EDIT 11:15 AM PDT: I have to go. This was fun!
At a minimum, I expect YCR researchers to be turning down job offers from YC companies all the time.
From the perspective of a biotech researcher in the US, the funding model here is broken. As a result of funding levels falling for more than a decade, and universities being less willing to invest in individuals without consistent major funding, getting grants has become a very political process.
I applaud YC's efforts. We need alternatives, but I am not sure that YC is interested in the same kinds of research that the legacy funding system used to support. Science is not sexy. The results can be incredibly sexy, but you never go in looking for those sexy results.
EDIT: In addition, it's worth considering the difference in the peak talent age of a researcher as compared to a programmer. You can code in your bedroom as a preteen, but it's very difficult to get unfettered access to a molecular research laboratory before the age of 22. The best researchers are older, and that changes the equation in important ways.
Speaking as someone who left academia close to two decades ago, sama hit the nail on the head.
The kinds of people that sama is targeting are ones who in the current system are going to wind up in postdocs or teaching adjuncts. With the way that universities are structured, all incentives are to have as many of these as possible doing teaching, pay them as little as possible, string them along on as long as possible, and reward as few as possible with the golden apple of tenure. These incentives have been taken to an outrageous extent. If you are a young researcher and are concerned that YCR is too risky, then you're not being honest about your own prospects.
Increased funding for research does not solve this problem. The university system structurally creates more PhDs than it can create jobs for unless the university system is growing rapidly. This was last true in the 1950s and 1960s, but has not worked out for most grad students since. Shrinking is admittedly worse than steady, but both are bad.
Therefore the YCR opportunity gives researchers a chance to do research that might or might not be better than a regular postdoc, and significantly improved job prospects if it doesn't. The best way to address that issue is to be honest about it.
But I am highly confused about how the OP's concern relates to types of research that are largely supported in academia alone. If you're in a field of research that YCR is not interested in supporting, then going with YCR is not an option for you. And therefore it won't matter whether or not it is a good option.
It's not that hard to get access (perhaps not unfettered) to research labs in high school. In grade 10, I talked to a professor at UCLA and started coding physics simulations for him. Many people I know worked at research labs far before the age of 22. Zenefits CEO Parker Conrad won 3rd place at the Westinghouse Talent search for neural research at age 17. Feynman started tinkering early, and Einstein taught himself geometry at age 12.
If you're curious, you can push your way in. However, this isn't easy, and we need to make it easier for students to get involved earlier. At any rate, YCR will certainly find talent at all ages.
I thought my PhD research was fantastic. It was good, but geez could I have wasted YCR's money at that point. :)
You need to look at the individual you are evaluating. What were their experiences?
It sucks to lose at a career gamble but, at least in Silicon Valley, most people who fail but keep trying, end up doing pretty well.
The current combination of risk-aversion and the focus on publications, tenure and positive results that permeates academia is antithetical to the uncertainty inherent in scientific research.
It seems to me that building new research institutions like YCR with a culture that resembles the one in tech which accepts and encourages risk-taking should be a priority if we are to continue to make progress in science.
It's easy to say that "more people" should take career risks. It's harder to be the person who's spent their entire life striving toward a Ph.D. in the field of study they love, and face the (very real) possibility that they'll get one shot and that's it.
Even if they can land at a Silicon Valley company (not as likely for biomedical researchers, BTW), that's not their dream. Their dream was to do groundbreaking scientific research. That's why they got their Ph.D. instead of a job in Silicon Valley.
I don't think Sam addressed the commenter's concerns at all.
Here are my thoughts on the topic: http://yansh.github.io/articles/phd-distruption/
It'll be very exciting to see what happens.
There are many industries out there for which failure is hard - one of them is being an athlete in pro sports. If you aren't at the top, you won't make it to the pros. Not to say that a system that allows for failure is bad or good, but that I think it requires more thought than a simple response.
It seems like anyone seriously interested in being a career researcher would know how unforgiving and competitive mainstream academia is.
I think I'm mainly echoing the opinion that it's a little quick to say Academia is "fucked up", since with all it's flaws, there are still great virtues, and a more thoughtful response would probably be more appreciated. I also see the tendency for people to quickly judge academia when they haven't been in academia.
Academia has misplaced incentives here and there and can certainly be unfair at times, but I've never actually run into any large system which didn't have those properties.
Still, let's not exaggerate how screwed the incentives are. Ultimately the best way to succeed in academic science is to do good work. (Also, do a lot of it, and be good at writing about how good your work is and why it should be given lots of money.)
How can an entire discipline that is supposedly based on rational evidence-finding be such a cliquey clusterfuck? You're basically saying that if you don't follow the community rules, which more or less boil down to "hazing," you'll be excommunicated. Sounds like a cult, to me... as is any culture where "fear" is the primary motivator not to try something different.
