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I Am Sam Altman, President of Y Combinator. AMA
429 points by sama on Mar 18, 2016 | hide | past | web | favorite | 725 comments
Applications for YC for Summer 2016 are due next Thursday 3/24.

People often have questions about YC, and I'm happy to answer those (or questions about anything else).

EDIT: Ok, I have to run. Thanks for the questions!




Has YC ever considered having a control group by randomly pre-accepting certain applicants into the program automatically? I'd be curious to see the stats on how successful that group would be versus the group that's actually picked by the committee.


We do talk about that every once in awhile, but the average company that applies to YC is not very good and thus the experiment would hurt the network (and be painful for us to work with).

What we've more seriously considered is randomly funding some companies just below the threshold.

Also, we do look at our ranking to see how companies at the top vs companies near the cutoff do. It's rare (but not unheard of) for a company very near the cutoff to be one of our most successful companies.


Can you elaborate on what makes a company "not very good"?

Would you ever consider releasing anonymized data on companies that apply and are accepted along with those who apply but aren't accepted into a batch? That'd give future applicants much more insight into the process.


EDIT: i should emphasize this is only my experience as a startup hiring manager. maybe YC attracts nothing but geniuses, i dunno. i'm just a guy on the internet.

since yc is obviously not going to talk shit on their own applicants, i'm going to go out on a limb here and guess that it's just like every other job application process when six figures (or more) of money is on the line. big paychecks attract plenty of, shall we say, 'aspirational' applicants.

1. apps where spelling and grammar is clearly not a priority (sure, i'll give you 5 figures a month to spell shit wrong) 2. the wrong kind of company will apply, i.e. a restaurant 3. bullshit artists gonna bullshit, even when they stink 4. people simply not smart enough to do the job. just plain dumb is a real thing, folks. 5. people with too little real world experience 6. really stupid ideas (who's to judge? well, the people with the money get to judge, that's sort of how applications work)

the fact that you can use the term 'anonymized data' in a sentence that actually makes sense is going to put you in the top 10% automatically - yes, the bar is that low when you're dealing with the general public. the trick is getting into the top 1% though. it's a power law distribution of difficulty.

every job advertisement attracts applications like these, and yc is basically just a really, really fancy and structured super-duper college/job application process combined, but for crazed entrepreneurs (like me). you are going to get a lot, maybe even mostly people on the left hand side of the normal distribution of iq, talent, and work ethic/experience. the easy thing is the dipshits and fakers are easy to spot-and-drop almost immediately. i can basically glance at a resume and disqualify it in 10-15 seconds if it's not good enough. you just can't bullshit someone far smarter, more experienced, and better at bullshitting than you. CAVEAT: there are extremely smart and experienced bullshitters out there though -- that's the real danger area. that's what you're really worried about.

basically the only thing you can count on is that they want your money!!


Oh wow. I wish they said that the bar was so low. I would like to apply as well if that's the case.

Edit: I still think the idea of Dropbox is pretty stupid and I wouldn't have given Drew Houston a penny if I was an investor. But I never thought the average application would be so far worse if Dropbox got funded and succeeded.


It's been a few years since I've reviewed applications, but yes, you should apply. Put it this way: if you simply (a) answer all the questions (b) coherently, you're well ahead.


You're making the mistake of judging the idea too much and forgetting that Drew Houston went to MIT, and had worked as a tech lead at a company. That already puts him in the top 10% of applicants, regardless of his idea.


I guess so. I, on the other hand went to a state school and my work experience is working on fairly straightforward line of business applications. I am not so much criticizing Dropbox as much as I'm making fun of my own lack of vision.


when in doubt, ask for what you want. that's what all the unqualified people are doing, so you might as well do it too.

the most uncommon and valuable skill in the world is for a smart person to willingly put themselves in a position where they could easily fail, or be ridiculed. dumb people do this all the time. this is an advantage to being dumb. you have no ego to lose. nor much of anything else.

that is the cross-section of intelligence and success. just look in the mirror for an example.

and for what it's worth, if you think dropbox is a tepid idea, just consider slack. enterprise irc with history and attachments. worth billions. there's more to it than just a cool idea. the example i always use is: i've got a great idea. let's build a time machine. it'll be great!


well, hold on, i don't speak for yc, i was just going off of my own hiring experiences and perhaps extrapolating a bit creatively.

but i can read a lot into sama's "not very good" understatement. for a yc (or vc) partner to say that in an actual post is pretty telling.

and of course, my statement about grammar is grammatically wrong. not much changes on forum banter through the decades, does it?


A lot of the not very good companies don't have a business plan, aren't organized very well, have issues, are in it for the money but lack experience and skills. They need a lot of help just to get better and I guess they don't have what it takes to get funded.

You don't want to fund a company that doesn't know what they are doing and needs a lot of help to get to that level where they do get funded.

But that is a startup opportunity to help these awful companies get better so they can get funded and then pay the mentors money for the training.

I'm sure they get coffee shops and pizza places apply as well that don't qualify but want to do some sort of cybercafe in their store.


This is a phenomenon referred to by various terms, including the Dunning-Kruger Effect and several colloquialisms (like "you don't know what you don't know").

The short version is that there is an inverse relationship between actual and perceived skill. In general, the better someone is at something, the less they rate themselves relative to their peers.

This is a big problem when recruiting people for skilled positions. The best applicants assume that they won't be good enough and don't apply. The newest applicants have no reservations about applying and assume that they are qualified for anything, kind of like someone who graduates with a BS in CompSci and thinks it means he knows everything about being a professional programmer before he's even ever held a real programming position.

Joel Spolsky discusses this too! I can't seem to find the post right now, though. The gist is that he was encouraging good developers to apply to Fog Creek, because he noticed that a lot of developers he would have liked to hire were intimidated about applying there, as he had previously discussed things like dismissing non-amazing candidates, how rare it is for good people to be on the market, and the extensive perks his company extended to its developers (like an office with a door that shuts). The good people read these posts and automatically filtered themselves out, no doubt comparing against their idealized version of what they'd like themselves to be, emphasizing the gaps and flaws that they know are in their resume, instead of the reality of the applicant field, the competence of which most good people grossly overestimate.

There's another cheesy colloquialism that I think encompasses this well: "you're comparing your behind-the-scenes with everyone else's highlight reel". We use ourselves as the reference point for understanding others, but the intimacy we have with our own thoughts and failings can cause us to forget that they're not as big as they seem. We should be cautious before allowing ourselves to be intimidated by others, bearing in mind that we only see a small snippet of the picture.

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dunning%E2%80%93Kruger_effect


What's such a bad idea about Dropbox? A single folder that automatically syncs your files across devices.

Even for less technical people it makes sense and it is easily explained. Put the files in this folder and they are safe.


> the easy thing is the dipshits and fakers are easy to spot-and-drop almost immediately.

You seem pretty sure about this. How would you validate that belief? What are the consequences if you're wrong?

> i can basically glance at a resume and disqualify it in 10-15 seconds if it's not good enough.

I'd suggest taking a more systematic approach. You may be rejecting some great candidates without decreasing the likelihood of false negatives.

> you just can't bullshit someone far smarter, more experienced, and better at bullshitting than you.

If you can't spot the fish, then ...

Also, why you no use capitalization? It makes your post read dumb.


>You seem pretty sure about this. How would you validate that belief? What are the consequences if you're wrong?

The thing about saying no is that it's a lot less risky than saying yes, in terms of damage potential, not necessarily in terms of "lost upside" (which IMO is something that rarely merits consideration). If you pass on a good candidate, they will move on and find another home that works for them; no harm, no foul, so one doesn't need to feel bad about admitting that the person is skilled, but just not a good fit.

If you bring someone on board and they turn out bad, they can and often do cause substantial harm to the company/org. Once they're there, they have access to everything they need to wreak havoc, and as I'm sure you know, malicious intentions unfortunately aren't really necessary to cause problems. Big issues for your company can be caused by simple incompetence.

Joel Spolsky discusses this in his essay on interviewing [0]. It's just much safer to let the candidates that aren't enthusiastic yesses go than take a gamble and lose.

>Also, why you no use capitalization? It makes your post read dumb.

I don't really mind this, but I do think this is noteworthy since he specifically called out spelling and grammatical errors as disqualifiers. I assume in reality, he's forgiving of personal quirks or typos, and means that he rejects candidates out of hand who appear genuinely unable to spell or properly utilize much of the industry's vernacular.

[0] http://www.joelonsoftware.com/articles/GuerrillaInterviewing...


Were the companies rejected by YC that have gone on to be the most successful often just below the cutoff?


I recall pg previously stating that there was no correlation between how close to the cutoff an accepted candidate was and how well they ended up doing. Now Sam says the opposite. I can't find the original quote now and this was when PG was still in charge, so they probably have improved their interviewing process and collected more data since.


I can't answer that but pg talking about what may have been Sendgrid was quite interesting along those lines https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YMqgiXLjvRs&feature=youtu.be...


I can second this. I worked for a similar unnamed incubator company in the Bay Area and a vast majority of the ideas sent to us were from good-hearted people, but absolutely ludicrous and—at least from our opinion—would never be able to become successful businesses. Some people just really seem to have problems understanding product-market fit.

My guess would be that applicants to Y-Combinator are probably along the same spectrum–some great ideas, some decent ideas, and a lot of junk inbetween.


If possible to ethically disclose this, what was the craziest thing you think could have worked, amd the outright craziest.


If they don't answer just watch a few seasons of Shark Tank or Dragon's Den (any country). I highly doubt there's much different in business nut-bar factors. Some people just have no grasp (yet) of what it takes to get good.


