Online Entrepreneurs Who “Made It” After 40

It’s a myth. A story perpetuated by those “30 under 30” lists that are meant to inspire young people to greatness. And there’s nothing wrong with inspiring young people to get out there and achieve something great, but it doesn’t mean that all opportunity is lost if you’re on the other side of 30. You’re not too old to start now, despite what other people may lead you to believe. 

In fact, and I’ve mentioned this before, did you know that the average age of entrepreneurs when they started their companies is 42? And this doesn’t just apply to more traditional offline business either, though it’s interesting to note that Sam Walton didn’t open his first Walmart until he was 44 and Harland Sanders didn’t start Kentucky Fried Chicken until he was in his 60s! 

Thinking of starting an online business? It’s never too late. Take a look at these notable examples of successful entrepreneurs who “made it” after the age of 40.

Lynda Weinman (Lynda.com)

For facial tissue, there’s Kleenex. For cotton swabs, there’s Q-Tips. And for professional online learning and training, there’s Lynda.com. Have you ever wondered how the company got its name? It’s actually named after co-founder Lynda Weinman, who was 40 years old at the time. 

She teamed up with her husband Bruce Heavin to create the online training library, quickly growing to employ hundreds of full-time staff, including over 100 teachers who earn royalties on a shared revenue model. After 20 years in business, Weinman sold Lynda.com to LinkedIn in 2015 for a cool $1.5 billion. LinkedIn was then acquired by Microsoft the following year, and then Lynda.com was merged and renamed LinkedIn Learning in 2017. 

Today, Weinman has an estimated net worth of over $300 million.

William A. Porter (E-Trade)

It’s almost crazy to think that it wasn’t all that long ago that we couldn’t do so many of the things that we do online today. Why would I mail a physical document to you when I can just email it to you? You can even sign it digitally. We do our banking online, we file our taxes online, and we buy and sell stocks online too. But, as you know, that wasn’t always the case.

William “Bill” Porter got an Apple II way back in 1980 and was immediately inspired by the possibilities of the personal computer. He bumped into programmer Bernie Newcomb at a party, and the two of them partnered up to build what was first known as TradePlus and later as E-Trade. Today, the company is synonymous with buying stocks over the Internet, earning an annual net income of over $1 billion with total assets worth somewhere in the $65 billion range. 

David Duffield (PeopleSoft)

Today, David Duffield has an estimated net worth of over $12 billion. The overwhelming majority of that didn’t come about until he was well into his late 40s and into his 50s. It was at the age of 46 that he founded PeopleSoft, a human resources application software company that was later acquired by Oracle for a healthy sum of $10 billion.

This is what happens when you offer a great product and you target the right kind of customers, as PeopleSoft offered everything from human resources management systems to supply chain management. In time, it grew to become the second largest software company of its kind behind SAP. 

Arianna Huffington (Huffington Post)

Of the people on this list, Arianna Huffington probably has the most mainstream name recognition. You’ve seen her on The Ellen Show, The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, on CNN, and more. Indeed, she’s been named as one of the world’s most influential people by Time Magazine and as one of the world’s most powerful women by Forbes. She’s a big deal.

She authored several books and co-hosted a late night show on BBC1, but she didn’t really start amassing her fortune until she launched The Huffington Post (now known simply as HuffPost) website in 2005 with Andrew Breitbart, Kenneth Lerer and Jonah Peretti. Huffington’s age at the time: 55. The site was acquired by AOL for $315 million in 2011. 

Huffington’s estimated net worth in 2020 is in the $50 million range.

Anyone Can Do It

Don’t let excuses get in the way. You’re not too old or too inexperienced. Don’t fret about your lack of connections or your poor grammar skills. Those can all be improved with time, hard work, and dedication. It’s true that anyone can do it; it’s just that you have to choose that you want to do it and you want it bad enough. 

With a little bit of luck on your side, you could be the next Arianna Huffington or Bill Porter. Just don’t wait for all your ducks to get in a row. Get started now. 

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