Don't the laws of nature exist everywhere? Why can't anyone "do science," then?
I am glad I work in a meritocracy-based industry where anyone with any background can "ship" and succeed, and that has a low tolerance for bullshit.
A YCR "fellow" (or whatever it'd be called) would probably not be a competitive candidate for an academic position. It's not because they weren't in academia, it's because they will likely not have the work product used to measure performance in a academic setting. A hiring committee is not going to risk department funds on someone with a non-existent track record when there's a line out the door of other candidates.
I think OP is correct in perceiving that selecting YCR would probably close the door to a future in academia. I will also predict that YCR will have difficulty hiring top academic talent.
The way it'd work out is the same way YC itself started: attract talented, smart people who have no patience for academia's politics. Let them make their own decisions. Build a brand on the discoveries they make, which attracts more people. Change public opinion about how research should be done. Eventually, the "top academic talent" realizes they've made a horrible mistake, and scrambles to join the new system that's replaced the old.
Scientific research is by its nature risky and uncertain. The current risk-averse culture of academia with its focus on grant applications, publishing, tenure, and positive results seems to discourage the risk-taking necessary in science.
On the other hand, the culture prevalent in tech accepts and encourages risk-taking, supports fast and easy recovery from failure and generally evaluates people on merit, not success or failure of their most recent project.
Think how hard the hiring problem is. How do you hire the best people? How do you assess someone's quality based on a few bits of paper and a short interview. Allocating funding in academia consists of solving problems like that, all the time.
Those are 2 reasons off the top of my head.
If you mean "vetted by a tiny handful of fallibly-human organizations such as Nature and Cell who may or may not decide to accept your paper regardless of its actual merit and based mostly on how 'hip' the research is," well then we're back to the hazing/cliquey-clusterfuck thing again.
"Grants" seem equivalent to "angel investments" in the startup world... which seem a lot saner, btw.
The system is far from perfect, but I don't think you'll find anyone in academia saying otherwise. I think of it being like Churchill's quote about democracy being the worst form of government, except for all the others that were tried.
Bell Labs has produced a lot of great research and many researchers have had fruitful careers there and after.
Why can't YCR be the same?
YCR could be the same, one day. Nevertheless, it's a very long and perilous road from YCR the proposal, to Bell Labs 2.0.
Having worked in research academia, as a hospital medical tech, as a technical support bloke, and now several years across several different companies doing devops, I call hogwash. The software/startup world is replete with bullshit, more than anywhere else. Not to mention the huge amounts of time spent "chasing the shiny", where new tools are used because of fashion rather than merit. And network effects are just as strong in the startup world as in academia or medicine.
Occasionally a bedroom-based programmer can strike it lucky, but that's not the bulk of the startup world.
> Don't the laws of nature exist everywhere? Why can't anyone "do science," then?
Everyone can 'do science'. Youtube is filled with people doing science with everyday items. It's just that most human-scale stuff is low-hanging fruit and has now been 'done'. The edges of science where we're progressing with new knowledge need more expensive tools to observe them.
This might be the most delusional thing I've read in this entire thread, and that's saying something. You can't take a look at founders of successful startups and sincerely tell me that anyone with any background can succeed. The whole idea of a startup excludes huge portions of the population (and I'm not talking about technical skills). Low tolerance for bullshit? The startup world is like 90% bullshit.
Your characterization of academia is way too exaggerated. Leaving academia has always been a semi-permanent move. There is no other job quite like academia, so unless you've done something truly amazing with your outside adventures then your resume is going to be inferior to people who have direct experience in the field. It's only logical.
“If you want total security, go to prison. There you are fed, clothed and given medical care. The only thing lacking...is freedom.”
This is a different scenario. YCR is just getting started, so there is definitely a risk involved for a young researcher. In academia, it would be good for a young postdoc to have a portfolio of projects. Maybe one that's likely to result in success, even if it's not groundbreaking and something else which is more high risk, high reward. As an advisor, I would be irresponsible if I didn't try to suggest such a strategy to anyone working for me--that way, even if the risky project fails, they have something they can show that they accomplished when they look for their next position. If YCR offers the researchers the chance to balance working on risky and not so risky projects, then it sounds like a good opportunity for a young researcher--they get funding (it's not clear what the time scale is--a postdoc in physics is 2-3 years) and a chance to focus on their research and to work with outside researchers. Typically (in physics), postdocs don't teach, so that's not an issue. However, the OPs worry that they won't be able to balance their portfolio is a reasonable fear.
