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Y Combinator Companies (ycombinator.com)
285 points by kenbaylor on Sept 7, 2016 | hide | past | web | favorite | 97 comments

If anyone wants the data in JSON format, the page loads it via the following API call: https://api.ycombinator.com/companies/export.json

Thnx ;)

How dare you express appreciation in an abbreviated manner!

It's one of the social norms on HackerNews that "low-value" comments like "Love it! Thanks!" and "good job" are discouraged. Although such comments are polite to the commenter, they add nothing but noise for all the other readers of the thread.

Instead, it seems to be preferred that you simply upvote the comment instead of replying.

Quick analysis:

1297 YC companies (from here: http://www.ycombinator.com/press/)

860 YC companies listed as either active or acquired (from here: http://www.ycombinator.com/companies/)

= 33% failure rate

That's a lot higher than I would have expected, to be honest.

33% is way too low as a failure rate for pre-seed startups. I think that number may be around what you would expect for Series A startups. The data is skewed because class sizes have grown over time so the data is skewed towards younger companies.

Another factor is that it takes some time for a company to admit it failed, and everyone's opinion of "failed" is different. I suspect the actual number is higher, especially from an investors perspective.

If you can just avoid dying, you get rich. That sounds like a joke, but it's actually a pretty good description of what happens in a typical startup.


Unfortunately many only prolong their dying, not avoid it.

YC screens who can get into its incubator which improves the yield.

No, that's bad math. Math to do it right is: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Survival_analysis

I was shocked that it was that low. Even considering that another 20%+ are probably on life support, in denial, and/or destined for failure, that is an amazingly high success rate in startupland.

Techstars has shown stats for all companies for years, and has a 10% failure rate. - http://www.techstars.com/companies/

(78% active, 12% acquired, on a base of 800 companies)

Techstars and YC appear to have pretty dramatically different philosophies on selection, which influence this.

Agree. I would say the selection criteria for every program varies and each have their own strengths, but having the data around how many companies have failed should influence companies thinking about which program they should pursue.

You often can't find so much as a blog post for early stage companies that have failed. Given you can keep a mostly dead service with few customers running as is for such a small yearly cost.

The giveaway is usually a blog or social media accounts that haven't been updated in years.

Paul Graham is on the record as stating that he expects the median value of a YC company to be zero. i.e. >50% failure rate.

Seems like a very low number IMO. Well over the majority of start-ups fail in the first 5 years. Perhaps when the largest batches make it to 5+ years the percentage will increase? Though at the rate they're adding new companies maybe it'll just continue to feed the monster.

Getting downvoted for citing numbers and a gut reaction? I don't get HN'ers sometimes...

I accidentally downvoted :( (really wish that could be fixed)

look for the unvote link on the post

If you downvote a comment, the link to undo the vote is actually labeled "undown", not "unvote" (upvoted comments have the "unvote" link).

At the top of the comment, you should see something like:

  username 1 hour ago | undown [-]
                          click here

Are you sure about that? I can unflag something I flag but I don't see any place where I can unvote. Unless it's karma gated? Though I would have figured I would have access to all the features by now...

the delta also includes YC companies that have not launched publicly or not publicly revealed they are part of YC.

Really? I'd have thought it would be higher. Although this figure does fit with things I've heard before.

I would have guessed at least half failed. This number seems pretty low to me.

Not every acquisition is a success.

That's a pretty surprising number compared to other programs.

some of the 1297 are still on stealth mode.

Did you mean lower? Because 33% is super incredibly low.

Please fix the first link to 1000memories - it links to a spam site.

For those who don't know, 1000memories was a service meant to allow people to create a "permanent" online memorial to loved ones who had died. Their CEO leaned hard on me to use them after I complained on my blog about the shabby business practices of a competitor, Legacy.com, when my best friend died.

Stay classy, YC. I'm sure it would have cost a fortune to keep the domain up.

Ugh. Given the nature of the site that is particularly galling. But it's done, I don't think there is any way to reverse this.

Like so...


This one might be tougher than usual since the functionality that's very visible is probably dead whereas the links on the bottom containing useful info are tiny and look like the background. You at least see the right site, though.

Easy, put the permanent records back in place and negotiate back the domain.

How is this YC's fault? They don't own the domains of these companies, and have no say over who their companies sell to (in this case, Ancestery.com).

I don't know if it's YC's fault per se, but it sure doesn't reflect well on them when the first link on their giant cheerful "look at all our companies!" list is a dead domain serving malware.

They did* own the domain. I don't believe YC does non-equity deals.

*I haven't ruled out that YC has no ownership in the squatter, so, they may still "do".

YC owns 6% of the company when they go through their program. This stake is diluted further in future rounds of financing.

This is not enough stake in the preferred shares to dictate anything.

Sam's New Deal is for 7%, but I believe YC has re-up'd on some companies in the past.

