It turns out, most successful entrepreneurs actually do finish college.
New York City universities have been known for producing top-tier tech talent and entrepreneurs. Amongst the wide-selection of institutions, New York University has produced graduates who have made early and sustaining contributions to NYC tech. Here’s a list of 20 NYU alumni who went on to set up some of the city’s biggest tech companies.
Robert Kalin: Etsy
Kalin came up with the idea for Etsy, raised its first batches of venture capital and served as CEO twice before leaving the company in 2011. He graduated from the Gallatin school in 2003 and started Etsy in 2004 from his Fort Greene apartment with the help of his two NYU colleagues when he couldn’t find a good place to sell his home made furniture online.
Chris Maguire: Etsy
Maguire graduated with a BA in Computer Science and co-founded Etsy in 2004. He built the website with Haim Schoppik and served as director of software development until he left in 2008. He went on to found Waffl, a marketplace for small inns and Postling, a startup that helped businesses communicate with customers using social media. He is currently starting an ice cream parlor in Philadelphia called the Tubby Robot Ice Cream Factory.
Haim Schoppik: Etsy
Haim is a non grad alumnus from NYU’s Gallatin school and left in 2005 just as Etsy went live. He was the company’s CTO until he left with his friend Maguire in 2008 to found Waffl. He is currently consulting on a number of projects in Seattle. While he may not have graduated from the university, he did complete enough courses for NYU to consider him an alumnus.
Charles Ranlett Flint: IBM
Flint graduated from the Polytechnic Institute in Brooklyn — these days it's called the NYU Tandon School of Engineering — way back in 1868. In 1911 he founded the Computing-Tabulating-Recording Company which became International Business Machines or IBM 13 years later.
Jeffrey Dachis: Razorfish
Dachis got his master of arts from NYU in 1992 before founding Razorfish with Craig Kanarick in 1994. At various times he was CEO, Chairman and president before leaving in 2001. He is now an advisor to Sprinklr and CEO of OneDrop, an app to help people manage their diabetes.
Dennis Crowley: Foursquare
Crowley graduated with a master's degree from New York University's Interactive Telecommunications Program in 2004. He founded Dodgeball, a location based mobile social service, which was acquired by Google in 2005. In 2009 he set up local search and discovery service mobile app Foursquare, where he remains the CEO.
Jason Finger: Seamless
Finger graduated from NYU in 1999 with both a law degree and an MBA and still found time to set up Seamless before the end of the year. He had been the CEO of the delivery company for 10 years, when he left in 2010, well before Seamless was acquired by GrubHub. Now based in L.A., Finger is an investor and advisor to startups and CEO of three companies including NYC-based LiveAuctioneers.
Paul Applebaum: Seamless
Appelbaum also graduated with a JD from NYU in 1998 before setting up Seamless with Finger, where he was president until 2006. Still in New York, Appelbaum is now a principal at VC firm Rock Ventures LLC.
Todd Arky: Seamless
Another NYU law school classmate of Finger’s, Arky was one of the first employees and ran sales and development for Seamless until 2010. He is also a principal at Rock Ventures LLC these days and has also just founded another startup, TipOffSports.
Andy Applebaum: Seamless
Andy graduated from NYU law school a few years earlier than his co-founders and left the company in 2006. He is also an investor now in his role as managing partner of RiverPark Ventures.
John Johnson: Buzzfeed
Buzzfeed was born when Johnson hired Jonah Peretti (Buzzfeed CEO) to work for the art and tech non-profit Eyebeam and the pair started the Contagious Media Lab. Johnson is still a key member of the Buzzfeed team and director of the Harmony Institute, which studies the social impact of entertainment media. Johnson is an alumni of the NYU Tisch film school.
Shay David: Kaltura
Prior to getting a PhD from Cornell, David graduated with a masters from the NYU Draper Interdisciplinary Program in Humanities and Social Thought in 2003. He co-founded Kaltura, the world’s first open-source online video platform, with Ron Yekutiel, Eran Etam and Michal Tsur in 2006. David is still the chief revenue officer with Kaltura.
Michal Tsur: Kaltura
Tsur has a doctorate in Economic/Game theoretic Analysis of Law from NYU. She is still at Kaltura as president of the company.
David Liu: XO Group
Liu is the chairman of XO Group, which runs online wedding marketplace The Knot, as well as The Bump (focused on pregnancy) and The Nest. Liu graduated from NYU with a BFA in Film and Television in 1986. He launched the Knot with his wife Carley Roney in 1996 and went public three years later. Liu was CEO until 2004 when he became chairman.
Carley Roney: XO Group
Roney met her business and life partner Liu whilst studying in Film and Television NYU. She went on to get a masters in cultural studies, also from NYU. Roney has served as chief creative officer since The Knot was founded in 1996 and is also currently a board member of Rent the Runway.
Noah Brier: Percolate
Brier is CEO and founder of Percolate, an all-round marketing system which started out as a tool to publish social media content. He graduated from NYU with a BA in Media and Culture in 2004 and ran meetup startup likemind before founding Percolate in 2010 with James Gross.
Ragy Thomas: Sprinklr
Thomas is the CEO of Sprinklr, which runs a platform that helps companies manage their social media and is one of the newest members of NYC’s unicorn club. He originally studied Computer Science at Pondicherry University, but got his MBA from NYU’s Leonard N. Stern School of Business in 2003. He worked in a variety of senior technical roles before founding Sprinklr in 2009.
Nancy Lublin: DoSomething.org
Lublin didn’t actually found DoSomething.org, but she turned it from a debt laden company into what it is today — one of the largest teen organizations in the world with over 4.3 million active members and nearly 70 fulltime staff and an annual budget of $20 million. She stepped down as CEO this year to take the helm of her own nonprofit startup Crisis Text Line. She graduated from NYU with a law degree in 2000 and is also the founder of Dress for Success.
Neil Mody: NRelate
Mody was the CEO and co-founder at NRelate, which at its peak was the biggest content recommendation tool on the web. It was founded in 2009 and acquired by Ask.com owner IAC in 2012, which eventually closed NRelate last year. Since then Mody has started SpareMin to change the way we have online conversations.
Frank Lantz: Area/Code
Frank Lantz has been teaching game design at NYU for more than 12 years. In 2005 he founded Area/Code with Kevin Slavin. The company was acquired in 2011 and became Zynga New York where Lantz was creative director until 2013. These days Lantz is back at NYU as director of the NYU Game Center.
Honorable mentions to those who took their business elsewhere:
Eugene Kleiner, Fairchild Semiconductor (San Jose), Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers (Menlo Park)
Jack Dorsey*: Twitter (San Francisco)
*Dorsey didn’t actually graduate from NYU but is said to have thought of the idea for what became Twitter during his stint studying in New York.
Know of any more NYU graduates with local tech businesses? Send an email to [email protected].