Finally, on the issue of publication, this varies from field to field. I have reviewed papers from PRL, Nature, etc. At least when I do it, it's not the same as just writing a comment. One paper that I refereed was a methods paper. This paper will eventually find it's way into a "black box" computer program, so I thought it was important to be correct. So, besides looking in general at the method, I went through every step of the derivations, checked the integrals, looked for sign errors, etc. This is time consuming and a much different process from just writing a comment or two. A good journal does a lot to try to improve the signal/noise ratio of material. Mistakes are still made and sometimes the process breaks down. It could be improved--but
One of the great things about YCR is that it provides another route for people and it's important to experiment with different approaches. Until it's been tried, we simply won't know if this model works or not and I applaud them for putting up the money and resources to try the experiment. Also, the grant process has become rather broken--but that's a problem of there being a lot of excellent proposals out there (I've reviewed grants before), but not enough money out there to fund many of them. Again, I've heard cases where the process has broken down based on politics, but more of what I've seen and heard is that reviewers see a LOT of things that they would like to fund, but there's just not enough money to go around. So, researchers end up spending a lot of time submitting multiple proposals to multiple agencies because the chance of success is too low....
I hope YCR works out!!! But, I do hope that they allow their researchers to do some hedging by working on some incremental projects as well as high risk projects.
It's not easy, but if you succeed (and publish) then you can often get an academic job afterwards.
2. In regards to YC Research, can you tell us anything more about the (general) topic area(s) you will be interested in? And maybe expand a little bit more on what kind of mechanisms might be put in place to facilitate working with outside researchers (hopefully including independent researchers and / or other startups).
2. Not ready to talk about specific areas, but I promise they are interesting ones :)
It will be super super easy for our researchers to collaborate with outsider researchers because of our IP stance!
As for the issue of where people want to live. Vancouver is likely even more costly to live than SV. KW (and southern Ontario in general) is a great place with warm weather 6 months per year and access to the 3rd largest city in North America.
In my opinion, KW would make a better YC V2 location.
I absolutely agree. But YC doesn't need to be where the university is. I mean, people apply to YC from all over the world, not just from the bay area.
Vancouver is likely even more costly to live than SV.
Relative to average income, yes. But that's just because Vancouver doesn't have much in the way of high-wage industries. In an absolute sense, Vancouver is much cheaper than SV.
KW (and southern Ontario in general) is a great place with warm weather 6 months per year and access to the 3rd largest city in North America.
Assuming you mean Toronto, it's only 3rd if you take "North America" to mean Canada+USA and take "largest" to mean "population within city limits"... a definition which says that Vancouver is smaller than Winnipeg, and San Francisco is smaller than Jacksonville. Based on metropolitan populations Toronto ranks 8th, between Washington DC and Houston.
But I would say that Toronto would be my second choice out of Canadian cities. The size definitely helps; I don't think it compensates for being three time zones away and twice as hard to reach from SFO though.
My team is moving to Vancouver in 2 weeks for the reasons you've listed. So pumped for cheap roundtrips to the Bay.
No? Amazon, Google, and Microsoft hire aggressively out of UBC.
Waterloo is an awful place. Asking people to move there is a hard sell. At least people would enjoy Vancouver.
I can speak from Cuba, since I am originally from there.
Cuba has been closed for 50 years to America, but that is changing now. There are really smart people, that just don't have the necessary access to capital or good advice.
Creating a branch of YC there would have a tremendous impact for local economy and people in addition of being a great business venture in a market that has been closed for half a century and is finally open.
It's also worth mentioning that given the current economic situation, funding a startup in Cuba would only take a small fraction of what it takes to fund it in the US, with a lot of potential ROI since almost every industry can be disrupted significantly.
A few years back, only people from universities or other "privileged" entities, had access to it. Recently there have been changes that allow other sectors of the population to get internet access.
Is there broadband? No.
Is it in every home or mobile device? No.
But that is where the country that has been closed for 50 years to technology is headed finally.
This on its own constitutes a great business opportunity for any company that leverages that change, for instance.
"I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been" - Wayne Gretzky (i heard it from S.Jobs first).
Long Beach seems to be starting to embrace the idea with things like its Bridgeworks project http://liherald.com/stories/New-startup-incubator-coming-to-...
I kind of want to start a company myself, there...
I hope it's not UK. Both UK and France, as well as a few Nordic countries are starting to become very anti-privacy/anti-security. I don't think it would be "safe" to start there in the long term.
Go Switzerland or Germany.
It's also a much richer experience for the startups. If you want to be a top of the class founder, you better visit the "startup founder meca" to learn from the best... If they opened a branch in São Paulo, I wouldn't care to attend...
I keep hearing that, and I have never agreed with that sentiment and doubt I ever will. There are lots of good reasons for people to not want to go to SV for 3 months that in no way reflect on their commitment / will.
