Silicon Valley is replete with hundreds of successful and thousands of unsuccessful entrepreneurs who have one thing in common. They all take pride in their “dropped out from college” status. Of course, the cohort is led by people like Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg and Larry Page, who are still enjoying their “indefinite leave of absence” from their respective colleges (Harvard and Stanford). But among them there are few who did complete their degrees. Paul Graham is one of them who not only finished his PhD in Computer Science from Harvard but went on to study painting at RISD and the Accademia di Belle Arti in Florence. Surprising that someone interested in computers would also be interested in painting. Isn’t it?
So who is Paul Graham? In short, he is a programmer, writer, and investor. He was the co-founder of Viaweb which was acquired by Yahoo in 1998, where it became Yahoo Store. In 2005, he, along with few others, started Y Combinator, the first of a new type of startup incubator. Since 2005, Y Combinator has funded over 1000 startups, including Dropbox, Airbnb, Stripe, and Reddit.
He’s a nerd but a with a deep aesthetic sense and empathy for people who are outsiders to the subject of computer science. How do I know that? Well I have read his essays. Although most of them are centred around computers, he does cover topics such as wealth creation and unequal income distribution.
Apart from Hackers and Painters, Graham has authored two other books on a programming language called Lisp. Hackers and Painters is based on the essays that Graham published on his blog between 2001 and 2004. He continues to write on fairly diverse topics on his blog, which is a treasure trove of wisdom.
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