Yeah. The way a person communicates tells you a lot about their ability to lead a company. Most people would pitch us ideas and we wouldn't even vaguely get a sense of what they were trying to sell—native english speakers too. Not surprising at all—but people who had chances to get funding were those who were clear & concise. Those who's pitches who we didn't understand immediately were for the most part mentally discarded and never acted upon by us.


There are plenty around - one example where I live is a very persistent chap with some sort of mystical flying machine based on garbage physics and a track record including fraud by scamming investors.


Or another idea along these lines might be to have a checkbox on the application that says "Submit to audience choice if rejected" and, if they don't get in, those applications are opened to voting by HN users above a certain karma threshold. Pick the five highest ranked applications and bring them in as a normal YC company.


Aren't you afraid that something like that can be easily gamed? Or maybe voting can be limited to accounts that are 2-3+ years old and/or Karma greater than n.


I like this. An alternative would be to have borderlines ranked by those who got into YC in the current round or in past rounds. Top peer ranked would get in just under the cutoff. HN sounds even more exciting (probably couldn't include the whole application, maybe just a company description -- although that might not be something people are comfortable with). Either way, I wonder if there is any peer non-YC consideration.


The fact that the voting is public would kill the blinding.


If the thought is that randomly selected start-ups might possibly outperform hand-picked ones, then I suppose anyone with a few million $$$ laying around is free to test that hypothesis. If true you could make bank!


Nobody besides YC has their network. The question is whether it is their selection process or other factors that contribute to a startup's success.


Hi Sam. Will you consider a batch in other US locations? (For example in Atlanta). It can increase the applicant base due to lower cost of living and will allow a different flavor of founders to apply in my opinion.

I think the next billion $ enterprise startup will be more likely to come from such a batch. People who face enterprise software problems are not always in a stage in life that allows them to move to SF for a few months. YC might be missing out a large cohort of founders who work in enterprise software, outside of the Bay Area, and would disrupt their industry given the chance but are less flexible in moving to SF.

There are many "old tech" hubs outside SF that can generate great new startups. medical IT, medical devices, mechanical and aviation industry, enterprise software etc. Are Enterprise software ideas and founders with years of enterprise software experience adequately represented at YC?


The YC Fellowship funds companies anywhere! Kevin does remote office hours.

And yes, I think they're well-represented.


This is great news, I didn't know, thank you!


Hey Sam, where do I apply for YC basic income? : ) Many people have no problems in life except those related to not having enough dough.

I know a number of really creative/talented individuals who would be a lot better off if they didn't struggle to feed/house themselves. People who contribute to open source, build art projects and love to share knowledge. Definite contributors to society and the betterment of their fellow man.

Have you ever considered just letting people to apply for YC for a few years of basic income. The individuals that I'm thinking of would contribute more to society if given basic income than in any other situation I can imagine. (Many of them bay area locals, if you want to interview a few in person). Driven to create but stifled by various real and/or self imposed restrictions.


Even more than basic income in the west. Basic income in developing countries could go farther for less.

It's pretty easy to work a job and still have time to develop if you want to here in the states. It's really hard to starve doing what you love here.


Assuming doing what you love is software development.


There's a lot of "what you love" that pays above starvation and isn't programming.


Of course, but the OP was specifically talking about the context of development.


The problem with this is that 1) YC is not a charity (though they do fund some nonprofits) 2) there's no generic, legal way to buy equity in people (https://www.quora.com/Can-you-buy-human-shares)


Not that way -- but in most states, an employer can claim ownership of an employee's business ideas.

You could do it formally with a contract: the employee is part-time, salaried, and assigns 49% ownership of new intellectual property to the employer, with a mutual right to match bids for the other's share.


The comments have made me reconsider my question. I also saw the article about a YC basic income experiment.

Have you considered structuring the experiment in terms of creating a intentional basic income community? An example fitting my bohemian ideals would be: Funding a group of people by providing a place to live (warehouse) and a monthly stipend for food and fun stuff and seeing where they end up after a few years?


I have PTSD from looking for a programming job for a decade (first thing you are supposed to do to overcome it is.... remove the stressor from your life??) Maybe they could just hook us up with some basic jobs.


Looking for a decade? Curious what goes wrong.


What is your plan for AI safety, and how does OpenAI fit into it?

In http://blog.samaltman.com/machine-intelligence-part-2 you laid out sensible requirements and safeguards we should demand of late-stage AI development when it gets further along. But OpenAI's founding statement seems to have baked in a mission and vision that's incompatible with those safeguards, requiring immediate sharing of breakthroughs even if the technologies required to use them safely aren't ready yet. That founding statement used to have the word "safely" in it, but this was edited out without any sort of announcement or comment, and, to the best of my thirdhand-rumor knowledge, OpenAI is not currently doing any safety-related research.

(I wrote a blog post on this back in December, and no one has given any plausible answer: http://conceptspacecartography.com/openai-should-hold-off-on... )


We're still working through this--it turns out to be a research problem in itself.

We talk about it a lot, and I'm working on a post about it (for example, we may not share intermediate breakthrough that we think pose major safety risks), but I've been much busier than expected the last few months and haven't gotten to it yet.

Definitely expect us to do safety research.


What can a run-of-the-mill technical person do to help?

We know that super-AI is more likely than not to be existentially dangerous. It would be remiss to foresee the apocalypse and assume someone else will fix it.


Hey Sam:

So I've been working diligently for the last few weeks putting the final edits on my application to YC. I'm 68 years old an the only founder. On the positive side I've got almost 50 years of work in the project that defines the state of the art.

Am I wasting my time in applying considering my age and singleness?


Holy wow! I'm not Sam but kudos, keep at it no matter what. Inspired right now.


Thanks! That's a very nice thing to say.


I don't think this question will be honestly answered.

Maybe we should ask is there over three successful applicants that were over 50?

It's not an unfair question.


I'm not sure if there are solo founders over 50 who were at YC but some individuals who are cofounders are. Dr John Slough of Helion for example.

I've got similar issues myself. Perhaps cofounders are the answer.

Maybe we can take inspiration from Rose Blumkin, founder of the Nebraska Furniture Mart who sold the store to Warren Buffett and then after arguments with her family left in a huff and set up a rival called Mrs. B's Clearance and Factory Outlet across the street at age 95. It became profitable and was Omaha's third-largest carpet outlet before Buffett bought that too.


You haven't let anything stop you yet, so why would a negative answer from Sam stop you?

With that in mind, what's the point of asking the question? There's nothing to be gained by asking, and potentially something to be lost (displaying lack of confidence).

For my part, I've had "entrepreneurial spasms" as a solo founder and it's been a terrible idea for me. This is because I'm a terrible procrastinator. I need a schedule-oriented person to keep me in check / act as the rudder to my "powerful engine".


Doesn't hurt if it takes you less than a day to apply :)


I can see from the comments that feedback is beneficial -- almost like having a co-founder:)

I'm not much on the social network scene, maybe I should give it a try.


If you can afford it, keep going at it!


Hey Sam, semi technical question here. NIPS, ran an experiments a few years ago where for 10% of the papers they had two completely independent teams of reviewers assess papers and score them - the agreement between the teams was very low: http://blog.mrtz.org/2014/12/15/the-nips-experiment.html (barely better than chance, actually).

Would you consider doing something similar for YC? Obviously, you already have multiple people looking at websites/applications, but I'd be really curious to see what the agreement is like - and you have some absolutely exception AI/data scientists people at openAI who could crunch all the numbers.


We have multiple people review each application (except the very good/very bad ones) and we look at the cases where the assessments are very different.

Some of the best companies have the most disagreement, which is why we have implemented our "strong yes" policy--if any single partner wants to fund a company, we fund it. It's much more important to our returns that we fund the next Airbnb than if we mistakenly fund one more bad company.


Who makes the first top-level judgement of "this is very good" or "this is very bad?"


This is a really uninformative answer. Every peer reviewed conference/journal also does this. The NIPS study was special because they did more. They ran a controlled experiment to determine the exact variance in acceptance rates and then published the results. The GP was asking you to repeat the NIPS experiment.


If any partner can unilaterally say yes to any application, it makes the NIPS study irrelevant to their problem.


They're in different business. NIPS needs to minimise the amount of really bad papers they accept. YC needs to maximise the amount of really good companies they fund.


Allegations are circling the web that a side effect of the (also alleged) startup bubble is that there are more good founders than good ideas. The purported effect is to water down the societal value of the products and services that are produced by companies exiting accelerators and incubators.

A few obvious counter arguments come to mind right away, such as YC's startups in fusion energy and non-profits like Watsi. If I could, I'd Google up a histogram of funded startup business models as granular as 'restaurant food delivery' or 'pre-packaged home cooked meals' and see where the ideas are concentrated.

What is your opinion on the aggregate? Does YC have any formal or informal policies aimed at balancing the mix of weighty vs. frivolous businesses?


Some of the most important startups start out looking incredibly ambitious. Others start out looking incredibly trivial, but with users that are in love with their product.

We like funding both.


I'm working on a piece about universal basic income, and I have the following summary of the how I think that many tech people like yourself believe UBI is going to work:

1. Companies innovate by doing things more cheaply with automation than human workers can do them.

2. As a result of automation, the more efficient companies reap all the profits in a market as they drive the less efficient companies out of business (and the humans out of jobs).

3. This bonanza of profits that automation yields is taxed.

4. The taxes from the accumulated wealth of the winners -- wealth that, again, exists because the winning companies' machines were able to do things more efficiently than the losing companies' human laborers -- go toward paying the laid-off laborers a basic income.