The fact is: if you want to be on the world's best startup acelerator, you need to live 3 months in SV. Mostly because they can reproduce the experience anywhere else. But they a flexible in all possible ways... (your company can be based anywhere)
More severe commitments are required if you want to excel in other areas as well: if you want to play on the best soccer teams in the world you need to move to Europe; If you want to be a top actor you need to go to LA; If you want to be an MIT Engineer you need to live 5 years there; If you want to be the world's best tango dancer you need to move to Argentina...
But I'm sure that, wherever you are, there must be decent enough startup accelerators nearby. (There are a bunch in my country even).
Applying for YC funding doesn't make sense for several reasons:
1. I want to be king, not rich; everything I hear tells me that YC pushes companies to grow fast and increase their valuations, and that's something I fundamentally don't care about. I know that I'm stubborn enough that this would just result in a lot of frustration on both sides.
2. Tarsnap doesn't need the money. It's solidly profitable, and I honestly have no idea what I would do with investment money.
3. I don't want to live in the bay area -- not even for 3 months. Granted, this seems like it may be less of an issue now that it's possible for people with pre-existing conditions to get medical insurance; but the bay area is fundamentally not somewhere I can ever imagine myself wanting to live.
4. Converting Tarsnap into a US corporation would eat a lot of time and money. I completely understand why it's necessary for companies YC is going to invest in; but it's another reason why having YC invest in Tarsnap doesn't make sense.
I think YC and its portfolio companies are doing great and interesting things, and I'd like to be part of the community... but as explained above, taking funding doesn't make sense; when I applied for the YC fellowship (I know it was a stretch) you told me to apply for funding instead; and you haven't asked me to be part of YCR.
Is there some other option here?
We're considering doing something for later-stage companies that might be a good fit, though we haven't sorted out details about the bay area for example. If it does end up as a 'go', we'd probably do it next year.
It's also possible in future iterations of the fellowship we'll be open to companies that are further along.
Hope we figure something out at some point!
Great to hear that there may be routes opening up in the future -- I'll keep my eyes open.
YC companies do technically interesting things for sure, but a lot of the community is probably more about hiring, office space, fund raising, financials, and that sort of thing. These are all different for high risk startups.
I heard about this "Micropreneur" thing several years ago. This is something that interests me, and I've been working part time on projects in this vein. It seems to me that people who want slower growth and less personal risk are inherently a little less "collaborative". That describes me and there's nothing wrong with it. Still, I understand the need to bounce ideas off of others, quickly fill in gaps in your knowledge, etc.
Yes, that's exactly it.
and even then it would be more of an outlier than a peer.
I'm not so sure about that. OK, in a financial sense sure; but I know there are lots of YC companies doing technically cool things. It's not all rapidly-growing social networks for cats. ;-)
Could you please expand on this? I am in the same vein as cperciva but it doesn't have any relationship with collaboration. Sometimes you have a relatively successful company where more capital and fast growth would cause more harm than good BUT because right now you can't see a path for growth.
One person you could take as an example is the Pinboard founder. If you read all his blog posts, I wouldn't call him a "collaborative" person. Is he a highly intelligent, productive, and respected member of society? Yes. Collaborative? No.
My impression is that cperciva is like this, but I could be wrong. I'm more like this too, as mentioned. But you still need community if you're in this camp.
I think there is potential for higher overall growth when you have the right team, simply because there are too many things for one person to do, requiring many different types of expertise. Though there is not necessarily higher "per capita" return.
But growth compounds, so that explains why YC prefers co-founders over solo founders. But YC also acknowledges that there is a big downside to working with teams: co-founder disputes are one of the biggest, if not the biggest, reason for startups failing!
I will reply anyway! I don't know the details about Tarsnap but in my case I work with a co-founder and several employees. We work collaboratively.
In this context we don't have the potential for higher overall growth because the specific niches where we do business are not growing enough. In the past we tried some new areas with great expectations but they never took off. This doesn't mean that we would not prefer a more favorable market sector if we "discover" it in the future.
Could you arrange to go down to YC periodically and hold "office hours" to begin relationships with founders that are doing interesting things in your areas of expertise?
Could these relationships lead to you becoming a technical advisor for some of them?
Could you angel invest in some of them?
Could you attend YC investor day?
Well, you see, there's this thing called the "Internet" which allows people to communicate over large distances...
That's something I'd absolutely be happy to do.
If someone's interested in my advice, sure.
Could you angel invest in some of them? Could you attend YC investor day?
I don't think the amount I would be able to invest would be very meaningful. Also, I'm guessing the tax issues involved with cross-border angel investing would be painful. (Just a guess, but I find that assuming that tax issues are painful is a good default position.)
