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Announcement: YC alumni will help us read applications
116 points by pg on Oct 28, 2009 | hide | past | web | favorite | 181 comments
We've recruited some YC alumni to help us read applications, starting with this cycle. They've agreed to (a) stop reading any application that seems like it will compete with something their startup is doing or plans to, and (b) keep stuff in applications confidential.

These are people we know and trust, so we doubt there will be any problems. But since we didn't tell people about this before they applied (we are in fact still organizing it), we're giving anyone who wants to the opportunity to unapply. If you want to have your application deleted, just email me (pg@ycombinator.com).

Also, in case anyone didn't know, the deadline for applying is tonight at 10 Pacific.

Make sure you actually submit your application, using the submit or resubmit button on http://news.ycombinator.com/apply, or we won't consider it. (If you don't see a submit/resubmit button on that page, it's been submitted.) Every cycle a few people who probably meant to apply forget to actually submit their application after editing it.

Edit: Since a lot of people seem to be worried about this, the alumni are reading the applications in addition to us, not instead of us. Our goal is to ensure that we don't overlook promising applications. If we give an application a low rating but it gets high marks from alumni, we'll give it a second look.




I feel like this is going to work against me - in a really serious way.

First of all, I really liked knowing that I had a one in three chance of a woman, Jessica Livingston, reading my application.

I liked how the application felt like a college application; they judge you based upon your potential and what you've done in your circumstances, not like an investor who says: "What experience and traction do you have?".

I totally trusted PG, Jessica + TLB to see my potential and tailored my application to the rubric they stated on the website--looking for outstanding "outside of the box" people.

Having entrepreneurs, who may not be as used to thinking outside the box of "who is a good founder?" will be more biased towards founders like themselves - i.e. male coders.

This comes as a very sad surprise to me. I have a feeling I'm going to be treated as I usually am by the men in technology - which is an outsider. I know that there are VERY FEW female YC founders and I know that having male coders looking at my application is going to totally work against me, if for no other reason than they don't relate to me.

[edit: I sincerely apologize that my comment has generated so much heat. I wanted to raise a concern, I'm sorry this got out of hand.]


As a female in the tech industry, I actually don't think anyone has been sexist towards me - at least not in any way that has impacted my career or my desire to be in this industry. I feel that I've been judged by my merit, and Silicon Valley is actually at the forefront of trying to bring down this gender barrier.

If anything, the stereotypical hacker guy wants to see more women in the industry. If 99% of the industry was female, wouldn't you be ecstatic to see a guy come in? If tech was a female dominated world, I might subconsciously look for MORE reasons to accept a male founder.

Guys in tech enjoy the prospect of diversity and believe in women more than you give them credit for. Think about the plus side: having more male coders reading over your application might actually give you the upper-hand!


That would be nice.

I also wonder if things are better on the West Coast. My experience has been on the East.


If your intent was to bring attention to yourself in the 11th hour, you may have succeeded. That attention, however, may not be what you wanted.

As a male, I will not pretend to imagine what you go through because of our differences. I can only speak from my experience as a wimpy appearing introvert who has had earn everything I've ever had because hardly anyone has ever given me anything.

I do not mean to offend and apologize ahead of time in case I do...

To me, this entire thread comes off as whining and can only hurt you. Entrepreneurs must treat obstacles as speed bumps to conquer, not roadblocks to complain about.

I suggest you redirect any energy you put into this thread into making your start-up better and put your trust into that effort. You'll probably have to make it so good that they can't ignore it. That's what everyone should do anyway.

I wish you great success doing that.


I work with a few smart women and find that I constantly have to redirect attention and praise back to them when the two of us are working on a project together. If I had a dollar every time I said, "Thanks, but Sarah really championed that approach," or "Yeah, Sarah really pushed the vendors to meet our price point: we wouldn't have been under budget without her," I'd be a far richer person.

"Wimpy male introvert" is hardly an exceptionally rare stereotype within IT, and 'not being given anything' is hardly the same as 'having things taken away', which I constantly see happening.

And it's not like a few posts on news.yc is a massive time-sink that's 'energy' that needs to be redirected internally.

Honestly, I'm so glad I'm not a woman in IT. Not only do you get crapped on, you get told not to complain when it happens.


Agreed and +1. I hope/trust the OP consulted her co-founders before posting this, because I don't think it helps their chances.

It's insulting to Jessica to think that she'd give her "points" for being female. And it's insulting to YC founders to say that we'd somehow dock her for being a woman.

That being said-- both are possible. Spend a few months doing A/B testing, read about priming studies, and you realize just how much of our motivation is powered by our subconscious.

But just because it's possible doesn't mean that it isn't insulting.

I'm a white male, but I like to think that if I was a minority, I'd deal with it be being so fucking good that people couldn't ignore the fact rather than spending one IOTA of energy publicly accusing people of being likely to judge me unfairly...


But just because it's possible doesn't mean that it isn't insulting.

I can understand how people found this discussion insulting, especially when it got blown out of proportion. It wasn't tianaco's intention.

I saw the application she submitted which she is leading. She focuses on differentiating herself from typical entrepreneurs, and a lot of that has to do with her unique experiences. She was confident this would play well with the YC team. She was fearful that it would work against her with YC alum. That's why she started this thread.

tianaco is a vocal person who says what she thinks. In some circumstances, this has hurt her. More often than not, it has opened the door to opportunities that don't exist for other people. Regardless, she has made a conscious choice to live her life speaking up. Whether this thread helped her or hurt her is unknown.


"tianaco is a vocal person who says what she thinks."

As a team member, she oughta reign this in a bit. As a company founder, saying what you think can sometimes hurt your company. I think you have a duty to put a buffer between your brain and your mouth, especially around touchy subjects. If you always say what you think around investors and customers, you'll probably have fewer of both. :-)

I think a lot of people (PG included) have remarked that founders are ALWAYS selling (to customers, investors, new hires, reporters, etc). Part of selling is the ability to anticipate a reaction before you say something and to say the things that will elicit the reaction that you want. Or, at very least, speak the truth in such a way that it maximizes the effect that you want and minimizes the damage that it might cause. Example: last night I ate a juicy organic steak vs. last night I ate a muscle tissue sample of a castrated bull (hat tip to Robert Heinlein).

We all make mistakes-- I HOPE she realizes that there's a reasonable chance that she (and her company) might have been better off if she hadn't said what she did or said it in a different way.


I've heard pg make some pretty strong statements. I'm sure they turn people off but I'm not sure he cares about the opinions of those people.

I think it's pretty gratuitous for you to give me a lesson on selling to investors and customers here. Yes my comments may have been polarizing. I don't think you understand the opportunity cost of always saying what you think people want to hear.

I've gotten a lot of opportunities by speaking my mind to and rubbing influential people the wrong way initially. They give me attention they normally would not give, and in debating with me give me more respect in the end than had I just championed the status quo. This isn't something I seek out, but I find that standing my ground almost always serves me well.


