Unrelated articles on Harvard meritocrats

Financial Advisor: Harvard Tops In UHNW Alumni
Harvard University has turned out more graduates who have reached ultra-high-net-worth status than any other university in the world, according to Wealth-X, the educational and research business development organization of ultra-high-net-worth (UHNW) individuals.

Wealth-X defines this demographic as those with $30 million or more in assets. All but three of the universities with the highest number of UHNW individuals are in the United States.

Harvard has the highest number of billionaires with 52 and the largest number of UHNW individuals with 2,964. That group has $622 billion in net worth. The University of Pennsylvania, which has 1,502 UHNW graduates with a total of $242 billion in assets, is a distant second in aggregate UHNW assets. [. . .]

“American universities dominate the rankings largely because these prestigious institutions have been able to attract global talent,” says Wealth-X President David S. Friedman. “Most of the ultra-high-net-worth alumni have self-made fortunes, underscoring how these institutions have served as launching pads for many of the world’s most successful entrepreneurs and companies.”

The Fall of Academics at Harvard
This prevalence of academic dishonesty is symptomatic of a pervading mentality on campus that neglects the classroom. [. . .]

“Nowadays there’s much less willingness on the part of the students to take courses or to have majors for which they don’t see the utilitarian application,” he says. Students take less time to explore intellectually, worried more about carving out a tangible path for their futures.

Gardner cites the extensive recruitment for investment banking, management, and consulting firms as potentially adding fuel to the fire. This emphasis on what he calls a “one-way race to Wall Street, Silicon Valley, or Hollywood” comes with an “inordinate” worry about maintaining near-perfect grades—the only foreseeable path to weighty titles and even heavier paychecks.

When an education holds less value than the prestige that follows, dishonesty can be more easily justified as a means to an end. Harvard becomes simply a pit-stop on the way.

Along with these new definitions of success comes its reckless pursuit, by which, Gardner believes, students have become “hollow” in an ethical sense that plays out in an educational setting: They are not only more inclined to cheat, but are also more likely to see it as acceptable. He cites the example of Marilee Jones, former Dean of Admissions at MIT, who resigned in 2007 after admitting that she had lied on her own resume regarding her education. In a group of 15 students from another school to which Gardner spoke, none thought she should have been fired. Jones, they said, had been doing a good job—and everyone lies on their resume, after all.

The Harvard People I Know Who Are Breaking The Law (Again)
The first name of one of my freshman-year roomates was Nathan. Nathan's last name was Blecharczyk. Nathan is now the Chief Technology Officer of Airbnb, Inc., a company that raised $112 million from Andreesen-Horowitz, a prominent venture capital firm, and was recently valued at over $1 billion. Just after the company announced this enormous round of funding in mid-2011, news broke that Airbnb had been sending fraudulent, misleading e-mail spam via Craigslist, in violation of the CAN-SPAM Act, to thousands of individuals, and possibly many more. The company effectively denied responsibility, blaming a contractor. Nonetheless, the press releases from Andreesen-Horowitz citing Airbnb's amazing traffic already sounded suspect. Gawker's Ryan Tate asked, "Did Airbnb Scam Its Way To $1 Billion?", as did other major news publications.

The answer is most likely yes. What most people don't know is that during our freshman and sophomore years of college, Nathan was one of the top 100 spammers in the world. This key fact, which I'm guessing was not disclosed to Airbnb's investors, does not appear on Google or any major search engine because of ROKSO's good behavior de-listing policy, but if you know where to look, it's crystal clear. While we were roommates, Nathan ran a sort of enterprise called Data Miners out of Grays M-54 in Harvard Yard using a variety of aliases for himself. Data Miners would hop from service provider to service provider each week, sending millions of messages at a time. Nathan was clearly brilliant—he had designed both custom hardware and software to send these messages in bulk as efficiently as possible—and he paid his way through college thanks to these endeavors, but what he possessed in engineering skill he obviously lacked in morals. [. . .]

Airbnb isn't the only darling of Silicon Valley violating state money transmission law, however. If you've ever played Farmville, you know how tempting it is to buy items that will keep your farm going strong. Facebook has recently decreed that all games must use its Facebook Credits system, which allows customers to—you guessed it—pre-fund accounts that are denominated in credits, rather than dollars, so that those funds can be distributed to companies other than Facebook. Those accounts can be used now at third-party web sites (including international sites) and have long been used to compensate third-party game developers, who presumably convert the credits back into dollars on their end. This, too, is money transmission. Like Airbnb, Facebook doesn't have a license, and that's a shame, because Mark Zuckerberg, his directors, and investors could all find themselves in federal prison for violating forty-seven money transmission statutes, including California's.

However unlikely—and to be clear, it's "unlikely" because no State would bother prosecuting wealthy campaign donors and job providers, so for both companies the licenses are effectively optional, leaving your money at risk—this fate would be fitting given Mark's actions around the same time that Nathan was considering what to do about the FTC. As I've noted in the past, the scene that you didn't see in The Social Network was the one where he broke into Crimson reporters' e-mail accounts using failed Facebook sign in attempts, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1030, the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, and common sense.

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