The USG doesn't feel like it has to protect you, so if you want to put money here, they are more than welcome to take it. :)
(Of course, don't trust me, get a real advisor / tax advice)
You mentioned a lot of reasons why Tarsnap can't be in the YC community. Perhaps you could come up with some reasons why you would have a place? It's marketing man ;)
The inescapable push would be to find fast/big growth areas, and to change tarsnap in whatever way necessary to fit in those niches.
This is kind of what Oculus does. John Carmack is in Texas with a small team, while most others are in California.
You retain absolute control over the core technology, but help your co-founder turn it into something more marketable and user friendly. Some of the Tarsnap GUIs authors might be interested in helping.
- the link: https://ycr.org
Based on https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=10361472 it sounds like that's limited to the US for now too.
Everyone on this board knows who you are, and you could probably get an audience with whoever you want if you asked for it.
Your personal brand and network is probably way stronger than you give it credit for.
Maybe, but I'd need to know who to ask. Being not part of the YC community, I don't know who is doing interesting things; nor do I know who to ask if I have a question about something.
You don't want a top-notch dev team? You don't have dreams to reach more enterprise customers? You don't want a world-class marketing campaign? You don't want a research team dedicated to the "next big thing"? There are tons of ways you can improve your offering.
Stubbornness is a desire to remain the same, persistence is the willingness to constantly change.
I think I already have one. ;-)
You don't have dreams to reach more enterprise customers? You don't want a world-class marketing campaign?
Hell no. Those sound like a lot of work.
You don't want a research team dedicated to the "next big thing"?
Not really. I mean, research is great, but Tarsnap is a backup service. It shouldn't be a backup service which also dabbles in self-driving cars, or a backup service which also hosts minecraft servers. If I decide I want to do something new, it will be something new, not part of Tarsnap.
It may not be what the rest of us want, but remember that there are some companies that simply know what they're good at and want to own that particular niche.
My point is, if you're creative, directions to grow your company are not scarce. Resources to do-so are. If he is actually flush with cash, and doesn't know what to do with it, that's a fundamental problem.
History is full of companies (eg. Lotus, Evernote, Clinkle) that lost focus and floundered because they had too many resources available, and also of ones (eg. Apple after Steve Jobs's return) that took off after they cut their product lines and laid off people.
I have lines out the door for the limited hours I'm open, even after raising prices three times. All my employees are well paid, including profit sharing and benefits.
Sushi Combinator wants to give me big multiples of annual earnings to take a minority stake in the business, but in exchange he wants me to try to increase revenue dramatically. Any of the ways I can think of doing so I believe, even if successful, will leave me less happy than running the business I have now.
Should I take the money?
Though, to entertain your analogy: Why not develop the next-level sushi fish? One that not only dazzles your exclusive audience in texture and taste, but is a delight to work with and more satisfying to cut.
> Should I take the money?
If you want to do big things, then yes.
If your happiness relies on staying a sushi chef, you are a sushi chef, not an entrepreneur.
I'm a graduating college senior, and I've accepted a job at a very big company in the tech industry. Right now, it makes the most financial sense for me to join a big company and pay off my debt quickly, but at some point in the future I'd love to scratch that entrepreneurial itch and apply to YC.
How do I maximize my time at a big company to gain relevant skills to keep the possibility of a startup open in the future?
Also don't get sucked into living an expensive lifestyle when you get that high-paying job--this has killed many people's once-promising futures.
To me cooking your own food seems like a penny-wise, pound foolish thing. Of course eating out healthily multiple times a day gets insanely expensive, so that's not really an option either. That's why I'm a big advocate of soylent.
My wife and I spend maybe 3-4 hours/week on cooking, but the key is that it's usually all batched up on Sunday (and maybe Wednesday) nights, so it doesn't interfere with work during the week. On weekdays, it takes 2 minutes to pop a tupperware into the microwave and dump it onto a plate. That's actually a lot faster than ordering Munchery or preparing Blue Apron.
I don't remember the conclusion, but after I reminded him that female attention would likely drop off in proportion to bad breath, he decided against testing the idea.
Seriously man, it's food. We all have to eat, what is so important that you can't give up a couple hours a week towards cooking good food and leisurely eating it. Your entire life doesn't have to revolve around the almighty Opportunity Cost.
However, for someone in the tech industry the opportunity cost of not investing
in themselves (i.e. coding, reading about code, meeting people, etc)
for the same amount of time they are cooking (grocery shopping, food prep, cooking,
cleaning, etc) usually isn't worth it.
One pleasant side effect of the "blandness" is that it has made me really enjoy the meals that I do eat. I've noticed that the flavors pop a lot more. So now I have the best of both worlds.
