tag:blog.ycombinator.com,2013:/posts Y Combinator Posthaven 2015-11-29T10:13:15Z Y Combinator tag:blog.ycombinator.com,2013:Post/940013 2015-11-27T16:12:17Z 2015-11-29T10:13:15Z YC Digest: November 21-27 Top Stories from the YC World -- November 21st to 27th, 2015

YC News

Jessica Livingston on the 'accidental' origin of YC

Alumni News

Prayas Analytics (S15) raises $1 million for its retail store A/B testing platform

Website building platform Weebly (W07) profiled in Forbes

Small business banking platform SEED (W15) profiled in American Banker

Zeplin (S15) raises $1.2m for its developer/designer collaboration tool

uBiome’s (S14) founders launch a microbiome syndicate on AngelList

Le Tote (S13) raises $15m for its fashion subscription service

Coinbase (S12) and Shift (S14) partner to launch the first US-issued bitcoin debit card

Plangrid raises $40m to expand its construction software product

Y Combinator
tag:blog.ycombinator.com,2013:Post/936810 2015-11-20T16:41:10Z 2015-11-22T15:09:02Z The Macro We're excited to announce the launch of The Macro, a new publication that will feature essays, interviews, research, and opinions from Y Combinator and the wider startup community.

Y Combinator’s mission is to enable more innovation in the world. Historically, that’s mainly meant funding and advising startups.

But from the beginning, storytelling has also been a core part of YC's DNA. From Paul Graham's essays, to Jessica Livingston's book Founders at Work, to the more recent Female Founder Stories series and Sam Altman’s How to Start a Startup class, a big part of what has made Y Combinator special has been the stories it has helped create and the way that it has shared those lessons with the world.

As YC has expanded, so has the amount of stories to share. The Macro is the latest part of that tradition.

The Macro is not focused on breaking news. There is already a robust network of publications that are covering the day-to-day changes in the technology industry. Our aim is take a wider-range view1, while sharing information that is useful, thoughtful, and interesting.

As with most everything YC does, The Macro is starting as an experiment, and we’re learning and iterating as we go. We welcome your submissions and feedback: email us at macro@ycombinator.com

1. [Hence the name, in part. It’s also a nod to the “macro” as a powerful operator in computer programming, particularly in the Lisp language. Paul Graham wrote in depth about how to use the macro in his 1993 book On Lisp, explaining: “Mastering macros is one of the most important steps in moving from writing correct Lisp programs to writing beautiful ones.”]

Colleen Taylor
tag:blog.ycombinator.com,2013:Post/934186 2015-11-15T21:52:34Z 2015-11-27T16:29:41Z Tips for YC Interviews We are in the midst of YC interviews right now and I had a few bits of advice for interviewees that I thought I'd publish while they are still top of mind (in no particular order):  

1. Don't use buzzwords. Speak in plain language.

2. Have a conversation with us. Don't deliver a prewritten "pitch."

3. Sometimes we'll want to see a demo, but most often we just want to talk about what you're doing. If you rely on a demonstration to explain what you're doing, that's a bad sign. Being able to explain something in words shows you really understand it.

4. Relax (I know this is easier said than done). We want you to do well! And we are very expert by now at overlooking the little things that go wrong in interviews.

5. We love learning new things. And a good startup idea usually teaches you something when you encounter it. Don't worry if the new things about your idea are things only someone in your field would care about. We like that. We'd rather have interesting details than boring generalizations.

6. We don't have lots of time for pleasantries, unfortunately. We have a fixed amount of time and we want to spend it learning about you and your idea. So please don't take it personally if we jump right into things.

7. There's no one specific set type of interview. They can go in many different directions. So don't worry if the interview doesn't take the form you expected.

And here are Michael Seibel's 10 pieces of advice for preparing for a YC interview. 

Jessica Livingston
tag:blog.ycombinator.com,2013:Post/933389 2015-11-13T20:57:44Z 2015-11-15T20:59:09Z YC Digest: November 7-13 Top Stories from the YC World -- November 7 to November 13, 2015

YC News

Jessica Livingston featured on Product Hunt's AMA series

Sam Altman interviewed in Wired about investing in biotech startups


Things That Aren't Progress by Aaron Harris

Alumni news

Tesorio (S15) featured in Inc. Magazine

Bluesmart (W15) selected for MOMA design store collection

Cymmetria (S15) raises $9 million for cybersecurity platform

Docker (S10) adds $18 million in new funding

Machine Zone (W08) launches new game, Mobile Strike

DoorDash (S13) profiled by Steven Levy on Medium's Backchannel

Meadow (W15) noted in New York Times article on cannabis startups

Y Combinator
tag:blog.ycombinator.com,2013:Post/928766 2015-11-06T19:11:02Z 2015-11-08T12:33:14Z YC Digest: October 31-November 6 Top Stories from the YC World -- October 31 to November 6, 2015

YC News

Y Combinator profiled in the Economist

Jessica Livingston interview with Aaron Harris on Startup School Radio

Luke Iseman quoted in the Korea Herald and China's TechNode

Sam Altman interview on the Jay and Farhad Show podcast


Startup Playbook by Sam Altman

A Way to Detect Bias by Paul Graham

Thank you, Y Combinator by Garry Tan

Alumni News

SunFarmer (S15) recognized by President Bill Clinton at 2015 Clinton Global Initiative

Watsi (W13) raises $3.5M in philanthropic growth round, co-founder Grace Carey featured in Self Magazine

Verge Genomics (S15) raises $4M for algorithm-enabled drug discovery

Gingko Bioworks (S14) purchases 100M base pairs of synthetic DNA from Twist Bioscience

