Forbes recently documented his path of co-founder of PayPal and Yelp, Max Levchin. Born in the Ukraine, Max moved to Chicago during high school with his family to escape an Anti-Semitic sentiment. Max studied at U of I in Champaign-Urbana, but felt the urge to leave for Silicon Valley even while still attended. He eventually graduated and immediately moved out to Palo Alto, California where he was immensely successful.
The Forbes article describes his desire to head west. In summary, he wanted to take advantage of the entrepreneurial network that the article calls the “Silicon Valley Startup Commons.” (for more information, see the link to the article below)
While his rags-to-riches story is compelling, it is a sign of a missed opportunity for Champaign-Urbana. Upon moving west, Levchin recruited two other U of I engineers to move west and join the PayPal team. The success of PayPal and the associated job-creation could have been a part of the Champaign-Urbana community had the company been founded there. In addition, many ex-PayPal employees shared the entrepreneurial mindset and eventually left to begin other successful start-ups in the community (including U of I alum Steve Chen, co-founder of YouTube). For examples of the successes of PayPal employees see the second link below.
Forbes article: http://www.forbes.com/sites/petercohan/2012/09/14/yelp-chair-max-levchins-trek-from-kiev-to-san-francisco/2/
Ex-PayPal employees: http://www.forbes.com/2006/07/11/cx_rr_0711paypalslide_2.html?thisSpeed=20000