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Invitation for DNC reception with Obama at YC (scribd.com)
115 points by negrit on Apr 21, 2014 | hide | past | web | favorite | 110 comments



There was a significant thread about this a couple of days ago [1]. Although this isn't technically a repost, substantively it is—the story hasn't changed. Normally, we kill such reposts as dupes. In addition, this thread is the sort of heated discussion we usually penalize.

However, we are careful to intervene less in controversial stories about YC or YC startups. That's the first thing PG told me about moderation and the thing he has emphasized most. So I'm going to suspend the usual rules and leave this one untouched for now. If it falls in rank, it will be purely because of user flags, and if that changes for any reason, I'll edit this comment.

[1] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=7612060

Edit: s/heated political discussion/heated discussion/

Edit 2: Enough users have been flagging this post to auto-kill it. I've unkilled it four times so far and will try to keep doing so, though I can't promise how quickly. (Flagging rarely kills a post—usually it at most lowers its rank—but in cases where flags overwhelm upvotes, it can.)


>In addition, this thread is the sort of heated political discussion we usually penalize.

I'd love to think you're serious, but there were three fucking posts---almost all identical---about Syrian chemical weapons on the front page this morning. All of a sudden, now that it's about YC, you're saying, "oh, we usually penalise this."

I at least have respect for the fact you didn't remove this thread, but still, I'd prefer it if you got off your political high horse when it makes YC look bad.


I shouldn't have said "heated political discussion"; it was enough to say "heated discussion".

You can't conclude anything solid about HN moderation from the state of the front page at a given moment, because we're not always looking at it. When you see duplicates and other things on the front page that appear to contradict normal moderation practice, the likeliest explanation is that we just haven't seen it yet. Indeed, a lot of stuff gets flagged by users before we ever get to it. By the time I looked at HN this morning, there certainly weren't three Syria stories on the front page. I think I may have flagged one of them. I'd need specific links to be able to say more.

Edit: I intended to write more here, but I have to go out now. Please send questions or concerns to hn@ycombinator.com.


I would not apply to YC if I knew in advance YC was a DNC fundraising organization. (I'd be even more angry if it were an RNC fundraising organization.) I'd even be pissed if it were a Libertarian Party fundraising organization, even if I might donate to them myself.

Shark jumping doesn't even begin to address this. This is a new class of fuckup -- "when YC became a political party fundraiser" is the new shark-jump.


They're not a "DNC fundraising organization". They're a business that happens to be run by someone who currently supports the DNC, and is making an in-kind contribution of the use of their office space for an event.

YC is a private business. Their management is entitled to participate in the political process in any way they choose. If YC's voting interest is OK with an in-kind contribution, that's their right too.

The idea that you'd find this kind of thing shocking is a little surprising, since it's very much the norm across all political parties.

If you'd like to pivot to a discussion of libertarian politics, I'd observe that there are companies that not only play host to libertarian political activist organizations, but also directly and aggressively lobby in favor of their favored policy objectives.


Why is it that every discussion like this has to have somebody pointing out that "that's their right" to do whatever thing is being discussed? Do you really think that is being disputed?

To pull from last Friday's xkcd, it's really the ultimate concession in an argument: you're saying that the most compelling thing you can say about this activity is that it's not literally illegal.


Yes, I think that's being disputed, and no, I don't think the comparison to skirting the edge of the law is reasonable.


Where is anybody saying that YC doesn't have the right to hold this event, or that it's "skirting the edge of the law"?

Lots of people are saying they shouldn't be doing this. I don't see anybody saying they don't have the right to do it anyway.


Companies lobby for their own policy interests all the time -- even if they dislike the politicians or political parties. I could totally see someone in the oil industry lobbying R for Keystone XL even if they hate everything else about the party.

I'm against YC being explicitly R, D, or L (or C, or G, or whatever), as it's 1) different than a normal company 2) a company I have a somewhat closer tie to than as a customer, but less close than a place I work for or own.


Say as the outcome of Sam/YC getting involved in this fundraiser, nothing happens other than some progress on a founder visa, ip reform and (hopefully) a stinging question or two about surveillance/privacy issues.

Wouldn't that be good?

I think that's quite likely the worst scenario. I can't imagine the reverse happening, that being in a room with Obama turn Sam and YC into toeing the Democratic party-line.

