Here's the question: given that you've already demonstrated that you don't really have a lot of regard for the privacy of fellow YC interviewees (however 'intentionally' you outed a bunch of people on Twitter), why should you be trusted with user data?
If you'll pull a stunt like this for seed money, what will you do to get VC money? Just wait until you've got 2-4 years of serious work on a startup and you're 'close' to serious profitability. What 'naughty' stuff will you do when you've actually got some serious skin in the game?
We're talking about people who would have created a hot or not site 10 years ago without a thought about the pain it could cause people who always ended up 'not'.
These aren't normally adjusted people. They have a lot of good points, and some very bad ones.
If you want to look at it in a good way they're not bounded by social norms. In certain scenarios, they're not very nice people.
I'm not judging and to be utterly frank I sometimes wish I was one of them, they're not like 95% of the rest of us and that gives them some advantages. Like this stunt.
Edit: I'm having a very hard time finding the right word here. Sociopathic? It's a bit too harsh given what can be lumped in there, but it does describe it a bit. A couple of good friends of mine have the trait I'm trying to describe. I love them, but they make me cringe sometimes.
Doing many of these 'sociopathic' things is a lot like going to a small country town where people leave their doors unlocked and burgling the houses there; you're violating a lot of unwritten and only mildly enforced rules. What bothers me is the idea that you will be specifically rewarded for this kind of behavior if you can spin it as a 'Country Town Social Hack'.
synonyms from thesaurus.com:
anarchistic, atypical, avant-garde, beat, bizarre, crazy, eccentric, far-out, freakish, freaky, free and easy, idiosyncratic, individual, individualistic, informal, irregular, kinky, kooky, nonconformist, oddball, off the beaten track, off the wall, offbeat, original, out in left field, out of the ordinary, unceremonious, uncommon, uncustomary, unique, unorthodox, unusual, way-out, weirdo
The only thing they really did wrong was publicly tweeting at everyone, had they just used people's twitters to look up their emails they would have been completely in the clear. And even then if they had still tweeted at a few people who were already in the bay area whose emails they couldn't find that would be kosher also, as long as the tweets were carefully worded. They took one short cut they shouldn't have, but otherwise it was a good idea that was well executed.
Printing cardboard cereal boxes to sell at a convention sounds more "radical" than "naughty". Loading up big piles of airbeds for people to sleep on at another convention sounds similarly "radical". If you look at a list of YC funded companies, you can almost always see a hint of "radicalness" in each of their ideas.
Personally, I don't get what people here are griping about...the only thing I wouldn't have done is the twitter bot.
Although...as long as they didn't go 'HEY YC FINALIST, come eat with us'...I really don't see a problem with the twitter thing either - its all a matter of tasteful tactic.
You know what, though: the response function around the limit is not a smooth bell curve; it drops sharply below the x axis as you go past the peak.
if you bet like a mouse, you get cheese
It's also interesting that HN is full of people who talk about a higher education bubble, but a YC bubble mysteriously seems to be off-topic here.
(Note that I love and use a lot of YC companies)
There's more to an apology than the words "I'm sorry". One must also make a good-faith effort to convince the other party that you're not kidding.
They delight in breaking rules, but not rules that matter.
I get the feeling these folks can't tell the difference between the two. And I am thinking "naughty" is not necessarily the best word for this quality and is bound to be misinterpreted by some folks.
Interestingly, I have known a surprisingly large number of dangerous drivers (alcohol, speeding or both) in the tech scene and many have fit whole YC 'naughtiness ethos' pretty well.
Playing by the rules without necessarily understanding all of them might have helped these guys at the moment when they outed a bunch of people as applying to YC using Twitter.
Language has its limits in attempting to convey what the author really means. I assume pg was trying to convey that, in his experience, those folks who make good entrepreneurs do, in fact, have good intuition for when it is appropriate to break the rules. But I'm not really comfortable speaking for him. He's perfectly capable of speaking for himself. I just don't feel that I heard it the same way you did. (Though perhaps neither of us heard what he really meant. <shrug>)
I'm sure this one trait and trying to explain exactly what pg and YC are looking for in that regard could be a paper by itself, but no doubt all that complexity really didn't have a place in the piece he wrote at the time. Still, "naughty" strikes me as kind of a blunt instrument for explaining it. I have two "naughty" kids -- two ASD kids who just are baffled by why most folks do what they do and I spent their lives explaining it to them in terms that made sense. And I couldn't be imprecise in explaining it or it simply wasn't useful information to them. I think "naughty" is imprecise in this instance. It's a perfectly good word for those folks who get what pg means but for those who don't, it's a time-bomb waiting to go off. This may be just the first such explosion given how recent events have ramped up the number of applicants.
But that's just my opinion.
I find both approaches distasteful.
The MTVification of Entrepreneurship! That sums up the feeling i get when reading this article and many others like it.
It just feels really... hollow. Like you are building an RPG character based on the "What We Look For Article". Spent all your points on naughtiness.
Seriously, yuck. Stop it.
Thats a mantra that I found hard to take on, but it really has helped me
It was not just knowing those Professors but we did enough 'free' work that we could easily ask for bribes..either pay us or give us space..in my case I wrote some computer macros/programs to use MS Excel to do stats for certain science areas as they had particular methods and standards they wanted to follow in lab data analysis, etc.
Of course, like you, we had a reputation for getting stuff done. We got keycard access and permission to store our project work (since it included electronics) in the postgrad labs and we then went to see how far we could take it. We produced some great projects for them in return. We even got a photo (alongside then prime minister) in a local newspaper.
My project partner is currently doing a PHD there and has used the similar tactics to get equipment, lab space and other benefits and his supervisors don't mind because he has opened new research avenues and published papers for them.
 the project I linked to was pioneered by myself and my project partner, but has since been used for further projects (and has been professionally rebuilt using expensive hardware - ours cost about €300 in materials to build; the professionally manufactured version cost approx. €10K - but was (is, I guess - I haven't been involved) also much, much more accurate
The tone of the piece reminds me of a scene from that Capote movie.
Truman Capote: I had lunch with Jimmy Baldwin the other day.
Party date: How is he?
Truman Capote: Hes lovely, hes a lovely man. And he told me the
plot of his new book. And he said, "I just wanted to make sure its
not one of those problem novels," you know. And I said , "Jimmy.
Your book is about a Negro homosexual whos in love with a Jew.
Wouldnt you call that a problem?"
I would say the advice is more along of the lines of, "First, do no harm (unless it's to the industry you're trying to disrupt)."
Sounds like their major transgression was outing other interviewees who wished to remain discreet so as not to lose current jobs or career prospects. That's a big OUCH.
The secondary one was originally sounding too much like a YC-sponsored event, which could have enticed customers under false pretenses.
A good lesson to keep in mind not just in applying to YC but in any endeavor.