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I'm going to kill this article as a dupe. It's just other articles rewritten in more colorful language. But it's giving this thing too much credit even to call it a dupe, because in the process of making the language more colorful, he's now describing something that is definitely not the case. The other articles are talking about a trend that's happening as slowly as global warming. No door has suddenly crashed down, cutting off series As. It's just gradually getting harder to raise later rounds. But the tightening up is so slow that even I, who am arguably among the best positioned to see it of anyone, can barely notice it. Which means for sure Dan Lyons has no evidence of it himself.

Ok, may I humbly ask you as to what's wrong with Dan accusing of start-ups like Gourmet which add no value/solve very little problems? (For your Reference: Gourmet is to find gourmet food and have it shipped across the country to your doorstep, started by a couple of Standfords)

>Dan Lyons has no evidence of it himself.

Dan Lyons needs no special evidence. The evidence are the shitty start-ups that don't solve any real problems you come across everyday, promoting their launches on TechCrunch (and on others). He is just talking about this painful trend, I hate to say this, but, which is noticeable within YCombinator itself(no offence), off-late.

Great Start-ups look like bad ideas initially, but when they remain as bad ideas forever, its an entirely different story, which is what Dan is talking about, too, I believe.

with great respect, may I ask you, why did you have to kill this article? (I feel you are abusing your power) Why not let others know of this painful trend?? I'm not asking for my personal benefit, I'm just curious, it's a genuinely heart-felt written article.



First, the fact that you were able to comment on the story means he didn't kill it.

Second, there have always, always, always been weak startups. Lots of them.

Third, anyone can cite one or three facts to construct an argument. But when you do that carelessly, all you end up with is a fallacious syllogism. In Lyon's case, A, B, and C seem to add up to "go back to engineering school".

The same thing happened with your comment here. You look at the evidence and suggest that the problem is a phenomenon that prevents weak startups from becoming good startups. But that's not the problem either; weak startups have never tended to become good startups organically, so it's hard to make a case for the availability of seed funding retarding progress.

Finally, it's not a genuinely heart-felt written article. It's a deeply cynical attempt to capture pageviews by someone with only a peripheral connection to startup entrepreneurship.

With all due respect PG, I'm not sure there's precedence for you "killing" articles like this but I don't think that's a good idea.

This article has a lot of people talking and trying to figure out what works and what doesn't.

For cases like this where the article is fluff but the comments are substantial, we have a way of killing articles that doesn't turn off new comments, and that is what I used.

I wish you'd kill articles for reasons like this more often.

While I don't want to second-guess your judgement, I've seen many other articles that are just as much rehashes and not shut down as dupes. Why does this article deserve the axe so quickly? Indeed, if it is saying something different from the other articles (as odious as it might be), wouldn't that indicate it is not a dupe?

This article is dupe + linkbait. Most mere dupes don't get upvoted, so there's no need to kill them.

Either trust what the upvotes tell you, even when you disagree, or manually curate the front page. We can eat your cake, or you can have it.

> Either trust what the upvotes tell you, even when you disagree, or manually curate ...

Why the harsh dichotomy? Surely one can believe upvotes to be a good filtering method on average while still accepting that occasionally they do a poor job and require some intervention?

(Note: not taking a position on the article itself, but rather the practice of manual intervention)

One can believe that, but it's different saying that "sometimes spam and dupes slip through" and saying "I disagree with everyone else, they're wrong, I'm right", which is what he's doing in this case.

It's as if he visited a user page for someone he didn't like, saw 5000 karma and said "yeah, but his posts are mostly fluff. I'm making that 3500".

The day Steve Jobs passed the entire front page was filled with dupes.

Wow, it's like you can see through the matrix.

You need the smell of rotten eggs to know there's a gas leak.

The problem is, the smell of rotten eggs usually just means you need to take the garbage out.

