OpenCurriculum (YC W14) Looks To Foster Open-Source Education By Releasing Free Online Library

YC W14 non-profit OpenCurriculum announced the launch of a free, online library of educational materials for math teachers:

Aimed at providing teachers with educational materials by making them open and competitive, OpenCurriculum, which launched in Pittsburgh, curates and organizes material from sites such as teacher blogs and lesson material publishers. Teachers can create lesson plans and more through OpenCurriculum.org.

In its effort to provide high-quality learning and an openness in K-12 education, OpenCurriculum released a 5,000-document library on its website for math teachers to use as lesson materials. Anyone can use the material on the website without logging in, but to get access to tools such as the lesson plan builder, you need to create an account. The tools aren’t tailored for a particular subject matter.

OpenCurriculum’s tools are used by about 6,000 teachers and users every month. With the tools from the new library, about 20 teachers who were in beta with the library found that teachers are saving 50 percent of the first-time lesson planning and 20 percent of lesson plan revision time.

Unbabel (YC W14) Raises $1.5M To Expand Translation Service, Grow Customer Base

Congrats, Unbabel team! 

In the interconnected world, machines are too rigid in understanding the nuances in translating languages and humans are too slow for on-the-fly translation. That’s why Unbabel brings robots and humans together to deliver a faster and affordable translation service.

Launched in March and backed by Y Combinator, CEO and co-founder Vasco Pedro says four months later, Unbabel is growing about 15 percent a week in sales and 12 percent a week on the number of editors working on the platform. The company has about 160 paying customers.

Welcome Scott, Dalton, Adora, Brett, Nicole, Alexis, and Qasar

We have a bunch of new additions to the YC team to announce.

Scott Bell is joining the YC software team.  He was a co-founder of Skysheet from YC W09. He’s coming to YC from Houston where he was doing consulting and Lisp hacking.

Dalton Caldwell is becoming a partner.  He was the cofounder and CEO of imeem (acquired by MySpace in 2009), and the cofounder and CEO of App.net.  He has a BS in Symbolic Systems and a BA in Psychology from Stanford University.

Adora Cheung is joining as a part-time partner.  She is the cofounder and CEO of Homejoy.  Previously, she studied computer science at Clemson University and was the cofounder of Task.FM.

Brett Gibson is joining the YC software team.  He was cofounder of Slinkset and Posterous, both funded by Y Combinator in 2008 with the latter acquired by Twitter in 2012. He later founded Posthaven with fellow Posterous cofounder Garry Tan.

Nicole Lazar is joining YC as our first batch manager.  She’ll be responsible for helping the founders in the current batch and making sure everything runs smoothly.  Previously, she worked at Andreessen Horowitz.

Alexis Ohanian is becoming a partner.  Alexis cofounded reddit, which was funded by Y Combinator in 2005 acquired by Condé Nast in 2006 and he's now on the Board of Directors. He then launched hipmunk (YC 2010) and ran marketing + PR until leaving to fight SOPA & PIPA.  He has a BA in history and BS in commerce from University of Virginia.

Qasar Younis is becoming a partner.  He was the founder and CEO of TalkBin, which was funded by Y Combinator and acquired by Google. At Google, Qasar went on to be the product lead for business facing product.  He has a BS in Mechanical Engineering from Kettering University and a MBA from Harvard. 

Welcome to the team!

(Dalton and Qasar were already part-time partners, and Alexis was our ambassador to the east.)

Product Hunt (YC S14) Is In Current Y Combinator Batch

Welcome to Y Combinator, Product Hunt

Much-buzzed-about startup Product Hunt has another trick up its sleeve — it turns out the startup is in the current Y Combinator batch. As a reminder, Product Hunt is a community-powered news website for tech product launches. It’s a website where you can submit, upvote and comment on today’s new tech products. And it has quickly become the center of the conversations for many influential tech people.