Semantics3 (W13) raises $1.55M for e-commerce data platform

GitLab (W15), now with 1M downloads, featured in Business Insider

Pebble (W11) CEO Eric Migicovsky onstage at Dublin Web Summit

Dropbox (S07) talks enterprise growth at its first Dropbox Open conference

Genius (S11) announces partnership with Eminem

Weave (S14) raises $15.5M for small business communication platform
Y Combinator
tag:blog.ycombinator.com,2013:Post/924949 2015-10-30T18:05:55Z 2015-11-20T16:58:28Z YC Digest - October 24-30 Top Stories from the YC World October 24 through October 30, 2015

Y Combinator is hiring hackers

Jessica Livingston's Product Hunt AMA

Continuity's Ali Rowghani talks to CNBC about playing the long game in VC investing

YC Alum

Gobble (W14) raises $10.75 million Series A for its 10 minute dinner kits

SEED (W15) raises $5 million to scale its small business banking platform

Afrostream (S15) signs deals with Sony Pictures and Viacom

Blockspring (S14), the ‘do anything in a spreadsheet’ startup, partners with Tableau

Razorpay (W15) raises $9 million from Tiger Global and Matrix Partners

'Life With My Robot Secretary', Fast Co Design's review of Clara Labs (S14)

Verge Genomics (S15) raises $4 million in seed financing

Shoptiques' (S12) CEO Olga Vidisheva profiled in Forbes

Genius (S11) launches 'Genius Beta', a plug-in for annotating any page on the web
Y Combinator
tag:blog.ycombinator.com,2013:Post/923468 2015-10-28T17:17:05Z 2015-11-23T13:45:13Z Y Combinator is hiring hackers Y Combinator has a small team that makes the software that runs YC. Hardly any investors write software, but YC was started by hackers so it's natural for us to solve our problems that way.

The YC software is used by a relatively small number of people—mostly the YC partners and founders—but the users are sufficiently important that through them we are able to have huge leverage. YC has ambitious plans to create more innovation in the world, and the only way to reach that level of impact is to scale through software.

We're looking for a couple of great hackers to join us. It's not a job for everyone, but it could be a good fit for someone who likes startups.  If you're a hacker, have a look at the job description. If it feels like a good fit, we’d love to hear from you. If not, our startups are hiring people of all kinds, so have a look at them too.

More details: Be a Hacker at Y Combinator

Scott Bell
tag:blog.ycombinator.com,2013:Post/917752 2015-10-16T23:30:57Z 2015-10-29T10:52:20Z Startup School Radio: 42Floors' Jason Freedman on How Startups Are Born Out of Problems

In Episode 19 of Startup School Radio, a podcast that features stories and practical advice about starting, funding, and scaling companies, our host Aaron Harris first sat down with Tyler Bosmeny, who talked about his experience going from the Harvard math department to co-founding education-oriented API platform Clever (YC S12). In the second half of the episode, Aaron interviewed Jason Freedman, who has co-founded two Y Combinator-backed companies: Flightcaster, which launched out of YC's Summer 2009 class, and 42Floors, which launched out of YC's Winter 2012 class.

You can listen to the episode on Soundcloud here, and iTunes here.

One interesting part of Jason Freedman's interview is where he talked about how all of his startups have been born out of a problem that he had personally encountered, rather than from a desire to "start a company":

Aaron: And the funny thing is, each of the ideas you've worked on, they weren't things that you'd written down in a notebook somewhere that you were going to do at some point in life. It's just 'Hey, I just realized that this problem exists. Let me go fix this.'

Jason: You know, when you think of a startup career, I don't have a startup career. What I've had is a succession of problems that have found their way into my life, and that I decided that I could figure out a way to solve.

Aaron: Yeah, it's interesting, because from what we've seen, that tends to be the places where the best startups get started. It's not the person going out and looking for a business to start or looking for a problem set that exists and to go create a startup against it. It's, 'Oh, wait, I've actually seen this. This doesn't make sense. It's in my life, let me fix it.' Because you have so much depth of understanding and so much experience.

Jason: With 42Floors, we're trying to make it easy for people to search for commercial real estate, and if I had started a startup to do that, I would've thought it would never work because it's going to be way too hard and I didn't really understand anything about commercial real estate. But solving a problem for myself, that I could figure out.

Aaron: It's interesting how sometimes ignorance is the thing that actually lets you drive and start something.

Y Combinator
tag:blog.ycombinator.com,2013:Post/917658 2015-10-16T19:00:29Z 2015-10-16T19:47:11Z YC Digest - October 10-16 Top Stories from the YC World -- October 10 to October 16, 2015

YC News

YC Continuity

Q&A with YC Continuity's Ali Rowghani

Hacker News discussion on YC Continuity

Startup School Radio, hosted by YC's Aaron Harris, named in Forbes' "12 Best Podcasts For Entrepreneurs"

Upcoming events

Y Combinator at Make School - 10/24

YC Office Hours at Money20/20 - 10/27

Alumni news

Optimizely (W10) raises $58 million Series C

Smart luggage maker Bluesmart (W15) raises $11.5 million

Legal automation platform Ironclad (S15) on The Pitch podcast

Housing nonprofit New Story (S15) featured on ABC 7 and in Webflow (S13) video

Subscription fashion rental service Le Tote (S13) launches maternity line

MoveLoot (W14) launches retailer partnership platform Trade

Mino Games (W11) raises $2.2 million and launches Mino Monsters 2

CareMessage CEO Vineet Singal (W14) and Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky (W09) named in New York Times' "Five Visionary Tech Entrepreneurs Who Are Changing the World"

Stripe (S09) and Zenefits (W13) listed in Forbes' "These Four Tech Unicorns Could Reshape Their Industries"

FullStack Academy (S12) launches Grace Hopper Academy, a programming school for women

Markhor (S15) founder Waqas Ali's AMA on Tech In Asia

Home improvement platform BuildZoom (W13) raises $10.6 million
Y Combinator
tag:blog.ycombinator.com,2013:Post/917262 2015-10-15T20:39:39Z 2015-11-03T20:50:50Z Q&A with YC Continuity's Ali Rowghani Today we announced Continuity, a new venture capital fund run by Y Combinator. You can read our blog post here, and coverage from the Wall Street Journal here.

