Welcome Dominika, John, Domonique, Ben and Harj!

We're excited to welcome a few new people to YC: 

Dominika Blackappl is joining YC as a part-time partner. She is an industrial and user experience designer who cofounded and led 5 startups, two of which had successful exits. Prior to that, Dominika ran her own design firm and spent time at IDEO.

John Collison is joining YC as a part-time partner. John is the cofounder of Stripe (YC S10), which he started while he was studying physics at Harvard. 

Domonique Fines is joining YC as Head of Events. Domonique comes to us from frog Design where she did office management and events. Domonique is a native of Oakland, CA and got her bachelor's from Clark Atlanta University.   

Ben Holzman is joining the YC Continuity team as a part-time partner. Ben has expertise in enterprise and infrastructure software companies. Most recently, Ben was a Managing Director at Bain Capital Ventures, where he spent over 8 years investing in and building software companies. 

And finally, we're happy to welcome Harjeet Taggar to YC's Board of Overseers. He'll be taking over Adora's spot, since she joined us as a full-time partner. Harj was a partner at YC until he left to start Triplebyte (YC S15). And before that he founded Auctomatic (YC W7). 

Welcome to YC!

Startup School 2016 applications are open

Applications for Startup School 2016 are open now, and we're excited to see you there: http://www.startupschool.org/.

Saturday, September 17, 2016
Flint Center, Cupertino, CA

Startup School is a free to attend, one-day conference where you'll hear stories and practical advice from founders and investors.

This year, we're joined by:
Marc Andreessen, a16z
Kalam Dennis and Reham Fagiri, AptDeco
Ooshma Garg, Gobble
Reid Hoffman, LinkedIn and Greylock Partners
Gabe Leydon, Machine Zone
Ben Silbermann, Pinterest

Learn how they got started, what went wrong, what surprised them, and what happened as their companies grew.

You'll also get a peek at some of what we do at YC. Kevin Hale and Qasar Younis will host on-stage office hours with three companies from the audience, and Sam Altman and Paul Buchheit will hear pitches and workshop them on-stage.

APPLY HERE by August 15

Investor Day

Below is a copy of an email I sent to investors who attend YC's Demo Day. It discusses some of the changes we’re making and how they will impact Demo Day.

YC Demo Day Investors,

We’re making some changes to Y Combinator’s Demo Days - please take a minute to read below because they are material.

As with previous batches, Demo Days for the Summer 2016 batch will be split over two days on August 22 and August 23. A RSVP email will be coming to you in the following weeks.  Additionally please keep August 24th available as we’re trying something new this batch called “Investor Day”.

First, when investors watch Demo Day presentations, we’ll have a “request to meet” button next to each startup in the YC Demo Day app. If you watch a presentation and you’d like to request a meeting with the founders to learn more, you’ll click that button. We’ll then ask you to rank the startups you clicked to meet by 8pm on Tuesday 8/23. Second, founders will receive a list of investors who have requested to meet with them, and they will also rank who they want to talk to. Using both these ranked inputs, our software will create “Investor Day” schedules for each investor and each startup, which will take place at the Computer History Museum on Wednesday 8/24. Therefore please also keep 8/24 available on your schedules.

On Wednesday 8/24, all the companies will be set up at tables to meet with you face to face. Each startup will have 10-15 slots available and each meeting will last 20 minutes.

There are a couple of additional points to note. The “request to meet” button will only be available to investors who are physically attending Demo Days (not to remote viewers of our live stream), and all meetings on Investor Day must take place in-person. Investing/General Partners can bring junior investing members to Investor Day, however if the Investing/General Partner is not present, the slot will be cancelled. More details will be provided in a few weeks along with the Demo Day RSVP.

There are several reasons we’re adding Investor Day after Demo Day. This new format streamlines what is already happening in a less efficient way for weeks after every Demo Day with investors and founders driving up and down the valley to meet in office parks and coffee shops. We don’t expect this will completely replace those meetings but rather get them going more smoothly. Investor Day also replaces our old “investor office hours” which happened a few days before Demo Day with a smaller group of investors.

Like many things at YC, Investor Day is an experiment and we’re going to see what works and what doesn’t so bear with us if you run into any bugs. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out and I’ll be happy to clarify.

Feel free to share this with people on your teams.