Either way bears discussion about the smell, like pg pointed out and has allowed on this post. It seems to me like a lot of the comments are more focused on how to improve rather than jumping on the end is nigh train.

note: typing on a smart.phone sucks balls.

ha ha! I knew you would have commented on this article and tried to debase it even before I opened the comment section! it seems to me that the entire business of YC relies on there being a market for the exact type of start ups that this article describes as a waste of human talent. It is in your (pg's) best interest to kill this article because if there is a bubble, and it pops, YC will be a major loser. Your credibility would be destroyed because YC would be seen as a primary finder of companies.that.have no long term.value. . YC needs a liquid market of shitty start ups to get vc funding in order to function. I'm sure you are aware that even the tinyest hint of.trouble.can pop bubbles, which is.why you purged this.article.

I laughed at your decision to kill the article for a couple of reasons. first, this means that you are aware of the bubble and also aware that in order to prevent new companies from being discouraged from applying to YC you need a zero tolerance policy on even the hint of it showing its ugly head. by banning this article you have confirmed to me that there is a bubble and it is about ready to pop. second, this says a lot about your character and your priorities as a person. you are ok with draconian anti free flow of information banning if an idea goes against your personal interests. for.someone who funds tech start ups, you seem.to.have forgotten.how.the internet works. the Truth will get out. supposedly the voting system.of.hackernews should have prevented a false idea from.getting.to.the front page. if this idea was truly as false as you say it is in your reasons to ban it, it never would have been upvoted. and yet you had to ban it. third, this means that you truly don't give a shit about the.companies or the people that you fund. you know that it the.bubble.is.close.to.popping and.that.it may not be in their best long term interests to apply to YC, but you want their talent anyways so you can profit, so you continue.to cultivate the idea that their stupid business idea is not a problem as.long.as.they pivot.enough.times to.find a similiar, slightly less stupid idea to try to sell to Google or.whoever.

I've been thinking about it for a while, but your response to this.article has confirmed.to.me that I will.never apply to YC. You are not a person who I would want to take advice.from, let alone have any say over.my.life. or how I run my business. I wish you luck, though, and I hope.you can continue to find enough chumps.to.apply to.YC so you can continue.to.fund hackernews.and I can read interesting articles.for.free... so thanks.for.that, anyways.

edit: I know you (pg) won't respond, and I know you will probably shadow ban my account, and I know this comment will be downvoted into oblivion. I also know that you, pg, will read.it and know that I see through your bullshit. and if I can see it, so can others.

When formulating this elaborate theory, did you stop to ask yourself why it would be in our interest to fund shitty startups when all the returns are concentrated in the most successful ones?

If you're actually willing to engage in this discussion, then here's your answer. YC and (other "incubators" like it) are basically opportunistically exploiting cheap/free labor of thousands of naive (mostly) young developers to play the lotto on the cheap. You throw in a laughably small amount of money for a good chunk of equity, encourage your young charges to go forth on a steady diet of ramen noodles and ketchup -- burning through 100 hour weeks to experiment with 100's of different(mostly bullshit) trendy catchwords of the day.You only need to get lucky to be able to flip a few of these companies to the next level of VC's or acquirers to make back your money multiple times over. Rest of the blood, sweat, lost sleep and trashed health of the thousand of other fools that failed is no sweat off your back.

 Care to publish aggregate statistics on the percentage of yc backed startups became profitable businesses compared to rest of the industry?

EDIT: Apparently I was mistaken. He's not actually looking to engage in a real discussion of yc's business model.

When you talk about flipping a company to VCs, it tells me you know nothing about this business. VCs don't acquire the stock of earlier investors; they just come in later and dilute you. But for the sake of completeness I'll address your point about acquirers. Stock in a company like Dropbox or Airbnb is worth literally a thousand times more than stock in a company that gets acquired early. If there is one type of company that generates 1000x higher returns than another, why would we spend our time focusing on the latter?

PG, I'm glad to see you're at least willing to engage in the discussion.

The main point was not what end-point you're aiming (large exits, which btw, are yet to be realized for either airbnb or dropbox) or merely progressively higher valuations in further rounds of funding (let's not argue over how those are beneficial to earlier investors, shall we.)

The point was that hordes of fresh graduates are working their asses off for peanuts with minuscule probability of making up for lost time and income. (That's not even including possible losses to health and any conception of what the real world looks like). Mass incubators like yc and it's ilk are rolling the dice and the invested amounts are so tiny that the only substantial losses are those incurred by the founders.