Below, Continuity's Ali Rowghani answers a few commonly-asked questions about what Continuity is, how it will work, where it fits within the venture capital landscape, and why he decided to lead this effort at YC.

What is the Continuity Fund?

Ali Rowghani: The Continuity Fund is YC’s follow-on investment fund that will allow us to provide capital to YC companies years after they graduate from our program.  

How will the Continuity Fund invest capital?

AR: The Continuity Fund will invest capital in two ways:
  • First, we will exercise YC’s pro rata investing rights in follow-on financing rounds, beginning with the Series A.  For rounds priced below $300M, we will exercise our pro rata rights in a programmatic fashion.  In other words, we expect to exercise pro rata rights in all YC companies that raise capital at valuations below $300M.  For rounds priced above $300M, we will exercise our rights more selectively.
  • Secondly, and on a purely elective basis, we will consider leading or participating in growth financing rounds of YC companies.  For these elective investments, we are open to taking Board seats where it makes sense for founders, but do not expect to do so in every investment.

Will the Continuity Fund invest in any non-YC companies?

AR: No. Our focus is exclusively on companies that have been through our program.
Why did YC decide to raise this fund?
AR: The idea actually came to us from our founders, many of whom have encouraged us to raise a fund so that YC could remain a financing partner for them as they grew their companies.  We ultimately decided to do so because we realized that the ability to provide capital beyond the seed stage was pretty crucial to fulfilling our mission of enabling more innovation in the world.

Isn’t this Fund going to bring you into conflict with VCs?

AR: We will not be competing with early stage VCs at all.  These investors are vital parts of the startup ecosystem, and we have no desire to compete with or otherwise disrupt this ecosystem.  So other than exercising our pro rata rights, the Continuity Fund will not be investing in seed or traditional Series A rounds.But as we all know, good companies are staying private longer, and the market for private growth capital has grown considerably. These later stage rounds tend to be larger, shared rounds rather than winner-take-all. 

So while some competition is unavoidable, we foresee a lot of collaboration with other late stage investors as well.

Why did you decide to lead the Continuity Fund?

AR: Over the last 15 years, I’ve worked at two iconic companies, Pixar and Twitter, and helped them manage rapid growth and scale.  I joined YC as a part-time partner last November precisely to help maturing companies in the YC portfolio with these same challenges.

I didn’t realize at the time how truly distinctive YC  is.  There’s no other organization in the world that has the kind of founder network and loyalty that YC possesses.  Having observed the last two YC batches closely, there’s no doubt in my mind that YC dramatically increases the probability of success for every one of its companies...not just the probability of raising Series A capital, but also the probability of building great long-lasting companies.  

So when Sam asked me if I would be interested in leading the Continuity Fund, I realized that this was an opportunity to extend the mission and impact of YC into more mature companies.  Supplying capital is one part of that mission.  But supplying meaningful company-building help and advice for rapidly scaling companies is even more important, and that’s something that my prior operating experiences have prepared me well to do.
Y Combinator
tag:blog.ycombinator.com,2013:Post/916057 2015-10-15T19:56:12Z 2015-10-30T01:21:37Z YC Continuity YC will fund its 1,000th company this year, and many of these companies are now scaling their organizations, revenue, and operations.  Though years removed from our program, these founders continue to come to YC for advice and support, and we would like to do more to help them.

To that end, I'm delighted to share that Ali Rowghani has joined YC as a full-time partner.  Ali has quickly become a trusted advisor to many of our growth-stage companies, and is helping a great deal with our vision of continued support for our alumni companies after they finish our program.

Also, in response to requests from a number of YC founders, we've raised a new fund called the YC Continuity Fund, which Ali will be running.  This fund will allow us to support YC companies well after Demo Day in two primary ways.

First, we're going to do our pro rata investment for every YC company in every round with a valuation below $300 million.  We believe we generally pick good companies for YC, and we want to be able to continue to support them in future financings.

Second, we will consider leading or participating in later stage growth financing rounds of YC companies.  We are open to taking Board seats where it makes sense for founders, but do not expect to do so in every investment.  We hope to be a founder-friendly partner for maturing companies in the same way we have been a founder-friendly early-stage investor.  Also, there are some companies we think are very good and important to support with growth-stage capital that traditional investors are less excited about, and we're looking forward to being able to do that.  Finally, we look forward to being a very long-term focused investor in a sector where most players are not.

We also want to be very clear on what we're not doing. We are not pursuing investments outside of the YC portfolio.  We are also not leading seed or traditional Series A rounds or trying to otherwise disrupt early-stage VCs, whose participation in the ecosystem is very valuable.  It'd be the wrong thing for our companies, as it would both create massive signaling issues for companies we didn’t fund and deprive companies of valuable additional advisors.  By doing pro rata in every company, we should avoid any signaling issues.

Our mission at YC is to be the organization that enables the most innovation in the world.  Capital especially long-term capital willing to invest outside of the current trends is an important ingredient in that mission, and I'm excited we are now able to better support some of our companies.  In doing so, I hope that joining YC is an even better deal for companies just starting out.