Car second: if you get an old car then the repairs + depreciation can be ~$500 / yr.
Services third: look at your most expensive purchases (Are there things that could be bought cheaper?) and your monthly bills (Do I need Netflix and Comcast cable? Do I need Costco and Amazon Prime? Do I need that EC2 instance? Do I need the deluxe laundry service?).
Food fourth: budget $5-$20 / day, leverage free food from your employer if possible.
If you have very low interest student loans, pay them off at the minimum rate and save the cash - you will need it to launch the startup. And if then your startup makes you poor, you can usually do income adjusted deferment on remaining loans.
Four years later, I'm incredibly glad I didn't do it. I'm convinced I would have made bad technical decisions and doomed the company. I'm not a perfect software engineer now, but I'm worlds better than I was. Writing and deploying software on someone else's dime has given me invaluable experience, and I'm certain it's prepared me to be successful in my own company some day soon.
While at a big company, I'd still encourage you to work on side projects and see where they go. Doing that will give you even more experience in building an MVP.
1. Will the model be group-based where there's a head PI setting the research agenda for a group and researchers working under the PI? If so, what level of independence do you expect individual researchers within a group to have? I.e. is it more like the academic model with postdocs enjoying a fair degree of independence, or more akin to national labs where the research agenda is reasonably fixed and everyone is expected to contribute to the same research program? Or, are you coming up with an entirely different model?
2. In general how hands-on will YCR be in terms of intra-group management?
3. Do you expect to subscribe to all the major publishing houses so that YCR researchers have access to journals like they would at a top-tier university?
2. Not very unless asked.
3. Whatever the researchers want.
1) What advice would you give to applicants from Brazil and other large countries (India, China, Russia), whose products initially target their local markets?
2) What advice would you give to post-Seed and pre-Series A applicants? When (if at all) would you consider them "too big for YC"?
3) If you select a post Seed startup, would YC invest at their latest valuation, or would it only offer the standard deal, even if it would be a "down round" for current investors?
Heard you are visiting India and know you've been to Mexico not long ago. Ever thought about coming to Brazil? Best regards, Bernardo
2) We have funded companies that have raised more than $10 million, and they've said they still got a lot of value out of YC. If anything, it's usually the existing investors that have a problem with it.
3) Standard deal, BUT we buy common stock, so it doesn't trigger any anti-dilution stuff. Most investors understand that YC is mostly "sweat equity" anyway.
I might come to Brazil for New Years!
My email is bernardo ARROBA redealumni PONTO com
Just out of curiosity; I'm Brazilian too :)
I have some colleagues adventuring in entrepreneurship, but right now I'm a typical 9 to 5 enterprise employee (at http://aec.com.br).
Do you or YC have any thoughts on things you could do to help this, if any?
We do have some longer-term thoughts if the area can't get its act together and fix the problem.
I know very promising founders personally that were stuck working in parents' basements in the midwest because they did not yet have the resources to move to the Bay Area.
How can YC help during this critical "early development" (or should I say, exploration) stage for founders building companies? Is there a way it can help insulate early founders from learning the hard lessons the hard way? Traditional VCs would call these bets way too "risky."
I don't know if such a place exists though. Seems like everywhere nice to live is rife with NIMBYism.
It's really hard for employees 1-N, especially at sub-market salaries, but without 10% equity stakes, to move to SFBA. It pretty much restricts you to people already-here, people who will live college dorm style, or people who are already well off. Too much of the money raised goes out the door in salary (taxed) to pay for housing.
I was really excited by Campus, and hope we see a lot more startups with similar ideas.
Above, you mentioned a "bandaid" solution of increasing funding for YC founders to account for skyrocketing rent - but this only exacerbates the problem for everyone else, including YC companies' employees and the entire ecosystem that supports them.
Tech workers' willingness and ability to pay ever-increasing rent, underwritten by salaries drawn from irrationally exuberant venture capital investment in tech (low interest rates elsewhere), is driving a housing bubble that, in a vicious cycle, is then further fueled by property investment justified by ever-increasing rents.
I guess I was looking more for YC to take a leading role here in proposing solutions, rather than passively hoping for a fix. The simplest, as it seems to me: open a bleeder valve by providing incentives for successful YC companies to "settle" other startup hubs, or even just acting as a broker for bidding by those locations. I'm sure there are smarter fixes, but I can't see the harm in enacting these.
YC has done a little bit of this informally (Alexis as "Ambassador to the East"), and a lot of YC founders are from other places and retain hiring/offices/etc. in those other places. There are lists, support networks, etc. I know of for YC companies resettled in Seattle, and probably in other places.
There are also some YC companies which are explicitly "X for India", "Y for Brazil" where they obviously are based in those other places.
