Prestige, selectivity and a reputation for academic rigor characterize Yale University. The school accepts fewer than 7% of its applicants. Its incoming students boast some of the loftiest test scores, grades and extracurricular achievements in the country. Publications such as The Princeton Review and U.S. News & World Report consistently rate Yale as one of the top five universities in the United States.
Yale is also one of the top incubators of billionaires in the world. As of 2014, Yale boasts 20 alumni with net worths of $1 billion or greater, trailing only Harvard University, with 22, and the University of Pennsylvania, with 25. Yale's billionaire alums are mostly business magnates. Many of them, such as the three profiled below, made their fortunes in various fields of finance.
Wilbur L. Ross, Jr. is an American investor who specializes is resuscitating failing companies through leveraged buyouts. After graduating from Yale with his bachelor's degree and receiving his MBA from Harvard, Ross began his business career as a bankruptcy advisor before shifting to private equity. He negotiated deals with labor unions in struggling rust belt industries, such as steel, coal and textiles, restructuring companies and selling them for a profit.
His activities have courted controversy at times, as restructuring almost invariably results in the shedding of jobs. However, many companies emerged stronger and ultimately created more jobs thanks to his intervention. After Ross sold International Steel Group to Mittal Steel in 2005, the resulting company merged with competitor Arcelor to become ArcelorMittal SA (NYSE: MT). As of 2016, ArcelorMittal stood as the world's largest steel producer.
As of 2016, Ross's estimated net worth is $2.9 billion.
Like Wilbur Ross, Stephen A. Schwarzman received his undergraduate degree at Yale and then his MBA at Harvard. After business school, he began his investment banking career at the now-defunct Lehman Brothers, ascending the corporate ladder rapidly and reaching the position of managing director by age 31. From there, he rose to oversee all of the company's mergers and acquisition (M&A) activity. In 1985, Schwarzman and a colleague left Lehman Brothers to start the private equity firm Blackstone.
In 2007, The Blackstone Group LP (NYSE: BX) went public, with Schwarzman's stake in the initial public offering (IPO) worth nearly $10 billion. Schwarzman continues to be a visible Yale alumnus. In 2015, he donated $150 million to the university for the construction of a new campus center. His estimated net worth, as of 2016, was $12.6 billion.
A member of Yale's class of 1980, James Chanos is an investor who favors betting on individual stocks after intense research. He conducts fundamental analysis to identify companies he feels the market has overvalued or undervalued. During the early 1980s, he made vast sums of money in short selling while the stock market was reeling amid a deep recession.
In perhaps his most famous investing accomplishment, Chanos recognized the cracks in Enron's facade at least a year before the company's implosion, when most investors – in particular, company employees – were still gobbling up the stock. He went against the grain and shorted the company, making millions of dollars in the process. As of 2016, his estimated net worth was $1.5 billion.
Charles B. Johnson graduated from Yale in 1954. After serving in the United States Army, he went to work for Franklin Resources, a mutual fund company started by his father. Franklin Resources would later become one of a group of subsidiaries known as Franklin Templeton Investments (NYSE: BEN), which, as of 2016, employed over 9,000 people and had assets under management (AUM) of $850 billion.
Johnson made headlines in 2013 when he donated $250 million to his alma mater for the construction of two new residential colleges. It was the largest monetary gift ever received by the school. As of 2016, his estimated net worth was $5.8 billion.