Sam Altman
tag:blog.ycombinator.com,2013:Post/916733 2015-10-14T16:36:55Z 2015-10-15T16:14:35Z YC Office Hours at Money20/20 - 10/27 YC partner Aaron Harris will be hosting office hours with startups at Money20/20 on October 27.

Sign up here.

Aaron will meet teams from 2pm-6pm PT on Tuesday, October 27. Office hours are 20 minutes each. We recommend coming with a specific question or challenge that you want feedback on.

If you're selected, we'll reach out with your time slot and where you'll be meeting by Friday, October 23.

See you there! 

Y Combinator
tag:blog.ycombinator.com,2013:Post/914925 2015-10-09T21:00:05Z 2015-10-13T04:52:54Z UI/UX for Startups Livestreamed on Platzi - 10/12 Y Combinator's Kevin Hale will be hosting a talk at Stanford about UI/UX for Startups this Monday, Oct 12 at 5pm PT. Find out more here

If you can't make it in person, the talk will be livestreamed on Platzi. Sign up to watch the class.

Kevin will walk you through best practices for UI/UX design. Learn what elements every startup needs on their site, and see him do live UX reviews of products built by people in the audience.

If you'd like your site to be considered for live review, let us know here: https://ycombinatorevents.wufoo.com/forms/live-ux-review-at-stanford/

The talk will be followed by Q&A.

Y Combinator
tag:blog.ycombinator.com,2013:Post/914886 2015-10-09T17:41:09Z 2015-10-09T17:45:50Z YC Digest - October 3-9 Top Stories from the YC World -- October 3 to October 9, 2015

The application deadline for our Winter 2016 class is next Tuesday, October 13. Apply now!

YC News

YC Research

Welcome Jared!

Sam Altman in conversation with Elon Musk at the Vanity Fair New Establishment Summit

I am Sam Altman, President of Y Combinator. AMA!


Apply by Luke Iseman

How to Apply to Y Combinator by Cofactor Genomics (S15) founder Dave Messina

Alumni news

Paribus (S15) Raises $2.1 Million

Webflow (S13) Launches New 'Visual CMS' Tool

Reddit (S05) Launches Upvoted, a Standalone News Site

Afrostream (S15) Gets Funding From Orange Digital Ventures

Segment (S11) Raises $27 Million

uBiome (S14) co-founder Jessica Richman Announced "Overall Winner" at IVY Innovator Awards

Y Combinator
tag:blog.ycombinator.com,2013:Post/914557 2015-10-08T20:46:45Z 2015-11-22T00:00:19Z Welcome Jared! I'm delighted to share that Jared Friedman is joining YC as a full-time partner.  Jared co-founded Scribd, the world's online library, which was funded by Y Combinator in 2006.  He was the CTO there.  Jared has also been an investor in more than 30 YC companies.  Before Scribd, he studied computer science at Harvard.

There are now 16 full-time partners at YC.

Sam Altman
tag:blog.ycombinator.com,2013:Post/914125 2015-10-07T18:15:07Z 2015-11-25T11:20:47Z YC Research Our mission at YC is to enable as much innovation as we can.  Mostly this means funding startups.  But startups aren’t ideal for some kinds of innovation—for example, work that requires a very long time horizon, seeks to answer very open-ended questions, or develops technology that shouldn’t be owned by any one company.

We think research institutions can be better than they are today.  So we’re starting a new research lab, which we’re calling YC Research, to work on some of these areas.

We’re going to start YCR with one group (which we should be ready to announce in a month or two) and if that goes well, we’ll add others. 

YCR is a non-profit.  Any IP developed will be made available freely to everyone.  (The researchers will, of course, have full discretion over when they’re ready to release their work, and we’ll have a process in place to address technology that could be dangerous.)  Because of the openness, the researchers will be able to freely collaborate with people in other institutions. 

We’re not doing this with the goal of helping YC’s startups succeed or adding to our bottom line.  At the risk of sounding cliché, this is for the benefit of the world.  As we’ve seen throughout history, new technological breakthroughs help all of us.  Fundamental research is critical to driving the world forward, and funding for it keeps getting cut. [1] 

To start off, I’m going to personally donate $10 million, and we will raise more money for specific groups soon.  In addition to salary, researchers at YCR will also receive equity in Y Combinator as part of their compensation. [2]

YCR researchers will be full-time YC employees (instead of us making grants to other organizations).  We’ll especially welcome outsiders working on slightly heretical ideas (just like we do for the startups we fund) and we’ll try to keep things small—we believe small groups can do far more than most people think.  Also, smallness usually means less politics, which has plagued science in recent decades.

The researchers will have full access to YC and the YC network.  YC has a very high problem flux at this point—we fund hundreds of companies per year.  Compensation and power for the researchers will not be driven by publishing lots of low-impact papers or speaking at lots of conferences—that whole system seems broken.  Instead, we will focus on the quality of the output.

We plan to do this for a long time.  If some of these projects take 25 years, that’s perfectly fine with us. 

We’re very excited to see what comes out of this.


[1] Funding for technological development is actually relatively high, but funding for fundamental research keeps getting cut.  Investors want to fund incremental progress—and the world has gotten very good at delivering that.  This is more valuable than it sounds; incremental progress compounds quickly. 

But it’s not all we need—we are dependent on the unpredictable breakthrough jumps to drive humanity forward.  Technology startups today work very well for making a super-efficient piston engine, but they are unlikely to fund the kind of open-ended R+D required to develop a jet engine.

[2] We think it’s important for the researchers to make as much money as they might in at a large company or a startup.  YC equity is fairly low-risk (we fund hundreds of companies per year) and high-reward (they have historically done very well), so it will hopefully be a good solution.

