Most Famous Cornell Alumni, CEOs & Graduates

This is Ross Blankenship, a founder of Angel Kings, a top venture capital as well as an investor in many top Cornell start-ups. I'm also an alum, and a proud alum at that, and I believe that our startup community is really fostering and growing strong ever since we were awarded the right to build the Cornell tech campus in New York. I think we have to continue to foster that entrepreneurship and that innovation for many generations to come.

Speaking of which, in looking at the generations of Cornell start-up entrepreneurs and looking at the ones who've been most successful and their impact, which ones have had an impact, and I want to just make a brief comment of the most famous Cornell alum for their impacts and start-ups and entrepreneurship.


Starting with the left to right, you've got Frank Gannett, who was eventually rivals with William Randoplh Hearst, the Hearst dynasty. Frank Gannett went to Cornell and had, from an early age, established himself in the newspaper and journalist industry. Having started many, many newspaper companies from Ithica, Rochester, Utica, etc, all the way up in New York, he then established radio stations, television stations and then expanded his empire, his television broadcasting art throughout the United States. Now, actually at Cornell, there's Gannett Hall. After his passing, Frank Gannett established the Gannett Foundation, which is the modern health center that gets used a lot. He ran unsuccessfully for governor in New York in 1936, and was the assistant chair of the RNC, but his overall mindset and what he did for the communication's industry is quite profound. That's Frank Gannett. He passed away in 1957 but much of his impact still lives on.

The second on our list is Joseph Coors, Sr. Joseph Coors, Sr., who went to Cornell, graduated in 1939 with a degree in chemical engineering. Way before calculators. He lived to be 85 up until 2003, when he passed away from lymphoma. Joseph Coors helped build the Coors brand name and helped make it one of the top 5 breweries in the United States, behind Anheiser-Busch and other breweries out there. Joseph Coors, Sr. also was the founding member of the Heritage Foundation, which is one of the most well-known think tanks in the United States and around the world. He has a big impact, not just from business, but also through politics on future generations.

Another on our list of most famous Cornell alum include John M. Olin. John M. Olin, who also lived another long life - I think that means that the more you help the start-up community at Cornell, the longer you live. He lived to be 89 years old. He was born in 1892 and died in September or 1982. He graduated from Cornell with a degree in chemistry. You probably have seen or heard of the Olin Foundation and the Olin Library system, which is still very active.  John M. Olin is well-known for having established a lot of the ammunition plants, the manufacturing of arms and weaponry rather throughout the 30s and 40s and also helped with a lot of the wartime efforts. So that's where he got most of his money and, good news is, he was also a philanthropist later in his life as the Foundation continues to give back to Cornell.

Others on our list include Irene Rosenfeld. We want more women on this list. I think we did a lot of research and I'm going to continue to add more and more women to this list because I feel like Irene is just one of many. If you're a Cornellian and want to comment and give suggestions, please feel free. We're totally open to that. Irene is a phenomenal woman who was born in 1953. She's still around kicking butt as the CEO of Mondelez International. She's the chairwoman and CEO of Mondelez International, one of the largest food manufacturing and distributing companies in the world. She was the former CEO of Frito-Lay and Pepsi Co., which is a division of Pepsi Co. She graduated, by the way, with a bachelor's degree in psychology from Cornell. She's got a Ph.D. now in Marketing and Stats but she actually had a BA degree in Psych at Cornell through the Arts and Science college. She's a total rockstar and we're glad to have her as a Cornellian doing great things across the world.


Last, but not least, is John Zimmer. He is the former CEO of Zimride that has now become Lyft. Lyft is taking Uber head on and John Zimmer is one of the founders of Lyft. If you don't know Lyft, it's basically the car-ride sharing app that you can download on your phone and request a car on demand. Big, big impact on our society, transportation, and carving out his own niche in that industry. John has had tremendous success and we wish the best for him.

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