The strange concoction of libertarianism, progressivism and contrarianism that you see in YC, HN and even generally in silicon valley will remain. Because that's who we all are.


Party politics are actually what's holding up Founder Visas right now -- Craig Montuori is probably the smartest person working on this (IMO), and the basic calculus seems to be ~everyone is pro-FV, but everyone also believes only a single bill can pass, and thus everyone must get his own particular issue added to it. The stumbling block is not the farmworker visa, or the afghan/iraqi translator visas, but the huge "citizenship for people already present in the country without documentation" issue, which is inherently political because one party assumes all of those new citizens will vote for the other party. "We must have comprehensive immigration reform" means "all or nothing"; without that, we'd get founder visas, iraq/afghanistan visas, and farmworker visas right away, and then continued lack of action on the ~12mm people already in the country who are in limbo. So, donating to a political party on this issue actually pushes things backwards. (This is independent of whether you feel all of these things together are better or worse than some subset, or none; it's just strategy.)

(and, on the R side, it's the stupid Hastert Rule; a majority of the House supports even comprehensive immigration reform, but not a majority of the majority party. A discharge petition and immunity from retribution seems like the only solution to that.)

IP reform doesn't seem particularly partisan to me, but I don't know about the politics on that issue. It does scare me if it becomes one party's issue that the other party will oppose it just to oppose it.

Surveillance/privacy clearly crosses party lines; it's most correlated with tenure (DiFi, etc. are pro-NSA; younger D and R candidates are generally anti-NSA, with some awesome exceptions like Wyden.)

The real outcome of this will be $150-200k or so for DNC, which will presumably mostly be used on upcoming house/senate campaigns. It's a drop in the bucket with superpacs, but fewer strings attached to it.


Regarding the money, the fundraiser was going to happen anyway at Mayer's house. http://blog.sfgate.com/nov05election/2014/04/18/new-obama-to...

So the question, in my view (as someone who probably agrees with you on most political things), is what is especially different now that Sam is co-hosting this at YC.

In terms of strategy, given that you have goals X, Y and Z, what's the best way to accomplish them? I've been a (l)ibertarian as long as I can remember, and while I have succeeded in changing the minds of some "mainstream" friends on particular issues, the unfortunate fact is the ideology isn't natural to most people.

We're going to have to make compromises and move all parties to support more of the things we want.

If this was an ordinary DNC fundraiser I would be more concerned, but the president is the guest of honor. I.e. there is more than money at play. Connections that can be made. Things can be done. When judges and bureaucrats are appointed, they can be people we'd like a bit more.

And if there was one person that you'd want on stage with the smallest chance to alter Obama's thinking, wouldn't it be sama?


Weird coincidence with your initials.


The idea that you'd find this kind of thing shocking is a little surprising, since it's very much the norm across all political parties.

It can be the norm across all political parties while also being seen as distasteful among YC's fans and aspirants (if not participants).


I can’t really comment on US politics with too much internal knowledge, but from what I gathered, a lot of what YC start-ups are trying to do involves “making the world a better place” (to use what became a trope with the recent HBO series) and that involves bending the rules and needing the law to be adapted to modern conditions: understanding taxi licences when Uber is around; city planning with AirBnB; on-line gambling; airline insuring against delayed transfers when you are not flying a partner’s flight but a Chipmunk connexion, etc. Payment processing and taxing on-line commerce are probably the largest issues.

From what I gathered, raising money for is the simplest form of lobbying, and Y-Combinator feel they need that access to smooth transition from its alumni proving a business makes money to making it squarely legal. I’m not sure why the DNC rather than RNC or another party; I believe you can’t have both. It might be because it seems unlikely the RNC to win the next election either in San Francisco city-hall, or in California, or even at the Federal level.

In either case, I wouldn’t expect Y Combinator not to have appreciated the sensitivity of their decision off the bat.


YC's purpose is to advance the goals of the startups that it represents and make its investors money. Secondarily it tries to help develop the startup ecosystem regardless of whether the companies are in YC.

I don't understand why politics can't be a tool to achieving those ends. Especially when the DNC is aligned with the startup community on many of the key political issues, like founder immigration reform, that can affect all of us.


Especially when the DNC is aligned with the startup community on many of the key political issues, like founder immigration reform, that can affect all of us.