Many of the best researchers in the world are forced to choose between high-paying engineering work to support their families or doing the work they really want to do; the fact that this is an either/or choice is bad for all of us.  

Sam Altman
tag:blog.ycombinator.com,2013:Post/912344 2015-10-05T17:00:00Z 2015-10-26T20:28:20Z Apply At YC, we have a healthy problem. It’s cool to start a startup lately, and YC is an increasingly  popular place to do so. But this kind of popularity can be a double-edged sword: In the last month, I’ve spoken to more than 50 high-quality founders who would make strong candidates for our upcoming class but feel intimidated out of applying to YC. 

There are a lot of reasons.

Some think they’re too early. They don’t have a fully-functional prototype, user growth is lower than they’d hoped, their crowdfunding campaign fell short.

Some think they’re too late. They know exactly how they’ll manufacture their device, they already ran a 6-figure crowdfunding campaign, their site traffic is growing. They (nearsightedly) see a series A as the ultimate goal, and it’s just barely out of reach.

Some have been rejected previously. For their current startup or a past one, they tried and failed to gain a spot in one of our previous classes. They decide that it’s not worth trying again.

The reality is that there is no ‘just right:’ Each company is different, and there is no perfect time to apply.

If you think you’re too early, you probably aren’t. The questions in our application are all things you should be thinking about at the earliest stages of launching a startup. They will help you structure ideas around your fledgling company. These are questions you should have answers to regardless of whether you plan to apply for YC. Instead of wasting time pondering whether your company is mature enough to apply, answer the questions, add a video, and submit your application.

If you’re afraid you’re too late, think again -- particularly if you don’t fit into a traditional venture-capital-friendly category. Last year, hundreds of companies that raised over $200k applied. YC is great for entrepreneurs with ambitious visions in categories unusual to venture capital, and you’ll see us introduce additional tools to help here in the coming months.

Over 10% of our alumni were rejected the first time they applied (including Luna Sleep, a strong hardware company in our last class.) We love seeing companies apply again. Show us that you’ve progressed substantially towards product-market fit, and it will be a no-brainer to offer you an interview.

As of this posting, applications are open for another 8 days. Many of our best companies applied on a lark. Many of our best companies thought they were too late/early to apply. Apply!

[Thanks to Colleen Taylor, Denis Mars, Jared Friedman, Sam Altman, Aaron Harris and Kat Manalac for reading drafts / contributing]

Luke Iseman
tag:blog.ycombinator.com,2013:Post/912213 2015-10-02T18:05:12Z 2015-10-02T18:05:12Z YC Digest - September 25-October 2 Top Stories from the YC World - September 25 to October 2, 2015

YC Fall 2015 College Tour: Next week we'll be at Carnegie Mellon and Stanford!

Two HN Announcements

The 20 Minute VC podcast interviews YC partner Aaron Harris

Can Y Combinator find its next ‘unicorn’ in a hardware startup? - Fortune interviews YC's Luke Iseman and Michael Seibel


I and We by Aaron Harris

Airbnb and San Francisco by Sam Altman

YC Alumni News and Launches

Instacart (W12) hires Ravi Gupta as its first CFO

Watsi (W13) co-founder Grace Carey profiled in the Huffington Post

Eden (S15) launches an on-demand tech support product aimed at businesses

Triplebyte (S15) raises $3 million 

Upverter (S11) launches 'Parts Concierce,' a Github for hardware

Goldman Sachs highlights EquipmentShare (W15), TradeBlock (W14), and Yhat (W14) in research note

Naytev (S14) launches Spark, a 'dark testing' social media tool for publishers

Y Combinator
tag:blog.ycombinator.com,2013:Post/911076 2015-09-29T18:39:39Z 2015-10-07T18:49:44Z Two HN Announcements The HN community feels like it owns HN, and we like it that way. HN has become an important institution in the tech community, and though it was initially developed for YC founders it's clearly evolved into much more than that.

We've always felt that the best way for HN to benefit YC is simply for it to maximally benefit the community, which mostly means keeping the story and discussion quality as high as possible. We read it ourselves, so we want that as much as anyone.

In that spirit, we have a couple of announcements to make: an organizational one from Sam, and a moderation one from Dan.

Making HN autonomous within YC (Sam)

We're going to factor out Hacker News into its own autonomous unit of YC. It has de facto been like that, but it feels like a good idea to make it official. Going forward, HN will no longer formally be part of the investment branch of YC, but will be its own separate thing.

Everyone at YC knows that it's vital for HN to have full editorial independence, and we have absolute trust in Dan's decision-making in product, engineering, and moderation. Dan will report directly to me, though I don't plan to be very involved--other than as an enthusiastic user (who would, however, prefer that it be easier to read on a phone) and someone who's always happy to bounce around ideas. We're also setting it up so that Dan will have the option of reporting directly to the YC Board of Overseers instead if he ever decides to.

Dan is an incredibly talented person who really understands the art and science of HN; I'm excited to see what he has planned for the future.

Modnesty I: More Community Moderation (Dan)

HN's approach to moderation has always been three-pronged: software automation where possible, human intervention where necessary, and as much community moderation as users can provide. Our long-term vision for HN is to have the site be as self-regulating as possible, and we've been working on a project code-named Modnesty (for 'moderation amnesty') to develop new ways to do that. Today we're releasing the first experiment from this project. The idea is to let the community make the final call on decisions made by HN moderators and software.

Currently, when an account is banned, a software filter trips, or enough users flag a post, the post goes [dead], meaning only users with 'showdead' turned on in their profile can see it. The trouble is that some posts end up [dead] when they shouldn't be. Banned accounts sometimes post good comments, software filters sometimes have false positives, and users sometimes flag things unfairly.

