Former Harvard President Larry Summers Says Peter Thiel’s Fellowship Program Is “Tragic”


Larry Summers — former Harvard president and Secretary of the Treasury — is not a fan of Peter Thiel, according to TechCrunch. In fact, he called the Thiel Fellowship program “the single most misdirected bit of philanthropy in this decade” while speaking at the Nantucket Project conference earlier this week, and contends that successful college-dropouts are rare exceptions, not to be emulated.

This criticism may not be surprising coming from a PhD-holding economist whose parents were also lifelong academics, but Summers is far from the only hater. Vivek Wadhwa writes in VentureBeat that most of the success coming out of the Fellowship “seems to be a mirage — or just plain silly.” Under the silly category, Wadhwa counts Ben Yu’s Sprayable Caffeine, which recently raised over $170,000 on Indiegogo, as well as Giglocator, a live music service which sold for six figures in 2012.

Says Summers, “I think it’s hard to look back and say it’s a sad thing that Bill Gates dropped out of college — world’s OK, he’s OK. I think it’s a hard thing to say that it’s sad that Mark Zuckerberg dropped out of college. But they are extraordinary exceptions, and if any significant number of intellectually able people, of the kind that would have the opportunity to attend top schools are dropping out, I think it’s tragic.”