Tech companies started by University of Illinois alum

Ali Afridi
Hack . VC
Published in
3 min readJul 23, 2015

This is the first post in my series on Entrepreneurship at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Subscribe to this series at

In this post I’ll highlight some of the famous companies that have been founded by alum of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (U of I). My focus is primarily on founders who are alum of the U of I; however, many of our faculty and staff have also started great companies.

The list below is just a small sample of the companies founded by alumni. As a side project I’m working on a more comprehensive list at The list is still a work in progress but shows just how many great entrepreneurs were at one point roaming around in central Illinois. If there are any companies that are missing you can let me know through twitter (@AliKAfridi).

Founded before 2000

Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) — Jerry Sanders III (B.S. '58)

Beckman Instruments — Arnold O. Beckman (B.S. '22, M.S. '23) — Chris Michel (B.A. '89)

Netscape — Eric Bina (B.S. '86, M.S. '88) and Marc Andreessen (B.S. '93)

Oracle Corp — Larry Ellison (*) and Bob Miner (B.S. ‘63)

PayPal — Luke Nosek (B.S. '96) and Max Levchin (B.S. '97)

Playboy Enterprises— Hugh Hefner (B.A. '49)

Siebel Systems (acquired by Oracle) — Thomas Siebel (B.S. '73, M.S. '83, MBA '83)

Founded 2000–2008

Bloom Energy — K.R. Sridhar (M.S. [1], PhD [1])

Bytemobile (acquired by Citrix Systems) — Constantine Polychronopoulos (Ph.D. '86)

CashNetUSA / Enova (acquired by Cash America)— Al Goldstein (B.S. '02)

Crunchyroll (acquired by Otter Media)— James Lin (*)

Curiosoft (acquired by Zynga) — Roger Dickey (B.S. '05)

Denali Software (acquired by Cadence)—Sanjay K. Srivastava (M.S. '87)

Founders Fund — Luke Nosek (B.S. '96)

Geni (acquired by MyHeritage) — Alan Braverman (B.S. '95)

hi5 (acquired by if(we))— Ramu Yalamanchi (B.S. '96)

IronPort Systems (acquired by Cisco) — Scott Banister (*)

MalwareBytes — Marcin Kleczynski (B.S. [1])

MyMiniLife (acquired by Zynga) — Joel Poloney* (B.S. '08), Amitt Mahajan (B.S. '05), Luke Rajlich (B.S. '05), Sizhao Yang (B.S. '05)

Ning (acquired by GlamMedia) Marc Andreessen (B.S. '93)

Palantir Technologies —Nathan Gettings (B.A. [1])

Pattern Insight (acquired by VMware)—Spiros Xanthos (M.S. '06, Ph.D. *) Quingbo Zhu (Ph.D. '06), Zhenmin Li (Ph.D. '06)

Slide (acquired by Google)— Max Levchin (B.S. ‘97)

Tesla Motors — Martin Eberhard (B.S. '81, M.S. '83)

Xoom (acquired by Paypal) — Alan Braverman (B.S. '95)

Yammer (acquired by Microsoft) — Alan Braverman (B.S. '95)

Yelp — Russel Simmons (B.S. '98) and Jeremy Stoppelman (B.S. '99)

Youtube (acquired by Google)— Jawed Karim (B.S. '04) and Steve Chen (B.S. '99)

Founded 2009 to Present

Affirm — Max Levchin (B.S. '97) and Nathan Gettings (B.A. [1])

Andreessen Horowitz — Marc Andreessen (B.S. '93)

Avant — Al Goldstein (B.S. '02)

C3 Energy — Thomas Siebel (B.S. '73, M.S. '83, MBA '83)

Electroninks — Brett Walker (Ph.D. '13)

Funzio (acquired by GREE)— Ram Gudavalli (B.S. '00)

Gigster — Roger Dickey (B.S. ‘05)

Girls Who Code — Reshma Saujani (B.A. '97) — Kyle Wild (B.S. '06), Ryan Spraetz (B.S. '06), Dan Kador (B.S. '06)

MessageMe (acquired by Yahoo)Vivek Tatineni (B.S. '06)

Misfit Wearables — Sonny Vu (B.S. '95, B.A. '95)

Miss Possible — Supriya Hobbs (B.S. '14) and Janna Eaves (B.S. '15)

Optimizely — Pete Koomen (M.S. '06)

RelateIQ (acquired by Salesforce) — Adam Evans (B.S. '04)

Spindle (acquired by Twitter)Alex Lambert (B.S. '09)

Scheedule — Suraj Samaranayake (B.S. '08) and Mike Barker (B.S. '08)

Toro (acquired by Google) — Amitt Mahajan (B.S. '05) and Joel Poloney* (B.S. '08)

* Founder did not complete their degree at U of I

[1] — Could not find year of graduation

Subscribe to for future posts related to this topic