Susan Wojcicki is CEO of YouTube and arguably the most powerful woman on the internet. According to Silicon Valley lore, Wojcicki began her rapid ascendency as the landlady of Larry Page and Sergey Brin. In 1998, the founders of Google rented the garage and two rooms of her house near Palo Alto, California. Wojcicki subsequently became one of Google's first employees, starting as the company's marketing manager, before she was responsible for turning Google into the king of digital advertising. In 2006, she added to her success by convincing Page and Brin to buy a video-sharing platform called YouTube. Since 2014, she has served as YouTube's CEO, overseeing its tremendous growth. Prior to Google, she had been employed by Intel Corporation, Bain & Co., and R.B. Webber & Co. Today, the high-powered tech executive boasts an estimated net worth in excess of $800 million and is continually included on various "Most Powerful Women" lists around the world.
A humanities major at Harvard, Wojcicki didn't take her first computer science class until she was a senior. She originally planned on getting a PhD in economics and pursuing a career in academia. But all of that changed after she discovered an interest in technology. Thinking that she should "learn something about computers" before graduating, she signed up for her first computer science class at Harvard: CS50. In a 2014 video sent to Harvard CS50 students, the CEO shared her thoughts on the importance of her college experiences in Cambridge. "CS50 changed my life. I continue to learn and build; it gave me a great foundation . . . I think it's so wonderful that you all are taking it, because that's how the world is going to change."
Unfortunately, as a senior, Wojcicki was too far along in her studies to change majors. But she did graduate with honors in 1990, earning a bachelor's degree in history and literature.
More recently, the Silicon Valley superstar showed that she is as generous as she is brilliant. In 2020, it was announced that The Harvard Data Science Initiative (HDSI) had received a $2 million gift from Wojcicki and her husband. The generous donation was given to help support HDSI Postdoctoral Fellows. In honor of her gift, two incoming Fellows each year will be identified as the Wojcicki Troper HDSI Postdoctoral Fellows, ensuring that her legacy will continue to grow.