An Ultra-Exclusive High School In California Is Producing Some Of Today's Top Startup Founders
Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel attended Crossroads School for Arts & Sciences.
Mark Suster, a venture capitalist who lives in Southern California, is helping his child apply to local middle schools. One of his top choices is a private school called Crossroads, which costs tens of thousands per academic year. His child will have to compete for one of 50 – 100 slots; most openings are given to children of the school's 3,000+ alumni.
Crossroads School for Arts & Sciences is a private, K-12 program that was founded in 1971. With just 1,159 students, it has become one of Santa Monica's most prestigious high schools — so prestigious that it has been profiled in Vanity Fair. It's an artsier alternative to Harvard-Westlake, a local high school that is so academically challenging, it's said to make any college feel easy. Harvard-Westlake alumni include actors Jason Segel, Jake Gyllenhaal, Jamie Lee Curtis, and Tori Spelling.
Crossroads, however, values music, drama, visual arts, film, writing and dance as much as it values typical learnings like math and history. MTV stars Spencer Pratt and Whitney Port have walked through Crossroads' corridors. Better-known Hollywood alumni include Kate Hudson, Jonah Hill, Jack Black, Gwyneth Paltrow and Zooey Deschanel.
While Crossroads is well-known in the celebrity circuit, it's also starting to gain recognition in the startup world too. The school has produced some of today's top entrepreneurs.
Michael Heyward, CEO of Whisper, attended Crossroads.
Snapchat CEO and co-founder Evan Spiegel, 23, was a student there just a few years ago. So was Michael Heyward, 26, who founded popular secrecy app, Whisper. Viddy co-founder Chris Ovitz went there too. Whistle, a startup that has raised $6 million to track pet activity and health, was also founded by a Crossroads graduate.
At Crossroads, Spiegel honed the design skills that have helped him build Snapchat into a business worth billions of dollars.
A fellow classmate tells CNET that Spiegel was always "adamant" about his ideas; Crossroads prides itself on helping students gain self-confidence.
One of Spiegels' high school teachers recalls him being critical of the way math was taught at Crossroads. To prove his point, he wrote a paper on the topic and interviewed students about the curriculum. During his reporting, Spiegel softened to the school's teaching philosophy.