It's interesting that when people criticize what you do, you state that it's a forum for opinions. When I express an opinion, you call it gratuitous.

Give what I wrote another read. I wasn't suggesting that you say what people want to hear. I was suggesting that you say what you need to say in the most effective way possible given your goals. Telling people stuff they don't want to hear is a pretty common necessity. Standing your ground is important. I'm telling you that I think you probably did a disservice to your partners by doing what you did the way you did it. As one of the people who could actually review your app, I would think that'd be useful feedback. From the other folks who responded with incredulity, I don't think my opinion is unique, but I guess you can feel free to disregard it.


You should most certainly not be in the judging pool, because you are already biased now. And you know, you may in some way have shown her to be right : she stated something that is only valid from her perspective. I.e, you don't face the same problem. You did not attempt to empathise and think, why would someone in her position want to make this statement in such a public manner? Rather, you attack the statement on the content without any attention to the context.

To judge fairly, context is as important as content. A man who steals because he has nothing to eat and would die is different from a man who steals because he feels like it.


As one of the people who could actually review your app ...

In that case, you should recuse yourself.


After all this, I am more sympathetic towards her than before. I.e, making this post and being direct about this, shows she has something that I think many lack: balls.

If you will pardon the pun.


I don't expect points for being female, but it is something that sets me apart in this scenario.

I don't think you, a YC alum, would necessarily dock me for being a woman. I do think that you might not find some of my accomplishments as interesting as you would someone more like you. Is that unfair? Only if I knew YC alums were reading my application after I submitted it. Because I would have tailored it to you in the first place, the YC alum. It would take too long to re-tailor it at this point!

That's ALL I meant with this thread.

I apologize for any misunderstanding or offense taken.

With all due respect, you don't know how you would deal with being a minority until you've been one.


Yaw, that's why I said I'd like to think that's how I'd react. But that was another way of saying that I think it's the BEST way to react (from a business/professional perspective). As someone who HOPES he brings very little prejudices to the table, I still don't particularly like being around people who are hyper-attuned to prejudice (and probably lumping in a lot of innocent behavior-- confirmation bias is a bitch). I'm not saying you're this way, but there have already been a few comments/upvotes that seemed to think you had a chip on your shoulder. That's a bad vibe to give off, whether it's true or not.


It does not take much to be hyper-atuned to prejudice. How many times does a dog have to bite a man before he starts becoming afraid of dogs?

A woman who works in tech will be bitten a lot more times. I don't think it's being hyper atuned, it's more of being wary based of past experience. The people who you know seem like they don't care about prejudice work hard to make it seem that way. It's not the normal way.

The human way is to learn very fast with very few experiences. It takes extra-ordinary people to pretend they have not learned so as to keep people like you comfortable.


Good at what?


No, this thread was a reaction to the announcement that was just revealed. I feel entitled to state my opinion after I spent so much time tailoring my application to a specific rubric. I'm sure you understand.

The fact that my concern is controversial, but perhaps resonates with people, is why it got so much attention.

HN exists as a forum for discussion and I raised a discussion that is germane to this announcement. A lot of other entrepreneurs have raised similar concerns in different ways... which is why this thread is so popular.

I got under people's skin. But for you to call it "whiney" is really out of line.

My concerns about this announcement as just as valid as other's people's as evidenced by the amount of upvotes.


As I explained here, the alumni are going to read applications in addition to us, not instead of us:

http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=908585

I'm not sure what you meant about a "one in three chance," but it sounds like you're misunderstanding how we read applications. We don't split them up. Also, there are 4 YC founders, not 3.

The way it usually works is that Robert, Trevor and I (separately) read and rank the applications. Then Jessica looks at the top-ranked ones to see if there are any red flags we've overlooked.


My mistake. I spoke to a few YC alums and they told me that RTM wasn't really involved. Thank you for clarifying.


Paul,

Would you tell us, which YC alumni is going to read the applications for us in advance,if we see any conflicts then, we delte our application.

Thanks,


Software assigns them randomly. But if you want me to delete your application just let me know.


Wow.

Y Combinator has funded female cofounders before and it is my understanding that most batches have had women in them. If anything, I think they'd almost be more willing to fund female cofounders because there isn't enough data out there to know if or how female cofounders in YC startups deviate from the success rate in a notable way.

Since Y Combinator is about funding startups that are likely to succeed, this is an additional (and I think positive) way to test the methods of picking they've used in the past. Are YC founders as capable as YC at picking successful startups? I think this is a very interesting question.

Y Combinator doesn't make any promises about who they're going to invest in. Trying to hack your way into YC based merely on the chance that Jessica will be reading your application is a bad idea. Calling bias before you've heard anything from YC seems like a particularly bad idea and risks you coming off as entitled.

Spend your time improving your product. If your product is so specific to female interests that a male founder who's reading it doesn't know whether or not there will be a marketplace for it, I'd imagine he'd get a second opinion. If you are rejected, don't for one second think that it was because you were female. It would be for many many more reasons before that one. Remember, most men will get rejected by YC too. If your product is good, continue working on it. Y Combinator would be the first to admit that they don't always get it right and you do not need Y Combinator to have a successful startup.

Disclosure: I was a cofounder in YCS08.


If anything, I think they'd almost be more willing to fund female cofounders because there isn't enough data out there to know if or how female cofounders in YC startups deviate from the success rate in a notable way.

Being "more willing" to fund female cofounders will bias the question of how they deviate from the success rate, no?


Treating women exactly equally means that you're almost to the point of giving them a preference. ;-)


I know that there are VERY FEW female YC founders and I know that having male coders looking at my application is going to totally work against me, if for no other reason than they don't relate to me.

Individuals tend to internalize negatives. If you tell them that they aren't going to relate to you because they're men, they're going to internalize that and have trouble relating to you.

There is plenty of overt and veiled sexism in technology -- much of it, you can't control. However, if you come into every scenario projecting an assumption of sexism, that's likely what you'll always find.


Since the beginning, I have found this sexism. People are VERY hesitant to talk about it. I always hope it will go away, but when I consistently walk into meetings and men will not look me in the face and they re-ask my male partner the same questions they ask me... well, you learn from past experiences.


Since the beginning, I have found this sexism.

Yes, it's incorrigible and often justified with sophomoric platitudes, even here on HN.

... well, you learn from past experiences.

However, the presupposition that someone will be prejudiced against you on the basis of their gender can also be damaging to social interactions -- such as this one.


Yes, it's incorrigible and often justified with sophomoric platitudes, even here on HN.

I can't tell if you're insinuating that I am using sophomoric platitudes, but I hope you respect that I have been trying to speak mostly about my personal experiences.

However, the presupposition that someone will be prejudiced against you on the basis of their gender can also be damaging to social interactions -- such as this one.

