They are Rocket Internet alums

What does ‘alums’ mean in the following context? I take it means ‘employees’ who were hired by Rocket Internet at the very early days of the company?

Merkel spent years as a management consultant at Bain working in grocery and retail; co-founders Julian Dames and Christoph Cordes are Rocket Internet alums who respectively founded the Foodora food delivery startup and furniture e-commerce business Fashion for Home (acquired by Home24, where Cordes became CEO).


“Alums” means “graduates”. Probably, they were recent graduates when founded Rocket Internet.
“Many of the young business school graduates who flocked there to work for companies being incubated by Rocket have gone on to found their own technology startups or became local venture capitalists.” (Rocket Internet delists its shares after portfolio value slumps. What happened? | Fortune).


It’s short for alumni.

edit: I didn’t read everything before I replied. Alumni or alums most commonly means graduates. That’s also the dictionary definition. However it’s also used to mean any past members of any group. In this case it means they previously worked for the company Rocket Internet.

Even when used in the context of education it does not necessarily mean they graduated. Anyone who attended a school might be called alumni even if they didn’t graduate.

This is all American English. The terminology for education tends to vary quite a bit from place to place. The word may be more strictly used in other places.


Your take on it is correct, Torsten.
Though ‘alums’ may be the crude or alternate or shortened form of ‘alumni’, the word has to refer to someone who was part of something in the past whether it be an educational institution or an employment environment.
Here it refers to the former employees of ‘Rocket Internet’.


I would think that alum became popular because of the confusion over alumnus, alumna, alumni and alumnae.

Of course, it’s not to be confused with KAl(SO4)2·12H2O.


In my experience, people use the word alumni as singular, plural, male and female. I’m willing to bet that a significant number of people don’t even know other forms exist. It might even be a majority.

This is common for words that use the ending I for the plural. Like cactus / cacti. I always thought the word cacti was stupid so I don’t use it. A lot of people, including myself, use cactus as both singular and plural.

Stimulus / stimuli
Syllabus / syllabi
Focus / foci
Abacus / abaci
Succubus / succubi

The plural of these kind of words is confusing and very rarely used by normal people. The plural form should be gotten rid of to streamline the language. English is overly complicated because it tries to hang onto elements from several different languages. English should be it’s own cohesive language.


I tend to concur with you, @Arinker, in view of the growing recognition and acceptance of gender neutral words. Alum is shorter too.

1 Like