Should David Karp Have Dropped Out of School?

David Karp dropped out of school at age 15 and few years later became the founder and CEO of the microblogging site Tumblr. According to Wikipedia:

A microblog differs from a traditional blog in that its content is typically smaller in both actual and aggregate file size. Microblogs “allow users to exchange small elements of content such as short sentences, individual images, or video links”.
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Karp grew up on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, the son of Barbara Ackerman and Michael Karp. He attended The Calhoun School from 3rd to 8th grade, where his mother taught science, until high school when he briefly attended Bronx Science before dropping out at the age of 15 and started homeschooling. Karp began interning for animation producer Fred Seibert at 14, and from there went on to work as a software consultant for UrbanBaby, an online parenting forum. Karp left UrbanBaby in 2006 and began working on Tumblr later that year. The site launched early in 2007.


Tumbl competes directly against Posterous, a company funded by the accelerator Y Combinator. Tumblr has been designed better and has gained more users than Posterous. According to Mashable columnist Jolie O’Dell, speaking of the departure of Posterous founder Garry Tan to work at Y Combinator:

We’re now unsure about is Posterous’ future. In spite of its “convert or die” importing campaign, Posterous remains something of a tech scene darling that has yet to grab the mainstream adoption that some of its competitors, such as Tumblr and WordPress, have seen. And a founder leaving a startup before profitability or an exit has been achieved is rarely a good sign of the business’s overall health.

WordPress, founded in 2003 by jazz musician Matt Mullenweg when he was 19, is harder to use than Tumblr, but is growing fast and is now installed on 22% of new domains on the web. Facebook, founded by college dropout Mark Zuckerberg when he was 18, is also used widely to exchange small elements of content such as short sentences, individual images, or video links. Google+ sports similar features and has garnered millions of users within weeks of launch, and there are many other competitors.

According to the Wall Street Journal:

Tumblr has scant revenue and a nascent business model, but the fast-growing blogging service said it raised $85 million in venture capital. The investment values the company at $800 million, said people familiar with the matter….

So far Tumblr’s lack of revenue has kept some major Silicon Valley venture firms from signing onto the deal, according to people familiar the matter. But at least two prominent firms—Greylock Partners, an investor in Facebook Inc. and Groupon Inc., and Twitter investor Insight Venture Partners—have joined the latest investment round, said Tumblr.

Other new investors include Chernin Group, Richard Branson and returning investor partners Spark Capital, Union Square Ventures and Sequoia Capital.

I hope that David Karp earns his high school diploma someday, and goes to college and earns a degree in computer science, and becomes more desirable in the job market, and lives a more prosperous life working for a company that earns revenue. In the meantime, I hope his parents will take good care of him. If not, perhaps a venture capitalist might adopt him and treat him as one of his own.

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