I think we all know that people are prejudiced.

Confronting people on their prejudices can be damaging, or it can jolt them out of their complacency and get them to view you with a fresh set of eyes. It usually depends on the person and also how honestly and straightforwardly you present yourself.


I can't tell if you're insinuating that I am using sophomoric platitudes, but I hope you respect that I have been trying to speak mostly about my personal experiences.

No, my intention wasn't to slight your concerns; I was attempting to articulate my opinion of sexism in technology and the justifications often used to support it.


I'm not sure if you've said elsewhere, but are you a solo applicant? You talk about "I". You don't mention what sex your co-founder is. If you are a solo applicant then being female is the least of your worries - solo applicants seldom (ever?) get accepted to YC.

my co-founder (jlees) is XX. She was the face on our application video last time and we got invited over for an interview. I've no idea if Jessica was the one that looked at the video - to be honest the thought never crossed my mind that it might help us get to interview stage.

Lose the chip from your shoulder and just concentrate on making a confident, compelling application. :)


No, we had 2 submissions - One headed by my partner with 4 founders, another headed by me with 2 founders. The other founders are all men.

I am the first face on our application video. We did that to set us apart from the rest of the videos.

I'm done with my applications, and confident that we made good applications for the people that we initially thought were going to review them... but not for unknown founders whose personal biases we are unaware of, but I can only assume based on my personal experiences with men in tech.

Re: "chip on my shoulder" would you be offended if your peers wouldn't look you in the face? how about if they re-asked your business partners the same questions they asked you, only to get the same response?


OK, I'm sorry for asking if it was about your breasts. :/

I really don't think this has anything to do with your gender. Networking and just speaking to people is surprisingly difficult. If you are already expecting people not to speak to you properly then you will be giving loads of negative body language saying that you are unconfident.

I know because I have been in the same situation many times. My background in pharmaceuticals, and when I turn up to conferences I am about 10-20 years younger than everyone else. I feel incredibly paranoid about it and my lack of self-confidence is quite obvious. I just feel "unimportant". I've even had organiser laugh at me when they realised I was one of the speakers at a conference. They told me I was too young! Yeah, that really set me up well for that conference!

When I go to technology and PR/marketing events I feel great as I fit in with people there and it is so much easier to network and discuss our startup.

Things like Astia will give you guidance on pitching. I;m sure some of the skills are transferable in to networking.


The thing is, I'm ridiculously outgoing.

I even have my own event production company in New York City. I'm excellent at speaking with people.

I still need work on pitching, but I have no problem talking to everyone... since that's crucial in my other line of work.


Sorry but if you've got breasts then you'll have to get used to guys looking at them. There was a recent study from NZ that found that 47% of men's first glances at a women were towards their breasts. It's just biology. Also take in to account your average male coder might not have seen any for a while - well it is male dominated (sorry - "got to wait for the liquidity event to have a liquidity event!")! ;)

wrt to asking your co-founders the same questions, my guess is that you are so paranoid about the "not looking in the eyes" thing that you appear unconfident and unsure, so people look to your co-founders for confirmation.


btw for the down-voters, I was just being pragmatic. A 47% chance in a 95% male industry, makes a pretty good chance of some guy trying to sneak a peek. The quote was from pg's talk at Startup School last weekend, where he mentioned that having a startup doesn't make you popular with girls. http://www.paulgraham.com/really.html

Apologies if it came across as offensive.


It's not about them looking at my breasts. More often they look away from me as if I don't exist at all.


Keep in mind, these are IT guys. I usually have to remind myself to look in someone's eyes when talking, be it man or woman. If I'm focusing on something else when someone is talking to me I might not even look at them at all.

From what I've read about the differences between men and women, women are MUCH MUCH more likely to pick up subtle body language gestures compared to men and try to analyze what they mean. Try not to take these things personally. Many times it might not even have anything to do with you.


Exactly. Lots of them are "awkward" or not "socially adept". Get used to it :)


Nerds are afraid of things they can't understand.


Your comment comes off as over-dramatic, and somewhat fake, almost like you're looking more for attention than justice.

Nowhere on the app does it ask you for your sex. If you were so afraid of your application being viewed differently because you are a woman, hiding that fact on the app is as simple as using an alias and answering the questions without saying 'OH YEAH, AND I'M A WOMAN.' And if you think any of those at YC, whether pg and gang, or the alumni, would 'dock' you on points for being a woman and overlook your potential and that of your idea, you yourself are being sexist for assuming that a man would be so irrational and illogical for the sake of gender discrimination.

And sorry for being harsh, but don't pull that 'they don't relate to me' crap. We're all aspiring entrepreneurs trying to make it out there with our ideas, connections, talents, etc, and any decent person would judge you on such. I don't need a pair of breasts and a rush of estrogen to relate to you. You're perpetuating the same gender gap you are criticizing others of exploiting.

I know you're a woman, but man up.


kryo, that was a really nasty, disparaging, and insensitive thing to write.

You can figure out that I'm a woman within 30 seconds of reading my application because of the organizations I've been involved with, what I studied, my accomplishments... oh, and of course the video.

Second, it's less about being "docked" because I'm a woman, but more about evaluators not relating to my accomplishments because what they value doesn't line up with what I've accomplished.

You can scoff at the "'they don't relate to me' crap", as you so eloquently put it. Or you can look at it for what it is: a problem in the tech world which results in a higher barrier to entry for women than it does for men.

It's easier to ignore this as if it doesn't exist and feign umbrage to me stating my fears, than it is to actually examine what goes on in an open-minded and sensitive way.

To relate to me you don't need a "a pair of breasts and a rush of estrogen" (how vulgar?!) but you do need a modicum of open-mindedness and sensitivity. Such characteristics you sorely lack.

I'm not trying to perpetuate the gender gap, but to acknowledge that it does exist in tech. Via discussion and awareness, maybe one day it will cease to exist.

That's what I really want. Men AND women evaluating me who see my potential as a businessperson even though I don't fit the mold of a traditional Silicon Valley tech entrepreneur.

Unlike most women in technology that I've met who have encountered bias and discrimination due to their gender, I'm NOT afraid to talk about it. I'm happy I brought this up and am not at all sorry that it offended you.


"you yourself are being sexist for assuming that a man would be so irrational and illogical for the sake of gender discrimination." Pretty much.

Meh. You're being dramatic.

>man up


Zarathu, the point is that it IS irrational and illogical--that's why it's a problem. It comes from the subconscious. Which is why so many people took offense when I brought it up... in their conscious mind they're not gender biased, but when they think about it, perhaps my more "feminine" accomplishments wouldn't be as interesting to these male evaluators as more "masculine" accomplishments. It makes perfect logical sense, so I don't understand why I'm being attacked for bringing up the possibility of subconscious gender preferences.

