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Y Combinator

Y Combinator

Y Combinator (also known as YC) is a US based seed accelerator, which was started in March 2005.

Y Combinator was started in 2005 by Paul Graham, Jessica Livingston, Trevor Blackwell and Robert Tappan Morris.

Y Combinator pioneered a new model for funding startups. Their major innovations include funding companies in batches, giving standardized terms, and having weekly dinners that culminate in a demo day to a group of investors. The firm was originally funding startups in Cambridge, MA for their summer batch before moving both summer and winter batches to Mountain View, CA.

Y Combinator’s motto is "Make Something People Want". The program aims to focus the founders on further developing their product, team, and market, as well as refining their business model, achieving product/market fit, and scaling the startup into a high growth business.


The program culminates at Demo Day. An event where startups present their business to a selected audience of investors. As of 2016, Y Combinator had invested in ~940 companies including Dropbox, Airbnb, Coinbase, Stripe, Reddit, Zenefits, BuildZoom, Instacart, Twitch.tv, Machine Zone, Weebly, Paribus, and Chinese startup Raven Tech. Non-profit organizations can also participate in the main YC program.


Y Combinator also operates Hacker News, a social link sharing site where users can submit and share news. The front page consists of 30 links at a time, sorted via an algorithm that takes into account upvotes from the community. According to SimilarWeb, the site receives over 20 million visits per month.


The New Deal

Sam Altman announces a new standard YC investment of $120k for 7% equity in the company. This replaced the previous standard of $97k ($17K for 7% along with an $80k safe note converted at next raise.

Board of Overseers announced

Included are Brian Chesky, Adora Cheung, John Collison, Patrick Collison, Drew Houston, Jessica Livingston, David Rusenko, Emmett Shear, and Sam Altman. All board members are either former YC graduates or founders.

Sam Altman announced as next president of Y Combinator

Taking over for Paul Graham, who had lead Y Combinator for nine years, Sam Altman is announced as the next president of Y combinator.

Alexis Ohanian joins

Previously cofounder of Reddit, Alexis Ohanian joins Y Combinator as a partner and ambassador to the East.

Sequoia Capital leads $2m investment in Y Combinator managed fund

Sequoia Capital and angel investors Ron Conway, Paul Buchheit, and Aydin Senkut invest in a YC managed fund intended to increase the startups YC invests in.

Y Combinator moves to Silicon Valley year round

Previously, Y combinator had alternated between Cambridge, MA and Silicon Valley.

"Make Something People Want" motto adopted

The phrase described in Paul Graham's Be Good post is still used as the Y combinator motto.


Founded March 11, 2005, in Cambridge, MA by Paul Graham, Jessica Livingston, Robert Morris and Trevor Blackwell.


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Further reading


Documentaries, videos and podcasts