Here's a thought experiment: Republicans are also aligned with startup interests: low taxes, low corporate liability, weakened labor laws, that can affect all of us.


yeah but all of those things are oh so unsexy to talk about given what's going on in SF right now


I have to agree, it's quite tone deaf on YC's part.


Maybe I'm missing something but what is YC's involvement beyond being an event space? It seems crazy to call YC a DNC fundraising organization from this invitation?


Page 2 of the invitation seems pretty clear. Did you scroll down?


I read page 2. I think sama's comment clears things up.


On the contrary. I think a big part of the identity of Y Combinator is a straightforward rationality that would support even more explicit support for the Democratic party. Pragmatically it would be inefficient to give resources to a third party, which leaves a choice of supporting the Democrats, supporting the Republicans, or supporting neither.

The Republicans have been actively, intentionally sabotaging the economy that sustains YC's growth for years now, since the very beginning of Obama's term. YC's success is tied to the success of the American economy in general, as well as other big-picture things that are easy to forget (like having a planet to keep a headquarters on, for example, or not having that headquarters engulfed by nuclear bombs). Republicans do stuff every day to make terrible outcomes for the country and the world more likely.

Democrats have lots of problems and make lots of mistakes. But American politics is zero-sum. Take power away from Democrats and it will be given to Republicans. We should all be doing whatever we can to prevent that from happening, while also advocating for positive changes within the democratic party.

Until the Republican party loses all real power, ceases to exist or radically changes, Y Combinator (like all American enterprises) is more at risk than it should be.

If you're skeptical that this stuff really matters, think about how different the economy, and thus the start up world, could have been if Bush had never been president, or if Obama had had bad-faith-filibuster-proof majorities throughout his terms.


You need to quote sources for making such outlandish arguments.


Some things you just have to repeat a few times for them to fully sink in. (But why?)

We live in a highly-charged partisan debate about all sorts of tech issues -- issues which both parties are, sadly, at odds with what's best for the nation.

I don't understand why YC would 1) choose to help one party or the other, 2) choose to piss off members of the other major party, and 3) politicize their mission. I thought they were there to help folks make stuff that people wanted. What part of that has to do with one party or the other?

Here's hoping we're missing some important detail. This just doesn't make sense to somebody watching from afar.

You know, traditionally if you want the president to come by and pat you on the back so you can take your victory lap, you also bring in some schmucks from the other party. That way you get the press and don't look like partisan robots. Maybe this is in the plan? (but why?)


I'm sorry to say I couldn't accept your proposal for a political contribution. Please don't take it personally. The requests I receive get better every election cycle, and since there's a limit on the number of candidates I can consider in person, I had to turn away a lot of genuinely promising candidates.

Another reason you shouldn't take this personally is that I know I make lots of mistakes. It's alarming how often the last candidate to make it over the threshold for consideration ends up being one that I vote for. That means there are surely other good candidates that fall just below the threshold and that I miss even considering.

I'm trying to get better at this, but the hard limit on the number of candidates means it's practically certain that candidates I rejected will go on to become successful office holders. If you do, I'd appreciate it if you'd send me an email telling me about it; I want to learn from my mistakes.

edw519


to be super clear: YC is not hosting the event, just lending the office space. my apartment is far too small.

there's plenty i think obama has done badly, but i think he's done a lot of good things too. and for the political issues i care most about (all related to startups, pretty much) i think he is likely to help the most. of course, everyone is welcome to disagree with me on this, and many yc community members do.


Since there is other office space available in the valley, and event space has value in the private market (rental rate at any hotel) it is a kind of contribution in its own right (unless they are paying you, which I doubt), as well as an endorsement. Perhaps we're splitting the definition of "hosting" a little too finely to think otherwise.

YC is not obligated to be non-partisan of course. The only way to take the non-partisan line would be to allow Republicans the chance to do the same, libertards, etc. You could do so, and they probably wouldn't raise any money, or have much impact - throw a party and no one comes, kind of problem. 90% of employee donations for major tech firms are to democrats, and my read is that you'd have to be almost willfully clueless about the bay area to not realize how heavily democratic SV is.

Question - is this the first time YC has hosted a political event at its offices?

If so, I wonder if this is one of the early signs of change now that PG is letting go of the reins. I always suspected that a guy who could write something like "What You Can't Say" wasn't a kool-aid drinking, party-line kind of guy.

http://www.paulgraham.com/say.html


> YC is not hosting the event, just lending the office space.