In fact, your comment merely reinforces your gender bias, which I'm guessing many of your peers also hold.

"man up" ? Are you saying a man wouldn't get upset about gender discrimination? A bunch of men got VERY upset from the mere mention of gender discrimination--tried to put me down for suggesting it and told me to quiet down about it. Imagine if you were ACTUALLY discriminated against! What would you do?


Of course, there's subconscious gender bias. In fact, there's conscious gender bias. Girls are naturally born with cooties, which is utterly intolerable.

As far as being discriminated against, I'm not quite sure how to answer that. My investors don't discriminate against me; I discriminate against my investors. They can't be gay or Jewish.


It's a thread like this that make me appreciate the ability to collapse threads.

Tianaco, I don't want to argue the merits of your concerns but this is not the correct place to discuss it. Try sending PG an email? My immediate reactions were adjectives like baiting, hijacking and trolling. I don't mean to call you names, but this was just how this whole thread came off to me as.

I don't appreciate that when I come back to this thread that the majority of the comments about the state of the female entrepreneur. I also believe YC is the exception instead of the rule.


Okay, so here's what I don't get:

If you think the fact that you're a woman will somehow come out as a negative in the YC application process for you, how do you expect to survive as a startup? I guarantee you succeeding as a company is a lot tougher than filling out a form.

Either what you're working on has merit or it doesn't. That doesn't change depending on who reads about it.

I don't doubt that you have had challenges in the technology field as a woman, but that's not going to change inside or outside of YC.


I agree that succeeding as a company is tougher than filling out a form.

The YC application seems to be more focused on who you are as a person than on your technology. I highlighted that on the application.

But I have a feeling that my accomplishments are not going to be as appreciated by a given YC alum than the original people that wrote the YC application. That's all.


I think your final paragraph is entirely gender neutral and could apply to pretty much any applicant. The point of alums and YC both reading it has already been made, as well.

My point, though: sure, running a company is more about the company than the person, but as a female founder (I can't exactly speak from experience as a male one!) it's entirely down to your personal presentation of the company, the technology, the idea. Sure, people in meetings don't tend to ask what the coolest thing you ever hacked was, but especially as a small company, it's definitely still personal. There are organisations like Astia, which I'm involved with, that help make it easier for women; I suggest checking them out if you're seriously worried about the gender gap. Yes, we do get treated differently, and having to re-establish hacker credentials time and again when people assume you work in marketing gets old. Funnily enough it's worse in Silicon Valley (so far in my experience) than back home in England. Still. There are things that you can do to make life easier, tricks that everyone from Margaret Thatcher to Queen Elizabeth, to female generals and CEOs have all employed. Your cofounders can help too, if you're having trouble because people ask them the same questions, by backing you up wholeheartedly (that could easily be an authority issue not a gender one). It's a rough road but having the chance of a woman read your YC app is really such a minor thing that it's not worth getting twisted up about.


As an aside, Guy Kawasaki has spoken on the advantage women have over men in startups, namely not focusing on killing some company, but making something people want. I'd guess that a successful YC alum has a high probability of having read his work.


Well, hopefully you'll see this as an opportunity to turn this into a chance to work on your marketing skills to a larger audience. I get the feeling that PG is a tougher person to sell an idea to than most startup founders are.


I understand this concern, but just wanted to say I've observed far less prejudice at justin.tv than in my previous job, which was a company of more than 1000 employees, with lots of HR policies against that kind of thing.

It's been my experience that YC startups are generally much closer to actual meritocracies than the average bay-area tech company.


I feel like this is going to work against me - in a really serious way.

Perhaps because of the chip on your shoulder?

Edit: Your concern of being judged poorly by the alumni screeners is showing the same bias you expect the screeners to have. Do you really expect a small cohort of people who have made it through multiple levels of PG vetting to be so small-minded? YC hasn't shown itself to be so lacking in vision.


Everyone has biases. Theorems in machine learning show that you cannot generalize to new circumstance without bias. "Without the aid of prejudice and custom, I should not be able to find my way across the room." --William Hazlitt

tianaco is just saying that she worries that YC alumni will have the wrong bias when confronted with certain applicants of broad experience outside what they expect. Let's hope that she is wrong.


I expect them for better or for worse to reinforce what they've already seen at y-combinator.

As I said, I don't think they're going to relate to me.


Personally I highly doubt their biases will be large enough to discredit, or even affect, the merit you show in your application.


As I recall Jessica wasn't doing the primary phase of vetting applications anyway -- that was Trevor, Paul and Robert.


I too am worried about being judged by YC Alumni, much like I worry about being judged by geeks in general. Even though I'm a geek myself (coding for 2/3rd my lifetime, Ph.D. in comp sci, etc.), people usually mistake me for an artist, and that works against me initially. (Later on, when they get to know me, it turns around and they're like: "Oh, it's good you're so well-rounded", but only if I can overcome the initial prejudice.)

The YC application reads like they want to judge you based upon your potential and breadth of experience. I focused in my application on showing my diverse background, and how I don't fit into a standard mold. My concern too is that YC Alumni might be subconciously be like: "We look for people who don't fit into a standard mold, but only ones that fit into a certain mold of not fitting into a certain mold."


As the public head of YC has written a book entitled "Hackers and Painters", I'd not worry to much about that. I doubt anyone with the attitudes you're worrying about would make his selection criteria as additional reviewer.


s/to/too/g

Where did the edit button go?

[EDIT] works fine for this post. Does it expire, or is this thread causing problems...


I would be interested to hear how you see your art and technology interests converging.


Designers don't understand what science is capable of, and the scientists don't know how to deliver a consumer-facing product. It's especially good if you have design, technology, and business all in one. By understanding business, technology, and design, I feel like our venture is poised to have a disruptive impact.

If you email me, I will send you a link to our demo.

[edit: My profile plus Googling my name will lead you to my email address.]


I don't see your email address listed anywhere. Can you email me? Always a delight to talk to a self-identified artist. i.am@me.com.


So you have a little prejudice:) about:

- successful applicants i.e. outside-of-the-box people may not have an idea about who are outside the box people. - most of these outside-of-the-box people are males an can be simply categorized as 'coders'.

In fact I don't get your problem exactly. I suppose that there can be 2 cases, which is true?

A. You are a 'female coder' and you think that 'male coders' have such a prejudice that a female coder cannot be as good as a 'male coder'.

B. You think that you really are different from these male coders (perhaps you are not a coder), so even if these guys don't have prejudice about female coders, they think so differently from you, that they will not relate to your application.

A. and B. are very different things, and I could not find out what your problem is from your description.


B. I'm not a coder. I feel that most of my accomplishments will not read as well to a coder as they won't identify with them.

That's it. (I have technical co-founders)


Well that's it then. It's just because you're a non-coder (presuming these negative experiences have been when speaking to coders rather than men in general). You're in the same boat as me! Try coming to a YC BBQ - that was a pretty tech-intense experience for me!