There ARE a lot of YC companies which want to remain in SFBA, though, so looking at options like Campus (RIP; wonder what happened; would love to talk to the founder for a post-mortem) makes sense, too.
Startups aren't going to move, like you suggest, although the bigger companies are willing to open offices elsewhere.
* (I know some people like to call the second category "pure" research, but I think that betrays a bias against working on more practical problems.)
the YC Research announcement got me very excited, particularly as someone who experiences the pain points you described first hand on a daily basis.
First question, would YC Research be limited to the US or would you consider other countries (e.g. Canada in my case)?
Also, would you ever consider partnering with existing Public/Government institutions? There are lots of very good people already working on some really interesting projects (yes, even in the public sector :) ), and I believe they need support and direction (and some actual business sense). So to re-phrase my question, would YC Research ever consider some sort of support/consulting platform for existing (possibly public) organizations?
Thank you very much for taking the time!
Yes, very happy to collaborate with outside orgs.
Just sent you a LinkedIn add; I'm working on a product designed to accelerate tech transfer and generally would like to support scientific research in any way I can. Can we connect?
How about the EU?
The cynic in me would love to be proved wrong by YC Research. I don't agree that academia is as broken as many here contend but I am intrigued by the re-imagining.
What I think people overlook is that academia is a blend of education and research whereas YC Research and other research-only institutes don't have to worry about educating the next generation so it's apples and oranges folks. Still... I genuinely wish the venture well, very exciting move.
Often I see people say what they used to take the data and then the end result of the analysis, but never do I see any details whatsoever about the specific techniques or steps they took to transform the raw data into what ends up being published.
It's a very frustrating thing for me and I don't see a mainstream or more easily accessible way for me to post my raw data + analysis other than making a blog for myself, which I have no easy way of promoting in a paper.
I think it would be great to be the ones that set the tone for transparency and it would be a fantastic way of teaching others how to analyze data, or how to catch errors in someone's analysis.
Right now there's a huge wall of obscurity in that we have to take the author's word for it. I know many things cannot be reproduced in experimental science, but the analysis of the data should be. I can't see a reason why people would not want to share their data in academia since most people are funded by DOE, NSF, NIH and DOD and hence by the taxpayer. I think it would be great for pedagogical purposes, it would encourage best practices and it would help us be honest.
So my question is about YC Research. You said in that earlier thread you will be hand picking the people. How exactly do you intend to do that if you don't me asking? Are you partnering with schools? Are they going to be recommended? Do you already have a database?
If you are really actually looking for long-shots by talented people, you're going to have to access the people nobody is going to mention for fear of marking themselves as a radical or an urchin-lover. Science is packed with these humble types, but they are invisible because of how brightly the superstars (who frequently stand on the shoulders of the more humble) shine.
As an aside, smartness is certainly helpful for research endeavours, but pridelessness is actually what separates the people jousting against windmills and people traveling the hero's journey. The smartest are frequently targeting windmills thinking that they'll be the ones to finally succeed, whereas the prideless are more interested in understanding and exploiting molehills or anthills. Pridelessness allows for maximum flexibility in following reality, preventing ego-driven attachments to incorrect interpretations.
My top pick is called "Black Cadillac" it's from a local shop and also reminds me of the modest mouse song of the same name.
In other words, hypothetically, if YC had existed during the 90s, at what stage should Google Guys have applied to YC (Between 1995-1998, A) when the idea struck (mid 1995) B) When it started crawling the web (around 1996), or C) when they bought the domain (1998). Thanks!
An idea with technical depth, plus practical feasibility does provides an all-important barrier to entry, a shield against execution
Shall we focus on?
A. Research side (the actual research ideas, tough to explain in 300 words, can be discussed in brainstorming session)
B. The product it will enable. (UI based concept demo, with product/market fit that will it will enable)
For instance, I would love to be in YC- But just like many older (30+) folks, I have a family and simply cannot move to SF. The 'move to SF' restriction is the one thing I hate about YC- Its also why I think some competing incubators are picking up steam, who focus on global teams.
This may be disagreed upon- But I truly feel the 'move to SF' restriction is almost prejudicial against older folks. I get there is immense value in being in the valley (I just moved from SF), but I just dont think thats a reason not to find a way the system couldn't work either remotely or satellite based.
That said, we are trying remote teams in the YC Fellowship, and we'll evaluate how they worked at the end of this first batch.
I can't speak to the other companies, but my hope is that UPower and Helion have prototypes in ~3-5 years.
Letting the public perception get so bad should be considered one of the costliest PR mistakes in recent history in terms of human and environmental cost. The problem is highlighted by the fact that many will disagree with this statement.
How do you see the way out of this?