Why The First YC-Backed Biotech Company (Ginkgo Bioworks YC S14) May Just Be The Future Of Pharma

Ginkgo Bioworks sounds kind of like a mad science lab of the future. The Boston-based biotech company is currently working on a project with DARPA to treat antibiotic-resistant germs, using designer microbes to convert CO2 emissions into fuel and is somehow making yeast smell like roses.

Bioworks co-founder Jason Kelly considers these projects, and many others, the future of the pharmaceutical industry. “The designer organisms we create are solving a supply problem,” he says. “Instead of going to the agriculture industry or pharma we will eventually just use organisms.”

Kelly says this is the main reason he and his co-founders started Ginkgo while at MIT. The four students began discussing how inefficient it was to program microbes. It was too slow and tedious to make any real dent. It was also a good reason biotech didn’t get the kind of funding that other tech was used to. So they switched things up, added robotics and created the first organism engineering foundry. Their “organism engineers” now take DNA sequencing from nature and basically create designer microbes that can actually replace technology with biology.

Read the full story on TechCrunch

Harnessing Big Data For Social Good, Nonprofit Bayes Impact (YC S14) Launches

We're excited to welcome Bayes Impact to Y Combinator. Bayes Impact is a nonprofit that deploys teams of data scientists to create data-driven solutions for challenging social problems. The organization runs full-time fellowship programs that bring together domain experts and data scientists from top technology companies and academic institutions.

Currently, Bayes Impact has 6 fellows working on 4 projects over the course of their 3-month pilot summer program. The Fall Cohort will have 25 Fellows working on 10 projects that tackle problems including:

• Reducing prison overcrowding by educating parole decisions with inmates risk assessment models

• Making microfinance more economically viable through fraud detection algorithms

• Predicting fires and smarter routing of fire trucks for fire departments

• Identifying early indicators of Parkinson’s in collaboration with the Michael J. Fox Foundation

Bayes Impact was founded in April 2014 by Paul Duan (formerly lead data scientist at Eventbrite), Andrew Jiang (founded the government tech company Hitchhiker Labs), and Eric Liu (former VC at Thomvest Ventures). They are funded by Y Combinator, and supported by Teespring (YC W13) with a $50,000 grant. 

YC Portfolio Stats

We get asked a lot for statistics on the YC portfolio.  Even though some of these aren’t that helpful [1], here is the latest update on the numbers we get asked about the most.  As always, all the credit goes to the founders. 

Total market cap of all YC companies: >$30 billion

Total money raised by all YC companies: >$3 billion

Number of YC companies worth more than $1 billion: 3 [2]

Number of YC companies worth more than $100 million: >20 [3]

Number of companies funded by YC so far: 716

Number of companies in the current batch: 85

Acceptance rate of the current batch: <3%

Number of nuclear energy companies in the current batch: 2


[1] Intermediate valuations aren’t worth very much, for example.  But we don’t keep statistics on total revenue or jobs created, though I expect both numbers would be impressive.

 [2] This is how many companies are currently worth over $1 billion, but even if we never funded another company I think it would at least double and probably triple or quadruple.

 [3] Similar to the note above, this number should go up a lot just from our current portfolio—it generally takes companies a few years to get above this threshold.

MedXT’s (YC W13) Platform Brings Medical Imaging In Line With Today’s Cloud Technology

Today MedXT launches its cloud platform for medical imaging, which brings the workflows of radiologists and technicians in line with the rest of us by bridging imaging equipment already installed at hospital and clinics with our electronic health records.

While health care reform has done a lot to push electronic health records forward, many practices in the medical industry continue to rely on technologies and practices that predate the Internet. Images from a CT or MRI scan are saved to a DVD and physically transported from one facility to another, or scanners may only connect to computers on-premises via networking protocols unfamiliar to most in the Valley.