You'll find a lot of the coders that you feel uncomfortable with, would feel quite uncomfortable at the type of events you revel in.


So you know, Robert Morris is also a partner. Your chances were one in four.

http://ycombinator.com/people.html


We've spoken to a few YC alum and they suggested RTM isn't so involved in the selection process. Perhaps they were misinformed.


That's the part he's most involved in.


and another thing, I don't want to speak for jlees, but I've never got the impression she was treated as an "outsider". A novelty perhaps, but I think it wears off a second once she starts talking code. I'm a non-coder and I feel much more of an outsider. ;)

if anyone really wants to feel like an outsider, try being a guy at a "women in tech" event.


I'm a non-coder and I feel much more of an insider

You meant outsider, right? Seems to me that's what you meant... if so, you've made a very good point.


sorry - you're correct. ^^Edited.


Seriously? You're kidding, right?


You've been on HN for 8 days. Imagine you were on it for 800 days, and then take your average comment mark, that's how you'll rank regardless of what makes you you.


long time lurker, short time commenter


Why is that?


when I occasionally wanted to comment I used bravura's account. I created an account only because the application required one.


well, that's a nice hack. But lessens your karma for the sake of bravura's. A tad shady.


It's only shady if you care about karma.


In reply to adrianwaj: For the application, I mean. Usually the convention is 1 user = 1 person.

I wasn't thinking about the Y-combinator application when I registered my account 450 days ago and when tianaco occasionally commented on threads.

I don't see this as a problem.


In reply to adrianwaj: Look, if I'm submitting my application with my karma score and words alongside you (+ tianaco's score and words (under your name)), then if words and score are important to PG for the app, do you think I should feel the playing field has been even with the duplicity?

I went through my submissions and they are 100% mine. I went through my comments and can say with confidence they are 95% mine. The true number is probably higher.

Does that allay your concerns?


Well, I am concerned (not in a personal sense) that tianaco should start commenting more without her gender displayed, and she can then gauge herself in a gender-free environment here on the forum -- the "male coders" looking at her app could've then seen them.


Look, if I'm submitting my application with my karma score and words alongside you (+ tianaco's score and words (under your name)), then if words and score are important to PG for the app, do you think I should feel the playing field has been even with the duplicity?


For the application, I mean. Usually the convention is 1 user = 1 person.


I know it's verboten to talk about HN on HN, but it's fun clicking refresh and watching people upvote and downvote my comment. Talking about male prejudice in the tech community really gets under people's skin, including my cofounder bravura who said that maybe I shouldn't have posted and rankled people.


Everyone gets judged. Everyone has prejudices. It's much easier to recognize when others are prejudicial against you than when you are against others.

You know how it is when you discuss technology with men, and first of all, they hold back, assuming you likely don't know or are not interested?

Do you realise you likely do the same thing? If you meet a Mexican gardener, do you not do the same? Why? Why not just starting talking web services with him?

Because you don't expect him to know about the topic. It's your vorurteil, your judgement before knowledge, and it's an essential part of being human. We observe a pattern, and we act on this pattern.

So, yes, there is prejudice. But it's not malicious, it's simply the observation of a way things are, and an expectancy on how they will be. This form of prejudice, you have to accept. They do it to you, and you will do it to me.

That does not mean that in such a case as the YC applications you will be judged differently. You will be judged the same, because the fact that you have gone through the steps that brought you to that application level, means that you are at the same level as all the other people. So this invisible prejudice, this pre-judgement has already fallen away, as the people know what you are already.


Yes, you're correct: people don't like being accused of being prejudice, especially in a community like this which prides itself on being open minded.

Your gender isn't important here. Whether or not you're an entrepreneur with a plan, is.

EDIT: This discussion really belongs in another thread.


There's definitely subtle and persistent sexism on HN, but that doesn't make the original commenter's complaint about the new YC process any more valid. I agree that filling out a YC application is the least of your real-world problems.


Prejudice is a loaded word, but everyone is prejudiced. It's not unreasonable to think that people with totally different life experiences than yours are going to see things in a different light.


It's easy to pride oneself on being open-minded when one is surrounded by the same type of person.

I wish my gender wasn't important, but the way I've gotten treated by a majority of men in tech has spoken volumes.


When did she accuse anyone here of prejudice?

edit:

Downmod me into oblivion if you like, but it's sad to me that she can't state her concerns and life experience without someone making it into an attack on the YC community.

Male privilege is real, discrimination is real. If downmodding and arguing that simple fact makes you feel better, go ahead.


The fact that you're willing to get under people's skin is an asset. Many of the problems we face in the tech community are due to a predominately male culture that lacks the assertiveness to resolve problems in their own favour. We write books that outline our struggles, like The Mythical Man Month, without realizing it isn't tactics that are the source of our problems, but our overall strategy of resigning ourselves to merely follow orders.

Take this very discussion as an example. How many men are secretly wishing that PG reads their application rather than it being read by a YC alumnus, but have posted ass-kissing comments anyway?

For some reason I've worked with far more female programmers than most programmers I know. Here are some things that women are up against in our industry:

1. Being coerced into "lighter" programming tasks like "front end" development, QA, or UX design when their interests lie in more complex programming domains.

2. An assumption of not being aggressive enough to manage a team. To add insult to injury, women that do show aggression are isolated and marginalized for having chips on their shoulders or being bitchy.

3. Dealing with what I call the "little sister" phenomenon. This is where a predominately male development team, in a bid to try to be nice to the one female team member, actually does more harm than good. They become overprotective, try not to hurt her feelings, and are generally patronizing. This affects the types of work loads that are placed on the female team member and what is expected of her.

If it's any consolation, there are men in this industry that have worked with a lot of female programmers and understand as best we can, where you're coming from. For what it's worth, I think you're already one step ahead of most of these other female programmers I know (many are friends so I know them well). Their problem is an unwillingness to shake the boat. You don't seem to have that problem.

Moreover, who cares if you're correct or incorrect? If people read your post properly they would have heard that you were merely describing how you feel. You can't change how you feel about this situation. And like I said at the beginning of this rant, if more men in our industry shared how they felt with others, we might not have to put up with ridiculous time/resource constraints, impossible project objectives, etc.


Hear, hear. I loved your comment. You too seem to be sensitive to the issues, and like me are unsure what is the correct solution, although are willing to discuss it.

The fact that you're willing to get under people's skin is an asset.

I hope that is the case, and that more people reading this thread are sympathetic to my position than are offended.

Their problem is an unwillingness to shake the boat. You don't seem to have that problem.

There was a book written in the 70's called "Women Don't Ask". It starts with a case study about grad school TA assignments, and why men got the best assignments in this particular department. The answer from administrators: "Well, we gave positions to everyone who asked for a specific one. And only men asked. So women got the remainders." (For a period of time, the book was given away to any woman who would ask for it.)