New Cities

We want to study building new, better cities.

The world is full of people who aren’t realizing their potential in large part because their cities don't provide the opportunities and living conditions necessary for success. A high leverage way to improve our world is to unleash this massive potential by making better cities.

It’s more important than ever to think about how to do this. The need for new supply continues to increase significantly [1]. Many constraints related to where cities should be located (e.g. near rivers for trade) have changed. We now have major technologies such as smart grids, autonomous vehicles, etc. The internet itself allows for participation never before possible. Also, housing prices in many cities have become untenable and we need more housing in places people want to live.

Some existing cities will get bigger and there's important work being done by smart people to improve them. We also think it’s possible to do amazing things given a blank slate. Our goal is to design the best possible city given the constraints of existing laws.

There are many high-level questions we want to think through, for example:

  • What should a city optimize for?
  • How should we measure the effectiveness of a city (what are its KPIs)?
  • What values should (or should not) be embedded in a city's culture?
  • How can cities help more of their residents be happy and reach their potential?
  • How can we encourage a diverse range of people to live and work in the city?
  • How should citizens guide and participate in government?
  • How can we make sure a city is constantly evolving and always open to change?

And there are tactical questions we want to dig into, for example:

  • How can we make and keep housing affordable? This is critical to us; the cost of housing affects everything else in a city.
  • How can we lay out the public and private spaces (and roads) to make a great place to live? Can we figure out better zoning laws?
  • What is the right role for vehicles in a city?  Should we have human-driven cars at all?
  • How can we have affordable high-speed transit to and from other cities?
  • How can we make rules and regulations that are comprehensive while also being easily understandable? Can we fit all rules for the city in 100 pages of text?
  • What effects will the new city have on the surrounding community?

The first phase of this will be a YC Research project. We’ll publicly share our results, and at the end of the process, we’ll decide if it’s something we should pursue and at what exact locations. We’re seriously interested in building new cities and we think we know how to finance it if everything else makes sense [2].

At minimum, we hope this research helps others make existing cities better.

This is not a small undertaking. We’ve begun research and are now forming a team to work on it full-time. We need people with strong interests and bold ideas in architecture, ecology, economics, politics, technology, urban planning, and much more.

If you’re interested, please apply here by July 30, 2016.

If you have ideas to share, but don't want to work on this full-time, email us your thoughts: cities@ycr.org.

- Adora Cheung, Sam Altman

[1] Two out of three people will live in cities by 2050 - an influx of 2.5 billion new urbanites.

[2] Just to get ahead of the inevitable associations: We want to build cities for all humans - for tech and non-tech people. We’re not interested in building “crazy libertarian utopias for techies.”

Welcome Adora, Nicole, Elizabeth, Case and Robby!

We're excited to announce a few new additions to the YC team. 

Adora Cheung is joining YC as a Partner. Previously, she was co-founder and CEO at Homejoy and a product manager at Slide. Adora has a masters in economics from University of Rochester and a bachelors in computer science from Clemson. 

Nicole Imhof is joining YC as my Executive Assistant. Prior to YC, Nicole was an Operations Associate at the Berkeley Endowment Management Company and previously, she was at ICONIQ Capital. Imhof earned her B.A. in Politics from the University of San Francisco.

Elizabeth Proehl is joining YC Research to manage the office and general operations. Most recently, Elizabeth worked as a public radio producer and reporter at KPFA in Berkeley, California. She has a BA in Near Eastern Studies and Psychology from Cornell.

Case Sandberg is joining YC's software team. Previously, he was an early employee at both Respondly and Borrowlenses (with exits at Buffer and Shutterfly, respectively). Case is a high-school dropout.

Robby Walker is joining YC as a part-time partner and will lead YC's non-profit program. Robby previously founded two companies funded by Y Combinator: Zenter (W2007) and Cue (W2010). He now works on Siri at Apple.

Welcome to YC! 

Moving Forward on Basic Income

We have a few updates we want to share on our Basic Income Project:

Our Research Director

Elizabeth Rhodes is joining Basic Income Project as our Research Director.

She recently completed a joint PhD in Social Work and Political Science at the University of Michigan, where her research focused on health and education provision in slum communities in Nairobi.

We received over 1000 applications for this position (including tenured professors from Oxford, Columbia, and Harvard), and Elizabeth stood out as the right candidate based on her aptitude and her ambition. We’re very excited to work with her.