Any I missing anything?


> This bonanza of profits that automation yields is taxed.

Optimizing companies will do everything possible to avoid the corporate taxes (>60%) required to make universal basic income a reality. If you are assuming that winning companies are the best at implementing automation and reducing cost, it is a fatal mistake to assume that they will suddenly become charitable when it comes to wealth redistribution - no, they will "win" because they optimize every single aspect of their balance sheets. They'll move their capital offshore where it will be taxed at a fraction of the US rate. They'll pay lobbyists to make sure tax loopholes stay open, and that the wealth accretes to the few at the top of the company who run the business. This is simply the nature of capitalism. If you allow a few companies to gain too much power, they will abuse that power. That is why we have a government that does an OK job of breaking up monopolies, creating anti-trust laws, regulating risk-taking, etc.

> taxes from the accumulated wealth of the winners...go toward paying the laid-off laborers a basic income

What about the people who never had a job? Those born into a society where they are not needed for labor? UBI for everyone creates a large misdirection of resources that perpetuates the problem of too many people, too few jobs, social unrest. We have solved this problem in the past through war, which stimulates the economy through government spending, reduces excess labor (especially young, angry, dangerous men), reignites nationalism and social cohesion (against a common and clearly evil enemy such as Hitler), and realigns national incentives towards R&D and infrastructure investment. I am not advocating for war, merely making an observation. Does UBI get distributed to everyone who is unemployed, or only those who are laid off from jobs?

I encourage you to examine the concept of "helicopter money" and study the incentive structures it creates and why we haven't truly implemented it before during tough economic times.


It is a job of the government to counteract destabilizing influences such as the wealth concentrating effects of technology and under-competition. As a foreigner living in the US, the US government honestly sucks eggs at it. Healthcare, banks, cable, broadband, cell phone service, Google, Apple, Microsoft... all classic antitrust cases across the board, waiting for an un-captured regulator.

If world governments continue to fail also at corporate tax, the current dystopic situation of regressive effective corporate tax rates through profit export will persist, and risks everything we have gained through capitalism and democracy.

I encourage you to read the definition of UBI. Universal means you give to everyone, from the homeless guy on the street, to Bill Gates. Not just laid off people. Also, your top-of-head speculations are not the best evidence available for its effects.


A Universal Basic Income is not necessarily paid to everyone, at least not directly. A UBI means a certain income level is guaranteed, if you are earning more than the guaranteed level, you may not be given anything in addition. This is most clearly demonstrated by one proposed implementation of UBI, namely, a negative income tax. A negative income tax would entail those earning below the guaranteed level being paid enough to raise their income to the guaranteed level. Those earning more than the guaranteed level are taxed.

Negative Income Tax is pretty much the only implementation of UBI I personally could get behind. I just wouldn't be able to support an implementation of a UBI that pays Bill Gates the same amount as a person born with a severe disability (which obviously they had no choice about being born with).


It wasn't Bill Gates' choice to be born without a disability. Honestly, I despise your opinion. Bill Gates pays so much more in taxes that a basic income would hardly matter to him. It's just part of his tax calculation: X% - UBI. It's nothing to us either. There aren't many Bill Gates out there. Also, in this way nothing needs to be measured. It's simply: Are you human? Here's your UBI. Do you have income? Here's how much you owe in taxes.

The system for everyone should be the same. It's simpler and more fair. Bill Gates deserves to know that if he lost it all tomorrow we would take care of him. We can make one system that ensures everyone is cared for. The sickly and the ambitious. I don't think we have the proficiency necessary to keep people from falling through the cracks otherwise. Maybe in very specific cases (like Bill Gates) but not at scale. There are disabilities that exist that we don't even know about yet.


I won't argue about definitions, except to say I am following [1], and suggest you do the same (because it is a use of words that matches their general meanings, not because it is there).

Unless taxation and reporting are made trivial (which is hard without giving up on privacy including cash), the poorest do not have the money or time to jump through hoops. Hence UBI, having the minimal requirements, will help the most of the poorest. This more than compensates for the (arguable, but I'll concede it) bug of giving some money to the rich as well.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Basic_income


>A Universal Basic Income is not necessarily paid to everyone, at least not directly. A UBI means a certain income level is guaranteed, if you are earning more than the guaranteed level, you may not be given anything in addition.

Well that is fucked up? They dont call it a "UNIVERSAL" basic income.

Yeah let's give a basic income to EVERYONE, EXCEPT ... that makes 0 sense. You just described wellfare really.

Universal or bust. Everyone or no-one imo. It's a universal basic income afterall. Not a conditional basic income.



> wealth that, again, exists because the winning companies' machines were able to do things more efficiently than the losing companies' human laborers

Losing companies also produce wealth, perhaps even more so, because e.g. they didn't spend enough on advertising. However, in this winner-takes-all economy, the losers have to give up.

All wealth does not exist only because of winning companies.


You're missing alternative opportunities created by 1, 2, and 3. For example, wage insurance, a negative income tax, or state-funded retraining.

You're also missing other big upside to UBI. For example, if people can be more sure that they won't be reduced to destitution if the quit there 9-5 to work on a passion project, they will be more likely to do that. More people taking more bets on passion projects means more opportunities for explosively successful companies.


It's likely that any cost advantage that the innovators have will be short lived as competitors follow suit or one-up them. Competition will erode the profit advantage and in the end, the consumers will benefit.

It would be interesting to see an analysis not just of automation and robotics putting pressure on employment, but the effect of same on consumer prices and cost of living.


UBI has to pay enough for health and dental insurance so in case something happens they can pay the bills.

If you pay a small amount of money to live on and they can't afford insurance and they get sick they can't afford the bills.

I myself am on disability and filed chapter 13 bankruptcy due to medical bills. It ruined my credit and now I have dental that doesn't cover my root and gum scalings and I have a cadaract forming in my left eye and can't afford surgery. I might even end up homeless as a result. I used to be a programmer until I got too sick and had to quit.

Disability is like basic income but it only pays what your FICA contrubuted to it. The more you pay into it the more you get if you become disabled.

Also working on challenges and projects mean nothing if you have no money to market them and get investors. Esp if you can't afford a good computer or a web server. Get stuck with cheap ones that are limited.


I'd love to apply, but I'm on a H1-b visa and I'm basically in prison. How did the other international founders you worked with get around the immigration mess to start a company?


There's a lot of information on the Internet about how to do this, but obviously you should talk to an immigration lawyer.

It really sucks and I think it's a stupid system, but there will be far greater obstacles on your path to being a successful founder.


Hi DilipKumar,

Some unsolicited advice. Starting company = solving lots of problems (product, market, tech, hiring etc etc.) See Immigration as just one of these.

Canada, with much easier immigration policies (Toronto/Vancouver) can be your base to build and validate your prototype and later move to valley.

In the age of Internet, geographical boundaries cannot prevent good ideas/products from happening.


Umm Why are you acting like Canada is just Toronto and Vancouver? Montreal is a better place for startups than Vancouver.


Sorry, my bad for missing it out. Montreal/Waterloo are equally great.


Find a great lawyer and have them use your startup Delaware corp as sponsor for your H1B. It's like moving employers. You may need to move $$$ into the company to demonstrate there is enough money to meet your minimum wage category and few other hoops. Alternatively apply for an investors visa but this will mean more capital injection into your US entity and more of those hoops to jump. Happy to talk offline. I'm no lawyer but have been through few Visas and similar scenario to yours. PS. There is no prison ;-)


Hey DK,

Just another entrepreneur here, but I'm a Canadian citizen and also need a VISA.

I've received excellent help from Julie Pearl's firm: https://www.immigrationlaw.com/

They work with plenty of startup founders and I was recommended her through fellow immigrant founders. :) Hope this helps!


As a Canadian, I'd suspect entering the US under a TN visa (Free trade agreement if you have an applicable university degree or 10 years experience) would probably do it. Anybody have experience with that when attending YC?


For TN you need a job offer. Specifically, when you try to enter the US on the TN status (it's not a visa technically), you'll be asked to show an offer letter from a US company that clearly states your intended role and salary.


Oh, thanks for clarifying. I thought we could get the visa while looking for work if you were qualified.


For one thing you can move for the three months program without visa :o


Obviously YC can't enter into NDAs with applicants but can you shed a little bit of light on what YC does to protect the applicants' business ideas?

Some might be discouraged from applying because they fear if the idea is interesting (but not the team or there's another reason it's not accepted) that someone from within YC or a related ecosystem might just take the idea and look at the product so far and decide to just do it themselves (but obviously with more resources, connections, etc and obviously holding more equity).


Honestly, we are so busy, there are so many companies, and ideas are worth so little, that most of us don't think twice about a specific company once we move on to the next applications.

The very best ideas usually don't seem worth stealing.


"ideas are worth so little" .. that's a very broad and dangerous statement for you to make given that people might want to tell you things in confidence.

Obviously, if you have IP, dont apply at YC because they don't think it's worth anything.


An idea is "self-driving cars." IP is how to make it happen. I'd venture to say that it's tough to communicate all of IP during a short application process.


Have you seen all the companies that have insane valuations? None are based on really novel ideas.

If you have some truly novel technology you DEFINITELY shouldn't go to YC. They're not in the "technology transfer"-y business like universities.


The concept of ideas being worth near to nothing is new to me, can you explain that thinking? Without monetary arguments this seems not right.


If an idea is a good business opportunity, it's common for multiple people to be working on it independently at the same time. It's also common for many people to fail working on that very idea before you get to it.

One of the values of VCs and networks and experts is that they can tell you how other companies in your space have failed (running out of money, founder breakups, "people won't pay for it", "it really needs X but X doesn't scale", etc.).