YC following on is a very recent policy.

Before, their stated policy was never to follow on, in order to prevent signaling risk.

Has signalling risk gone away, or has YC expanded its appetite?

YC Continuity now participates in every following round, up to something like a $350m valuation. So they follow on for everyone, to eliminate signaling.

Wow that's pretty sad. Knowing the low price of (effectively) indestructible cloud store (S3) and the near zero bandwidth cost of something like this (I mean seriously how much traffic do you really expect per site?), that's particularly sad.

Seems like a problem to be solved with a blockchain! Obitucoins.

Welcome to YC '17!

So good.

Our Incredible Journey toward extinction and malware-serving domain squatters.

Sic transit gloria fundi.

I thought you had reached peak "SV-mocking Latin motto pun" with "Ad Astra Per Aspergera", but you always manage to outdo yourself. I feel like $11/year for a Pinboard account would be worth it to subsidize the puns alone. Bravo.

Thanks, we fixed it.

I may be biased, but I think YC Fellowship companies should be on that list, too :)

Some of these are clearly now defunct and instead link to malware popup sites. (The first one in the list in fact, 1000Memories)

If you want to ruin your SEO, I assume this is a good idea.

(I figure there is enough data here to make a fun "acquired/defunct/soldiering on" guessing game?)

Also, at least one of these startups has gone full circle, started failed stopped and was then reborn as a blog on entrepreneurship:


Yeah, OpenDNS shut down that one for me as well.

for SEO neutrality just add rel=nofollow

I scraped a CSV version of the data & made a graph of the verticals by batch: https://www.kaggle.com/benhamner/y-combinator-companies

here's my problem and why I can't fit in either YC batch or YC Fellowship.

18 months ago, a small business owner asked me to solve a problem they have. They said they tried many existing solutions, and none helped. So, it turned out, it's the same problem I'm trying to solve for last 8 years, for my personal use; was put on the back burner, and did not think it has a big business potential. So, I've already spent so much time finding a solution in the past, and did not take me much time to find a solution to fit their needs.

fast forward till today, and I got alpha quality solution; working on it over the weekends. while working full time to pay mortgage and feed my family.

if I apply to YC, it means I have to quit my job, move to silicon valley (I live in SoCal) and moving away from my newborn baby, which is not practical, since we don't have family to help with the baby. and my wife on her own cannot take care of the baby, get groceries, do the house stuff.

if I apply to YC fellowship, there's not enough fund to justify quitting my full time job and focus on this company.

My only option seems to be to keep working on this product for next 6 months, putting 10-20 hrs over the weekend, and have slow progress.

I've talked to several businesses and they all agreed, they have the same problem, and they want solution right now, and willing to pay $200 to $2000 per month depending on features.

I wish there's a hybrid option, something like investment of 80K for 2-3% (similar to Fellowship, but more funds) and requirement to fly once a week to meet with YC partners and report on progress.

There have been YC companies in the past that spent most of their time away from San Francisco, including some companies that actually spent most of their time in Europe. AirBnB famously flew to and from New York every week. You don't have to be there for the entire 3 months, although I think all that travel will likely exhaust you if you aren't absolutely committed to your company (and it sounds like it could be difficult with the baby).

Also, $80k for 3% is a far better equity proposal than YC. $80k for 5% would be equivalent. That said, I can't imagine they'd splinter themselves any further. I think the way they've set themselves up works great for them, obviously they can't please everyone.

If you really have that much interest for your idea, get several LOI (letter of intent) notices from your potential customers and take it to investors. That should get you a lot more than $80k.

thank you for your suggestions, LOI can certainly help with raising money, I'll focus on making a better tested MVP and demo it to potential customers and get LOI.

Just a suggestion, but why not switch to a services model to get started? Sell them on the demo, present a plan to integrate it into their systems and the costs associated with that (integration being the key word). The costs associated are however long it will take you times $125-$250 per hour. That's enough to set yourself up as a going business at least, then figure out how to grow it from there. It will be a lot easier to raise money if you have 5 customers and example case studies that have worked through this process. You may find you don't need to. You don't need YC's stamp of approval to do this, and many others have followed a similar process in various verticals.

thank you for the suggestion, that's what I'm planning on once I get MVP ready for customers.

If you are a software developer, the risk of committing to one year (three months at least partially in Mountain View) doesn't sound that scary to me. If you leave on good terms with your current employer you could probably just get your job back if you failed at your startup.

It sounds like you have a great potential business. The size of the addressable market will determine whether or not you could have a startup [0] as defined by PG. Generally speaking, YC only wants to fund startups in their main program, which would be the one that would give you enough capital to actually make a run at it.

When we did YC (S13) we had three cofounders that all had families and single incomes. We made it work. We rented an apartment and lived/worked together for a few days during the week, and returned to our home offices the rest of the time. You could find a room to rent somewhere if you are a solo founder. Some used credit cards to float things. You'll have to get uncomfortable...

