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Billionaire pays Lebanese teen $100k to skip college

Billionaire Paypal co-founder Peter Thiel has pledged $100,000 to 18-year-old Lebanese innovator Jihad Kawas, for choosing to skip college. (Photo via TedXBeirut)

(BEIRUT, LEBANON) — Move over, Mark Zuckerburg.

The billionaire co-founder of Paypal, Peter Thiel, has pledged $100,000 to a Lebanese teen for choosing to skip college.

18-year-old Jihad Kawas will receive the six-figure stipend and an elite group of mentors over the next two years — to participate in the Theil Foundation’s mission to inspire the next generation of social entrepreneurs.

Thiel founded the program in 2011 with the belief that college discourages students from being innovators and leaves them in piles of student debt.

Kawas applied to the program, along with 2,800 other applicants, and was accepted into the exclusive group of 20 fellows on June 5.

But it’s not all that surprising, considering Kawas started exploring the mobile app industry and launching mobile startups when he was just 13-years-old.

Then in 2013, at 16-years-old, he founded Saily, a social marketplace for people to buy and sell items on their mobile devices.

Meanwhile, in between business deals and marketing campaigns, he was a student at Houssam Eddine Hariri High School in Saida, where he recently graduated.

But Kawas felt school was obstructing — not advancing — his innovative aspirations. And that’s why he chose to skip college and focus on his growing businesses.

“We should spend less time learning about how things work, and spend more time making things work,” Kawas said during a TEDx talk in Beirut in February. “(School) does not relate to our interests and does not make us better at what we’re good at.”

Thiel, who has a net worth of $2.2 billion, agrees.

“Nothing forces us to funnel students into a tournament that bankrupts the losers and turns the winners into conformists,” Thiel wrote in The Washington Post. “But that’s what will happen until we start questioning whether college is our only option.”

Today, Thiel Fellows have raised over $142 million in venture capital and created at least $41 million in revenue.

Jihad Kawas is well on his way.

WATCH Jihad’s talk, “Why School is Not Ready for Us,” at TEDx Beirut:

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