New: Y Combinator Startup News

Paul Graham
20 February 2007

Yesterday we launched Startup News, a new component of our site with a user-ranked list of startup-related links. We created this partly for our own use: we've now funded about a hundred people, so it doesn't work well anymore to send links around by email.

Another reason we created news.ycombinator is that there is currently nothing like it. Reddit used to have a good concentration of startup-related links, but that was because so many of Reddit's initial users were connected in some way to Y Combinator. Now that Reddit is so much more popular, the top links tend to be images, or videos, or political news.

And of course another reason we made this site is that last summer we wrote the first reasonably efficient implementation of Arc, and we were looking for something to build with it.

But the most important goal of news.ycombinator was to create a place where founders and would-be founders can meet and talk. Among the founders we've funded there's a strong feeling of community; most of them know one another, and a lot have become good friends. But this sense of community drops off sharply at the edges. We know some of the people who apply to us for funding—either because they're friends of people we funded, or because we met them at events like startup school—but most of the people who apply to us, we know nothing about.

That's a problem for both sides. The applicants we don't know are at a disadvantage. And it makes judging applications more difficult for us; all we have to go on is a few answers on an application form. So our hope is that by creating a community at news.ycombinator, we'll be able to get to know would-be founders before they apply to us.

You can tell a lot about the users of a site like this from the the links they post and their comments in discussions. There are a number of Reddit users that I know only by their usernames, but I know must be smart from the things they've written. We're counting on the same phenomenon to help us decide who to fund.

In our new online application form, you literally apply through your Y Combinator account, so we'll recognize usernames that have been thoughtful contributors to the site. I'm not saying we'll simply fund whoever has the most karma; that would encourage abuses. But we will be more likely to fund people we know are smart from their submissions and comments.