YC Startup School Radio: Thumbtack's Marco Zappacosta On The Always-Changing Job Of A CEO

In the sixth episode of YC's Startup School Radio, YC partner Aaron Harris sat down with Marco Zappacosta, the co-founder and CEO of services marketplace Thumbtack, and Sanjay Dastoor, the co-founder and CEO of electric skateboard company and YC W12 alum Boosted Boards.

You can listen to the full hour-long episode on SoundCloud here or on iTunes here, and read the full transcript on Genius here.

In one salient bit of Zappacosta's interview, he talked about how his job as CEO has continually changed as Thumbtack has grown since it was founded in 2009 to have hundreds of staff around the world:

Aaron: Has your job shifted from being focused on the supply and demand to being CEO of how many people you have working for you now?

Marco: So in the U.S., we have 300 people and...

Aaron: That's wild.

Marco: And so, I think my job has always been to focus on whatever is existential, whatever risk or problem is existential to us. And in the early days, it was absolutely building the network. If we couldn't do that, nothing else mattered. Then, there came a day where we had to really refine the product experience to make sure that we were the best way to hire, and that took us a while to us to figure out and that was my focus. And then, we had to think about and figure out how to make money. And so I was very focused, and worked with the team to sort of put the business model in place that we now have.

And today, the biggest challenge is scaling the organization. We have a ton of tactical and strategic sort of issues to solve, but the way that we're going to solve those is hiring more great people and organizing and empowering them, and so that takes the bulk of my time today.

Aaron: I don't think I've ever heard it framed quite that way: The CEO's job is to focus on the existential threat right to the business. I think the way most people have sort of framed the CEO's job is, to hire, set vision, and make sure there's money in the bank, or something like that. And that's kind of true, but it's an approximation. And really, what that's saying is, it's [to focus on] the thing that could kill your company at each stage.

Marco: I think that's what deserves your attention. That's what scares me in the morning when I wake up. So it's naturally what I'm sort of thinking about, and trying to help with and work on.

BlackRock, The World's Largest Asset Management Firm, Acquires FutureAdvisor (YC S10)

FutureAdvisor, the automated wealth management and financial advisory platform, announced today that it has been acquired by global asset management firm BlackRock. FutureAdvisor, which was co-founded by CEO Bo Lu and CTO Jon Xu, launched out of YC's Summer 2010 class. FutureAdvisor currently has more than $600 million in assets under management.

In an interview with the Financial Times about the acquisition, Frank Porcelli, the head of BlackRock's US wealth advisory unit, said that technology like FutureAdvisor's could represent the future of asset management:

"I have two 20-something boys and I don’t know, in an age of texts and chat, that they are going to sit down with a financial adviser. They might prefer digital advice.
Wherever the advice market goes, BlackRock wants to be there, and one thing we know is that five and 10 years from now, there will be more people using digital advice platforms than do today."

In a company blog post announcing the deal, Lu wrote:

"The entire FutureAdvisor team and I are extraordinarily excited to bring BlackRock’s world-class institutional investment and risk management capabilities to bear in helping you reach your unique financial goals. BlackRock has dedicated enormous effort over the years to improving financial outcomes through its leading active and passive investment offerings as well as innovative retirement planning tools including their CoRI Retirement Indexes. We look forward to integrating and delivering this expertise both directly to clients such as you as we’ve done to date, as well as in partnership with financial institutions in the months to come.

There will be no change in the mission of the FutureAdvisor you trust today. Our brand, our culture, and our people will work to serve you and improve your digital experience every day just as we all did before the acquisition. We will keep our independent offices in the heart of San Francisco. The knowledgeable and caring staff you’ve interacted with to date will remain, and become more numerous with time."

Congratulations to Bo and Jon, and the whole FutureAdvisor team!

YC stats

We get asked (a lot) for statistics on the YC portfolio about valuation and fundraising.  Although these are very imperfect indicators of success, here they are.