This is one of those distinctions that are likely to be lost on a lot of people.

That said, like others have written, this kind of thing is probably what it takes to have some influence, unless Obama has taken to reading snark-filled threads about the NSA on reddit.


This is one of those distinctions that are likely to be lost on a lot of people.

Including the politicians. The distinction is for show, the message is clear.


This is one of those distinctions that are likely to be lost on a lot of people.

Don't you think the big-ass "Y Combinator" on the front page of the invitation blurs the lines?


I'm one of those people the distinction is lost on. What would "hosting" involve beyond lending the office space?


> This is one of those distinctions that are likely to be lost on a lot of people.

Not least, the press.


Only the tech press. The political press understands that leadership of organizations often host events like this from both parties. (Technically, really, all the various parties, including Libertarian, Green, Independence, Reform (Perot), and others.)


Maybe the messaging is a little off here?

So we have what happened.

How about this scenario instead? An announcement that due to all the serious issues in technology affecting startups, YC is going to donate its facilities to both political parties to hold fundraisers and get to know the people their policies are influencing. The first one is upcoming on yadda yadda yadda Then add some small print about how one of the corporate officers has to endorse any proposed event.*

Then you can all get together and give money to one bunch, never let the other bunch show up, and still get to look like heroes. Instead, we get this brouhaha.

Doesn't look too optimal from a PR standpoint.

*Note that this would only work for one or two election cycles until the gig was up. But still, it'd look a heckuva lot better than what we have now.


Did you misread his comment, or was there some tricky subtext there? In this upcoming cycle, Sam supports the Democratic party. Suggesting that he support both parties to avoid some kind of PR problem is flat-out creepy. He's got the same right to support parties and policy agendas as you or I have.


I was providing advice as to how YC the company might have interests that are separate from his. Or not.

Guess it's his call.


Can you clarify the definition of "lending" here? Is YC charging for use of the space or is it being donated?


If somehow he can get you those 100 work visas please let me know!


Hi Sam,

So to be clear, you would have rather had this at your apartment and are declaring yourself to be a supporter of the DNC?


If it was an RNC fundraiser, there would already be a protest website up and a hashtag to boycott YC.


Give it 15 minutes or so; the DNS registration just takes a minute.


I couldn't agree more.


While I hate to say you may be right, there will be a huge fuss kicked up regardless. I do not care which political party this had been, it screams partisanship down the necks of startup CEOs. It is not okay to get involved in politics. Unless, of course, laws prevent a free market, in which case there would already be people kicking up a fuss.

Sam Altman, you need not pay close attention because you'd need to be blind to miss the impending shitstorm on social media. I hope you remembered to bring lube.


> Unless, of course, laws prevent a free market, in which case there would already be people kicking up a fuss.

It's funny you say that because it was the Democrats who clung on to SOPA even after all the public outcry [1] (which was spearheaded by the tech/startup community).

That, combined with all the NSA mayhem and drone strikes, makes me wonder what the heck they were thinking.

[1] http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB1000142405297020375040...


I love the free market ideal, but the reality is that the gov't will fuck up your business.

Since the DNC holds political sway, and is the most likely to pass a law or start proceedings against your business it's best to make friends with them.

It's like police in Mexico, the smart people pay off the first cop they see before they end up having to pay off the entire precinct.

The reality is that the way companies like Uber and AirBNB will thrive is by paying off the DNC so that suddenly city council is restricting opportunities to minorities (by not letting them sublet / drive cabs) rather than a AirBNB / Uber restricting opportunities for minorities by under cutting cabs / hotels.

You want to pay these assholes upfront.


Nice set of principles you've got for sale there.


Geeks have a hard time understanding the deeply political nature of the world. Not playing politics doesn't make you wiser or smarter, it just makes you a schmuck, because someone that plays politics will come around and eat your lunch.

Why the democrats? On social (think Mozilla and Eich) and science/tech issues (the evangelicals), they're far more in tune with Bay Area techies than republicans.

If you doubt this, I will give you a tour of Crazytown (aka Toronto) where Rob Ford has made track gauges a political issue. 1435 mm? You're a liberal! 1495mm? You're a conservative!


Not playing politics doesn't make you wiser or smarter, it just makes you a schmuck, because someone that plays politics will come around and eat your lunch.

Heinlein once said something to the effect that politics was like digestion. The end-product is as unpleasant, but it's no less vital to your continued well being.

It's especially odd that geeks have a hard time understanding "the deeply political nature of the world." Because they're constantly playing tribal politics around languages/environments/static-vs-dynamic typing...


Supporting politicians who share policy ideas with your organization is necessary. On the other hand, there are enemies of tech throughout the Democratic party (and friends of tech in the GOP as well), and blanket support of the party like this is irresponsible.



Geeks have a hard time understanding the deeply political nature of the world.

This is terribly condescending, similar to saying that vegetarians have a hard time understanding food. The status quo is not the system, it's just one implementation of it.


> The status quo is not the system, it's just one implementation of it.

A system is just one implementation -- and the status quo is the one implementation we have.

That's not to say that it can't be improved or that their aren't better alternatives -- but the idea that the status quo is not the system is deeply wrong.


It is not "deeply wrong," and you're making a category error. If as OP suggests, the system is politics, as in, "you're soaking in it," the status quo is the current and recent-history shape of the subset of politics that has evolved to this point in time, a particular configuration of values within the landscape of possible value systems we call "politics in general."


>Not playing politics doesn't make you wiser or smarter, it just makes you a schmuck, because someone that plays politics will come around and eat your lunch.

That's not an argument to play politics. That's an argument as to why the system is fundamentally flawed.


That's an argument as to why the system is fundamentally flawed.

Then humans are fundamentally flawed. So are all social animals. To borrow a phrase: Politics is the worst paradigm within which sentients can settle disputes while minimizing suffering -- except all of the others.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0091064/quotes

What are the alternatives to politics? Doesn't human rights come out of politics in which individuals have a small but significant agency which can be aggregated to create collective agencies of vast power?

Maybe there is a far more rational way of organizing groups of sentients completely apart from politics, and political social animals are regarded as an atavistic scourge in the galaxy. This is why the aliens don't talk to us. They can't trust us, but since we're sentient as individuals, they can't ethically kill us either. Perhaps this is the solution to the Fermi paradox.


It's the only system we have. The system can theoretically change itself, but that's not going to happen by abstaining from it.


The approach can just change. If YC wants to come out and say "I support policy XY and/or Z" and I go find the candidate that matches that, awesome!

I'm sick of businesses endorsing people or party via fundraiser. Support an idea, not a person. Let the voter decide the person.


No, it's going to happen when the people do something. Unfortunately, the people that have influence are the people that have the money. Money talks, and more money talks louder. Companies and the well-endowed are in the privileged position of having the politicians' ears to complain to.


I think its attributable to fact that we are social animals. Politics is just the art of socializing at a large scale.


Wow, just look at all those butthurt downvotes sans open discussion.

Great job, HN. Great job.


I don't think that's completely true. The point is for many that we all complain about how businesses get breaks from the government, and vice versa. Then things like this happen and we are all supposed to be "OK" with it?

The idea is we need to get past crap like this, not play along with it.


Wow. I have been a long time follower of both hacker news and YC, but this draws the line.

To be a separate donor on political views alright, but to subscribe your company behind it, jeez.


Where do we go? Lobste.rs?


Nope, we go here:

    echo "127.0.0.1 news.ycombinator.com" >> /etc/hosts


discuss.bootstrapped.fm has some good discussions of bootstrapped businesses. It's very focused on that.


Calm down people. This event was happening anyway at Marissa Mayer's house. If you think rationally, even if you absolutely despise Obama and more generally the political establishment, you'd be a fool to pretend that they don't exist.

No more money is going to be raised for the DNC than would have happened anyway. On the plus side, the President will hear from the startup community as well as the tech establishment.

I can't see any huge real negative here (and I'm a fairly extreme libertarian). Hosting or even donating to a political campaign doesn't mean you support everything they do. In fact, you often see powerful people donating to multiple, opposing parties and candidates .. it's just the only way to have influence over the issues that affect your interests.


Actually it is about raising more money. The argument offered for the switch from Mayer's house to YC's space is to get more paying people in the event.


Do you honestly think they couldn't have found an alternate venue to accommodate demand? If you've been to YC, calling it an impressive venue would be a bit of a joke. It's basically a warehouse (admittedly with an elegantly architected, though extremely spartan, interior). And what does accommodating a few more people have to do with Sam becoming a co-host?

This has little to do with money, and a lot to do with influence (on both sides). Startups are a big thing now, YC is a big thing in startups and Obama/the DNC likely saw value in connecting with this new group of influential people.

Similarly, for Sam/YC, it's an opportunity to move things along on issues that matter.


You stated: "No more money is going to be raised for the DNC than would have happened anyway."

I'm pointing out that the proffered reason they changed venue was to accommodate more people, and thus raise more money. As a matter of fact, no other reason was offered, in particular none of the ones you advance. Unless you have insider knowledge or seen a different announcement?


I meant it in the sense that PG writes about Washington DC here: http://www.paulgraham.com/cities.html

In DC the message seems to be that the most important thing is who you know. You want to be an insider. In practice this seems to work much as in LA. There's an A List and you want to be on it or close to those who are. The only difference is how the A List is selected. And even that is not that different.

That's simply how Washington works .. influence is their currency.


Woah there, comment-space. Let's hold our rage-horses.

This looks like YC is playing host to the president of the United States, who happens to be a Democrat.

Edit: As Sam said, it's even less dramatic: They're not even hosting, they're just lending the space.

Plenty of apolitical institutions with space do the same thing. (Museums, botanical gardens, etc).

In another year they may do it again with a president who happens to be a Republican, or Lizardman, etc, etc.

While the tickets do amount to donations, I think it's an error to see this as an endorsement of anybody on YC's part. In a few years they could just as well do the same thing with the RNC and a different president.


It's to the DNC, and President Obama is their guest.

This is a political fundraising visit. If it were a visit by the President of the United States in an official capacity to talk about issues, I would be ecstatic that it was happening at YC, regardless of the President's party. The difference is the trip is being paid by the DNC, from political funds; an official visit is paid by the taxpayer.

Maybe I've been influenced by working in government facilities where any political lobbying or support is completely banned, but this seems exceedingly inappropriate.


It is exceedingly inappropriate in exactly what way, Ryan? It's YC's space. They own it. What duty do they owe you or anyone else to host or help only politicians you agree with?


YC is an investor in my company, and I donate about 50-100h of my time to YC every year. I agree that gives me zero ownership, but by the common definition of "stakeholder", it's reasonable to be upset.

I felt equally bad when another investor went off the deep end on anti-gun politics.


I don't even know what to say to the idea that you might believe your investors are obliged to either share your opinions about gun control or keep quiet about them.


The "trying to pressure portfolio companies into supporting political agenda on non-tech issue" was the part I objected to.

The issue isn't the specific policy viewpoints. It's using a commercial or other relationship to try to pressure for politics.

"sf.citi" was supposed to be focused on pro-business SF local politics, which is sort of reasonable. Gun control is literally orthogonal to technology.


And YC is pressuring you into supporting the DNC how?



I feel similarly, especially when the politics don't reflect the science. It was very frustrating to say the least.


^ You articulated it better than I did. Haha.


It looks like a standard fundraiser for the Democratic Party. Notice how all the tickets are political contributions. That's completely different than an event the President attends, like a college graduation, etc.


It's a fundraiser for the Democratic National Committee, which happens to be bringing along the President.


From the bottom of the invite: "Paid for by the Democratic National Committee".


This is a PR disaster for YC. It sends a strong signal that YC is actually a political organization and not one based on merit. By making this decision, YC alienates founders who are Republicans, and disturbs anyone else who thinks that YC should be politically neutral. Because we can never know if a YC evaluator will look at an applicant's twitter feed and discount the applicant because of their political leanings (shades of Brendan Eich), applicants who are Republicans will either have to hide their affiliations, or simply not apply to YC.


Indeed. One would expect that Sam and other YC leaders did carefully consider the implications, and the consequences.

The following will probably mark me as persona non grata with some people at YC.

I find American politics abhorrent, including both parties. The president's policies have been and are abhorrent, too. Further, the notion that one would pay tens of thousands of dollars for such an event is profoundly disgusting. Part of what is wrong with politics in this country is that kind of money.

As for those who claim that it's politics as usual, that one must play along -- when did conformity become justification?


The down-voting is a nice embodiment of someone's wish to make others personae non gratae.


This just all goes back to the seemingly unholy relationship between business and government these days. It shouldn't matter what party and what capacity.