Today's new feature lets users rescue [dead] posts on a case by case basis. Beside the 'flag' link, you'll see a 'vouch' link to click when a post should not be [dead]. When enough users vouch for a post, the software will unkill it. Think of vouches as the inverse of flags: a flag says that a post shouldn't be on HN; a vouch says it should.

We'll review all vouched posts to make sure that they don't violate the HN guidelines. If we notice abusive vouches, we'll take away vouching rights (again, by analogy with flagging), so please vouch responsibly! Only rescue civil, substantive contributions to the site.

You need a little karma (currently 30) to see flag links, and the same threshold applies here. If you don't have 30 karma but would like to participate, email hn@ycombinator.com and we'll try to help.

I called this feature an experiment above. We'd like everyone to understand that when we say 'experiment', we really mean it. It's important to us to be able to roll out new ideas and drop the ones that turn out lame. HN's simplicity is its core design value, and we shudder at the thought of only adding features and never removing them. The freedom to retract bad experiments (like we did recently [1]) enables us to try more things, which benefits HN most in the long run. So if Modnesty turns out to have unintended bad consequences--which I hope won't happen, especially since we've been testing it for a while--we'll withdraw it. As always, whether it turns out bad or good is mostly a function of your feedback, so please be generous with it!

1. See my edit of https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=10223645.

Sam Altman
tag:blog.ycombinator.com,2013:Post/909556 2015-09-25T17:28:40Z 2015-09-28T11:19:07Z YC Digest - September 18-24 Top Stories from the YC World - September 18-24, 2015

YC Fall 2015 College Tour: Next week we'll be at Harvard, NYU, UIUC, and Columbia

Startup School Radio: YC's Michael Seibel on the Toughness of International Founders

Hardware at YC - an interview with Luke Iseman

YC's Sam Altman interviewed onstage at TechCrunch Disrupt SF

YC Alum

Commuter shuttle startup Chariot (YC W15) launches their first iOS app

Pebble (YC W11) releases Pebble Time Round

Clever (YC S12), now with 44,000 schools on its platform, profiled in the New York Times

Clara (YC S14) launches its AI-powered personal assistant app to the public

Detroit Water Project (YC W15) co-founder Tiffani Ashley Bell profiled in Ebony Magazine

Streaming music service Earbits (YC W11) acquired by You42

FarmLogs (YC W12) announces new farm data tracking device, and profiled in Entrepreneur Magazine


Cruise (YC W14) Raises $12.5M; Poaches Tesla’s Lead on Autopilot

Farm-To-Fridge Food Delivery Service GrubMarket (YC W15) Grabs $10M Series A

Y Combinator
tag:blog.ycombinator.com,2013:Post/907772 2015-09-21T15:42:35Z 2015-10-06T17:47:45Z Startup School Radio: YC's Michael Seibel on the Toughness of International Founders

In the latest episode of YC's Startup School Radio, a podcast that features stories and practical advice about starting, funding, and scaling companies, our host Aaron Harris first sat down with his fellow YC partner Michael Seibel, who talked about his experiences co-founding Justin.tv/Twitch and Socialcam, and his work traveling around the world meeting startup founders. In the second half of the episode he interviewed Wade Foster, the co-founder of app integration platform Zapier, which launched out of YC's summer 2012 class.

You can hear the episode in its entirety on SoundCloud here and on iTunes here.

One especially interesting part of Michael's interview is when he talked about his focus on seeking out top startup founders internationally:

Aaron Harris: You've traveled all over the world meeting founders. I think you've probably traveled more widely than almost anyone I can think of in terms of meeting founders in different places... Are there different signs that you see in other places that aren't the valley, that are good indicators of people being committed and passionate?

Michael Seibel: You know what's really interesting? When I meet founders across the board in the States and outside of the States, I basically feel as though the ones that I'm really impressed by are the ones that don't let anything get in their way. And whether fortunately or unfortunately, for international founders, oftentimes, especially for startups, that means finding a path to America.

Aaron Harris: Interesting. Because there's more funding here? It's more accepted here? What is that?

Michael Seibel: There are two things I did not realize this about America until I left America. First of all, the terms and the amount of money available in America is massive.

Aaron Harris: And by "terms" you mean?

Michael Seibel: Meaning founder friendly terms for funding, for terms that don't deep-six your company from day one. The number of funds that can actually write a $10 million check on Sand Hill Road, just one road in Silicon Valley, is more than the number of funds that can write a $10 million check in all of Italy. And I bet that number's actually most countries in Europe. So that's the first thing. The second thing is America has a huge population that all speak the same language with the same culture.

Aaron Harris: Right. Yeah, there aren't a lot of homogeneous populations like that, that you can target. I mean, China's an example, but it's closed to anyone not in China. One of the things I think about when meeting international founders, they're often just tough to a level that you don't normally see of first time founders here, because I think they actually have to overcome so much more. If you're coming from India, from Delhi, rising above the other startups there, and then getting here, getting to us, you are just...

Michael Seibel: Well, it's about life. We have one founder from Colombia who, when he was growing up, there was violence. We had one founder who grew up in Croatia during the Balkan Wars.

Aaron Harris: Where half the country was leveled.

Michael Seibel: I mean, literally, I remember I was in Croatia visiting a founder and he told me this story about how up there in the hills somebody had a gun and was shooting down on this little valley that we were standing in. That was his life memory. So, yeah, they are tough.

Aaron Harris: And I think when we look at companies, one of the things we're trying to identify most is toughness.

