Applications are now open for Y Combinator’s summer 2010 cycle. Summer 2010 will be our 5th anniversary, and since we fund startups twice a year it will be the 11th group of startups we’ve funded. We’ve funded 171 companies so far, so there’s a chance we’ll hit 200 this summer.  At 2.5 founders per startup, the YC alumni network is starting to be big enough to fill a decent sized auditorium. (Despite its size it is still remarkably cohesive, probably because everyone has been through similar experiences.)

For summer 2010 we’re making a big change: we moved the deadline almost a month earlier, to take some of the heat off applicants who get offers from the increasing number of YC-like organizations that have appeared over the last couple years.  In the past, many of them have tried to pressure startups into accepting offers before they had a chance to interview with Y Combinator.  That caused a lot of stress for applicants, and the problem was only going to get worse as the number of YC-like organizations increased.  We hope that now that we’re all deciding at about the same time, no one will have to take an offer that’s not their first choice.

(Now it’s us who are going to be stressed out, because the only place to fit interviews was immediately after the winter cycle’s Demo Day.)

Another thing we’re changing for summer 2010 is that we’re going to try to engage more with people during the application process. So this time groups that apply early will have a significant advantage.  Usually half the applications are submitted in the last two days.  We strongly advise applicants not to do that this time. The reason a lot of people wait till the last minute to apply is that they want their application to be perfect before we see it. That was probably a mistake before, and it definitely will be now: now it’s a better strategy to submit successive drafts of your application as you modify it.