Yet Another Harvard-Dropout Tech Star Just Became a Billionaire

Coupang, founded by Bom Kim, just had a big IPO

A view of the headquarters of South Korean e-commerce firm Coupang.
SOPA Images/LightRocket via Gett

Is there a formula to successfully becoming a tech billionaire? Having a brilliant idea is certainly one part of it, as is being in the right place at the right time. But there’s another quality that a number of prominent technology company founders have in common: they’re all Harvard dropouts. Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg are the most well-known names on the list, but they’re not alone — and the fact that they share Harvard dropout status with Buckminster Fuller suggests that this isn’t exactly a new phenomenon.

Now, the latest name to be added to that list is Bom Kim, fonder of the South Korean e-commerce company Coupang. A new article at Bloomberg notes that Coupang’s IPO, and its current valuation at over $84 billion, means that Kim’s stake in it is worth $8.6 billion.

Kim started his first business while a Harvard undergraduate in 2001. By 2009, he had dropped out of Harvard’s MBA program. A year later, he started Coupang.

The scope of Coupang’s business has prompted some comparisons to Amazon, and the company has become known for a rapid delivery program, called Rocket Delivery. “The constraints that have forced us to build a solution are unique to Korea, but who wouldn’t want this service anywhere in the world?” Kim said in 2019.

Still, the comparisons to Amazon aren’t always meant positively. The Bloomberg article points out that the company has been criticized as a result of some delivery people and logistics personnel dying, possibly due to overwork. It’s a worrying trend in the world of e-commerce and fast deliveries.

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