The counter-argument of course is that the founders are adults and are entering into these agreements of their own volition. That's where the whole issue of cult-like mentality and the callow youth of most of these founders comes into play. The asymmetry in knowledge and power between these founders and investors is vast.

That's why I cheer the writer of the original post for bringing the ridiculousness of the whole situation into the open. Lord knows techcrunch and other tabloids like it are not going to publish anything like that. And that's why you personally applying the kill switch on that post is so distasteful.

What are the so-called "substantial losses" that you are talking about? May be you have some insider info that I don't but in my intimate conversations with dozens of fellow YC founders, I haven't run into anyone who wished they didn't do YC. I don't think you are being evil here but rather just have a belief that isn't based in reality.

Same thing for suggesting YC is all about freshly minted grads. A significant percentage of founders are in their late 20s and older making that assumption of yours inaccurate.

Frankly your post is offensive for painting founders as brainwashed dudes making terrible life decisions as they go about joining this imaginary cult. Do you really believe this?

you will probably be interested in this article that appeared ok Forbes awhile ago, entrepreneurs are the new labor:


its a long read, but worth it. it basically covers and expounded.upon the ideas you presented in your comment, that the incubators are exploiting the entrepreneurs

Just read Parts I and II of that article. Really interesting perspective. I've been talking to some recent YC "grads" in the valley and the amount of brainwashing they seem to have undergone is just shocking. And yet, so many more keep flocking to them year after year like lambs to the slaughter. Amazing.

in theory, what YC does is good for our society. they provide mentorship and opportunity to new companies and help lead them to success. I have no problem whatsoever with YC's existence nor with the people they fund. I just don't want to be involved. they don't offer very much money at alli and they get too much influence and power over the start up for my tastes. I realized by pg's response that it wasn't for me. I wrote up why, and posted it. I was honestly not expecting him to respond.

but than again I also agree with the original articles premise that there is another tech bubble of stupid companies and it is about to go bust. and I think YC actively contributes to the problem by funding companies with terrible ideas. they want their funded companies to be aquihires because than they get their return. YC doesn't care if the business is sustainable or not as long as it gets bought. that's their schtick: they do the training instead of the universities.

this will affect me if and when I decide to get outside funding because investors won't be willing to invest as much. it will be exactly like after the internet bubble where there is no market to sell investors on the company. that is what concerns me. I'm not looking for an aquihire. I'm not looking for an exit. I'm looking to build a sustainable company that brings value to my customers.

note: not trolling you, these are my actual concerns.

the amount of brainwashing

I'd love to hear you expand on that (specific cases? the progression of delusion? were they crazy to start out?).

I won't give out specific names of course. The brainwashing is mostly around the cult of personality around pg. Everything he writes or espouses becomes gospel. Now, we all know he can write intelligently and with research on some things he knows well. But he can also sound equally confident spouting utter bullshit about stuff he knows nothing about (e.g. http://www.idlewords.com/2005/04/dabblers_and_blowhards.htm ). Listening to ultra confident blowhards and separating bullshit from reality is a skill people tend to learn as they grow into the adult world.

But these are mostly people in their early to mid twenties who have little to no actual experience in the real world. They seem to believe startups and entrepreneurship was invented by this one man. The fact that after almost 200 investments, there are a sum total of two possibly viable businesses that may end up coming out of this enterprise seems to have no effect on that conviction (and one of them (airbnb) is teetering really close to edge of being unsustainable (pending the question of legal liabilities of renters as well city ordinances etc.)).

It really is a cult of personality with all connotations of the word "cult" coming into play.