Since I read about that book in a review, I resolved that I would always ask for what I want. This is part of my entrepreneurial style. I get what I want because I try to know everyone, and I am good at asking for what I want directly politely and firmly.

[edit: this tends to work better for me in person than on the inter-web/twitter-scape/whatever you guys call it. ]


I've come to similar conclusions. Salary discrepancy is another related phenomenon. My observations are completely based on anecdotal evidence, but having had to interview people for jobs, I'm also now of the opinion that women are paid less than men because they ask for less money. In general men asked for more money than we, as potential employers, had anticipated. Women asked for less money. The difference was significant, at about 10% of the salary (e.g., on a $50K position, men might ask for $55K and women might ask for $45K).

Once I started seeing this pattern, I met a girl who was looking for her first programming job out of school. I insisted she ask for a salary figure that I would have asked for in her position. She was extremely hesitant. She ended up asking for $5K under what I suggested, but when the interviewer didn't balk, and in fact gave her $3K more than she had requested, she was ecstatic. She phoned me up in complete disbelief.

On the other hand, I have another friend who's very unhappy in her programming job right now because she asked for so little money to start and now she just gets cost-of-living raises, which themselves have been frozen due to the current state of her company's finances. She knows that men make $15K to $20K more than her doing the same job, and I keep trying to coax her to ask for a big raise anyway, so it's at least on her boss' radar. I'm actually meeting with her in a couple of hours for a little developer meet and greet, so I'll be sure to remind her again :)

The issue of sexism is a delicate one because it involves perceptions. Also, most men today try not to be sexist. Watch an episode of Mad Men and you'll see how far the workplace has come. What sexism is left is unintentional, subtle, and sometimes the result of both actions on the part of men and women in the workplace. If we want to come to a solution on sexism, I think we need to stop thinking of it as something that people do to other people, and start thinking of it as a phenomenon. People are more willing to discuss why something is the way it is rather than feel obligated to defend or otherwise justify their own actions.


Would you prefer to have gender hidden in the initial phase of the application?


That's impossible with the video aspect.


I think it says on the app that they view your video if they think the application is promising.


I thought it says they're likely to view your demo if the application is promising... and they like viewing videos.


You're right, I must have gotten them mixed up.

But still they say they usually look at the video, and I think this implies that unless the rest of the application is good enough to justify spending another minute or two watching the video, they probably won't.

But then again it might just be used to give you another chance if your application is crap.


While I personally don't have a problem with this, I can fathom how some would.

What about (1) announcing who is reading and (2) allowing applicants to specify who should NOT read their application.

Just a thought, there should probably be some more thought on this kind of privacy/conflict since they will not be investors and I'm assuming you will make this standard procedure.


I'd rather make the system based on trusting people.

Also, paranoia about secrecy is one of our selection criteria. E.g. every cycle there are a few applications that say they won't tell us any details about what they're doing without an NDA. We thereupon instantly hit "next." People who think their startup's success is going to follow from their immensely valuable secret idea are disproportionately likely to have bad ideas. I'm guessing it will be similar in this case, and that anyone who would be freaked out by YC alumni reading their application is probably someone we wouldn't have funded anyway.


Not to mention that the ability to raise additional money after YC would be significantly impeded by being cagey about the ideas behind the company. Almost every investor I've ever heard speak on the subject has said they simply do not sign NDAs. If someone expects YC to sign an NDA, they would likely expect every other potential investor to sign an NDA...and that's not going to happen.

I suspect that investors not being willing to sign NDAs is at least as much attributable to the fact that people who want random people to sign NDAs have too much confidence that their idea alone has value, and thus won't understand that execution is vital, and likely will not be willing to evolve their idea as the market demands. Well, that, and "idea" people are just generally useless and annoying. So, asking for an NDA is a sign that you're a useless non-starter who won't be able to build a company or compete in the market (because your idea has to be public before you can do anything with it; if you're concerned that your only advantage is secrecy, then it seems likely to me that failure is imminent).


Well you are ignoring half of the potential problem.

Even smart people have different opinions: what if an applicant thinks someone you chose to read their application is naive (or worse, an idiot)?

Also seems just plain fair that applicants be aware of their audience.


Do you honestly feel PG and co. are incapable of selecting people that aren't naive nor idiots?


Not sure if you did it on purpose, but your double negative is the converse of my sentiment.

Do I think YC is capable of making poor selections?...Absolutely.


Capable? sure. Likely? no.

YC makes funding decisions after a few short interviews and an application, and they seem to do pretty well with those. I would imagine that after working with some founders for months, they have zero likelihood of selecting a naive idiot.


It shouldn't be a problem as long as you select fairly successful YC entrepreneurs who are too busy running their own startup.

On the other end if you select someone who has sold out and is relaxing, or someone who's startup is not doing well and is ready to jump ship, then it will create a conflict.

EDIT: Either ways you guys review mine. If someone finds it good enough, they would want to work with and not against.


Not to mention that most successful do not have the the time to segway off on someone else vague but 'brilliant' idea.

I know electrical engineers who have zero interest in Schematics/PCB files etc -ready to manufacture - because the time to complete a project is excessive for something that is not their core focus.


agreed, investors reading something is no big deal, since they aren't going to go out and use your ideas. A possible competitor reading it is a whole other story all together.


Actually it's really not. At justin.tv we already have a list as long as my arm of great ideas that we don't have time to implement. Seeing a few more great ideas from a potential competitor wouldn't make much difference to us in my opinion.


that's probably true, hell Yahoo told Google to go screw themselves when they offered to sell them their tech.

But the things asked in the application make you get pretty specific. Most people have trouble doing that for investors, let alone potential competitors.

+ it's not like they were told this before hand. They wrote the applications, thinking that pg and his team would review them.


pg and his team ARE going to review them. They state elsewhere that they are looking for a second set of eyes to make sure they don't miss things, (both for good and bad).

Remember, by applying, you are saying you trust the judgment of the YC team. If you don't trust their judgment, including when/when not to delegate, you are probably applying for the wrong reasons.

I mean, jeeze, you're asking them for money. They have been upfront about the change in the process, gave everyone a way to back out, said they'll be reading all applications themselves anyway... If you can't deal with changing and uncomfortable circumstances, why are you thinking about a startup in the first place?

(This is not just to the parent post, it is directed at the critics in this thread in general).


Most people have trouble doing that for investors, let alone potential competitors.

That's because most people don't understand just how unimportant ideas are.

Seriously, even if pg & co decided that the next application process would be completely public, I still wouldn't consider it a big deal.

Anyone can say "I have an idea, I'm going to build X". Fewer can actually do it. Fewer still have the drive (masochism?) to keep trying and trying to get people to actually use it for months and months when it looks like nobody cares at all.


