Here I was, a twenty something attending a free conference, sitting a few feet away from and talk to Steve Wozniak. A few minutes later, I'm in the middle of a fascinating conversation with Chris Sacca, only to head back into the lecture hall to listen to a really impressive series of speakers with alot of passion and great ideas.
Honestly, it was an amazing event, and pg managed to assemble a great group of really approachable and interesting folks on a Saturday afternoon. I found it inspiring, and while I'm not involved with them at all, it sounds like YCombinator is an institution that makes a meeting like that happen everyday.
(Register at the bottom, and you'll hear about the next event this September.)
All of the past talks are on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/startupbootcamp
Ironically, it seems the core of YC--the essence that make it so valuable is the same from either Kleppmann's [an entrepreneur emphasis on YC] or my own[emphasis on news.yc] perspective. It comes down to the community of smart and intelligent people. More specifically to the openness and sharing of knowledge and idea's between those people. It seems like it could be all to easy to want to horde the secrets of one's experiences and success. To keep to themselves those secrets of wisdom to avoid competition and rivalry. Instead, we see sharing of the information--fine detailed analysis of mistakes and success to encourage and help others to achieve or avoid success and pitfalls. It's like there is a general good will intention for furthering and advancing the industry as a whole. I really like that.
p = g(f), f(p) = p
f(g(f)) = g(f).
The Y combinator is one of the coolest ideas in computer science. It's also a metaphor for what we do. It's a program that runs programs; we're a company that helps start companies.
I'm not sure who Microsoft's first investors were, but consider this.
"No startup can be the next Microsoft unless some other company is prepared to bend over at just the right moment and be the next IBM." - http://www.paulgraham.com/gh.html
Now that I know more about the history of Google, I wouldn't phrase it so extremely, because it's unfair to Omid Kordestani and Salar Kamangar among others.
Here's some video on the subject: http://msstudios.wmod.llnwd.net/a2294/o21/presspass/BillG/Ma...
A history of the personal computer: the people and the technology By Roy A. Allan
Was that thing vital?
However, the question is whether YC can help or not. Could the Google founders have benefited from YC? Could Zuckerberg? In retrospect it was unnecessary, but that couldn't have been known at the time. And I think the answer to that question is certainly yes. All the benefits Martin enumerates in his essay apply equally to people who become very successful.
In such cases, where the outcome is highly variable and very sensitive to the inputs, it's wise to have as many good cards as you can get. You can't just bet on one thing; every bit of support or advantage you can get could be the thing that makes the difference. (Sorry for the weird mixing of metaphors.)
1) Innovation is the wrong word: Facebook, Google, and Microsoft weren't "innovative" ideas. Social networks, search, and software were all things that people were already doing. They were successful due to a multitude of factors including talent, ability to execute, and timing.
2) Those three examples aren't YC companies, but the two more recent ones, Facebook and Google, both had to raise VC, which means convincing people that their idea is worth investing in. At no point was it obvious.
People are missing my point; it's ridiculous to say a blanket statement like "Google, Facebook and Microsoft did it without YC, what say you, entrepreneur!" when you're evaluating them when they are already billion-dollar companies. It's the same thing as someone trolling to say "I don't have to go to college cause Bill Gates didn't!" So when you're evaluating a company that is already successful, of course they won't need the help because their products are already so compelling.
Now if you say "that's not why you're getting down-voted...these products weren't born awesome, they could have used YC then" well then this argument is still flawed. Why didn't Facebook need something like YC? Well it was Feb 2004, before YC even existed. None of these companies HAD a YC to use, so it's not a comparison you can even make valid. Incubators didn't exist for MS, Google, Facebook, Apple, AOL, Netscape...
Of course these people needed to hustle. But they definitely sold themselves - Microsoft was bootstrapped, and Facebook had 100,000 members in 3 months until Peter Thiel caught wind of their efforts and approached THEM. Can everyone use the help? Of course. Facebook did it without YC and could do it again without YC. 99% of entrepreneurs are not in that situation.
As the entrance barriers for internet innovations become lower and lower, the competition to attract publicity and secure critical mass has become more intense. To me that is where YC offers the most value.
"When we talk to YC, no matter whether we have good news or bad news, chances are that they’ve seen the situation before, and their pattern-matching will enable them to make good predictions."
YC created the accelerator model that many others are adapting/imitating. YC's experience with all kinds of situations gives it yet another advantage over its young competitors (alumni network and support being the top one IMO).
I am surprised the figure is that low. For the incredibly amount of contacts, experience and general help you get I was expecting atleast 20-30%.
Not as many founders would find YC worth applying to if they had to give at the minimum a fifth of the company's equity.
If anybody has links to such articles, please forward me the links.
You can...get encouragement from them in hard times.
I'm wondering if the first ever interferes with the second? E.g., if you worked hard on something and they tell you it's not good.
1. "You have a point, I had a niggling feeling that my stuff wasn't good anyway, but now I have ideas on how to make it better."; or
2. "Thanks for your opinion, but you are wrong, and I'm going to prove it!"
Both are motivating outcomes of honest criticism.
I just pointed a few things out to a potential partner and a fellow entrepreneur. Namely, that he might have good ideas, but that he's not a programmer and it shows. Some matters of fact from our conversation:
- Does not know enough to know what's hard and what's a solved problem
- Does not have a colleague or advisor he can hash these things out with in
close collaboration and learn from
- Wastes a lot of time with underlings who just tell him "well, if you can
draw it out, we can implement it" but don't try to communicate with him further
In a moment, I decided that I want to see how this fellow reacts to getting a little truth-tap to the head. Unfortunately, I was disappointed, as he immediately started to puff himself up as a defense mechanism.
Oh well, I guess I'll keep on looking.
The millions of reddit and digg users are spending more time on this site and I can see the influence literally increasing every month. By November 2011 the front page of YCombinator will look the same as digg looked back in 2006 and 2007. Ycombinator will have hundreds of thousands of voters, and the lulz will get more upvotes then sophisticated discussion.
The only way to stop it will be to forcefully regulate it, a system like they have over at stackoverflow seems to be working. If YCombinator doesn't implement something like this. Then YCombinator will have to find a new domain name, and only tell the constructive users what it is.
news.yc could be completely overrun by 4chan types and YCombinator itself would still be massively valuable to founders.
If people would stop complaining all the time and just teach the newcomers (downvote and a reply explaining why this isn't the kind of behavior expected at HN) would be a lot more valuable than a bunch of "back in my day" complaining.
Also, the article referred to Y-Combinator as to a tech incubator and not just a news aggregator. Let me know if you need help clicking on the title link ;)