Sam Altman dropped out of Stanford to start a start-up, Loopt, which sold for $43 million. As president of Y Combinator, Altman has returned to Stanford to teach, but not to share is trade secrets only with those who can pay the tuition, but to offer the course online to everyone, as reported by Palo Alto online. His class, “How to Start a Startup” is available live to students, but is also open source, with lectures, slides and readings available at startupclass.saltman.com.
Altman will give only 3 of the 20 classes, and the rest will be given over to other startup masters like Dustin Moskovitz, co-founder of Facebook, Palantir founder Peter Thiel and Netscape founder Marc Andreessen, along with Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer. Many lecturers give counter-intuitive advice, like not to start a startup in college, but to enjoy life. One lecturer, Paul Graham, remarked, “Mark Zuckerberg will never get to bum around a foreign country. He can do things like take charter jets to fly to foreign countries, but his success has taken a lot of serendipity out of his life. Facebook is running him as much as he’s running Facebook.”
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Another theme in lectures is to take advantage of life as a student, rather than becoming obsessed with a startup idea. Altman said that while that advice might sound a “bit hypocritical” since he dropped out of college for is startup, he added, “I certainly would have been a better founder had I waited to 22 or 23.”