If you watch the start-up space for long enough you start seeing multiple teams with the "same idea" but only a handful succeed at it; even at small a scale as university incubators.


There are a number of ways to think about this, but one of them comes from "design thinking", which advocates processes like brainstorming in order to generate and sort ideas before starting a project. This is in contrast to what I sometimes think of as the "natural" or "naive" approach to starting a project, where you might spend time searching for "an idea", and when you've found "the idea", you begin executing. Turns out, methods of ideating reveal that a single person or a group of people can easily come up with thousands of good ideas in a matter of hours. After participating in these sorts of activities, I find it impossible to assign much value to an idea. The actual value, or lack thereof, only reveals itself much later and involves many more factors than the initial concept.

Here's another one: what is an idea? Typically it is a sentence expressing a business proposition, or the essential functioning of a technology. But is it the same "idea" no matter who utters it? I think it's pretty clear that an idea is actually short-hand for a 'space of experience' held by the person saying it. In this sense, it's actually not possible to "steal" an idea, because ideas are linked to the people who have them, and because were someone to try, they would find that they can steal the sentence that refers to the actual idea, but lack the perspective to unlock the true meaning.

Either way, this is a meme in the startup industry, and very true in my experience. Do not fixate on ideas: nobody can steal them and/or they are not important in the first place.



If ideas worth something, then an idea would be a commodity being traded among people in markets. Since there isn't a market where people trade ideas with something else, like money, there simply isn't a market for ideas. Hence, ideas are worth nothing.


Eh... no.

Most markets are for items there are many of. There are lots of apples, people see friends enjoying them, people buy one, like it, buy another, a price is established. Key facts: you get to buy it more than once, more than one person gets to buy it, you can tell in advance it is worth something. Take too many of those away, and the market goes away.

An idea (for a venture) is: unique (a close variant missing a key part has completely different value), you would not pay for it twice, and selling it to multiple people diminishes its value. Why would you think the value of an idea would be well captured in a market?

You do realize a market is just one mechanism for expressing value, right? or is air value-less?


I don't buy this; I think starting off in the right market is a huge determinant of success.

The reason there's no market is because it takes an idea and a person who can execute -- knowledge, skills, connections, experience, etc. Ideas aren't separable from people in a way that would make a market possible.


Inventions are worth money, ideas are not.


There's a recent rant about it here https://www.reddit.com/r/startups/comments/4akqt9/you_are_pr...

Obviously it depends a bit on the details but if you think of the big hits, saying say Alta Vista is crap let's build a better search engine or Myspace is crap let's build a better one of those wasn't worth much for the basic ideas because hundreds of people no doubt thought that. Now the detailed algorithms may have been worth something. But it's mostly in the actually building the better thing that counts.

I guess knowing which ideas are good would be valuable. If someone had said you'd make a fortune doing myspace with real names and no flashing nonsense that would have been useful but just having a list of a 1000 ideas with no testing is probably not worth much.


Ideas are cheap, it's the execution and the team that matter.


Execution > Ideas. Most startups end up being famous for something else than the original idea. Read Founders at Work to get a glimpse of this.


> Most startups

Can you provide the numbers pls?


Does anyone other than those evaluating applications (i.e. YC staff) have access to these applications, the ideas they contain or any prototypes which may have been submitted?


Sam, this conception of an "idea" is in astoundingly strong conflict with the conceptions of ideas elsewhere in business and national security that are commonly strongly and seriously protected as classified national security secrets (e.g., how stealth works, how the engines on the SR-71 worked, the details of the Navy's version of GPS), intellectual property, trade secrets, patents, how academic honors are awarded, e.g., the Abel prize, the Nobel science prizes, the Fields Medal, the Clay Math prizes, and more.

"The very best ideas usually don't seem worth stealing."

is an astounding statement.


You are actually citing examples of execution excellence and IP, rather than "ideas" as the word is used in early stage VC circles. For example the idea of making a low radar cross section aircraft is not new or valuable since right after radar was first developed. However executing on that idea to create the stealth fighter design produces something very valuable.


But how to create stealth took some darned good "ideas".

Sure, the startup "circles" regard an idea as a short description of a sentence or two to a family member, neighbor, or prospective user/customer of how the new product/service will look to them.

But, then what about how to make that product/service work? Ignore that? That part should be crucial: Crucial for having the first good or a much better product/solution, a technological advantage and barrier to entry, etc. That "idea" could take original research, be regarded as valuable intellectual property and protected as a trade secret, etc. Sure, the user/customer need not be aware of that "idea" maybe in the internals of the product/service.

Then to say

"The very best ideas usually don't seem worth stealing."

ignores the crucial, core ideas, say, the details of the coating (likely highly classified and from a lot of R&D) and shape (again from a lot of R&D, and Maxwell's equations computations, likely challenging and classified) that were key to stealth.

Or, here's an "idea": A safe, effective, cheap one pill taken once to cure any cancer. Sure that "idea" is just pie in the sky and worthless. But to create such a pill will take one heck of a good idea. To me it is just such good ideas that should be central in information technology startups. It sounds like Sam is neglecting that any such ideas are possible, relevant, valuable, or important. Or, to me, an idea for an algorithm that shows that P = NP is astounding, and astoundingly valuable -- implement it on a server and behind a lot of security and just sell the results, say, anyone who wants to send in any integer linear programming problem, that is, any of the thousands of important real world examples of NP-complete problems.


Actually the shape of the f-117 came out of computations based on publicly published work. A Skunk works engineer was skimming through obscure russian math papers when he came across it by chance. 'Skunk Works' by Ben Rich


IIRC such a thing. But for the B-1, F-22, F-35, no doubt more work was needed, that is, more ideas.


I am firmly on your side in regards ideas, but I think the problem is we are not all meaning the same thing by what is an idea. If your idea is crap (uber for x) then the only thing that matters is execution. If your idea is good then it is very valuable independent of execution.

My favourite pure good idea with enormous value has to be the Kelly criterion [1].

1. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kelly_criterion


Ok, I didn't know about this. Thanks! How did you learn about it?

I'm trying to figure out why I didn't know this.


I lost money (luckly not too much) in the stock market on a position where I was right and I didn't know why. I decided to find out and I learned that the size of my trade was larger than the Kelly criterion.

The Kelly criterion seems to not be well known - why I can't say other than there are a lot of groups that benefit from people being ignorant of it.


(e.g., how stealth works, how the engines on the SR-71 worked, the details of the Navy's version of GPS)

None of these are "ideas", they are implementations/executions of ideas. They are the result of trial and error (even thought-experiments) that ultimately resulted in real world impact and observable changes. Ideas are unexpressed potential. How the Navy's version of GPS works isn't valuable until after the Navy starts using it. Before that, it's just conjecture. But at the point where the Navy deploys GPS, while it is information, it's not solely an idea; it's pragmatic.

Even knowledge of a newfangled GPS system the Navy is working on or going to deploy and start using on a certain date isn't an idea anymore: it's actionable information that can be traded on. An idea is a kind of information, but not all information is an idea. And while thoughts can be information, not all thoughts are ideas.

That being said, I think you are partially right: the concept of an idea not having value is unintuitive, and a lot of other industries are commonly in the habit of presenting ideas as having value. You'll see this when people talk about patents, as if having a patent somehow conveys value on the thing that is patented beyond just the government enforced exclusivity. A patented idea that can not be brought to market in some fashion isn't that valuable (and actually has negative value: not only is it not brought to market; without bringing it to market, you can not reap the benefits of exclusivity; and you've paid for obtaining the right to a patent you are unable to exploit. So it's a net negative).


I totally get your meaning, but it could discourage potential applicants/newbies to startups. Could be misread as you not being open to their ideas (though of course I know you just mean execution is almost everything!)


YC is a brand which depends on trust. Think if your idea worth risking this eleven year old brand.


Education-wise, are you able to describe the percentages of applicants with backgrounds coming from top schools versus lower-tier schools?

Being in the Bay Area, I know that Stanford and UC Berkeley tend to have a decent amount of relatively successful launches/founders, but on the other hand I can't say I hear nearly as much about people who went to San Francisco State or San Jose State (or any other lower-tier schools that are not just located in SF Bay Area).

If there is a large enough discrepancy, do you have any ideas of ways to jumpstart or spark other educational communities to have a greater focus on trying out ideas, especially with YC (or other programs)?

Personally, I'm finishing studying at San Jose State and while there is an Entrepreneurship Club, the focus for that side of things (at least from what I've seen) tends to stay purely on the Business college end, rather than other potential high-impact areas (aside from the occasional mobile app here and there).


We looked at our data here last year--we fund founders from a very wide variety of schools, and no school at all, but many of our most successful founders went to 'top schools' and thus it's easy to get the mistaken impression we select for that.


If your most successful founders did go to top schools, why don't you select for that?


In a way we do, in that it's one (of many) examples for someone doing something impressive in the past. We definitely look for founders who have shown some evidence of doing something impressive (and we try to adjust for whatever life circumstances people were born into).

But the main reason we don't is that there are important counterexamples in our portfolio, and if we said "we're only going to fund founders from top schools" we'd miss out on some big successes.


What are some counterexamples?

I wasn't suggesting that you should only fund founders from top schools, but that you should select for it (which it sounds like you already do).

The pedigrees of some of YC's most successful founders, for anyone who's curious:

* Twitch: Yale, MIT

* Cruise: MIT, Claremont McKenna

* OMGPOP: Princeton

* Heroku: UCSD

* Airbnb: RISD, Harvard

* Dropbox: MIT

* Zenefits: Harvard

It's interesting that Stanford and Berkeley are not represented here, probably because good companies founded by students there can easily get funded without going through YC. It seems like YC's strength lies in drawing elites from the rest of the country to SV.


