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I think it's part of a larger trend in startups. When there is no startup boom, people who do startups do them b/c they love building things. When there is a boom, ambitious people do startups b/c it is part of their calculation of how to achieve power and wealth, the competition for which is a zero sum game.

The true visionaries who build amazing products and companies are not the kind of people who, in the midst of a boom, decide to do a startup instead of applying to a prestigious MBA program.

YC's new approach of choosing founders who have no idea is part of the problem. The people who can get funding just b/c of their pedigree (how they look on paper) is exactly the selection approach used by top MBA programs and investment banks. For these people, life is a reputation game which they are good at winning.

It's no surprise that YC went in this direction, b/c it clearly helps get companies funded. The founder simply becomes a risk asset, just like a racehorse, who clearly has a certain level of sophistication and metal ability, and who will follow the guidance of the YC team. This works great for attracting capital b/c the person with great paper credentials can be puffed up and made to act the role of visionary by pantomiming the style of successful entrepreneurs.

This is all in pursuit of capital, since to a large extent companies that are well capitalized and not staffed by idiots can generate a nice ROI, and the cynical investor view is that if you have n companies in a space where you expect growth, then some percentage will fail, some percentage will succeed, etc.

Ironically, though, it's never required less capital to do a tech startup, and much of the capital is being burned up on young people who put off their MBA and want to live in a major city for a few years and gamble on the boom.

This is just startups becoming mainstream, and attracting the same kind of people that have always gravitated toward iBanking and other MBA oriented fields. Sooner or later some of the startup funding will dry up due to routine, cyclical forces, and the startup scene will once again consist mostly of hackers and builders.

So I view it as both a good and a bad thing. The investor class is slowly learning who makes a good bet, aided by tons of cheap capital thanks to quantitative easing and stimulus. But for now nobody is being too picky and in the midst of tremendous uncertainty people who look good on paper are a hot commodity.

Just keep building and learning and ideally find a great team of people who love your product and what you are trying to accomplish, and you will eventually triumph.




Man, well done. I am too exhausted by my cynicism about the startup world to make such posts now. But it is very important to remember that in the current environment cynicism equals knowledge. Naivete and idealism are mostly put-on. Investors need this greed-based faux idealism to attract young talented people. I think that people bemoaning the declining "quality" of members of the HN community would be even more perturbed if HN lost any of it's potency as a platform for hyping portfolio companies owned by the investing class.




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