Seconded. I have done resource allocation for companies from 1 employee to 100k employees and the one common factor is that there is always too much to do and too few people to do it.


But, wait a sec... aren't the people who are against potential competitors hearing about their ideas EXACTLY the kind of people who shouldn't apply? I mean, they have to demo their product to the rest of the group at some point, right? That's part of the package.

More disturbing is the idea that they will toss any idea that competes with existing startups. That is unsettling to me for some reason, and I would love to hear more reasoning behind this.


More disturbing is the idea that they will toss any idea that competes with existing startups.

You've imagined this idea. pg has explicitly said on several occasions that they will fund startups that compete with other YC companies, and nothing in this statement contradicts that.


Thank you, I read that wrong.

"Immediately stop reading" read like "Immediately toss".

Sorry.


I believe he means that if they come across a potential competitor, they'll respect their application and stop reading. This implies that someone else would then be tasked with reading it. Someone without a conflict of interest.


Does YC not run a risk here of falling into a reinforcement loop where each generation gets more and more "perfect" from the POV of the current generation, leading to highly specialised but unadaptable individuals a few generations down the line?


S-curves usually form in situations where the people doing the selections are trying to impress a third party, e.g. US News & World Report, future dog purchasers, other peahens, etc. Fortunately that shouldn't be a problem here.

Also, because YC isn't very bureaucratic it should be relatively easly to design a process that ameliorates this. It's an interesting problem to think about though.


Adding some randomness could help to avoid over-fitted populations. Then you could prevent to converge to a sub-optimal state and force the system to look beyond of what it seems the best.


I thought mating was the main cause of genetic diversity, not mutation.


Mutation introduces new alleles, and mating recombines existing alleles. Both processes increase diversity.


Yes, they should inject bad genes in the interest of preserving the species.


Sounds like XKCD


"They've agreed to (a) stop reading any application that seems like it will compete with something their startup is doing or plans to."

You could have an answer-by-answer reveal button, to see who stops reading and when. That'd remove the temptation to break this rule. There could be post-submission round-up by to see if the trust was actually there.


Let's not go overboard. I'd much rather pg and co. put their time into reviewing applications than adding "features" like this. This is, at its heart, a social problem, not a technical one, and needs to be addressed as one.


Having graded papers in college and worked with a number of professors, peers are often a far harsher critic.

Investors also operate in a big picture kind of way and see a horizon that is far larger than operators tend to see.

It'll be interesting to see how this adds to the decision-making process for PG. I'd love to see the data (even anonymized) about how the peers review compare to PG and teams reviews.


I think there's an inversion of your logic about grading papers when applied to investing. Usually grades in college operate on a curve; the peers are harsh because their grade is relative to other students. In this case, it's ycomb that is putting money on the line. Your peer reviewers have nothing to lose by dropping your name into the hat.


I'm curious about the reasoning for this. Is it purely due to not having the time to read through all of them as thoroughly as you'd like, or to help make sure apps don't fall through the cracks (or none of the above)?


Both; those are the same problem, since the biggest danger of not being able to read them all thoroughly enough is that a good one slips through the cracks.


Will you still be reading all the applications then?


Yes, YC partners will still read all the applications.


How many application have you received so far, if you don't mind disclosing that ?


We don't publish application numbers anymore, lest it tempt competitors into a numbers race. Plus the number now would be pretty meaningless, because half the applicants apply in the last two days.


half the applicants apply in the last two days

If that doesn't scream out to everyone that applying early is important, I don't know what will.


I don't think it says anything about importance. I think if you polled YC alumni, you'd find a healthy number of them applied in the last two days.


I'd love for a bunch of the YC founders to review my application-- I feel like I've spent the last several weeks getting every smart person (including YC founders) I could find to read my application. Who knows, maybe one of the YC founders will see something that piques their curiosity. It'd be great if this process generated constructive feedback or a partnership opportunity.

A minute or two of mind share from YC founders sounds better to me than 30 seconds from the YC partners.


Even though fears of a pre-facebook Zuckerberg reading your ideas about a new social networking site are valid it seems to me that this more of an exception than a rule.. but it does seem like a valid concern..

The only other thing I would add is that given the rising popularity of YC it seems only natural that PG and friends would like some qualified help.

At any rate, were someone to actually successfully steal your idea, this person would probably be found out and disowned by the community and YC. In other words, there is plenty of incentive for people not to steal.


This is a brilliant decision. I attended Startup School this weekend, and used the event and the surrounding parties to pitch our idea to at least 10+ Y-Combinator startups. Every time i pitched our company i learned something new and got great feedback on how to pitch it better next time. Startups that are concerned about this, should realise that to be accepted to Y-Combinator is not the goal of your startup. It is more than everything else a great test for yourself. Are you able to explain your idea in a couple of sentences, do you have a great founding team, is there really a market for what you are building? Trust me, when i remind you that making your company succeed is much harder than filling out the Y-Combinator application form.

Having other startups validating your idea is a great way to actually proof your team, competence and idea. We're based in London and despite the fact that we were lucky enough to know a couple of YC startups, that gave us great feedback on our application, we're thrilled to know that our idea, our team and our startup will be reviewed by a couple of other great YC startups.

Mark Zuckerberg, probably put it best during his Startup School talk. He told the audience that instead of going for the universities that really wanted to use Facebook, they rolled out Facebook to the universities that seemed the least interested in it. I think this is a brilliant move to test your product. The same applies here.

Good luck to everyone!


Great post, Bastian.


I like your ADstruct concept. Having worked with a couple of out of home media companies, i feel there is definitely space for innovation. If you don't have contacts to European media buyers, fell free to dope me a line.


Hey Bastian - I'd love to talk. My email is john@adstruc.com


Maybe there's a way a limited version of the app could be viewable by the alumni, and only the complete viewable by the YC partners?


yeah, like maybe filter out answers to ... "What do you understand about your business that other companies in it just don't get?"


That seems like over optimizing. Setting up a limited app would probably take longer than just having the four YC people read all the apps themselves.


A few of the application's questions could be designated alumni-readable and marked as such.


Well, this seems like an 11th hour announcement, many of the applicants might not be watching HN at the moment and may not be able to exercise their right to "unapply" before the deadline.

But those are problems for the fainthearts who get deterred with this kinda announcement.

For the rest of the bravehearts its 'ok', they should feel like they are at day 1 on the market and its all bare now. Just that they should gear up for a much quicker launch in case of a possible rejection, which they anywayz should be - "hope for the best and be prepared for the rest/worst".

Let's face it, trustworthiness, bias, plagiarism and wisdom are all human traits.

@PG: Just a thought from a novice. This kinda late announcements/disclosure may taint YC's image like those "conditions apply" advertisements. An announcement early on would be better. I hope you are not doing this intentionally as a first filter for the applicants and hence reduce the load of applications automatically.


