Stanford-affiliated firms generate $2.7 trillion a year

'Innovation survey' of grads tries to quantify jobs created by alumni-founded companies

Companies formed by Stanford University graduates or professors generate global revenues of $2.7 trillion annually and have created 5.4 million jobs since the 1930s, according to a study that attempted to quantify the contributions of Stanford-affiliated entrepreneurs.

Nearly 28,000 Stanford alumni responded to a 2011 "Stanford Innovation Survey" that was sent to 143,482 of the university's 191,332 living alumni. The survey, sponsored by the venture capital firm Sequoia Capital, was prepared by Charles Eesley, an assistant professor in the Stanford School of Engineering, and William Miller, an emeritus professor in the Graduate School of Business.

Based on survey results, Eesley and Miller estimated that Stanford alumni and faculty have created 39,900 companies since the 1930s, which -- if gathered into an independent nation -- would constitute the world's 10th largest economy.

Companies founded by alumni include tech giants like Google, HP and Cisco Systems, as well as a continuing stream of tech startups. They also include widely recognized consumer brands like Gap, Nike, Netflix, Trader Joe's and Tesla Motors.

Stanford graduates also created some 30,000 nonprofit organizations, according to Eesley and Miller, including the Special Olympics founded by Eunice Kennedy Shriver, a Stanford sociology graduate, and the microfinance organization Kiva, founded by Jessica Jackley, who earned a Stanford MBA, and Matt Flannery, with degrees in symbolic systems and philosophy.

"Stanford has been the wellspring of some of the most enduring companies of our time," said Sequoia Capital partner Roelof Botha.

James D. Plummer, dean of the School of Engineering, said, "While the findings of the Stanford Innovation Survey are a tribute to the successful entrepreneurial legacy of our community, they also provide inspiration for our students, researches and faculty to fulfill the full promise of science and technology to be the drivers of economic and societal prosperity in the 21st century."

Eesley and Miller noted an "entrepreneurial ecosystem" and mentorships among companies and the university, in which business people teach classes and hire Stanford students as interns, and faculty sit on corporate boards.

Stanford President John Hennessy sits on the boards of Google and Cisco Systems. Plummer serves on the boards of Intel, International Rectifier and Cadence Design Systems. Business school dean Garth Saloner sits on the boards of Quick Response Services, Brilliant Digital Entertainment, NextStage Entertainment and Tradeweave Inc.

— Palo Alto Weekly staff

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Like this comment
Posted by Chris Zaharias
a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 29, 2012 at 11:30 am

Full survey available here:

Web Link

Like this comment
Posted by Wondering?
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 29, 2012 at 8:35 pm

The world-wide GDP is about $53T. Stanford's $2.7T seems like a significant portion of the world's total economic output. Wonder if anyone writing this report considered this little point.

Like this comment
Posted by Ducatigirl
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Oct 29, 2012 at 9:18 pm

Ducatigirl is a registered user.

Stanford is to the present technology what Edinbugh University was to the Industrial Recolution. It is as simple as that!

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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