Forbes India 15th Anniversary Special

Ted Dintersmith: Professor investor

VC legend Ted Dintersmith on disrupting the school system and life's most important class

Rich Karlgaard
Published: Dec 26, 2017 08:57:12 AM IST
Updated: Dec 22, 2017 02:01:06 PM IST

Ted Dintersmith: Professor investor

Q. You were a successful venture capitalist. Now you want to take a wrecking ball to college education. Why?
Watching my kids in school and saying, “What the hell?” It’s as though educators want to crush out of kids the very skills and mindsets they need.

Q. Why are educators doing that?
They follow a 125-year-old model. But now it’s much worse, with this Game Of Thrones competition to get into the best colleges.

Q. Is online education the answer?
Let me be the skunk at the garden party: Making it easier for kids to shove math procedures into their short-term memory is not reimagining education. We don’t need to do obsolete things better; we need to do better things.

Q. What are the better things?
Stop requiring calculus, for one, and start requiring statistics instead. Ask, “Hey, Boeing, Microsoft: Anyone here doing integrals and derivatives by hand?” That’s laughable. It’s done computationally. But statistics—every company I talk to is desperate for somebody with data analytics capability, where statistics is essential.

Q. You recently spoke about this to 250 college admissions directors. What did they say?

They said, “We like calculus because it’s hard. It’s a good way to compare the kids.” What a bad justification.

Ted Dintersmith spoke with Rich Karlgaard, Forbes’s editor-at-large and Global Futurist. This interview has been edited and condensed. For the extended conversation, visit

(This story appears in the 05 January, 2018 issue of Forbes India. To visit our Archives, click here.)