Reddit was UVA, which is a pretty good school but not really what people think of as "elite".

Instacart was Waterloo, also a very good school but not a huge name outside of tech.

RethinkDB was Stony Brook University.

Mixpanel was an Arizona State dropout.


Thanks for the additions. Don't know much about RethinkDB, but as for the others:

Reddit is a great example of founders without pedigree. Although it hasn't been too successful as a company, it's created phenomenal value for its users. I definitely spend more time on Reddit than Facebook/Instagram/Snapchat/Twitter combined.

I'd say Waterloo is elite in the tech sense, and Apoorva worked at Amazon in fulfillment, so it made a lot of sense in the specific case of Instacart.

Mixpanel was being advised by Max Levchin from before they applied to YC. He became their first big customer and helped them with every funding round, and probably put in a good word with YC when they applied[0]. Another YC alum, Amplitude, which is founded by MIT grads, is now giving Mixpanel a run for their money[1,2]. I don't know Suhail or Tim, but I can't imagine the average ASU dropout's experience would be anything like theirs.

0: http://www.businessinsider.com/mixpanel-ceo-suhail-doshi-and...

1: https://amplitude.com/blog/2016/01/07/mixpanel-power-user-am...

2: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=10869419


Reddit hasn't been too successful as a company? I'd imagine their estimated value is at least 100 million.


Welcome to HN where $10 million in the bank may feel like a failure.


It raised at a rumoured $500m valuation in 2014. Only a semicorn.


Waterloo is considered top tier by people in tech, which is the industry that YC is in.


How is Waterloo not an elite school for people who actually know the field?


Zenefits?


When was the last time you built a billion dollar company? Conrad's resignation doesn't change the fact that he has accomplished a hell of a lot more in his professional life than 99.9% of people ever have or will.


Bad PR


Wow! According to Paul Graham, that performance clearly indicates you are biased AGAINST founders from top schools!!

http://paulgraham.com/bias.html


Do you guys really consider SJ State to be a low-tier school? Not even for something like mathematics?


If I got in, I'd introduce myself as YC alumni not Yale alumni :]


Hi Sam, when I applied to YC a while back (2014 I think), I noticed that the video I posted was looked at once after 12am, and the landing page on my website was opened at something like 1am for 10 seconds. With the amount of applications you guys receive that seems inevitable, but it also seems that you would miss a lot of stuff if the reviewers are checking things well into the night. Have you made some progress on that front since?


Many of us (myself included) go to a nice hideaway somewhere far from the bay area to read applications so we can concentrate. So I wouldn't pay much attention to the timestamp. That said, given the volume of applications we receive and the relatively small size of our partnership, we do have to spend a regrettably short amount of time on each application.


I've heard similar results before, and as a judge for another incubator which doesn't get near the application numbers as YC, I'll give you my two cents.

I wouldn't be to concerned on timestamps. I'd look more at time on site and time on video.

The video has to get to the point quickly and present your ideas. If I'm 15-20 seconds in and you haven't clearly stated your business, and I didn't get an instant understanding of it from your application, I'll probably stop watching the video, assuming that I'm not going to get anything more out of it.

If I decide to keep watching the video, I actually just listen to it while I'm reviewing the rest of the application.

Then I'll go on to the website if there is one. First off judgement of website will again be - is it clear why this exists, will a new user/customer/target get why they are here. What am I looking to get from the website? Can I find it, can I get more info.

I doubt I spend more than 30 seconds on an applicants website, but that isn't a dig, or even a negative. Go to any site like of a not yet publicly available product, try this test with google brillo https://developers.google.com/brillo/, set a watch and check out how much time you spend on the site. 30 seconds is a long time. 10 seconds is enough to get it and judge favorably or otherwise.

I've applied for the latest round of YC and was very surprised to see my video was watched for the full 2-minutes. I went over time, but explained everything up front (I think). At the same time, it's possible the video just played in the background while the judge moved on to other things and ignored it...


When YC started, it was so small that PG and Jessica knew everyone's names and could invest a lot of time and effort into making the startups successful. One complaint as YC gets bigger is that there is more "Fast food advice", i.e. there are so many startups that a partner can't hardly remember all of them and we both know that most often than not the devil is in the details. What's YC plan to make sure this doesn't happen as it continues to grow stronger? I assume getting more partners on board is definitely one, and having special group for certain verticals (i.e. biotech or hardware). Any other plans? Thanks for the AMA


The main thing is that we shard YC into small internal groups. I know all the startups in my group in the batch well, and very little about the startups in other groups.


I think in an interview pg talked about this. IIRC they tried using a sharding approach and failed, and instead just came up with mini YC silos(partners get grouped and handle a group of companies)


One of the problem about the bay area is housing. If YC continues to make successful companies this problem is going to get worse. Does YC have plan to do something about this problem?


My company Krewe (https://www.gokrewe.com) is aimed at helping people make a new group of close friends in their neighborhood that they can see every day and build a strong local community. I only have a couple hundred sign ups (after about three weeks) so I don't know for sure that the concept will work. I also don't have a cofounder. Should I apply to YC now, or potentially wait for the next batch when I would (hopefully) have more traction?


Just want to say that I love your idea! Though, I do find the font a little hard to read, but that just might be me.


Just stop working on this idea.

The main problem, imho, with the current model of startup creation, is that it heavily selects for young technical people with little in the way of other commitments to take chances on new ideas. Many young technical people are hard-working and driven and that's wonderful, but (1) they form a narrow demographic [if you hang out at too many hacker cons you'll wildly overestimate the popularity of crummy cable sci-fi shows, for instance] (2) they have very little exposure to meaningful problems, so we end up with hundreds of meal delivery and laundry startup, because what else troubles a recent college engineering grad?

I have seen hundreds of apps like yours. It's a terrible space. First of all, literally every social app in the world is designed to help people make friends. That's how friends are generally made: people have something in common like "takes the same bus to school", "works at the same company", or "comments on the same warhammer 40k miniatures painting advice forum", they get to know each other, things grow from there.

I posit that "Make a New Group of Close Friends in Your Neighborhood" is not actually a value proposition that you can deliver on, even with perfect execution and infinite engineering resources. I just don't believe it. But clearly you do, so let's put that aside and I'll grant you that this technology could exist and you implement it perfectly.

How many times in someone's life could you imagine them using this? How many close friends in their neighborhood can anyone really maintain? Once? Twice? Maybe three times if they move a lot? Let's say it's six total times. And let's also posit that, against all odds, it always works, there's always the right mix of people in a given neighborhood to make this always work.

What are you going to do? Charge for the six uses? Show ads six times? GEICO has ads on TV all the time because even though you basically never change car insurance, they need to be top-of-mind when you think of who to google. I think your cost of customer acquisition, given the idea that your technology works indistinguishably from magic, will be ludicrous. Remember, there's no reason for people to even tell their friends about this: its an app for people with no friends. I think you will have to spend a fortune continually acquiring users.

Then, what's your arpu over the customer's lifetime? I can't imagine how you can charge for this. Ads? Some sort of affiliate marketing? I would think, if your product worked, the total user engagement with the site over the entire lifetime of the customer would be on the order of what, an hour? There's just no place to make money here.

Personally, I also think this is not a real problem, customers do not exist for this service, etc. but you know, I'll spot you that, along with the idea that if it was a problem, you could fix it. _Even if those things are true_, you are going to end up with a horrendous business. See also: every "helps friends figure out who's down to hang out" startup, every "helps organize your travel plans" startup, every "uber for X" where X is something you buy like four times in your life startup.

There is something about the founder mindset that is drawn to this bad idea, just like founders are drawn to build "like making apps, but easier!" startups over and over again that essentially never work (maybe Hypercard?).

I read an autobiography once by a former Navy SEAL. He said the first thing he does when any young kid tells him he wants to join the SEALs is spend an hour or so telling the kid why being a SEAL sucks and why he'll never make it. He said 99% of the time, the kids give up on the idea. He said it's nothing personal, he usually barely knows the kids, it's just that if someone you barely know can talk you out of even trying to join the SEALs in an hour, there's no fucking chance you'll survive BUD/S and all that stuff, so he's really just saving them a bunch of time. He's doing his own "pre-BUD/S" screening that's a lot cheaper and easier for everyone, and that involves a lot less heartache. I always felt like that was a pretty good idea.


Thanks for trying to talk me out of this. No one has done that before despite me trying to get them to, so I really appreciate the feedback.

None of your points causes any concern for me though. I have lot of ideas on how to retain users--it's not simply a single use product. Krewe is not a "Tinder for friends," it's completely different and actually tries to mimic the way people naturally form and maintain friendships.

I am very certain that there is huge demand for a way to comfortably and conveniently make friends. Anyone who's ever moved to a new city, or had friends move away, knows how hard and how awful it is to not have anyone you're close with nearby. 20% of Americans say they're lonely, and people generally have fewer close friends than they used to. Depression, addiction, and suicide rates have been rising for years as a result. No one has tried to argue with me that making friends as an adult is hard. Consider yourself very lucky to not know that is a problem.

Do I have the right solution? I'm not 100% sure, but I know that I'm at least very near it, and I will find it or die trying.


Good attitude, and though I agree with some of the points brought up, I will ask you make a small adjustment to your final statement re:'the right solution'.

You may not and most likely are not near to the right solution, and your goal maybe shouldn't be to find the right solution to the stated problem, but can you keep rephrasing the problem to show you a better solution to a better problem?

