Seems like pretty good evidence YC is now great at helping hardware startups that he's choosing to go through the program himself.
On the other side, "a full quarter of the current batch are making physical products" and no Hardware focused partners, isn't that a litle strange.
We also heard that this reporter was 'encouraged' to write this by someone from a competing accelerator with an obvious agenda. Seems like manufactured controversy otherwise.
All that said, we like hardware and we like Luke, and we're excited he's in the new batch! And we're thankful for the work he did to get our hardware program set up.
If you are making accusations against the writer you need to substantiate them. Or else it's just hearsay.
In a few short years everybody will agree that sama co-founded YC. ;-)
* Recently changed roles. Michael Siebel runs YC now, while Sam runs the parent organization YC Group
I found this:
Reading this made me want to look up `cq`, which is what you jotted into your story as meta-text, next to a weirdly-spelled name or just weird fact to indicate to whomever is going to edit your story, Yes, this thing has been double-checked even if it looks weird, so please don't change it to what you think it is -- an example might be "Katharine Weymouth `cq`", for the former publisher of the Washington Post, whose name is often spelled as "Katherine" mistakenly.
I've heard other journalists shrug and say they've heard that `cq` stands for "correct but queer". But apparently its likely origin is Latin: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cadit_quaestio
FWIW, I've never seen 'cq', but I've seen (and used myself) 'sic' lots of times; it might be a leftpondian/rightpondian thing.
Uhh, they clearly didn't do their homework if they thought Altman co-founded YC.
And they get the more complicated facts wrong much more often, but that is because they generally directly printing either what the founder tells them or something they think that is more interesting than what the founder tells them without any sort of verification.
Basically, almost all articles about startups (and frankly most things in general) are written to be interesting, not factually correct.
There were no political issues nor agendas nor money at stake, the news reporters just didn't make any effort to be correct.
I've often wondered what we know about history that is dead wrong.
"Is the app secure?"
"Nope, but it's in my plans to start encrypting user's data at some point"
The next week (she didn't ask me for a review or anything) the newspaper printed: "[me] built an app encrypting all of its users' data"
I built a web app and got interviewed by a newspaper too. The article wasn't factually wrong, but it was poorly written and the tone was bizarre at a few points. The journalist chose to take many long quotes directly from my response emails. I didn't know I would be quoted verbatim so heavily, otherwise I would've written more formally. He also interviewed a professor about my app (a professor in a related field), but the professor hadn't heard of my app and clearly didn't even bother to check it out.
So a little disappointing, but all in all I was happy to get the press. Unfortunately this newspaper also had a policy of not printing links / URLs in their online articles, so anybody reading would have had to search for my site on their own via keywords.
Assume everything you write to a journalist, unless you specify otherwise, will be used as written in their story. You should go out of your way to write statements that you expect them to fancy and essentially copy and paste.
When emailing them, read back over what you've written and re-write sections to make them punchy sentences that could serve as introductions, headlines, captions, anything for their story.
Which isn't to say that being a numb automaton is ideal, either, but there is a degree of balance and good taste required to avoid converting the information into dangerous thoughts, and it's simpler to restrict quantity of exposure.
What you are talking about as "people matters" sounds like "exterior collective": structural, social things, or "its" as Wilber refers to them.
I'm a bit worried that you might also be writing off most of the "interior collective" quadrant: the relational, cultural aspects of reality, the "we".
This is New Age fluff, but I guess we have to start somewhere. HN can be pretty hostile to humanities thinking sometimes, at least Wilber has no prerequisites.
I am convinced that we are surrounded by two kinds of autistic behavior but are conditioned to mostly notice one of them.
Social autism (the normal kind we're familiar with) is usually evident in person. It's a spectrum from debilitating to barely evident. Some people I've talked to online have been autistic and I'd never know it just by conversing. I generally prefer it this way because it removes any prejudgements. I liked the Net better before social networks made people's photos, names and assorted history available, I feel like you got to know people more intimately.
The kind of autism we mostly don't notice is physical. There are people who are experts at social interaction, but who genuinely cannot understand the physical world, they never think about it. Their world is filled with people and nothing but people. These are the people who are blinded by the sun.
All of the world's accumulated knowledge is utterly lost on them and they have no sense of an objective reality outside of the realm of relationships. In its own way, this is a disability because they can never be more than their network of connections.
Most people know people like this but think that those people choose not to be interested in X,Y,Z. I suggest that maybe they literally cannot fathom those things, or at least have a severe hindrance in their path to doing so, similar to the social autism spectrum.
I have a hard time ascribing too much to effort. For the one wrong fact, there could be many things that were checked and were true. But of course the wrong thing stands out
That said, I feel like journalists know how to Google for basic company info...
It was clear they just assumed things and didn't do any checking. Part of that was probably the pressure to hurry up and get it in the can, the rest was it was just a job to them and they simply didn't care. They got the video of the hole in the building, and that was good enough.
