(Now that I think about it, the very first time we didn't think in terms of percent. Instead we decided on a valuation for each company, and the percent was whatever 6k per founder worked out to at that valuation. So it was probably 4 point something, not exactly 4.)
I still remember meeting Emmett and Justin quite well. What impressed us most was how good their demo looked. Also that they'd met in second grade. I remember thinking that Justin looked as if he'd just gotten out of bed, because his hair was standing on end and his eyes had that surprised look you have when you've been jolted awake. I didn't realize till later that he often looks that way.
I knew the demo cinched in for us (remember, this was back when people didn't know if it was possible to write fancy web apps with things like calendar appointment dragging). Looking back on the emails and our application (thanks, Gmail) I was surprised how much better our application was than I had remembered.
Wow, that was prescient.
I'm curious whether this kind of application would stand a chance these days. It's hard to say obviously, as you'd have to ignore the product-specific answers.
If there's one thing applicants don't get, it's the value of being concise in the answers. Not brief, concise. Notice how concise Drew Houston's answers are too:
The only thing we weren't good a predicting was our release schedule :)
Just an FYI, social networking isn't even close to being important in "all" web applications.
You can thank the plethora of open RESTful APIs for that :)
I've just finished implementing the Trafficspaces ad server API and oh boy does it create all sorts of new possibilities.
Many of the applicants I've talked with or heard about lately already have actual paying customers. I wouldn't be surprised if that raises the bar a little ;)
PG: Do you find that you're encountering 'stage' creep in YC applications? Are the groups that you're funding (or even just interviewing) steadily becoming more fully developed businesses, or are lots (most?) still in the early/conceptual stages?
You mentioned receiving more applications from this pool. In terms of the application, do you weight in favor of these qualities?
It's an interesting question where the limit of our utility is. As I said in another thread recently, I'm pretty sure we don't bump up against it in practice, because once startups raise sufficient money, their investors wouldn't let them do YC even if it would be a net win for them.
I wonder how the author feels about the way Facebook advertises, if that is what they imagined or if it's better/worse if it isn't.
I still think this is a cool idea and would be excited to see someone execute on it.
The list is here: