You're a much more patient and understanding person than I am, pg. My initial reaction to pretty much every comment here is "Peanut gallery -- start your own incubator, or just accomplish one noteworthy thing in your life."
As a non-pg entity, I feel vicarious indignation. Who are these random nobodies who think they're entitled to question how/where you spend your time and effort?
And the people who get up on their soapbox about the ethics of YC or how you've tacitly endorsed deceptive practices? Ugh... eff the eff off
EDIT: to head off the obvious criticism, yes I do think there are legitimate questions about IM's business model. My point is: show some humility and circumspection when asking them. Unless you've had to earn $1 directly from a customer (no boss managing and organizing your work) you're an outsider looking in at a completely different universe. Act accordingly.
You're more obnoxious than all the critics in this thread put together. Get off your high horse.
The reason all the "random nobodies" are questioning IM's business model is that they have deep-seated feelings about the scammy business and the evilness of Windows installers. They spent hours cleaning up mountains of crap from their relatives' and friends' computers. They understand how non-tech users feel helpless in the face of sneaky bullshit artists piling that crap onto their hard drives, and they feel enraged when they think about it, and for a good reason too.
So in fact, nobody who's in business of building installers that distribute crap toolbars deserves humility and circumspection. They might possibly be that rare exception, a flower blooming on a dunghill, but asking sharp questions to establish that is neither impolite nor inappropriate. It comes with the territory they've chosen to grow on.
Your moral indignation is as laughable as it is corrupt. Just as much of it would be appropriate defending an actual spammer - I can see you directing people to get off their soapboxes and telling them they don't get to judge the spammer's business until they earned $1 from a customer. A "completely different universe" indeed. Get a clue.
I like your recap of the issue in a different comment, but I think you're not giving enough weight to the fact that it wasn't known before that YC funded the team starting on a different projects, not IM. In fact, even now this information didn't appear in pg's update, only in a comment of his later on. I think much of the vitriol you're stunned at comes from people thinking that YC knowingly signed off on and invested in IM's business model, and I think that's quite enough to be shocked by, if it were true.
That seems reasonable, and it's supported by IM claiming to be part of YC on one of their pages.
Still though, the response seems disproportionate. It's not like YC has recently developed a pattern of funding distasteful businesses (or teams); why did everyone automatically assume YC was behaving badly?
There still seems to be a problem in people jumping to conclusions before having enough information at hand. A lot of the comments on Aaron's case were symptomatic of this (the fallout too).
I'm not sure if this is a new problem here or not, but it seems to be getting a lot uglier recently.
Thanks for demonstrating my point exactly. You are so far removed from the actual facts of the case, let alone any actual impact, and yet the fury and vitriol you're showing -- along with the certitude you have in your judgments -- suggest that, frankly, you feel entitled to have a say about anything you please. No justification necessary, you have an opinion, therefore your opinion matters.
I never really like these type of arguments. For example if I believe a doctor is acting unethically is it wrong for me to call him out because I don't have a medical license?
Sure, there may be factors here we don't understand here but I think now would be an excellent time to unveil whatever grand plan they have to head off the PR shitstorm this is in the process of creating.
As I have mentioned elsewhere YC have gained significant nerd-cred which has no doubt been beneficial to them. This seems to be largely because they appear as a company that has strong driving principles about the sort of changes they want to see in the world.
For example if I believe a doctor is acting unethically is it wrong for me to call him out because I don't have a medical license?
No it doesn't mean that. What it means is that you, as a non-doctor, should excercise some discretion and humility wen choosing your words. Expressing harsh condemnation and judgment when you have a small piece of the picture is an unbelievable asshole move. None of these Tough Guys throwing around words like "crapware" and "spammer" would ever call anyone out like this in public, I guarantee it -- it's all keyboard courage and nerdrage.
This seems to be largely because they appear as a company that has strong driving principles about the sort of changes they want to see in the world.
IMO it's more due to the fact that YC asks for nerds to come as they are -- the entry process asks you how you're a hacker, and if you're selected you get an interview where pg wants you to geek out with him about your product. No flashy pitches or navigating social networks to get the right intro -- it's a process that cuts out all the BS that doesn't appeal to nerds.
The idea that there is some violated goodwill is just backwards rationalization. And it doesn't change my point, which is, essentially: who are you to question where YC invests?
I've earned several hundred thousand dollars directly from customers by doing honest work. I guess that means I can say that taking advantage of a person's lack of computer expertise to crowd his computer with toolbars, hijacking his search efforts, and making his web browsing slow to a crawl just to make a buck is very sleazy behavior.
Uh. No you could already say that. You are also qualified to talk about how hard it is to earn money and find customers for whom you can deliver value. You can also now maybe talk about the balancing act that occurs when you take on outside money, start a new product, or look for customer money in places that are less-than-promising. Perhaps you can also talk about what it's like to have to do things you might find distasteful and work with people you might otherwise not choose, so the business can stay afloat.
"Perhaps you can also talk about what it's like to have to do things you might find distasteful and work with people you might otherwise not choose, so the business can stay afloat."
Maybe the business shouldn't stay afloat, maybe it should wind itself down.
I say this as someone who was approached by InstallMonetizer in 2011/2012 to add IM to the installers of my Windows apps. I declined, of course, because I wouldn't want to trick my customers with the tactics that InstallMonetizer uses. Tricking customers with EULA-like 'offer screens' to install browser toolbars is wrong.
I would rather close down my business than treat my customers that way.