We’re making a change to the rule for YC partners making
follow-on investments. Previously, partners
could invest in companies after they had either raised $500k or 3 weeks after
Demo Day. This reduced a lot of the
conflict and signaling issues, but not enough—partners investing during the
batch still caused issues. So the new
rule is that partners can only invest some amount of time after Demo Day (we’ll
experiment a little to figure out exactly how long) or as part of a Series A.
Our hope is that this will further reduce investors looking for signal from YC partners.
We put this policy in place for the summer 2014 batch, and
it seems to be working well.
We will continue to make exceptions to the investing rules
when a company is running out of money and about to die, but we think they are
good and no one else wants to invest. We
may make other exceptions, which uninvolved partners will approve on a
While I’m on the topic of reducing conflicts, I also want to
talk about our relationship with VCs.
Over the years, we’ve had direct LP (with Sequoia) or LP-like (with
Andreessen Horowitz, Maverick Capital, SV Angel, Yuri Milner, General Catalyst,
and Khosla Ventures) relationships with several VC firms. This caused other investors a lot of
We still like all those firms a lot, and they continue to
invest in a lot of our companies. But
they no longer have LP relationships with us, and no information rights or
anything like that. We do still have
some VCs come in and meet companies about 10 days before Demo Day so they can
get some pitch practice. We expect to
rotate through a list of trusted investors for different batches.
In the interest of a level playing field, we have created a
new email distribution list that we will use for all of our companies raising
rounds outside of Demo Day (before or after). We’ll use this email list instead of individual introductions so that we don’t unintentionally miss an investor who might be really interested in a company.
The rules for membership are simple—5 total investments in
YC companies of any size or 2 big ones, a positive reputation among our alumni,
and no history of bad behavior like breaking term sheets without great cause,
pressuring founders into advisor shares in addition to an investment alongside
others in a round, etc.
We will of course continue to make introductions to newer
investors not on this list as it makes sense.
In fact, some day, we’d like to have a larger distribution channel for
all interested investors that we’d send companies to and integrate with some crowdfunding companies. But we have to sort through the rules around that first.
In general, we don’t start introducing startups to investors
until a maximum of 10 days before Demo Day (and most wait until Demo Day). We also suggest startups take at least about
10 days to get to know major investors before making a decision. We appreciate investors cooperating with us
on this; it’s in everyone’s best interest for the startups to be able to focus
on their product during the YC batch.
This should address all of the issues around investing we’re
currently aware of at YC.