Obama compares Tumblr CEO to ‘LeBron or Durant’

President Obama on Tuesday compared the 27-year-old founder and CEO of Internet platform Tumblr to basketball stars such as LeBron James and Kevin Durant — they walked the rare path to success without a college diploma.

In a discussion with David Karp, Obama said that young people should not ignore higher education just because top tech leaders like Karp, Bill Gates and Mark ZuckerbergMark Elliot ZuckerbergOvernight Tech: Dems turn up the heat on Equifax | Trump's science budget | Inside Rupert Murdoch's fight with Facebook | Cyber experts identify Olympics malware Rupert Murdoch pressured Facebook for changes to help news publishers: report Overnight Tech: GOP bill would bar agencies from using Chinese tech | How Russian accounts used Tumblr during the election | Warren, Equifax spar over breach claims | Dem worries about tech addiction | New lobster emoji MORE all dropped out without getting a degree.

“You wouldn’t know it looking at you, but you’re like LeBron or Durant,” the president said to laughs in the White House’s State Dining room.

“There are only going to be so many Zuckerbergs or Gateses who are able to short circuit the traditional path. If you can more power to you,” but most students should still seriously consider college, he added.

“The point is that for the average young person, an investment in college is always going to be a smart investment.”

He also urged students to get into science, technology, math and engineering specifically. 

“Technology is going to continue to drive innovation and just to be a good citizen you need some background in STEM,” he said.

The president said that his administration is trying to prioritize the field because of a shortage of engineers, computer scientists, researchers and teachers.

That’s especially true for women, he added, who are particularly underrepresented in the tech sector.

“You see that imbalance in Silicon Valley. You see it in a lot of high-tech firms,” Obama said.

Obama used the Tuesday afternoon event to highlight a White House online tool to rank and compare colleges and push Congress to pass legislation to reduce student loan debt.

On Monday, Obama issued an executive order to allow more borrowers to quality for a federal program capping some repayments.