It is very difficult not to get attached to a solution to a problem, but if you're solving for the wrong problem, you've already lost.


As someone who has lived in 4 different cities and as many countries in the past 8 years, I would definitely use a "just moved to X city" service/app that helps people who just moved somewhere make friends. It's a bit more narrow than what you are proposing but sometimes it's easier to start with a smaller niche and expand from there.


That's awesome, I agree with you that it's a huge problem. I do hope you're validating the points you're so confident about.


> Just stop working on this idea.

Wow.

> First of all, literally every social app in the world is designed to help people make friends.

Really?

---

I just signed up. I just moved to SF. All of my friends have money and live in the Mission, I live in the Sunset. I'd love to meet people in my neighborhood.

I will use Krewe. Will I like it? That I don't know, but I'm certainly excited to see how it plays out.

I love finding interesting ways to meet new people - locally or halfway around the world (currently trying Plane, a social icebreaker app I discovered on PH - they have no website but here's the App Store shortlink: bit.ly/planeapp)

I rarely comment on people's apps positively or negatively but this comment, while perhaps intended to be helpful, rubbed me the wrong way. Perhaps it's the arrogant tone (my interpretation).


Have you checked out Nextdoor.com? They're squarely in the same space and they've raised nearly $211m.


I have. I guess my model is the opposite of theirs. They place you in a big group with all your neighbors and I guess they hope you go to events and start meeting people. I put you in a small group, encourage you to do stuff together in a comfortable setting a couple times to establish familiarity, and then let you grow the group from there. Bottom up vs top down.

My neighborhood has 60,000 people living in it with ~600 people in the Nextdoor group. There's very little activity in the group, so I don't think people are really using it. I don't know what it's like in other neighborhoods so it may be that my neighborhood just isn't good for it, but if I had 600 users on Krewe from my neighborhood, there would definitely be a lot of activity.


What is it you'd want from YC? The businesses they most want to work with are those that are in a position to get the most out of it.


Connections, advice, mentorship, funding, credibility, etc. I hope I can make it without their help, but they would certainly give me a big boost.


Ok, so do you think you'd get more use out of those things now or later? (Maybe you're asking because you don't know, but I think it's useful to reframe it that way).


Ok thanks. That's actually a really good answer and helps a lot.


Hey Sam,

Any comment regarding Jason Calacanis being banned from YC's upcoming demo day? Jason tweeted[1] his side but didn't know what the YC side of it was and was curious.

[1] https://twitter.com/Jason/status/710176806184349696


To be clear, it has nothing to do with all the shit he talks about YC. Though that's annoying, it's fine.

We collect feedback from YC founders on investors (we have a giant database of this). If you mistreat founders, we don't invite you to Demo Day. This isn't permanent--if you stop mistreating founders we start inviting you again. Also, it's possible that our founders are wrong in their assessment of how a particular investor is treating them, but investors have enough advantages in the system and we unashamedly take the side of our founders.

EDIT: I also never think these things are black and white, and that all of us have good and bad parts. I've heard from plenty of founders that Jason has been very helpful to their companies.


Excluding Jason is perplexing to me. For context I've started 6 companies, one went public and was a unicorn. I've worked with Jason as an angel in my companies and I've been on a board with him. Jason has been an awesome throughout several years of doing business with him. I can't envision a scenario where he wouldn't be founder friendly and I'd love to have him as an investor in any future project I pursue. Any first time founder would be lucky to work with Jason.


... and I am soooooo excited for your latest startup Ric. You're going to change the world -- again!

much love, thanks for speaking at the Angel Summit earlier this month!


Since Jason gets a lot of flak (not that he cares):

Jason was one of the first and most helpful investors in Rapportive (YCS10, acq LinkedIn). He believed in us when there was no obvious reason to.

Jason was one of the first investors I went back to for Superhuman. (He negotiated hard, but then so do I — that's just part of each side getting what they want.)

I'd work with Jason again in a heartbeat for my next company.


Superhuman?? what a brand!


Wait until you see the product -- it's AWESOME. I've been using it for two weeks and I'm addicted. I think this will be 100x bigger than Rapportive! excited for it!


This is not our experience. Actually, Jason is the most founder-friendly investor that I have ever worked with. He really cares about founders.

He was the very first investor that invested in us, and has become our biggest champion since our very early days.

Most investors look for traction and only decide to invest when you have traction. Jason sees the fire and the determination in us (first time founders), and decides to support us, and helps us grow as a person and as a company.

Some other investors just put in money and disappears. But Jason truly cares and whenever we need help, he's always there. He gives us frank feedback that we really need, he challenges us and pushes us to be better. He helps us with intros. He sends product feedback and recommendations without being asked.

I know dozens of other founders that Jason had invested in and I know that they all feel the same way I do about Jason.


The traction I saw in https://leadiq.io/ was NOT in the product as much as the founder... it was clear to me that you were a winner who knew how to execute at a high level -- even if the product was a little awkward and round around the edges when we met.

Truth is, we're all a little awkward at the start... Uber and Thumbtack were both a little awkward when I did those angels rounds too.

The job of an angel investor is to look at the promise of the startup -- not the problems.


Sam and Jason, this is something that should be done and resolved 1-on-1. The entire ecosystem collectively gets distracted when these happen. Imagine the cost of this (gazillion followers spending gazillion man-decades of brain cycles). Also this gets you and him to be distracted as well and compound it by NOT tweeting/snap chatting stuff that is net +ive.


+1

Sam is wildly successful I'm wildly successful

We've disagreed twice in 10 years, but when we do it's like two huge bulls cracking heads -- it's ugly! :-)


Banning someone for calling YC out is bad enough, but bad mouthing him afterwards and claiming that he mistreated founders (or YC founders saying that he did) is such a cheap shot.

There is absolutely no history of Jason being known for mistreating founders. The opposite is true. AngelForum, free Launch tickets for founders and so on. He wouldn't get in the deals he's getting in if it were any different.

As it currently stands I'd never enter YC as a founder. Your comment cries of hypocrisy and falseness.

Either you honestly think he's mistreating founders then ban him and tell it like it is (and back it up with proof) or you don't think he's mistreating founders and think the feedback is unsubstantiated (if it exists) then man up and do what's best for YC founders.


Is it true that some VCs get first dibs on YC companies before demo day?


I can confirm this is true, because YC staff members have explained to me that they bring in a small group of investors to mentor -- and because founders have confirmed it.

This is something I talked about on This Week in Startups, and frankly I think it has something to do with my "ban."


Does YC take Jason and other early-stage investors as direct competitors?


I actually believe it's fine for folks to incubator hop -- Sam does not.

Sam's Post: http://blog.ycombinator.com/getting-into-y-combinator

my post: http://calacanis.com/2016/01/26/incubator-hopping-should-you...

99% of the investors out there agree with my position -- the 1% that don't work at YCombinator. :-)


Jason is a bully. I've heard plenty of horror stories of people who have worked for him. I'm not surprised in the least and I'm extremely glad to see people standing up to him.


Just for what it's worth, as I know it isn't the same as working for someone - I interviewed for a position working directly for Jason and he was all class. I'm a designer and part of the interview process, as is often the case, was to complete a small design project. He flat out insisted on paying me for my time (nobody else in my career has ever even offered) and wouldn't take no for an answer, and was professional and courteous during both the interview and his eventual decline to hire me.


and i'll give a counterexample - Jason yelling down and belittling an entrepreneur and his team during prep for a conference presentation, for a totally unrelated reason and then cancelling their appearance because he was mad at something else. I have never seen anything like it.

Assholes are manipulative, it's how they get away with it.

The problem is silicon valley is self-reinforcing with positive feedback, nobody rocks the boat and speaks ill (the subject of Jason's abuse above would never come out and say it) of others.

It is 100x harder to give a negative public view of someone than it is to give a positive.

Investors have more power than most of your employees and they will freely speak about you, associate with you in good times, many will run away in bad.

You should run extensive due diligence across all of them, and with people who worked with them - not the type of Silicon Valley 'good friends' that involve spending 5 minutes in a conference hallway with someone 3 times a year, or having dinner twice a year.


I've seen Jason critique a lot of pitches. I have to say, it's hard for me to believe your description of the situation is giving the full story.

Yes, Jason probably had some brutally honest feedback about the presentation and how to make it better. But in my experience, his feedback is always spot on.

I've personally been on the receiving end of such feedback, and it can feel harsh at times. But this is one of Jason's greatest strengths: he has the ability to listen to a pitch once and then make it way stronger by improving a few key things. This is why almost all of the pitches at Launch are exceptional.


1. I always ask folks -- in private and group meetings -- "do you want the red or blue pill?"

2. Founders have asked for the brutal truth of the 'red pill 'every single time. No founder has ever asked for the blissful illusion of the blue pill. Not once!

3. I've coached 700 startups for TC50, LAUNCH Festival and the LAUNCH Incubator (27 and growing!)... never had a complaint. Not one. That includes Dropbox, Yammer, FitBit, CafeX, Clicker, Brilliant.org and hundreds more.

[ background: The person making these claims is close friends with my former partner on TC50 -- that partner was accused of some very nasty things. ]


That might make sense; strongarm negotiating doesn't necessarily mean you treat everyone like crap, but when there is more VC money than there are companies to invest in might cause you to lose out on deals.


Like I said, it was just my 2 cents for what they are worth here when Jason is being called a bully to people. I don't expect my experience to be analogous in the VC world or anything.


And it's interesting because the difference between "valid negotiating tactic" and "being an asshole" is so context dependent.