Pilot Study in Oakland

We want to run a large, long-term study to answer a few key questions: how people’s happiness, well-being, and financial health are affected by basic income, as well as how people might spend their time.

But before we do that, we’re going to start with a short-term pilot in Oakland. Our goal will be to prepare for the longer-term study by working on our methods--how to pay people, how to collect data, how to randomly choose a sample, etc.

Oakland is a city of great social and economic diversity, and it has both concentrated wealth and considerable inequality. We think these traits make it a very good place to explore how basic income could work for our pilot.

It’s also close to where we live, which means we’ll be closer to the people involved.  We think our local resources and relationships will help us design and run this study effectively, and we hope that will enable us to produce the best research possible.

In our pilot, the income will be unconditional; we’re going to give it to participants for the duration of the study, no matter what. People will be able to volunteer, work, not work, move to another country—anything. We hope basic income promotes freedom, and we want to see how people experience that freedom.

If the pilot goes well, we plan to follow up with the main study. If the pilot doesn’t go well, we’ll consider different approaches.

And Some Thoughts on how We’re Thinking About Basic Income

We think everyone should have enough money to meet their basic needs—no matter what, especially if there are enough resources to make it possible. We don’t yet know how it should look or how to pay for it, but basic income seems a promising way to do this.

One reason we think it may work is that technological improvements should generate an abundance of resources. Although basic income seems fiscally challenging today, in a world where technology replaces existing jobs and basic income becomes necessary, technological improvements should generate an abundance of resources and the cost of living should fall dramatically.

And to be clear: we think of basic income as providing a floor, and we believe people should be able to work and earn as much as they want.  We hope a minimum level of economic security will give people the freedom to pursue further education or training, find or create a better job, and plan for the future.

We’ll be spending the next few months designing the pilot, and we welcome any input to help us do the best job possible—especially from the Oakland community [1]. And again, we hope to follow-up with a long-term study on how people’s happiness, well-being, financial health, and time are affected.

If you have thoughts on either, please get in touch at basicincome@ycr.org.

-Elizabeth Rhodes, Matt Krisiloff, and Sam Altman

[1] We’ve already been connecting with Oakland city officials and community groups for feedback, but we’re planning to host some public events in Oakland to get more voices involved. Details to come.

Sign up for Summer YC Open Office Hours

Starting today you can sign up for June, July and August YC Open Office Hours. 

What are Open Office Hours? Learn more here

June 23: Gen­eral Open Of­fice Hours
All founders are wel­come to apply.

July 14: Black, Latino and Na­tive Amer­i­can Founders
Apply here by June 21 

Au­gust 11: Fe­male Founders
Apply here by July 15

What to Ex­pect
Each com­pany who par­tic­i­pates will get 25-minute of­fice hours with a YC part­ner. You can do them in per­son at our of­fice in Moun­tain View, CA or re­motely on Skype.

Star­tups should use these of­fice hours to fig­ure out con­crete steps they can take to build their MVP (min­i­mum vi­able prod­uct), re­cruit a co-found­ing team, raise seed cap­i­tal, launch, mar­ket their prod­uct, and ac­quire their first cus­tomers. Ad­di­tion­ally, Ama­zon is gen­er­ously of­fer­ing $5k in AWS credit for all par­tic­i­pat­ing teams.

Questions? Send them to openofficehours@ycombinator.com.

Want to help us spread the word? Email kat@ycombinator.com and michael@ycombinator.com.

Meet Sam Altman in Krakow, Paris and London

YC's Sam Altman will be in Krakow, Paris and London from June 3-7.

Join him at any of the events below for a conversation about startups, technology, hard tech, YC and more.

June 3, 6PM 
Krakow Startup Community Talk at Estimote HQ
Krakusa 11 Street, Stare Podgórze, Kraków
Learn More 

June 6, 12PM
Sam Altman at TheFamily
25 rue du Petit Musc, Paris

June 7, 3PM
Fireside Chat with Sam Altman + Mosaic Ventures
Royal Institution of Great Britain, 21 Albemarle St., London
Learn More

Pluot (W16) Makes Affordable Video Conferencing Hardware That Just Works


With companies increasingly doing business across multiple cities and countries from day one, video conferencing is key. But video conferencing hardware is notoriously bulky, expensive, and designed for companies with full-time IT teams that can handle set up and management. Startups and smaller businesses are left behind, crowding around a single laptop during team meetings, investor pitches, and sales demos.