There are two key features to MedXT’s platform. The first is the software running on a server located at a hospital or clinic that acts as the recipient on the local network for data coming from imaging devices, like CT scanners, in the old-school DICOM format. MedXT CTO Reshma Khilnani told TechCrunch that the software can be installed in minutes and that the imaging equipment just does its thing pointed at a new address, no upgrade necessary.

With A Mobile App, MTailor (YC S14) Offers Custom-Fit Tailored Shirts For Just $69

If you want to look good, one of the easiest ways to do so is by simply making sure that your clothes fit well. But it’s not cheap — going to a tailor to get a shirt fitted and made costs real money.

Y Combinator-backed MTailor wants to change that by offering affordable, custom-fit clothing. It can do that because it removes much of the cost associated with taking customers’ measurements by measuring them via mobile apps.

MTailor is a new kind of fashion company, one which enables customers to design and purchase premium, tailored shirts for just $69 each. That’s well below what one might expect if they went to a tailor to have a shirt fitted, and even less than some people will pay if they were to buy a dress shirt off the rack from a department store.

Y Combinator has filed an official comment with the FCC

Federal Communications Commission
445 12th Street, SW
Washington D.C. 20554

July 14, 2014

Re: Open Internet Remand, GN Docket 14-28

Dear Chairman Wheeler and Commissioners Clyburn, Rosenworcel, Pai, and O’Rielly:

Y Combinator is Silicon Valley’s premier early stage investor. Y Combinator has been investing in early stage startups since 2005 and now has a portfolio of over 700 companies valued at over $20 billion and creating over 3,000 jobs at quickly growing companies, many of whom are aggressively hiring. Y Combinator was an early investor in Dropbox, Airbnb, Stripe, Scribd, Heroku, Pebble, Twitch, Loopt, WePay, Crowdtilt, Teespring, Codecademy, Hipmunk, Coinbase, Cloudkick, Wufoo, ZenPayroll, SocialCam, Parse, and reddit.

The New York Times called Y Combinator “Silicon Valley’s Startup Machine”; the Times also described Y Combinator’s demo days, where our early stage companies present their products and services to “450 of the world’s richest and most influential technology investors” as “a biannual milestone, Silicon Valley’s version of the N.F.L. Scouting Combine.” We were the subject of a book by the Times’s former Digital Domain columnist, The Launch Pad, in which Eric Ries called us “a national treasure, a Silicon Valley seed fund that is mass-producing new startups,” and Marc Andreessen declared we were the “white-hot center of the new Silicon Valley startup ecosystem.” Within Silicon Valley, receiving funding from Y Combinator often carries more credibility than a degree from Harvard or Stanford. We receive thousands of applications from companies for fewer than 60 investments -- an acceptance rate lower than any of the nation’s top universities.

I was lucky enough to be in the very first round of Y Combinator’s investments and created reddit.com with my college roommate Steve Huffman. We were two recent college graduates with no connections and $12,000 in funding, raised from Y Combinator, building something from a pair of computers in a small rented apartment in Medford, MA. Today reddit is a top 50 website with over 110 million monthly unique visitors -- more traffic than CNN.com or NYTimes.com. We lived the American Dream thanks to the open internet and today I’m a partner at Y Combinator.

How? The world isn’t flat; but the world wide web is. It must remain that way.

We need the FCC to keep the level playing field that let me--and so many others--succeed as entrepreneurs. The reason so much innovation and wealth creation has happened in tech over the last decade is that any American with her laptop and Internet connection could build a startup and compete with incumbents (and even beat them) without a team of lawyers and without a large budget to pay for priority from ISPs.

Let me be clear: we need a bright-line, per se rule against discrimination, access fees, and paid prioritization on both mobile and fixed.

Title II of the Communications Act seems the most appropriate way to properly define broadband ISPs to be offering telecommunications. Speaking on behalf of Y Combinator, I’m urging you to adopt such a rule.