I don't understand why you are here, on a site run by pg, insulting him and yc.

because the bubble hasn't popped yet. you fund start ups for the same reason people bought houses a few years ago: the market is still willing to pay ridiculous prices for things with little to no actual value. and the fact that you.have reduced your funding to 80k per start up and also reduced the number of companies you are funding to, what, about 64 or something?, only confirms this theory. you are reducing your risk as well as your market exposure. the problem.is.that you can't get completely out.of the game because.if you did then investors would see that the market is collapsing.and.there would be no liquidity for the.startups you've already funded. you are too high profile to just stop.funding.new companies. its a catch 22. you aren't getting the quality of startups you want, but you have to fund something (that's what YC does), so you just find the best you can find.. you are essentially polishing.turdps and passing them off as gold.

edit: I just realized, there is no way that pg can respond to this. he cant confirm my ideas, because that would admit that there is a bubble and would be very much against his personal long term interests. he also can't deny my arguments because by responding to some random troll on the internet ( me), he lends credibility to what I'm saying, which would only confirm that I am at least partially right, which would, again, be against his long term personal interests. his only winning play is to not respond at all. but crazily, now that I've said this, I've essentially tipped his hand. the non response response is now considered a response because I called him out on it. by not responding he is saying that my arguments hit too close to home to respond to. they are not easily dismissed by a flipant comment.

I suppose he could always hide behind saying that he didn't see my response to his response.

... fuck it, pg, don't respond. I hereby declare that you not responding means that my arguments are wrong. I concede.

I also hereby declare that I am just a random troll on the internet and my ideas should not be taken seriously. this is especially true on hacker news because they break the standard circle jerking that goes on. you guys just keep living in your fantasy world, and ill keep on living in mine.

It's one of the ideals of this site that we "don't say things you wouldn't say in a face to face conversation". But in threads like this, you're kind of glad that things like this could only be said here, if only so you don't have to wipe little flecks of spit off your face.

Given opportunities, I disagree with our site's owner probably more often than not, and even I think this site would be better if it was moderated more aggressively and less transparently by him, at least with regards to submissions. This was a stupid story and it produced a stupid thread and everyone can see that, and yet 'pg can't suggest the obvious and react to it without being beset by anonymous Internet trolls, all of whom have valiantly set aside the billions of dollars their intimate knowledge of the tech product market should be making them in order to spend their time here educating us on how exploited YC founders must be.

Stop being such a wuss, Paul, and start torching these threads. Burn them with fire.

shut up.

two things: 1) I would say all of this to pgs face if we were discussing this. he is a man, not a god, and if he can't handle criticism than he should do some personal reflection and work on that. disagreements are not necessarily bad. 2) you obviously can't counter my argument, otherwise you would have done so. you have added nothing to.this discussion except tried to debase my arguments and ideas by essentially calling me rude. who cares if my presentation is rough if the ideas are good? idiots, that's who. this is life, not preschool.

edit: you edited your comment after I posted. I respond.to your edits by saying that pg doesn't need you to white.knight for.him and you should stop being such a brown noser.

shut up.

Wouldn't it be funny if that was all it took to get me to shut up? :)

wouldn't it be funny if you not responding and you responding had the exact same effect because you don't add anything to the conversation?

its like it doesn't even matter if you shut up or not.

> "there is no way that pg can respond to this."

Of course he could.

He could point out that the meta-comment-game wherein any response whatsoever is considered to "lend credibility" is a silly game, and that in reality, whether or not he chooses to respond to you says nothing about your credibility. Then he could agree or disagree with your actual point, and either confirm or challenge your credibility with facts, instead of engaging in the silly distraction of a side-game.

Your arguments must stand or fall on their own merit.

On their own merit, I find your arguments lacking. In particular, you are lacking concrete examples. The list of YC companies is known (http://yclist.com/ and http://ycuniverse.com/ycombinator-companies). Surely if pg was getting "ridiculous prices for things with little to not actual value" you could identify some specific companies the market overpaid for, and the effect that overpayment had on overall yc returns.

I actually agree with you. honestly I was surprised pg even responded to my first comment! I was like a dog who caught a car: I didn't know what to do with it. so I went meta (probably unsuccessfully) to see if he would respond again. I think I flubbed it, but than again you responded, so who knows? I guess ill find out tomorrow when I wake up and check. really, I'm not good at this.

"I'm not good at this"

Out of all the garbage that you've written, this is the only thing you are right about.

you are a fucking retard. wow.

edit: actually I'm deleting my response to you.

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