All of these companies actually went through a YC batch and got their start with us (e.g. we do not include Quora).

Also, the YC application for the next batch opens tomorrow! :)

Total "valuation" of all YC companies: >$65 billion

Total money raised by all YC companies: >$7 billion

Number of YC companies worth more than $1 billion: 8 [1]

Number of YC companies worth more than $100 million: >40

Number of companies funded by YC so far: ~940

Number of companies funded by YC that have dissolved: 177

Number of companies in the last batch: 107

Number of hardware + biotech + healthcare companies in the last batch: 32

Number of companies we offered to fund yesterday for the first YC Fellowship: 33

[1] This includes Twitch, which Amazon bought for ~970MM plus an earn-out.

A new role for Qasar

I'm delighted to announce that Qasar Younis will be YC's first COO. Qasar will help scale our organization and operations as we tackle bigger and more ambitious projects--we've grown quite a bit in the past few years and now have a lot to do on the operations side. Along with his new responsibilities as COO, Qasar will primarily continue to invest in and advise companies.

Qasar first joined YC as a founder and CEO of TalkBin, which was part of the Winter 2011 class. TalkBin was acquired by Google where he went on to lead business-facing products inside of Google Maps including google.com/business. He joined YC as a part-time partner in 2013 and full time in the 2014. Qasar has been in operational roles most of his career and we are all excited to see what he can do at YC.

Fortune wrote about this here.

Circle Medical (YC S15) Sends A Primary Care Doctor To You At Home Or At Work, On Demand

In an ideal world, everyone would get a full physical with a primary care physician every year. But for many people, life gets in the way -- they get busy with work or their families, and making an appointment and carving out time to go to the doctor seems like too much of a hassle. The next thing they know, years have gone by without a checkup.

Circle Medical is a company that's launched out of our Summer 2015 class that wants to make it easy for patients to get the routine primary care they need in a way that fits in with their lives. A patient simply downloads the Circle Medical app, scans their insurance card, picks a doctor and books an appointment the doctor to visit them at home or at work.

TechCrunch's Fitz Tepper wrote about Circle Medical in a story published earlier this month:

"While other doctor-on-demand startups have existed for a while, Circle Medical’s goal is to provide a service that can used as a regular part of your life, not just in emergencies or last-minute situations.

To achieve this, the startup focuses on two pain points that traditionally keep patients tied town to a physical practice.

First, Circle Medical is considered in-network for over 97 percent of patients in California who have private insurance. This means a visit normally costs no more than your regular doctor, and often less.

The second unique aspect of Circle Medical is that all of its doctors are full time. This means you can pick a doctor and have them become your new primary care physician."

Read the full story here, and see the Hacker News discussion here.

jEugene (YC S15) Automatically Combs Through Legal Documents And Finds Mistakes

When it comes to legal documents, you can never be too careful -- any small mistake or oversight could result in hefty costs. And at the moment, numerous legal documents involving hundreds of billions of dollars are created each year and subjected to only human review.

jEugene is a startup that launched this month out of our Summer 2015 class that automatically scans legal documents and detects difficult-to-spot errors. Notably, jEugene detects definitional errors, which are among the most common yet hardest to catch drafting mistakes lawyers make.

TechCrunch's Mike Butcher wrote about jEugene in a story published earlier this month:

"For years, software engineers have enjoyed the assistance of quality assurance software when writing computer code. Lawyers, however, are generally stuck with Microsoft Word. Yikes! So automated, intelligent reviewing of legal contracts by software should be the future. That’s where jEugene, a new YC startup as part of this summer’s batch, comes in.

This startup helps the drafters of legal documents catch mistakes that could be fatal to such documents’ validity or enforceability.

The original idea of Harry Zhou, who, as a first-year lawyer, was tasked with proofing a 250-page contract and wanted more than his supervising lawyer’s assurance that 'you did great,' jEugene scans through a legal document and highlights in text potential drafting mistakes in the document."