The rule you have proposed, based on Section 706 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, would not suffice. We know Section 706 cannot support a rule against discrimination, access fees, and paid prioritization because the appellate court in Verizon v. FCC ruled on these matters. The Court wrote: “We think it obvious that the Commission would violate the Communications Act were it to regulate broadband providers as common carriers. Given the Commission’s still-binding decision to classify broadband providers not as providers of ‘telecommunications services’ [under Title II] but instead as providers of ‘information services,’ … such treatment would” violate the Act. The Court held that, absent reclassifying broadband providers as Title II carriers, the FCC would be treating broadband providers as common carriers unless it left open room for “substantial room for individualized bargaining and discrimination in terms.”

Therefore, the FCC cannot impose a nondiscrimination rule--unless it classifies broadband providers under Title II. The Court also held that, without classifying broadband providers under Title II, the FCC could not ban charging fees for priority access, even though the FCC recognized such fees would be a “significant departure from historical and current practice.” The FCC could not ban such fees without Title II because banning the fees would leave “no room at all” for individualized bargaining and discrimination, which is necessary under Section 706. The Court simply couldn’t have been clearer: so long as the FCC refuses to classify broadband providers as “telecommunications services” under Title II, the FCC cannot ban ISPs’ technical discrimination, access fees, or paid prioritization.

While the Chairman has sought to protect innovation through a “commercial reasonableness” test and a “minimum” service guarantee, unfortunately neither would provide startups any relief. No startup has the funds and lawyers and economists to take on billion-dollar ISPs in an FCC action based on the vague legal standards in the proposal. Indeed, the startup ecosystem needs a bright-line, per se rule against discrimination--rather than a multi-part, totality-of-the-circumstances standard with a case-by-case approach or even a mere presumption against discrimination. Anything less would cause considerable uncertainty for entrepreneurs and investors and provide little comfort, as startups and small businesses are resource-constrained and need to know that access to the Internet will remain neutral, as it has been in the past.    

And, even with access to at least minimum service (often metaphorically referred to as a “slow lane”), startups would struggle to compete against those who were able to afford paying for a fast lane--or an exclusive fast lane. Even the slightest discrimination or paid prioritization significantly affects startups, as microseconds matter with both webpage-loading and real-time content. That discriminatory treatment harms startups is reflected by the outpouring of dissent from startup founders and investors alike. The fate of reddit may have been very different if Comcast had discriminated against our little two-person-startup in favor of the NBC.com news portal and the sites of other news giants.

Only reclassifying broadband as Title II will protect an open and neutral Internet. In pursuing reclassification, however, the FCC should choose to forebear from regulations unneeded to promote competition and innovation. As recommended by the EFF, the FCC should “explicitly reject any telecommunications regulations beyond specific and narrow prohibitions and requirements designed to create a fair and level playing field for innovation and user choice.”

Over 190 companies, 100 investors, and hundreds of thousands of average individuals have already spoken up to oppose the Chairman’s plan and call for nondiscrimination and a ban on new tolls. Even before initial comments are due, several companies have called for Title II reclassification; these include Kickstarter (doing so in the Washington Post), Etsy, Codecademy, Dwolla, General Assembly, CodeCombat, Contextly, and OpenCurriculum. Leading investors in technology startups, including Union Square Ventures and, now, Y Combinator have also urged the Commission to pursue Title II.

Competition is the fuel of the free market. We demand it not only as investors looking to invest in the next multi-billion-dollar American job creator, and not only as entrepreneurs who want to start it, but also as consumers who want to see innovation continue to thrive. Our sector requires a level playing field in order to lead the world, create jobs, and produce tremendous value for the United States economy.

Mr. Chairman, you say you oppose a two-tier Internet and want to preserve Internet openness, so let’s reclassify broadband as the public utility we know it to be. Ensure that the Internet thrives as a platform for free commerce and speech for generations to come. May the United States of America continue to lead in innovating on the greatest free market the world has ever seen.

Sincerely,

Alexis Ohanian
Partner, Y Combinator
Startup founder, reddit