Yes, that info is drawn from Wikipedia, but Google really doesn't do a good job of highlighting the source of its Knowledge Graph boxed results. Any tech-savvy reporter (I hope) would hesitate to automatically trust Wikipedia results, but Google's bio boxes are so authoritative looking by their placement that I can see (but not endorse) reporters just going with it.
“Briefly stated, the Gell-Mann Amnesia effect is as follows. You open the newspaper to an article on some subject you know well. In Murray's case, physics. In mine, show business. You read the article and see the journalist has absolutely no understanding of either the facts or the issues. Often, the article is so wrong it actually presents the story backward—reversing cause and effect. I call these the "wet streets cause rain" stories. Paper's full of them.
In any case, you read with exasperation or amusement the multiple errors in a story, and then turn the page to national or international affairs, and read as if the rest of the newspaper was somehow more accurate about Palestine than the baloney you just read. You turn the page, and forget what you know.”
Every time they cover a subject I know well, it's been the same story, even among major reputable news outlets. No facts are safe, not even basic high-level details.
I don't read much news, but I do read the nytimes tech section. It seems accurate with some necessary simplification that doesn't hurt the truth.
Their other articles seem pretty well researched and fact checked.
That said their election coverage seems pretty biased.
I have seen some startups even use this technique themselves to "erase" past or exited co-founders. Once you edit the AngelList, Crunchbase, team page, etc, you really can erase the existence of co-founder or early team member(s) if desired because eventually no one will look hard enough to find the early material.
It's something that bothers me a lot actually. I'm working on a project now to track founders and early teams across startups to get a better understanding of how often it happens and if there are any discernible patterns.
• Cisco was started by a husband & wife duo - Sandy Lerner and Lenard Bosack
• Steve Jobs did not start Pixar - depending how far you go back, it was Alexander Schure that gave birth to the original roots of the company (as CGL) and later on, branched off by Edwin Catmull and Alvy Ray Smith.
• Elon Musk did not cofound PayPal - He founded X.com and that company merged with Paypal which was founded by Peter Thiel, Max Levchin, Luke Nosek and Ken Howery)
• Same Elon did not cofound Tesla - it was started and incorporated by Martin Eberhard and Marc Tarpenning
• Etsy was not cofounded by Jared Tarbell - It was a trio of Robert Kalin, Chris Macquire and Haim Schoppik that launched the initial company.
I could go on but my memory is escaping me at the moment. I am sure other people have more examples.
tldr; this is common enough. :)
Bloomberg reporter checked Wikipedia where it clearly says, "In 2014, Altman was named president of Y Combinator, which he had been a part of as a founder...".
Of course, if the reporter had spent a few more seconds reading the entire sentence he may have gotten it right: "In 2014, Altman was named president of Y Combinator, which he had been a part of as a founder in the first batch of funded companies in 2005."
Interesting, I've never seen that before.
- Structure of the entire org, with the head of each
- History of the org (just the major announcements)
Fitbit and GoPro's downturn is mostly fueled by mismanagement and poor decisions than hardware being intrinsically hard.
The hard part of hardware is building something that works well enough and is in demand. When you have your device on people's wrist or mounted on their helmet, you have overcome the "hardware is hard" part. (for the most part).
After that it's building on your original success, expanding your market and creating value for your customers; all of which are true for any other business, not strictly hardware. For fitbit and GoPro, the latter has proven more difficult.
To give you an idea of how bad the Charge HR is, its charging plug attaches with metal prongs, but it plugs into a slim plastic housing that is only glued to the rest of the device. The obvious result is that the plastic housing eventually gets pulled off with the plug. That's how two of my three Charge HRs have died. It'd be like if your laptop were ruined within four months because the power cable pulled off an essential piece of the laptop housing rather than detaching cleanly, and now it won't attach in order to charge. The third Charge HR bricked itself during an unprompted firmware update, which started randomly and then I guess got interrupted midway through when I moved my phone too far from the device. It never recovered.
I don't know what the hell they're optimizing for over at Fitbit HQ, but they're trying to sell $10 throw-away quality devices for >$100. It's outrageous. I actively discourage everyone I know from ever buying anything from them, and many other people I know have also completely sworn them off for the same reason. Their product just sucks.
I don't think Fitbit's troubles are necessarily an indictment of the hardware industry as a whole. I think they're particular to that company having a horrible product and horrible hardware engineering, to the point where poor build quality actively repulses users rather than creating repeat customers. GoPro similarly has lots of issues that I've heard from others, but I don't have first-hand experience like I do with Fitbit so I won't spend any further time on it.
Contrast with, say, Apple, which is still a hardware company more so than it is anything else, and has become the largest publicly traded company in the world by doing so. I'm not a huge Apple fan by any means, but at least the devices don't suffer from such horrible flaws. My next laptop might not be another Macbook Pro, but it's at least in the running as an option because I've liked the one I currently have. Fitbit does not have that same charity from me.