There are plenty of situations where flat out lying is not just acceptable, but expected as a bargaining tactic, along with other behavior that would be unacceptable in other situations.

Just thinking about the different ways I buy things at flea markets, the grocery store, and an auto dealership shows 3 very different behaviors.


When I was broke I would sometimes ask folks "hey can you should me how you would tackle this problem?"

It was then up to them to do the spec work or not.

However, when I was able to afford to pay folks, I was like "well, if I pay three people $500 or $1,000 to do a project and pick the winner as my eventually designer, that's a good use of $1,500!"

Thanks for taking the time to share this story. I'm far from perfect, but I work really hard every day to help as many people I can.... because so many people helped me get to the top of the mountain!


I worked directly for Jason for about 3 years, as a direct report. I never once saw him bully anyone. He expects and pushes people to be their best. Additionally he doesn't allow people to waste his time, or the time of others in his organizations. Both of these are admirable qualities.

Additionally after I left his employ, he was our first investor in a new venture, and relentlessly supported us along the way. Jason is the best possible investor you can have on your side.


I also worked directly for Jason for nearly 3 years and have nearly an identical story as Adam. The entire Launch organization was built around Jason giving back to founders. All of his actions during my time working for him reflected this mission.


It was a pleasure to watch you grow into an awesome CEO yourself!


Have you actually worked with him? I have for many years and he has been one of the most founder friendly and dedicated people I've ever met!


Care to share any specific ones?


I'm specifically thinking of an incident where he yelled at a dev until she cried in the middle of the open office at Mahalo.


I'd respect you sniping at people more if you did it whilst showing your true identity at the same time. If you're going to attack online from a hidden identity then that's just trolling.


+1


In fact such statements deserve specific details or shutting up. Either way it's potentially slanderous.


I can't reply to your other comment as its nested too deeply, but I'm not posting to earn your respect. If you don't believe me that's fine, but equivocating anonymity with trolling is a strawman if I've ever seen one.


Jason is the only investor I've worked with that treated me simply as a founder, not a "female founder." This alone is a reason that new YC entrepreneurs should have access to working with him. He sets an example of how entrepreneurs should be treated.

Jason has seen me at my worst, when I was ready to throw in the towel and battling with my board and generally having a tough, tough time, and I left the meeting with hom feeling like a rockstar, that I COULD handle it, and could go on to succeed (which I am doing today).

He is such a founder advocate I would take $25k from Jason over $250k from a bigger VC, because when the going gets tough (and it will) Jason will ALWAYS have your back.



Sam altman tweeted this thread to his 149,000 twitter followers some of which would have worked with Jason, and won't have HN accounts.

Before Sam edited his comment, his comment implied that Jason had bullied founders, changed offers and shared founders confidential information.

> We collect feedback from YC founders on investors (we have a giant database of this). If you mistreat founders, we don't invite you to Demo Day. This isn't permanent--if you stop mistreating founders (i.e. bullying them, changing offers, sharing their confidential info, etc etc etc) then we start inviting you again.


I talked to Sam about his original comments and he said they were not fair and he corrected them.

Sam and I are actually, and I know this is hard to believe, fond of each other. We started as Sequoia scouts together and have both had great success being startup advocates.

It's nice that the companies I work with took the time to uncloak/create accounts to defend me. It's touching actually.


> Rather obvious what is going on here - and it is pathetic

Because having people create fake accounts just to leave positive comments is far more likely than thousands of people being exposed to this thread via Sam and Jason's tweeter feeds?

I wouldn't be so quick to jump to conclusions with no data to back up your assertions.

For what it's worth, while I've never worked with Jason, I have met him once (briefly) and I have talked to many who have worked with him. I've only heard positive things. Everything being posted here are anecdotes from either one side or another; I wouldn't trust someone's anecdote to determine someone's character.


All but one of the accounts was created before Jason tweeted about it.

and i've been around here long enough to know that even when outsiders do link to threads you don't get 50%+ green comments without sockpuppets


> All but one of the accounts was created before Jason tweeted about it.

What about before Sam tweeted? What about any other outlets that linked to HN?

> and i've been around here long enough to know that even when outsiders do link to threads you don't get 50%+ green comments without sockpuppets

Sounds like, instead of relying on data, you already have your narrative set so it doesn't really matter what anyone says. Do you have data that shows this has happened in the past like you claim? If so, what are the correlations between those instances and this one? How do you control between fake accounts and accounts created due to an influx of traffic regarding a topic many are interested in?


The accounts actually don't look fake. I'm not really sure what's so obvious.


I responded to a bunch of the comments and included the URLs of the startups who came to my defense -- which is very touching to me.

... and because you should check out how awesome their startups are!


Yeah, I created a new account, WITH MY REAL NAME for this as I wanted to be super transparent. I didn't want to use a scrub account that I normally post under here. All of those except for one probably fall under the same situation.

It's not a case of malice, just transparency.


This account, is over a year old. I created "vincentc" because I've trended to prefer first name instead, but didn't realize what an issue a new account would pose.

Anyways, what I said was true. I went through his incubator, and Jason has been nothing but supportive. Echoing what others have already said, he provides brutally honest feedback, which we all need. At no time was it ever mean-spirited or derogatory, or any of the other claims being made.

Jason has been nothing but encouraging and relentlessly supportive.


I saw the tweet and wanted to offer my POV. I created a new account because I couldn't remember the password to my old account (redtricycle) and was responding on the fly. redtri = founder of red tricycle(not fake/anon). Two sides to every story (at least!) and people are entitled to hear all ...


Or is it just support because we feel it is due


You've fought really hard to get RedTri through some very rough times... I respect that a lot. It's been awesome to work with you JB!

If you have kids, I suggest checking out their SF page: http://redtri.com/san-francisco-kids/


+100 on this!!!


Seems pretty clear from the tweet. I've never applied to YC or don't know exactly how it works internally but it seems like they have a feedback form they give to founders to rate the investors that come to Demo day. Based on that they give a score to each investor and they have a threshold. If an investor falls below the threshold they are not invited to demo day. I think the system is a good one.


Jason's been a great supporter of our company/vision, and we couldn't be happier to have him as an investor. This tweet really summarizes the kind of person Jason is: https://twitter.com/Dan_Fennessy/status/705889049987325952


Jason's an investor in my company, http://dailydrip.com. we started out doing something entirely different. He told us from the beginning that he invests in founders. I got the chance to test that when a huge incumbent in our prior space released essentially our product at a better price, and we decided to pivot to dailydrip.

I was a bit worried about discussing it with him, honestly. I didn't need to be. He was extremely supportive, and our current business is doing fantastically; we're even more passionate about it. In addition, everyone I've met that ever had him as an investor seems to have the same experience: once he's in your court, he's ridiculously helpful.

Long story short, I maintain that getting into the launch incubator or getting Jason on your side as an investor is one of the best things an early stage startup can do. Have never met someone who had him as an investor who had a negative word to say.


thanks pal.... I love what daily drip is doing in education and, yeah, pivots are scary -- but it's better to pivot than die!

We are going to have massive success together... can't wait to high five in seven years (or less)!


If anybody has questions about what it's like to have Jason as an investor, feel free to message me. Jason was our first investor and I have ton of respect for him. Here's how Jason has been founder friendly for us: * He always has your back — he'll encourage you even when times are hard * He responds to your updates with thoughtful questions and suggestions * He's happy to make intros and use his network on your behalf

Most importantly he's an entrepreneur and investor — and he knows about the hard times entrepreneurs go through. He'll always encourage you and you always leave a meeting with Jason feeling more positive than you did beforehand. He doesn't believe he knows the answer to every question, but he'll give you his advice. It's hard to over-state how important this is.

Again, I'm happy to jump on the phone if any founders have questions about Jason. Message me.


thanks for the candid review....


I'm a 45 year old entrepreneur. Not famous, but have done 11 startups, built some cool things, made money, lost money. I say that to put context to the vast number of collaborators I've worked with in my career. (I'm sure many of you have the same experience.) My latest venture was lucky enough to get into Jason's Launch Incubator class 1. And I have to share that the experience of being able to work with Jason on a product development level, a business level, as an investor, and as a person who subscribes to radical candor, has been nothing short of amazing. He nurtured us, encouraged, was critical, shared everything, wrote checks, asked friends to write checks, so we could follow our mission of building software for the world. That's all great, but the best part is he cares. Truly cares about us, what we're doing and where we're going.


thanks Sonny! It's been a pleasure working with you as well... So nice to see so many founders give details of what it's like in the launchincubator.co


a suspicious number of people seem to have signed up just to comment here...


Signed up to support Jason as he supported us. To be honest I hadn't even heard of this forum before.


It's pretty weird.


I'd be glad to answer any questions people have about Jason as an investor and share my experience. He was involved in my second startup - the first was very successful, the second was a failure.

I had a great experience with Jason, even though the startup was shutdown. That shutdown was where Jason showed his true colors - he was always there, had great ideas, and was super supportive. When we did shut it down, the first phone call I got was from Jason, checking in. I still have the message in my voicemail.

After that, he continued to keep in touch and keep me "in the family". He had 100's of investments he could have been spending time on, but he never forgot. The idea that he is not founder-friendly boggles my mind. He's incredibly human.

I'm sure when you invest as much as he has, he has some things in the past he'd like to take back - hell, I know I do as an entrepreneur - but I can say he's on the list of people who I'd love to work with again and again.


Thanks Geoff... I'm very proud of the work we did together.

Failure we is the precursor of success, so make sure I'm your first phone call when you have your next idea!