I think it would be nice/fair to know how much input the Alumni will actually have. Do they give you summaries? recommendations? Do they have the power to completely block applications?


The goal is to use the alumni as a second set of eyes. The way the software currently works, the alumni say either that they think we should accept an application, or that we shouldn't. So if we notice we're giving a bad rating to an application multiple alumni think we should accept, we'll take a second look, and vice versa.


The more sets of eyes the better. Y Combinator is looking for the best startups which fit their criteria, and any review system which results in them funding a higher ratio of startups that benefit real users in the long-term is all that really matters. Lets keep in mind the actual end-users in all of this. If it's not something people want, then it shouldn't have been funded in the first place.


I too could see how some applicants would feel uneasy about this decision. Considering these are smart and savvy founders that are not investors in the applicants. Good thing YC is offering the "unapply" option for applicants. For example, the founders of http://www.thesixtyone.com, if they so happen to read my application, a lightbulb may go off in their heads. But as YC has stated, they have agreed to stop reading apps if there is competition. And will keep confidential. Therefore, I will be keeping my application entered. No guts, no glory. Could be looked at as a greater risk has been entered into the equation. But it could actually be a positive thing. I will be taking my chances in aspirations for a strong future partnership with YC.


For example, the founders of http://www.thesixtyone.com, if they so happen to read my application, a lightbulb may go off in their heads.

Take additional comfort in the knowledge that YC teams are small, and have far more ideas and light bulbs going off in their heads than they have time to implement. Ideas are not in short supply. Time to implement, ability to execute well, ability to connect with markets, and the focus to deliver a compelling product that makes peoples lives better in some small way in a reasonable time frame are. So, even if your idea is brilliant and new, and even if it would help thesixtyone, and even if they saw your application, it's unlikely they would recognize it as a "killer feature" and it's even more unlikely they would have time from their existing product development schedule (which they probably also believe has some "killer features" on it) to implement it in an effective manner.


Thanks for the encouragement. We will see the outcome in 6 days. Im confident in my statup, and hopefully YC will see the opportunity as well. We are working hard and creating something special.


This makes me not want to apply; I guess I am just one of those people with bad ideas that YC would not have wanted to fund anyway.


I know this is not a popular opinion its really how I feel. I know lots of geeks and am very familiar with geek / startup culture. One of the coolest things about YC is the fact that there is so much input / guidance from PG. This decision seems like a shift away from that and toward more of a judged by peers model IMHO.


To me the question boils down to, "Do you trust YC to have the right people reading your application to make a good decision?" I know that they have high enough volume that it makes no sense for pg to make every decision personally.

What I just read is, "They have found a way to scale higher and while sticking to high quality people who have direct experience with what you want to do."

That makes the answer to the first question a "Yes". :-)


I think this sums it up best. It comes down to trust and you either trust YC or not. If anything, this is a good litmus test for them.


I'm not so concerned about opening up the reviews to trusted others (after all, if an application is successful it is open to peer review and scrutiny anyway), but I do have a question regarding 'early' submissions (which are described as preferable).

Do early submissions get reviewed BEFORE the actual closing date? That's the clear implication from what I've read elsewhere on this thread, because it's stated "there is more time to review early applications"

In my case, I submitted (initially) soon after the applications were opened, and have been editing, proof reading, clarifying generally and improving on it, and re-submitting right up to this evening - the evening of the closing date. So there are quite possibly at least 30 different iterations of my application. My first submission was crude, but early. My final submission is probably a factor of 10X better, but two hours before the deadline.

So without giving too much away YC, which iteration gets reviewed and when, and how do you know when the submission is final, if you review before the close date?


Cool.

It seems that the kind of folks who are scared off by this might be doomed anyway. If you're going to be successful, then at some point you've got to take up the attitude that you're going to eat the competition's lunch - even if they know what you're doing. Because you're just that good.

Good luck.

(Have not applied. Am not applying. Just a member of the peanut gallery.)


More eyes means a more reliable result, so assuming I'm worth funding, then this can only benefit me.


It may be totally irrational, but my gut reaction is, "Some young founder who can't think outside of his or her space is going to read our application and toss it away."

Although I think our company will be massively profitable, our proposal is a long way from glamorous.


Everyone with worries like this should (re-)read http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=908612. From that comment, it sounds like no alumnus/a will have the power to get your application tossed. In fact, it sounds like the only effect they can have is to get your application a second look, which is something you should want.


Will this, or the extended application deadline, affect Nov. 5th feedback date?


No, everything else is unchanged.


I'm guessing they're doing this so they'll be able to keep the Nov.5 date, after seeing a huge increase in the number of apps.


I actually think that this is a great idea on the condition that PG/JL/TLB/RM still have the majority of the final say. Given the sheer volume of applications, having more eyes can really only help ensure that the most promising startups get the attention they deserve. It also sounds like a great way to pair up new founders with YC alumni who really see the potential in their startup. I know that my co-founder and I personally think that being stealth is overrated/stupid and would love to hear what other smart people think about our idea.

Disclosure appreciated.


I've got no stake in any of this at all - never applied to YC, doubt I ever will - but something which'd bother me a little: what if a company applied a while back and hasn't seen this HN thread? You can guarantee that at least one set of founders is going to be on holiday.

The problem, though, is that I imagine that'd it be really hard, what with the number of applications there'll be, to individually reach out to applicants before making their applications available to anyone other than the partners...


1. Is it possible for an application to be rejected after having been read by just one alumni, and no one else?

2. Are the readers given a specific list of criteria by which they are supposed to judge the applications, or is it just basically anything they want?

3. Trust is great, but do you have any way to find out if a reader approves an application because it is from a friend, or if a reader rejects good applications that are too similar to the application that was submitted by a friend?


No, no, and no.


Can you tell us, who they are, if their companies are conflicting, we delete our application.


It looks like many people are scared of someone stealing their ideas. Startups are not a zero sum game, we can all create wealth.

Also, if you are scared someone else will out execute you on your own idea maybe you need work on your execution and dedication.


I'd like to hear how you went about training them. That alone is interesting.


This isn't an entirely new thing though is it? I remember some of the YC alum saying they had actually done some phone interviews of YC applicants.


although some might consider it positive discrimination, you should really get involved with an organisation like: http://www.astia.org/ They have been great to jlees. In fact she is attending the Silicon Valley event next week.


Thanks for the disclosure, Paul. We look forward to you guys checking out our application for ADstruc!


FYI ADstruc, your website is wrong, you aren't the first marketplace of that sort. Check out Tapinko.


Also, images for all the text? Really?


We've spent our time focusing on the back end which is building our platform and obviously less on the website. Regardless, the website will be a wash once the product goes beta.


We are friends with the Pete and Tapinko and are in talks about both of our businesses - they are focused on newspaper advertising, not outdoor yet.


Shameless.




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