Her tone regarding the company is very much in line with what you've posted.
I can say their software is in the same category from personal experience. Their Android app was written through minimum cost outsourcing, has no comments (since the developers didn't speak English well), a half dozen layers of abstraction when two would work, and is riddled with countless poorly documented strange edge cases and hacks throughout that make maintainability and enhancement a disaster.
On the user side, this is why features are rarely added and the software tends to lock up and crash a lot, and can brick devices during firmware update. Fixing even trivial bugs or adding basic features like social or counterfeit detection right takes much more work than it should since you have to navigate all that and may break something else while trying to do what you are doing.
They hired a few internal people around the time of the IPO, but they universally don't do much. The tech lead of the team generally came in, complained about some random thing that wasn't even accurate to make it seem like he did something, then left at 4PM. He wasn't in the office enough to know anything about what his team was doing.
A typical internal developer played Clash of Clans all day. When showed logs of his code not working he called meeting after meeting with management to get the guy with logs of the failing use case fired. The culture there is that there's no reason to do work there if you can office politics with your friends to get out of it.
Even given a reasonable commit adjusting timeouts to match the time taken for Bluetooth operations to the slowest observed device and fix several long running file transfers timing out by resetting the timeout each block transferred, he blew up and removed all timeouts for file transfers (bringing back the potential lock up issue) and called a half dozen meetings to fight it.
The culture there is just noxious and actively fights anyone trying to do work.
Also, how the fuck do you brick a device by updating it? Wasn't this problem solved decades ago? You upload the new image and then, only once it's completely transferred and verified, do you atomically switch over to it. Are you telling me that they really made it so that the firmware update overwrites the existing firmware, so that any interruption in the process causes it to go poof? Ugh. I know that requires double the internal memory, but c'mon, this is 2016. The cost of that is some very tiny insignificant fraction of what an RMA costs. Never before in my life have I ever irrevocably bricked a device by updating its firmware.
Shoot - this wants me to make a "front fell off" joke... but HN hates jokes.
Doesn't sound very acrimonious.
Edit. Anyone want to explain why he would want to be part of YC? What can he possibly get out of YC for the equity expended?
It is a lot easier to vet someone you have worked with extensively, or if someone you trust gives a recommendation. It isn't like there is some secret society -- it is simply the way the world works.
Those are extra bits of information that go into the equation and they happen to count for a lot. I don't really see a problem with it.
Why wouldn't they give extra weight to those bits of information?
Also, this happens all of the time with positions across the board in startups/companies. If I am a senior engineer somewhere, and we are hiring and the company thinks I have good judgement... of course they are going to take my recommendations of candidates more seriously than someone off the street.
Being a partner at YC is certainly a unique qualifier that would basically guarantee acceptance. There is nothing wrong with that. It is awesome, in fact.
*edit cuz i'm bda at spelling
But it still seems kind of strange to be honest.
YC accepted into their program as a founder someone who was a partner. Does that really sound like bias to you? If a former professor at a university applied to be a grad student, would you accuse the university of a conflict of interest?
> You are alleging bias, not a conflict of interest.
I'm not sure I understand the difference.
> YC accepted into their program as a founder someone who was a partner. Does that really sound like bias to you?
Yes, if and only if the decision resulted in another equally strong application being rejected, either directly or indirectly.
> If a former professor at a university applied to be a grad student, would you accuse the university of a conflict of interest?
Perhaps, because the committee that decides whether or not to accept a student consists of professors who likely know the former professor, which will likely introduce bias (positive or negative).
However, you could make a stretch connection between this and Dick Cheney if you were trying:
1. take a job that allows you to setup infra and policy for a certain type of relationship
2. foster the field for companies to take advantage of said infra and policies
3. leave to work at company to benefit from said setup...
I doubt thats what is going on here - but it has precedence in politics quite often.
The mistake you're making is similar to the one where right-wing conspiracy theorists argue that getting censored by Twitter is a First Amendment violation. It isn't because Twitter is not part of the government.
It is also a private company and can do what it wants in this regard.
Very poor journalism, Bloomberg.
The development cycles are much less predictable compared to software, you never know how many prototypes you have to burn through until you reach the production stage. Small changes become hugely expensive once you've finalized the designs, and even a minuscule error like a tolerance mismatch can cause hundreds of thousands in damage and ruin a startup almost instantly. I'm always wary of a HW startup, unless the lead engineer is well known and has experience.
(I do not know if they already do this);
Should it not be a sound idea to work with companies that make the THINGS that your users would be on to bundle a device with the things...
Rosignol branded gopro when you buy a pair of skis
[SkateBoard] branded gopro bundle, or a tony hawk edition
Water-proof versions bundled with every [insert water product]
Specialized/Brooks branded versions...
Try to get the companies already selling the transport mechanisms the users of go-pro would be using to boost sales. Lower margins, higher(???) volume?
it's cool that yc experiments with shit like this but didn't work out and now he's doing something else.
hardware is hard.