VC is about funding the companies that could make a lot of money. When did we start expecting them to be the morality police?
Sure, if YC wants to build up a reputation for funding "honorable" startups, then they can choose to do so (and will choose to do so to the extent that they think it makes business sense). The comments here that say "This might be bad for YC's image and hurt YC long term" are all well and good. But lots of them amount to "this is bad and you should feel bad", and these just seem disconnected from the reality of market economics.
If YC doesn't fund some scuzzy but profitable company, someone else will. You can't solve job-outsourcing by asking companies not to outsource jobs, because the companies that play along will just get their asses kicked by those who don't. If you want to solve this problem, you have to do it at some other level (usually the laws and taxes level).
It's unreasonable to demand that YC pass on profitable businesses just because we don't like what those businesses are doing. I agree that IM doesn't seem to be making the world a better place, but that's not a problem that gets fixed by asking everyone to cooperate in starving them out.
Perhaps there's a line at which it's worthwhile to call out people for following the incentives that the market has given them, but I think this line is probably a lot closer to the "murder" end of the spectrum than the "installer checkboxes" end.
(Expecting downvotes, think I'm okay with that.)
It is entirely within YC's right to fund businesses that a portion of the Internet find scummy.
Shockingly, it's entirely within the rights of that portion of the Internet community to then whinge about them funding said scummy businesses.
And it's YCs right to care, or not, about that opinion.
Someone once wrote a blog post that had a paragraph on cheating (on your spouse etc) and what constitutes cheating. He said that it doesn't matter whether you think what you did was cheating, only whether your spouse thought you were cheating. Your worthiness is entirely in the eyes of the other person, not yours. The other person is who you're 'selling' yourself to.
And so it is with companies. If McDonald's customers suddenly care about healthy food, McDonald's has to too.
The question is, is the portion of the Internet community that thinks these people are scummy YC's spouse? Should YC bend to their version of reality?
That's for YC to decide.
Further, YC is supposed to be innovation, and disrupting entrenched markets. Profitable innovation and profitable disruption, yes, but as I said, there's more than one way to make money, and the way YC claims to want to make money is in those ways. Bundling crapware with Windows installers is not a disruptive or innovative way of making money. It would be classified as a shitty, scummy way of making money that has been happening for years. Many of us here that admire YC admire them because we think that innovation and disruption ultimately are beneficial. So when YC, instead of funding innovation and disruption, funds scumminess and shittiness that's been happening for years, we are disappointed in them.
You drew a separate distinction between those scenarios (whether or not there is a legal difference between deceptively installing crapware and promulgating viruses). I would suggest that you are re-stating and seriously misrepresenting GP's argument, rather than pointing out any genuine fault with that argument.
On a related note, in my view tying your ethical standards to whether or not a given activity is currently illegal is both lazy and far from optimal.
> If YC doesn't fund some scuzzy but profitable company, someone else will.
This is never a valid argument for explaining your behavior. There's a good chance that someone else will do it anyway, so now there are two bad actors instead of one.
I think what YC does probably does send stronger signals to the market through the startups they invest in than it does through pure dollars and cents.
Maybe they should start investing in private prisons and arms dealers. I hear they make loads of money.
To come down from that loaded statement, a good investment is different from a profitable one. Or at least, I'd like our culture to believe that.
For example PGs own writings: