November 4, 2014
You may have seen the catchy headline suggesting that Mobile Roadie founder Michael Schneider may be “too old for the tech industry” at age 30. These types of clickbait headlines are dangerous to the industry and set a prejudice in place that may prevent truly great entrepreneurs from taking the helm at the next game-changing startups. Addressing ageism in tech is an important topic, but reinforcing the idea that someone is washed up after age 25 is simply reinforcing a limiting belief that is of no practical use.
Vivek Wadhwa, whose credentials are vast and include fellowships and directorships at Stanford and Duke and distinguished scholar at Singularity and Emory, has countered these ideas and has gone so far as to challenge Venture Capital firms to be held accountable for their loss in revenue due directly to investing solely in younger founders who did not produce. He challenges that building a trillion-dollar industry requires “experience, an understanding of the problems people face, and cross-disciplinary skills. All of these come with age and experience, which middle-aged entrepreneurs have in abundance. That is why we need to get beyond the stereotypes and realize that older entrepreneurs are going to better the world.”
That’s why I was thrilled to see this interactive infographic by Anna Vital on the Funders and Founders blog. Shown below is the static version, with the age-at-startup listed for more than 100 entrepreneurs. If you go to the original graphic, you can choose an age range for a more detailed look. Find a renewed inspiration in the idea that you can start up at any age – and you can start over as well, again and again.
- Sergey Brin and Larry Page may have been 25 when they started Google, but Jim Kimsey was 44 when he started AOL.
- Robert Noyce was 41 when he started Intel; Gordon Moore was 39.
- Reid Hoffman was 36 when he started LinkedIn.
- Marc Benioff was 35 when he started Salesforce.
- Larry Ellison was 33 when he started Oracle.
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