Colleen Taylor
tag:blog.ycombinator.com,2013:Post/906368 2015-09-17T18:59:00Z 2015-10-13T10:47:57Z Welcome Anne, Ben, and Joe! I’m delighted to announce three new part-time partners.

Anne Wojcicki is the cofounder and CEO of 23andMe.  Anne is one of the world experts on biotechnology and healthcare companies; her guidance will be invaluable to the increasing numbers of these companies YC funds.

Ben Silbermann is the cofounder and CEO of Pinterest, and a two-time YC alumni.  Ben has an exceptional product sense, and is one of the more thoughtful people I’ve ever met when it comes to building a company and its culture. 

Joe Gebbia is the cofounder and CPO of Airbnb (YC W2009.)  He is also on the Board of Trustees at RISD, where he went to school.  He will help companies with any challenges they face, but especially with design.

Welcome to YC!

Sam Altman
tag:blog.ycombinator.com,2013:Post/905016 2015-09-17T17:14:31Z 2015-10-21T17:37:55Z YC Fall 2015 College Tour

How do you come up with an idea?
What makes a great founding team?
How do you raise money from investors? 

Join YC partners and alumni at colleges around the country. Hear their stories and find out what it's really like to start a startup. You'll also have the chance to sign up for one-on-one office hours. 

9/19: Hack the North at the University of Waterloo
> 11am ET, Hagey Hall, University of Waterloo 
More Info and RSVP

9/25: YC at University of Michigan with MPowered
> 6pm ET, TechArb, 500 E Washington St #10, Ann Arbor, MI
> More Info and RSVP
> Sign up for office hours: Email mpowered-contact@umich.edu

9/27: Startup@Brown 
> Alumnae Hall, 194 Meeting St., Providence RI
> 11:15am ET - UX Workshop with Kevin Hale, 12pm ET - Keynote
More Info 
> Sign up for office hours

9/28: YC at Harvard
> 7pm ET, Harvard Innovation Lab - Lobby Area, 125 Western Ave., Boston, MA
> More info 

9/28-9/29: YC Office Hours in Boston
> Sign up for office hours 

9/30: YC at NYU
> 6pm ET, Stern School for Business, 44 West 4th, Room 5-90, New York, NY
> More info
> Sign up for office hours 

10/1: YC at University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
> 5:30 CT, 1404 Auditorium in Siebel Center, 201 N Goodwin Ave, Urbana, IL
> More Info and RSVP
> Sign up for office hours

10/1: YC at Columbia University
> 7:30pm ET, Lerner C555, 2920 Broadway, New York, NY
> More Info and RSVP
> Sign up for office hours

10/6: YC at Carnegie Mellon University
> 5:30pm ET, Rashid Auditorium - Gates Hillman Center, Room 4401, 5000 Forbes Ave., Pittsburgh, PA
> More Info and RSVP
> Sign up for office hours

10/12: YC at Stanford University
> More Info and RSVP

Questions? Email kat@ycombinator.com

Y Combinator
tag:blog.ycombinator.com,2013:Post/906322 2015-09-17T17:07:56Z 2015-10-09T06:58:03Z New Story Charity (YC S15) Rings the NASDAQ Opening Bell

New Story, the nonprofit that recently launched out of our Summer 2015 class that crowdfunds the building of new homes for families in need, rang the opening bell at the NASDAQ stock exchange in New York City last week -- marking a big milestone for the company, and a first for a YC nonprofit. 

The ringing of the opening bell on September 8 coincided with the last day of New Story's 100 Homes in 100 Days campaign, which ended with a total of 103 homes being funded for families left homeless by the 2010 earthquake in Haiti. New Story's aim is to change the status quo of traditional charities, with a fully transparent platform that lets donors see that their funds are being used to help the people who need aid.

Congratulations to New Story founders Brett Hagler, Matthew Marshall, Alexandria Lafci, and the rest of the team!

Colleen Taylor
tag:blog.ycombinator.com,2013:Post/903712 2015-09-16T17:30:00Z 2015-09-24T15:26:37Z YC Open Office Hours for Black and Hispanic Founders Startups are often best at solving the personal problems of their founders. The more diverse the founders, the more types of problems can be solved -- and the more people who will be positively impacted by technology.

As a result, we're piloting a program called "Open Office Hours". We are reaching out to underrepresented communities in the startup world and giving them direct access to YC.  They can ask us questions, get advice, and grow their network.

Each company who participates will get 20 minute office hours with a YC partner. They can do them in person at our office in Mountain View, CA or remotely on Skype.

Our first Open Office Hours event will happen on 9/24-25.  We will start with Black and Hispanic founders and if successful we hope to launch future Open Office Hours for Women, Veterans, and International founders. 

We'll start taking sign-ups on Wednesday 9/16. For this pilot we'll be starting with 50 slots.  Learn more and apply by following this link: http://www.ycopenofficehours.com/

The deadline to apply is Monday 9/21.
Michael Seibel
tag:blog.ycombinator.com,2013:Post/905031 2015-09-14T17:34:31Z 2015-09-14T20:02:15Z Echo Locker (YC S13) Acquired by Microsoft Echo Locker, the startup that makes a popular app for personalizing the lockscreen on Android devices, has been acquired by Microsoft. Echo Locker launched out of YC in our Summer 2013 class as Prim, and later turned its focus to the Echo product in July 2014.

In an interview with Business Insider's Matt Weinberger, Microsoft's Chief Experience Officer Julie Larson-Green praised the Echo lockscreen app for helping take "productivity to the next level" and allowing users to stay "in the moment."

According to Business Insider, the Echo app will continue to be a standalone product for the time being, though its technology will be incorporated into future Microsoft products: "A lot of what Microsoft comes up with via the Next and Echo lockscreens will make it back to Windows 10, Office, and any other Microsoft product that sends out notifications," Weinberger reported.

