Here’s an interesting announcement. It’s the Thiel Fellowship, the creation of Peter Thiel, co-founder of PayPal, early figure in Facebook, and a hedge fund head. He’s a libertarian, too.
The idea is this. Here’s the sarcastic version: Twenty people under 20 years of age will receive $100,000 to drop out of school—I mean, “stop out”—so that they might do some real thinking and creating and entrepreneur-ing.
And here’s the straight version: Thiel funds 20 under-20-year-olds with $100k to give them the independence and support to work on outside-the-box ideas and inventions. The goal is to foster a “generation of tech visionaries,” providing backing for projects that just might push technology (and society) toward better and wiser and more efficient uses.
The assumption is that college campuses and college curricula do not inspire this kind of creativity. Instead, young people run up debt, grow bored in general-ed classes, and postpone their best ideas.
Not that the recipients will be on their own. The press release notes that “Peter Thiel’s network of tech entrepreneurs and philanthropists—drawn from PayPal, Facebook, Palantir Technologies, Founders Fund, the Singularity Institute, and others—will teach the recipients about creating disruptive technologies and offer mentorship, employment opportunities, support, and training.” That sounds more like an alternative curriculum than a “stop-out,” but he may be right that this intense tutelage is better suited to the next Gates and Zuckerberg than the traditional college.