Hack Hack Hack Hack It Apart
Team GhostShell returned late Monday with Project WestWind: a leak of 120,000 records from 100 major universities around the world.
Team GhostShell is the hacking group behind Project Hellfire, which launched in August this year. Project Hellfire lifted 1 million accounts from 100 websites around the world, compromising data from the CIA and from Wall Street.
The hacked data leaked in Project WestWind does indeed appear to come from a who’s who of major learning institutions. They include Harvard, Cambridge, Princeton, Tokyo University, Cornell and New York University.
In their Pastebin announcement, Team GhostShell said Project WestWind was a serious effort to jump-start a dialogue on the state of higher education today. Apparently this hack wasn’t pranksterism for the lulz, but hacktivism for the greater good:
Be Cool Stay In School
Minority Report is a guest column by Sarah Kunst, who does business development and product at fashion app Kaleidoscope. She’s a black, non-engineer female in tech, but plans to IPO anyway.
Few founder origin stories capture the nerd mind like “Hacker as dropout.” From Bill Gates at Microsoft to Box’s Adam Levie, and of course a little-known CEO named Zuck, the allure of leaving the dorm room behind to rake in billions seems irresistible.
Recently, this middle finger to the establishment of higher education has been codified by billionaire rabble rouser Peter Thiel. This past Sunday, for the second time in three months, the New York Times found cause for a close examination of the virtues of Mr. Thiel’s 20 under 20 Fellowship as a way for exceptional teenagers to pass college and collect $100,000 to spend on changing the world. Granted, participants aren’t your typical undeclared freshmen at State College U. Rather, they’ve already exhibited Mensa-level intelligence, with a work ethic to match.
What doesn’t coordinate quite as well? Their social lives. A recent night saw several Thiel fellows–all under legal drinking age–at a San Francisco house party described by one attendee as “tech hippies doing drugs and sitting in a cuddle pile.”
Teach Me How to Startup
Today is the online debut of Forbes‘ “Top Colleges” issue. Only they should have called it the “Top College” issue, because–though the rankings aren’t online yet–that big splashy profile of Instagram founder Kevin Systrom makes it pretty clear that Stanford is coming out ahead. Apologies all around to Cornell, Technion, Columbia, NYU, MIT, Harvard…
Mr. Systrom’s debt to his alma mater is no secret, and Ken Auletta’s New Yorker profile is really patient zero in this epidemic of Stanford Fever, but Forbes takes it to the next level, devoting a fair bit of the piece to crowning the Palo Alto Trade School as king of the academic hill, tech-wise. The feature is full of lines like this:
What does it take to overshadow an Olympian? If you guessed “Be Mark Zuckerberg,” please collect your prize. Bloomberg News profiles Samyr Laine, who is headed to the London Olympics to represent Haiti in the triple jump. Heartwarming! But it’s not a news peg. You know what’s a news page? Being the Facebook founder’s former freshman roommate.
Asked about his youthful days with the billionaire, Mr. Laine presumably heaved a great, big sigh and said:
“We had a good time our freshman year in Straus, we played a ton of PlayStation,” Laine said in an interview at his home in Lorton, Virginia. “We probably didn’t sleep nearly as much as we should have. None of us slept as little as Mark did, and now you can see why.”
This man is literally about to go for the gold, and all anyone wants to talk about is some famous guy he used to bunk with. Ain’t no problems like Harvard grad problems.
Teach Me How to Startup
On a clear November day, the hard-working students of Harvard College took a collective study break and poured onto the walkway in front of Lamont Library. Undergrads, an inordinate number of them sporting hoodies, pressed their bodies against a set of temporary barricades, their smartphones and cameras held aloft, eyes intent on a grinning visitor making his way from one of the Yard’s gates to a mic stand that had been set up smack in the middle of the walkway.
The excitement wasn’t for Jason Segel, who would be selected as the Hasty Pudding’s Man of the Year in February, nor for Andy Samberg, who’d be tapped to give the Class Day Speech later that year, but a former classmate—a “concentrator” in computer science and psychology—who eight years ago had been just like them, a hard-working kid with amazing grades and questionable social skills, well on his way to a comfortable future.
As Mark Zuckerberg paused to answer questions, the giddiness was almost enough to make everyone forget that, like Bill Gates before him, the Facebook founder had dropped out of Harvard well before receiving his sheepskin.
Mark Zuckerberg-adjacent opportunists are getting more creative in their efforts to cash in on Facebook—another one of Zuck’s old classmates just lost a suit against the producers of The Social Network for “defamation by omission.” But there may be one entity with a real case for a claim: Harvard University.
Venture capitalist Peter Thiel pushed the debate about whether a college education is worth the student debt past the tipping point–he’d rather pay smart kids $100,000-a-piece to build a start-up–but the argument has taken on a life of its own.
Entrepreneurs have long romanticized the notion of a boot-strapped, self-taught success and held a healthy skepticism over whether a classroom can prepare you for the business world. But Eli Portnoy, a TechStars alum/Harvard MBA and CEO of ThinkNear, a location-based services start-up that helps merchants drive traffic to stores during down periods, takes an updated look at the current landscape.
It’s no longer just a choice between going to college or venturing out on your own. With the proliferation of incubators and accelerators, especially top programs offering a credible alternative, Mr. Portnoy delves into the specifics, outlining the upsides of going to TechStars versus getting a Harvard MBA. His conclusion?