Also, many research projects (like bioinformatics) require enormous amounts of difficult to obtain data (e.g. Hospital records, blood samples, etc...). Do you have a plan to help those kinds of labs build collaborations, or do you expect to bring in researchers who will be able to "figure it out"?
Finally, are you looking specifially for trained PhD researchers, or is this open to anybody?
We do have plans for collaboration with some institutions for our first group.
Open to anyone great! No PhD required.
First of all, thanks for the 10 million dollar donation for YC research. That's an amazing gesture, and I'm really looking forward to seeing the scientific research model get completely disrupted - it's in a terrible state and it needs a big shove.
- Given your donation, what are your thoughts on philanthropy?
- Most of your advice is for founders, however, what should an employee look in an early stage start up when deciding whether to join? Obviously, the decision is much easier if the company has started growing exponentially, but before that?
2) A controversial thing I believe is that unless you are getting multiple percent of equity, it's usually a bad deal to join an early-stage startup that hasn't yet found product-market fit and the resulting growth (there is a big exception here for hard tech startups that will take a long time to produce a product but be incredibly valuable if they're able to).
We've noticed that the best startups tend to not hire employees for awhile. One of the reasons, it seems, is they are able to convince much better people to join once things start working.
Our startup is a for-profit company. However, as a part of our strategy we are making a lot of medical data open sourced. Even if we completely fail, we will move the leave an extremely positive footprint on traditional Chinese medicine industry.
1. How would you suggest balancing good intensions for the industry with making money?
2. Should we reflect this in the application and how?
First versions are:
I am torn about submitting an application. I have a list of 20+ customers waiting for the first beta release and who are actively asking about progress (and willing to post payment!) The idea and particular niche market has been churning in my mind for several years, and over the past 18 months, the vision has materialized into a real product. Market trends are pointing upwards, it is ripe for disruption and could be a winner takes all game.
I am weeks away from private-beta depending on my productivity (this has been a side project). I have a wife, 7 month old daughter, and a cushy full-time salary with little work demands. I have been in two long-term employer relationships (4 and 5 years) and at each made huge impacts on molding the product, despite not being hired for that. But I am bored and want the freedom and flexibility to work on my own ideas. But one thing I have always lacked is a talent network. Is this something being accepted into HN would help with? I honestly get the feeling that most applicants are searching for direction and help with flushing things out, things that I am already confident in. What do you make of a solo guy like me, with a solid product that is almost ready for market? I'm a proud guy, and there is that part of me that wants to just continue being a Lone Wolf.
If this is really something you think could be big (a "winner takes all game" as you say), you're going to have to grow a company to address the opportunity -- which will mean giving up the lone wolf thing. That's a choice you have to make personally. I'm sure being the lone wolf is more comfortable, and it's entirely possible that you could build yourself a nice little business that way, but you won't be able to own the market.
Once you decide which way you want to go, applying to YC or not will be an easier decision. I do expect that YC could help you with your network.
(i.e. shouldn't early employess, investing their under-market salary/time receive the same conditions/protection of their investments as VCs?)
I hope that any under-the-market-salary investments from employees would start getting the same treatment as any other investors money (e.g. dilution cap, not vesting cliff).
As a new parent, I'm intrigued by this. What kinds of things did your parents do with/for you to foster this level of independence? What had the biggest effect on you, personally?
My parents were and are incredibly supportive of anything I was interested in. But they were never "hovering". That's a great combination.
Are there any unsolved problems for growing companies you wish someone would apply to solve?
The second-biggest problem is probably cofounder fallouts.
Internal communication and management structure are always big problems for growing companies that I wish someone would solve.
Seriously though - after attending their cofounder communication workshop, we invited them to do it for our whole team. I think Innerspace is the best tool I have seen to prevent cofounder fallouts and improve internal communication.
I'm not on the shortlist of anyone for "smartest people in the field", but I have a keen interest & passion for research. I suspect there are many people like me. Do you anticipate that YCR will have a track for people like me to participate, or will it be aiming for the creme de la creme as a rule?
Will YCR researchers' publications be required to be open access?
Should it be possible for the peer-review process to happen in a more open forum than the judgment of a couple of handpicked reviewers? Some fields (such as mathematics) have seen this happen already, but it's not very common in other fields, such as the life sciences.
I don't necessarily agree with them. I have been doing this startup for over an year now. It has growth with a strong potential for more.
Them's fightin' words.
I know that you've been working on this problem personally and a few high profile companies have publicly announced changes. But what's going on with new small companies? What are the current norms?
I know that YC takes care of a lot of the legal work when setting up new YC companies. What do you currently recommend for employee option grants?
We want to create a new employee option plan with all of our recommended fixes. We've been busy, but we'll hopefully get to it soon. We'll open-source it, of course.