Pluot is a company that launched out of our Winter 2016 class that makes small, easy-to-set-up video conferencing hardware that just works, and that any company can afford. The company's mission is to democratize video conferencing -- to put useful, beautiful, simple video conferencing into every workplace in the world.

Setting up a Pluot takes just five minutes, and starting or joining a Pluot meeting takes ten seconds. Pluot hardware is free. Customers just pay $50/month per Pluot box, with no limit on users, minutes, or meetings.

In addition, Pluot's features leapfrog those of much more expensive options. Pluot can drive two TVs, so teams have more screen real estate to work with during meetings, and Pluot supports two simultaneous screen shares. Every Pluot connection is peer-to-peer, secure, and encrypted end-to-end. If you have a conference room, you need a Pluot

You can buy a Pluot for your conference room today at https://pluot.co/. There's no commitment, no hidden fees, and -- as a launch special -- shipping is currently free. You can also try out the web browser version of the Pluot experience any time. Visit https://pluot.co/new using Chrome. Your browser will be redirected to a new, unique, Pluot meeting URL. Copy that URL and send it to someone else. When they click on the link, they'll be able to join you in the meeting. (There's no software to download, and no sign-in to worry about or remember.)

Pluot's founders, Doug and Kwin, have known each other for 20 years, worked together for 15, and been obsessed with video conferencing and collaboration for a decade. Doug and Kwin bootstrapped Pluot by designing high-quality hardware that can be manufactured in small quantities. The company assembles Pluots in a garage in San Francisco.

HARC

We’re excited to announce YC Research’s newest project: the Human Advancement Research Community (HARC).

This came out of a conversation that started between Alan Kay and me more than a year ago about how to invent future computing technologies; I’m delighted to finally be officially working with him and his group.  He is one of the smartest people I’ve ever met.

HARC’s mission is to ensure human wisdom exceeds human power, by inventing and freely sharing ideas and technology that allow all humans to see further and understand more deeply.

The PIs at HARC wrote the following:

In our increasingly interconnected world, every individual’s actions can affect billions of others in complex and invisible ways. We believe every individual must have access to technologies that allow them to build their own understanding of the world and its systems in order to act conscientiously, responsibly, and effectively, both as individuals and in collaboration with others.

HARC researches technology in its broadest context, which includes: technology for communication (from the invention of spoken language to modern data graphics), intellectual tools (such as the scientific method and computer simulation), media (from cave painting to video games), and social systems (including democracy and public education). We are focusing on areas where we believe the structures created today will have the most impact on the future, and that can most benefit from having dedicated resources outside the for-profit world. At the moment, these areas include programming languages, interfaces, education, and virtual reality.

Our shared vision of technology combines an expansive long-term view with a strong moral sense. We look to the distant past as well as the far future. We reject the artificial boundaries created between the humanities, arts, and sciences. We don’t always agree on what is good or evil, right or wrong, but we use these words seriously and are driven by them. We seek to guide human technologies in thoughtful and ethical directions, with a deep sensitivity to the relationship between technology and the human condition, and the difference between what a piece of technology is intended to be and how it impacts humanity in reality.

In partnership with Infosys and SAP, HARC is starting with 20 of the top researchers in fields related to human learning and understanding, many of whom previously worked in SAP’s Communications Design Group. They include Principal Investigators (in alphabetical order): Vi Hart, Dan Ingalls, John Maloney, Yoshiki Ohshima, Bret Victor, and Alex Warth.  

We will share more detail about each PI’s current projects once we settle into our new roles and establish a web presence.

HARC will be chaired by Patrick Scaglia, who has spent his career leading similar long-term research initiatives. Alan Kay and Patrick will jointly contribute to the group’s strategic vision. Chris Clark will run the group operationally (along with YCR’s other groups).

The Advisory Board includes Patrick Collison, Adele Goldberg, Alan Kay, Vishal Sikka, and Tanja Rueckert.

Special thanks to Infosys, SAP, Sam, Alan, and Patrick for their generous support and hard work creating HARC, and we look forward to sharing more about our research in a few weeks.