Congratulations to Echo's co-founders Xuwen Cao and Yin Yin Wu.

Colleen Taylor
tag:blog.ycombinator.com,2013:Post/903948 2015-09-11T17:00:06Z 2015-09-19T13:05:03Z YC at Hack the North

Y Combinator partners and alumni will be at Hack the North at the University of Waterloo on Saturday, September 19. 

Join us for a panel on how to "Do Things That Don't Scale" or sign up for one-on-one office hours with a YC partner or alum.

Y Combinator Presents: "Do Things That Don't Scale" at Hack the North
Sat, Sept 19, 2015 from 11am-12:30pm ET
Hagey Hall, University of Waterloo
Livestream: http://hackthenorth.com/live
RSVP for non-Hack the North attendees only (Hack the North attendees have reserved seating already)

Office Hours with YC partners and alumni
Sat, Sept 19, 2015 from 2pm-5pm ET
Office hours will be 20 minutes each. If you're selected, we'll reach out with your time slot, who you'll be meeting with, and the location.
Sign up by 9am on Thursday, September 17

See you there! 
- YC Team
Y Combinator
tag:blog.ycombinator.com,2013:Post/903986 2015-09-11T16:12:42Z 2015-09-11T16:12:42Z YC Digest - September 4-September 10 Top Stories from the YC World - September 4-September 10, 2015

Congratulations to the YC alum featured in LinkedIn's "Next Wave"
YC S15: Heroic Labs’s quest makes building mobile, HTML5, and Unity games easier and more social

YC Alum
Non-Profit OneDegree (YC W14) Opens A Search Engine, Portal For Bay Area Affordable Housing 

Startup Shift Labs (YC W15) wants to change how medical devices are made

Stanford Partners With Life Sciences Marketplace Quartzy (YC S11) For Campus Lab Supplies

Eden (YC S15) Raises $2 Million To Expand On-Demand Tech Help Service
Y Combinator
tag:blog.ycombinator.com,2013:Post/903639 2015-09-10T22:21:21Z 2015-09-27T17:40:24Z Startup School Radio: Pigeonly's Frederick Hutson On The Importance Of Early Believers

In the latest episode of YC's Startup School Radio, podcast that features stories and practical advice about starting, funding, and scaling companies, our host Aaron Harris first sat down with his fellow YC partner Qasar Younis. In addition to being YC's newly-appointed COO, Qasar has also founded several companies, including TalkBin, the Winter 2011 alum that went on to be acquired by Google.

You can listen to the full hour-long episode on SoundCloud here or on iTunes here.

In the second portion of the episode, Aaron interviewed Frederick Hutson, the co-founder and CEO of W15 alum Pigeonly, the company that provides affordable communication services for prison inmates to connect with their families. In one interesting part of Frederick's interview, he talked about the challenges of talking to Silicon Valley investors about inmate services, which is a problem many of them aren't well acquainted with:

Frederick: What I quickly learned as I was talking to folks [about investing in Pigeonly], there were some biases. One was that they just couldn't wrap their brains around the system, because the problem we were solving was so far removed from what they understood. There wasn't any prejudice or anything against me as an individual, but it was just, 'I literally can't wrap my brain around this problem to even know if it's real or not.' And that's the biggest thing when we talk to most people, is that I have to spend a lot of time educating them on the problem that we're solving, and then we can move forward to even talk about the business. That's how we were able to weed out and find out the people who were interested in it.

Our early group of believers, they really turned and set the stage for everyone else. So then when people saw our base, and they saw Erik [Moore from Base Ventures, one of the early investors in Zappos], and they saw [Mitch] Kapor, then we started getting a lot of the other people saying, 'Okay, maybe they know something and we trust them. So we'll go along with them.' 

Aaron: ...So it's been a couple months out of YC, and so just as a parting piece of wisdom, what did you take from YC back to the company that's driving you forward now? Like what's the thing that, for Pigeonly, is the core lesson that you need to keep pushing on that's going to drive your business?

Frederick: I think focus. I think focus is highly important, because there's so many things that you can be doing, and it's easy to get distracted. And, also, I think the second lesson for me that's really...we picked up from one of the speakers is focusing on what our driving metric is.

So for us it's constant, weekly communication. And we made that the core of our business. We made that the core of our meetings. And now everything we do our question is, 'Is this going to drive more consistent weekly communication for our user base?' And that's really helped us, and helped us make some hard decisions, to really do the right thing at the right time.
Colleen Taylor
tag:blog.ycombinator.com,2013:Post/901349 2015-09-04T21:22:28Z 2015-09-08T16:17:26Z YC Digest August 28 - September 3 Top Stories from the YC World - August 28-September 3, 2015

YC News

Startup School Radio: Bannerman CEO Johnny Chin On Getting Into The Minds Of Your Users

Startup School Radio: Bellabeat's Urska Srsen On Not Overthinking It At The Beginning

Startup School Radio: YC's Geoff Ralston On Learning As You Go


Why it's Safe for Founders to Be Nice by Paul Graham

YC Alum

Julia Kurnia of Zidisha (YC W14): How Non-Profit Used Tech Startup Tactics to Build a Microlending Marketplace

Cofactor Genomics (YC S15) plans to analyze cRNA for consumer diagnostics

Matterport (YC W12) Wants To Photograph The World In 3D, One Room At A Time

How Zapier (YC S12) Went From Zero to 600,000+ Users in Just Three Years

Former Visa CEO Joins Kash (YC S14)

Weave (S14) Named One of Business Insider's 25 Hottest Under-The-Radar Tech Startups in America

Colleen Taylor