You investors need to stop shit talking one another. Jason is super helpful to me, even though I've never got a penny in investment out of him. And Sam you've helped to build an ecosystem that is unmatched by any accelerators. I am looking at you guys for ideas to help my new venture, Angeloop, to add the same value to the companies that don't get into the program. We are bridging the communication gap that exists between startup and their investors so they can help each other scale. I'm hoping you guys can work through your issues because when you guys fight, it contributes to our fragile system further deteriorate.


not personally familiar with the YC process in the least here, but in our short tenure with him so far he has been a tremendous coach and evangelist for us. he's certainly tough, but also balanced. we are lucky to have him onboard.


If you ban Jason you are missing one of the most founder friendly investors out there. We were a part of Jason's latest incubator class and I have a close friend going through YC right now. Our experience with Jason was amazing and the access to top tier investors in a small setting with only 6 other companies on a weekly basis was an experience that can't easily be replicated. It definitely accelerated our business and once Jason is an investor he is on your side and will work tirelessly to give you the best opportunity possible to succeed.


Jason is our first investor in LeadIQ. We are very glad to have his help on our product and fund raising. I don't know enough about other incubators but my partner, Mei and me are very excited to be one of Jason's portfolio companies. Jason is a strong product person. He understands products and markets really well, and his feedback is always on point and help us to improve. I strongly suggest every founder to apply to his incubator if you have a very solid product.


Nothing but positives about Jason, I was in the last Launch class. I was away from my family for 4 months. Jason invited me to thanksgiving and when my family did arrive we had play dates with his family. Post Launch he could easily cut us loose and focus on the top 1% of his portfolio. He doesn't do that, he is incredibly loyal and helpful. Some people just don't like that he likes to win but he doesn't do it at the expense of others in my experience.


Nothing but positives from me as well. I've been involved in 2 incubator classes now (1st and 3rd) and you always know where you stand with Jason. He is a relentless champion of the companies he's involved with, and will always give feedback. He's an amazing investor, mentor and someone whom I've learned a lot from.


you've worked really hard with Morgan Spurlock to get http://www.clect.com/ to launch. Marketplaces are hard, but it's clear you're making massive progress.

well worth checking out their launch video https://angel.co/clect-collect-together/


Jason was one of the first people to put money into Chartbeat. I've now worked with him as an investor for seven years and he's been consistently supportive and founder friendly even when it hasn't been in his short term interest to do so. He's also got incredible product intuition. I'd recommend him to any founder looking to work with someone who gives a shit.


Long time stalker. First time feeling a desire to post. Jason is an investor in my team's company www.zeroslant.com. We went through the LAUNCH Incubator. We went through a pivot. He has been a tireless supporter - no matter what. I'm not sure what caused him to be banned but I hope all the YC companies have access to him as an advocate.


Jason has been nothing but supportive, helpful, and encouraging towards us personally, and our business. He has made himself extremely available, and has invested much of his time in doing this.


thanks pal... we are all in this together!


I've found Jason to be an extremely supportive, honest and loyal investor. He is very supportive of early stage founders and excels at leveling you up to the next stage.

The first time I saw Jason in person was at a Founder Institute session. He told is own story of struggle/success/failure/success. It was one of the most moving things I've ever witnessed. This guy has heart and has been in the trenches doing the work.


Love speaking at Adeo's FI... such an open program.


Candidness is a virtue. Jason delivers it in a manner that motivates. I spent 4 months away from my family for Launch. Jason invited me to Thanksgiving. Post launch his support is unwavering despite having at least two of the 14 companies already flying. I found him to be a gentleman.


Jason is one of the most honest and helpful people I've ever met. Super happy that we met him and have his support. Never experienced any sort of bullying, offer changing and confidentially info sharing...


Jason is one of the greatest investor. Without him, we would not have moved to the Bay Area, would not have made great progress in product and strategy over 3 months. He is honest and helpful.


thanks eric...


I've been following you and @paulg as well as many other YC members for a long period and I'm quiet confident that you'll adhere to the vision/idea behind a project that I'm about to start this year. Do you recommend that I apply for YC really early, like now, just to present the idea ? Or should I develop it and apply with a prototype ? Or should I launch it and then apply ? In which case can YC help the idea to have bigger chances to succeed ? And in which case you do you most likely accept the application or at least give it a better chance ?


Apply now. Then immediately resume working on it. If you don't get in now, then apply with your awesome prototype that you've built over 6 months to the next batch. :)


Hi Sam,

You've mentioned many times, more so recently, that YC is committed to investing in hard tech problems. When considering companies solving these problems for the next batch, knowing that often times even getting a prototype ready is a massive undertaking, how much chance does one have applying with nothing more than an idea and some research? And the possibility that it won't generate revenue for 5+ years?


A common failure mode for companies like these is to talk a lot about how hard their problems are and never get anything at all done.

Even a huge project starts with a first step. We look for founders that get that one done, and then the second, and ...

Good founders get stuff done. Bad founders talk about why they aren't getting stuff done. This is true for web apps and nuclear reactors.


Being that this is true of getting anything done in the real world I was hoping to frame the question without needing to preface it with that, or listing any qualifications of my own or my team on a pseudonymous account, but needless to say we get things done.

Thanks for replying nonetheless :)


Hi Sam. Two questions:

1. I'm a little in the dark about what happens to applications that have already been seen (because they were submitted early) that are then edited pre-deadline. I've been putting off submission because I'm very close to having an MVP demo video, which I think would be strongly to my advantage to include, but I also know that early submissions face a strong advantage as well. Do you have any advice on the balance between the two, specific to the YC application process? Would it make sense to submit now and edit in the demo later?

2. Are you aware of any publicly available resources for founders to do their due-diligence on investors? I've met a couple of investors by chance (at bars, amusingly enough) that, after hanging out for a few hours, I knew would be a bad fit -- but it would be a waste of both the investors' time and my time if we didn't learn that until the first face-to-face meeting. Do you have any advice on how to maximize search utility (for both an investor and my company) when I'm building my list of potential investors?


1. Some partners may read the earlier version of your application. The advantage to submitting earlier is not so big, it just means you might get more reads. I'd for sure wait to submit until you have your demo.

2. We have an internal DB for this, but I'm not aware of a good publicly available one :(


Last March, you mentioned on twitter that you are a customer of/financially support Shanley Kane's organization, Model View Culture. Since since then (and before then too), she has made a variety of racially and sexually charged statements, such as, "fire some fuckin white guys to get it done" ( https://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:KtAdEv... ). Do you or Y-Combinator still patronize or support Model View Code after these statements? (A pure yes or no is fine, I don't need a big discussion, I just want to know where you and YCombinator stand.)


No.


I'd love to hear what you find so objectionable about the tweets to linked to. It seems radical but not offensive.


She wants mass firings of people like me and you for no other reason than our sex and the color of our skin.


This seems reasonable if (and only if!) people who match you on sex and skin color are unfairly overrepresented, and if the meaning is to fire those who aren't qualified, not to indiscriminately fire to meet a quota. I read both of those things as implied by that tweet and its context, but I can see how they're not obvious. Without that context, I admit the sentence is racist and sexist, but in context, it seems like a reasonable response to existing racism and sexism that has given employment to unqualified white men more than to unqualified people of different race/gender. (It is sort of like "black lives matter": shorn of context it seems to privilege one race, but in a world where black lives seem to matter less than other lives, it is a response to that existing racism.)

I am a man but not white, so perhaps this does not sting as much as it stings you, in which case I apologize for not being able to fully empathize. Anecdotally, the vast majority of the underqualified and incompetent people I've worked with in tech have been men, even taking into account the general proportion of men and women in tech. Without thinking hard, I can name underqualified men, qualified men, and qualified women that I have worked with, but would have to think hard to remember underqualified women. So I'm okay with focusing any attempts to fire unqualified people on men, or, at least, making sure that any efforts to fire unqualified people end up firing at least some men.


> This seems reasonable if (and only if!) people who match you on sex and skin color are unfairly overrepresented

Asian people are more overrepresented in tech than Europeans. If Shanley said to "fire some fuckin asian guys to get it done", would you support this comment? Why / why not?


Well, I think the context was management, where IIRC Asians are if anything underrepresented. And I anecdotally don't think I've seen as many underqualified Asian people (relative to the number of Asians) as white people -- but that anecdata feels very iffy to me, so if there's reason to believe that that's wrong, sure, I'd think that comment was reasonable. (It also gets more complicated if they're on H1-Bs or something; however disruptive firing a citizen is, firing someone on a work visa is a hundred times worse. And they have fewer options for finding a job that fits their skill level than people not constrained by a work visa.)

I would absolutely stand behind "fire some men to get it done". Or a simple "fire some people to get it done", if I didn't have strong reason to believe that tech's performance-evaluation practices are unduly harsh on women. (Which is, incidentally, why I think I see unqualified women so rarely.)


> I would absolutely stand behind "fire some men to get it done"

Sure, but that wasn't the question.


Shanley also signs off a lot of her content with 'kill all men' and has doxxed critics before.


I can see the doxxing being an issue (although, if you're referring to Milo Yiannopoulos, I think the case might be more complicated), but I think anyone who reads 'kill all men' as a anything more than a rhetorical flourish is being a bit over literal.


Do you think it's acceptable to use 'kill all (gender)' as a rhetorical flourish?


Is this really the place/time to ask such questions? Or are you hoping for an answer because you feel Sam is trapped into answering here?


It is AMA. Not "ask me what I'm comfortable answering". In such a forum there is always some controversial discussions. Being trapped might not be the right perspective. And at this time Sam has answered.


He titled the post AMA. If he doesn't care to answer here, I'll email him in private.


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