Read the full story on TechCrunch here.

YC Startup School Radio: Shoptiques CEO Olga Vidisheva On The Challenge Of Hiring Great People

In Episode 5 of YC Startup School Radio, our host Aaron Harris sat down with David Tisch and Alan Tisch, the co-founders of mobile shopping app Spring, and Olga Vidisheva, the founder and CEO of e-commerce platform and YC W12 alum Shoptiques.

You can listen to the full hour-long episode on SoundCloud here or on iTunes here, and read the full transcript on Genius here.

In one interesting portion of Vidisheva's interview, she talked about how unexpectedly challenging she found it as a startup founder to find top-tier talent to hire:

Aaron: What's the thing that surprised you most in building Shoptiques? Is there anything you didn't expect when you started?

Olga: So, I [previously] worked at Goldman Sachs. I loved Goldman, and I think that the beauty of Goldman is that the people are so smart. I didn't realize how hard it is to actually hire smart people. I thought that everybody would be very driven and motivated off the get-go. I think it's because I was coming from Wellesley, going to Harvard, going to Goldman, and going to Y Combinator, where everybody was like, "Let's work hard." And then going around and being around people, you're like, "Oh my God. I guess not everybody's that driven and motivated." So I didn't realize how important and how hard hiring is. But now I learned my lesson, so.

Aaron: So now you only hire the best and the people who are gonna perform.

Olga: I think I always hired the best, but I didn't realize how hard it is to find the best, you know?

Aaron: Right. Yeah, especially as a small company. I mean, hiring as a small company, you're hiring against Google when it comes to engineering and you're hiring against, I don't know, like the largest companies in the world because they're the ones with budgets.

Olga: But to be honest, I also don't want people that maybe worked at Google, because they might just want to build this little thing. I want people who are thinking about the customer, who are thinking about the product all the time.

So finding the people that have the same mentality as you, because those are the people that are making millions of decisions about your product every single second, so you want to find people that think like you and finding that person is so hard.

Nebia (YC S15) Promises The Best Shower You'll Ever Take, While Using 70% Less Water

A good shower can be refreshing and satisfying in a very singular way. Nebia, a startup that launched this month out of our Summer 2015 class, has created a device that promises to deliver that and more: dramatically improving on the traditional shower experience, while also cutting down significantly on water use.

Nebia has created a showerhead that atomizes water into millions of tiny droplets, covering 10 times more surface area than a regular shower. Nebia's patent-pending technology, called H2MICRO, means that more water comes into contact with your body, while at the same time, the device uses far less water than a typical showerhead -- providing a water savings of about 70 percent.

Earlier this month Nebia launched a Kickstarter campaign pre-selling its devices for its first shipment next spring, and has already fielded incredible demand. After only 12 days, more than 7,000 backers have pledged more than $2.5 million to Nebia, far exceeding the company's $100,000 goal.

Read more about Nebia in the New York Times, Wired, Time, Buzzfeed, VentureBeat, TechCrunch, and FastCoDesign.

YC Digest - 8/14-8/20

Top Stories from the YC World - August 14-August 20, 2015

Illustrated Guide to Y Combinator's Demo Day S2015

Nine Years of Demo Days: How YC has changed by Jared Friedman (Scribd, YC S06)

The Post-YC Slump by Sam Altman

YC Alum

A Female Founder at Y Combinator: My Experience by Julia Kurnia of Zidisha (YC W14)

Congratulations To The YC Summer 2015 Class

This week we held Demo Day for our Summer 2015 class at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California. It was the 21st Demo Day event in Y Combinator's history, with a total of 102 pitches spread across two days. Below is a list of the 99 companies that presented on the record, in the order in which they pitched onstage.

Congratulations to all of the S15 founders!

Breakout Room
Instant eSports
New Story Charity
Heroic Labs
Shred Video
The Ticket Fairy
Plate Joy