AI, it came at the early age of 25. While he is not technically the youngest billionaire in the world, he is ranked third on the list.
However, he is the youngest self-made billionaire on the planet right now. Both Kim Yung-Youn (18) and Kevin David Lehmann (20), who are first and second on the list, have inherited their wealth.
The odds of becoming a billionaire are so low that not even the most prolific professional gamblers wouldn’t even dare to chance their luck with them. Statistics show that there are just over 700 billionaires in America.
With a population size of 336.2 million as of 17 March 2023, it leaves the odds of you becoming a billionaire at 480,285:1 in the USA. Yet despite dropping out of one of the most prestigious tech schools in the country, Wang has made it onto the list as one of the youngest billionaires in the world. What was his secret?
What Does It Take To Make It as One of The Youngest Billionaires by Self-Made Means?
A brief look at Wang’s life reveals some key factors that may contribute to his enormous wealth. While there is a lot more that goes into the package, there are some definite stand-out points:
- Risk Taking
From a young age, Alexandr Wang was both a math guru and a self-taught coding whizz. In fact, by 17 years of age, he already had a coding job at Quora, the world’s leading question-and-answer site. It is here that he met Scale AI’s co-founder, Lucy Guo.
Alexandr Wang made it into MIT, which is by no means an easy feat, as it has an acceptance rate of only 6.7%. So, there is no questioning the man’s IQ at all.
MIT has turned out great minds over the decades, including Buzz Aldrin (the second Astronaut to walk on the moon), Irene S. Gordon (ranked 45th in Fortune Magazine’s list of the 50 Most Powerful Women in Business in 2015), Jonah Peretti (co-founder of both Buzzfeed and the Huffington Post), Kofi Anan (Secretary General of the UN from 1997 to 2006), and Andrea Wong (president of Sony International Production), to name a few.
The world of technology is blazing a trail so fast that ideas and concepts must be instituted immediately to prevent the next person from taking it and running with it. Such was the case with Alexandr Wang.
He was studying machine learning and artificial intelligence at MIT when he saw a gap and took it. The uses for AI are endless today, and getting into the industry as early as possible meant that he was positioned on the pioneering side of the technology and not on the tail end of it.
So, at 19, he dropped out of college after completing only his freshman year and started Scale AI in 2016. The timing was tremendous, as numerous industries sought to implement machine learning into their business structures.
They started supplying autonomous vehicle companies with the data needed to implement machine learning models. They then expanded their repertoire to other industries, including enterprise automation, e-commerce, insurance, robotics, and more. The turning point came when they managed to secure contracts with the US Air Force to implement AI into the military protocols to optimize their data management.
Scale AI’s tech can analyze satellite images far quicker than human analysts can, which has aided massively in determining the damage that Russian bombs are having in Ukraine. These contracts have amounted to $350+ million with the government alone.
Speak to any successful entrepreneur, and you’ll hear all about the risks they took to make their businesses work. Dropping out of one of the most prestigious schools in the country is taking a massive chance. But when an opportunity is staring you in the face, sometimes you must make the hard decision.
Even without the bachelor’s degree that so many people think you need, it is possible to make it. Like a game of poker, if you have a good strategy, implement it. And when you’re not sure you will be successful, bluff your way to a win.
Alexandr Wang didn’t have all the qualifications he needed to gain work at the level he did, but his gamble paid off, and he now has a 15% stake in a $7.3 billion company, bringing his net worth to just under $1.1 billion.
Success Stories of More of The Youngest Billionaires in The World
There are stories of many other young billionaires, and their tale is very similar. Their success was determined in a similar manner too. They knew something about the business, struck at the right time, and took the risk.
In his heyday, Mark Zuckerberg held the reigns as the youngest self-made billionaire, having started Facebook at 19 and hitting that 10-digit number at only 23 years of age. He again was timeous with his technology.
The internet was young, and people wanted to connect with each other. So, he provided them with the tech necessary to revolutionize their social interaction. But Facebook has gone on to be so much more than this today. The initial success factor behind this billion-dollar business was its versatility and uniqueness at the time.
Ed Craven is another young billionaire entrepreneur. He did not start the industry he is in but revolutionized it with a new and innovative way of thinking. The now 27-year-old co-owner of Stake.com, the world’s most successful crypto casino, is the youngest billionaire in Australia. With so many other online casino operations out there, what stood his model out from the rest?
Well, the Stake strategy is a lot different from other platforms out there. Harnessing modern technology like live streaming was the most significant turning point for Stake.
Of course, involving ambassadors like Drake to punt your brand doesn’t hurt either. So, when you combine Drake and streaming together, you have a winning recipe.
There are numerous names that we could attribute to the youngest billionaires list. Here is a token few:
- Stanley Tang (31): Co-founder of DoorDash
- Austin Russell (28): Founded Luminar Technologies
- Brian Breslow (29): Founded Bolt
- Henrique Dubugras (27) Co-founded Brex
- Pedro Franceschi (26) Co-founded Brex
Get Out of The Box and Run With It!
Thinking out of the box has helped all the young billionaires mentioned above reach the top. But it’s not about who comes out with the concepts first. It’s about who has the guts and the know-how to implement them first. As a result, the world of tech is yet to produce many more young billionaires, an exciting prospect for those who enjoy watching technology grow.
Michael launched Wealth of Geeks to make personal finance fun. He has worked in personal finance for over 20 years, helping families reduce taxes, increase their income, and save for retirement. Michael is passionate about personal finance, side hustles, and all things geeky.