Part of doing a startup is about sacrificing bits of your life for your business. Investors (including YC) want to make sure you are all-in. I would be surprised if you would be able to raise any capital from experienced startup investors while working part-time on the project. They typically want you to have already dove into the deep end.

If you don't have a startup on your hands, but instead have a great small business, there's nothing to be ashamed of there and you can probably find some investment from local high net worth investors if you do some networking. You can test that with pre-orders or LOI's or something of that sort. However, those investments are probably going to be more "Shark Tank," full of onerous terms and potentially much more dilution for you as a founder.

[0]: http://www.paulgraham.com/growth.html

> If you are a software developer, the risk of committing to one year (three months at least partially in Mountain View) doesn't sound that scary to me.

That assumes that they have enough savings to look after their family until they're making enough profit to take a reasonable salary.

>"Part of doing a startup is about sacrificing bits of your life for your business."

But not his baby. Some things are non-negotiable.

Where in SoCal are you? I do that kind of investment, and also live in SoCal. You can email me at: erich@xygroup.co

I've also been in your exact situation a number of times; much of my past consulting work was because I'd already developed a solution for something for my own personal use.

Best, Erich

That you have to be in the valley or get into YC to build a successful venture backed startup is just not true. I know it's hard to go against the grain and it's hard to bootstrap, but just focus on getting users and customers and traction and you can figure the other stuff out later. Don't let it paralyze you because it's just an insecure illusion (I know, I was there at one point and realized it was all in my head)

Also there are other accelerators if you really want to go to one (ex: Digital Ocean is out of TechStars).

totally understand, and that's the plan for now.

I usually don't recommend it at pre-seed stage, but you could contract product development out and manage it from a technical level. Not cheap, but it would allow you create the first version faster. Either that or trim down your MVP feature set.

There also hundreds of other accelerators. Though I can't really recommend doing any accelerator while you have a 1-year-old. (But you also don't really need an accelerator to get your MVP done.)

YC invests in the types of companies they know how to deal with. Why the fixation on them? There are people with money other than Y Combinator.

I didn't think there was a requirement to move to SV? Only that it was strongly encouraged.

They require you to relocate to SV during the program. Whether to move there permanently is up to you.

I'm little confused here, I thought the most value from YC is meeting with partners. I would probably consider applying for next batch, and get their feedback on whether they fund without the need to move

Dear YC, please include real estate as a category. You have many fine companies in this space.

This list is misleading because it only includes active companies, and doesn't include companies which have exited/died. (Contrast with http://yclist.com)

For example, filtering on s2006 only returns Scribd, but as YClist shows, there are 9 other startups in that batch.

We just deployed a change that will show acquired companies too.

Can you deploy another change that will show dead companies too?

If you think there is more interest in non-dead companies, you could add an extra filter/selection box.

Thanks, we updated the submitted title from “All the YC Companies”.

It would be nice if yclist/OP's list added the zombie tag for the ones that aren't officially dead yet.

Will Imagine K12 companies be added to the list as well?


It's crazy how many of these websites dont even work anymore.

Considering, what, 90% of start-ups fail in the first 5 years (80% in the first year)* I'm actually surprised a lot more are not dead. Though 5 years haven't passed for most of these so maybe there will be significantly more dead soon.

*if I remember the statistic correctly

I don't see a bunch of well known YC companies here such as Heroku and Reddit. What's the criteria for this list?

We just changed it to show acquired companies too.

Both Heroku and Reddit exited: see my comment.

Ah didn't see that when I started writing. So this has neither successful exits that continue to operate nor unsuccessful ones that exited to the graveyard?

I created this to get news from YC companies:


It doesn't include all of them, just those with a blog feed.

Yay! I can finally make sure Seed-DB data is 100% correct (rather than 95% correct) - http://www.seed-db.com/accelerators/view?acceleratorid=1011

Seems biased to sort alphabetically. I clicked away without ever reaching B!

Great tool. Would be cool to see where these companies are now. Perhaps adding another columns and filter to get Status info: Acquired/Dead/IPO/Active.

Anyone checked out pantelligent? Seems silly but who knows?


There are at least three companies missing from this list: YumDots, MightyQuiz, and Bushido, all from 2008 or so.

And NimbleRx, which seemingly is still around, but not listed in any official or unofficial list. With the recent reviews these guys are getting, are they really around?

Some are on (unofficial) http://yclist.com but not here.

Companies that shut down aren't included in this list.

Ah, that makes sense. (Should have realized that. Frogmetrics is gone too.)

Any chance of adding YC Fellowship companies?

soylent.com has been the new address for a while, may want to update that from soylent.me

This list of useless startups is the reason why we haven't cured cancer, or eradicated famine yet.

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