They just shouldn't be related, much less running fundraisers. Even if it's just the space.


You want tech to have influence in DC? This is what you have to do. I doubt it matters to Sam if the president is R or D.


But it's not the President. It's the DNC. They just happen to be bringing along the President, right?


So disappointed that YC stoops to this level. Building companies should not be about political issues and this is a new low for YC.


Disrupting existing markets (not a component of all company-building, but certainly a critical piece of many YC companies) is fundamentally about political issues.


You know what I mean, zorpner. Don't split hairs here. YC was supposed to be a business incubator for all people - people like me who are conservatives and people like most of the tech sector who lean left. It wasn't supposed to matter WHAT we believed, as long as we could build products people wanted. Now even tech is becoming partisan.

I don't want to have to hunt down incubators that donate to the RNC or Libertarian party just to keep my hard work from helping people I strongly disagree with on nearly every issue(DNC.)


I think I know what you mean, and I disagree. It's an illusion to think that any practice (including tech) is non-partisan -- tech influences policy and policy influences technology. Every company functionally has a political allegiance, even if it's not specifically acknowledged, and the unwillingness of SiV companies to acknowledge this publicly hurts everyone.

This doesn't eliminate opportunities, but creates them -- funding a conservative incubator now becomes a potentially viable business plan.


Politicians from all parties want to associate their brand with "tech." It is associated broadly with pro-growth, innovation and entrepreneurship.

YC is not just any old office space. Holding the event here allows the DNC, and the president, to claim support from this community.

It is a smart political move for the fundraisers. It is also a valuable contribution from YC leadership to the DNC.

Unless there is equal time given to equally important elected officials from other parties, YC can now be branded as a partisan group. You are no longer above the fray.


While the idea of YC being involved in politics at all is off-putting, I don't think it's necessarily a bad thing. This provides YC with valuable publicity and connections. It helps put the tech/entrepreneurship community in the public eye and will certainly bolster it's importance and value (even just a little bit). I think good can come out of this, but we'll have to see.


This just seems very short-sighted of Sam to do this so soon after being handed the keys to the YC kingdom. There is definitely, some brand damage being done here. And what's the upside? Sam gets to hang with his social betters?


I think it is fine to support your beliefs or political party. Just be prepared for the fallout. In this case the fallout will likely be small.


The principals of every noteworthy company in the US probably gave some money to a politician. This is probably not even the first time a YC principal did a fund-raising activity.

My read is that YC is being used as a space, and is not giving YC funds. If this were direct to a candidate, I don't even think it would be allowed unless that candidate paid market rate for the space (or the host did and declared it as a donation). I'm not sure what the rules are for committees rather than candidates.


This is a bit icky, but smart. Other industries play ball, and we should too.


For context, what other businesses in SV have "lent" their space to run a fundraiser for one of the two major parties in the last ten years? Is it a common practice?


We need movement on visas in Washington and like it or not this is exactly how that happens.


You're implying quid pro quo. If that is how it works, you should be inviting the folks that oppose immigration reform. Not the ones that support it.


Was this already in mind when the proposal to monkeyhammer new user posts was presented?


Do me a favor, tell Obama to shutdown the NSA's spying on America?


What do you think HN is? Some kind of place where you can talk freely with no consequences?

Imagine if the feds had a nice small social network of the elite in tech and those who aspire or like to become techies, and if they had access to all their clicks, comments affiliations etc.

Better investment than that huge data centre in Mormon-land.


Is this a joke or a prank? Because otherwise, ick.

EDIT: If the event winds up being a 2 hour barrage of questions about the NSA, it might be redeemed.


If the event winds up being a 2 hour barrage of questions about the NSA, it might be redeemed.

Do you actually think the DNC or the President's staff would allow that to happen? This isn't a dig at the Democrats, either--I can't imagine the RNC allowing a fundraiser dinner to become a town hall meeting to grill the President on a controversial issue.


There was an article in the NYT Sunday Magazine yesterday which had VP Biden being put on the hot seat by gay marriage supporters[1]; I would hope that the NSA's mass data collection practices, which are much less controversial (they are widely unpopular, unproductive, and give terrible power to any bad actors who have access), would be as worthy of questioning.

[1]http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/20/magazine/how-the-president...


This is just the kind of thing Altman needs to do to climb the social ladder and to get into the right circles right?




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