Y Combinator

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Y Combinator (YC) is an American seed money startup accelerator launched in March 2005.[1] It has been used to launch over 2,000 companies,[2] including Stripe, Airbnb, Cruise Automation, DoorDash, Coinbase, Instacart, Dropbox, Twitch, and Reddit.[3] The combined valuation of the top YC companies was over US$155 billion as of October 2019.[4] The company's accelerator program is held in Mountain View, California.

Y Combinator Management, LLC
Limited liability company
IndustryStartup accelerator
FoundedMarch 2005; 15 years ago (2005-03)
FoundersPaul Graham, Jessica Livingston, Robert Morris, Trevor Blackwell
Number of locations
2 offices (2014)
ProductsVenture capital, Investments


Paul Graham talking about Prototype Day at Y Combinator Summer 2009

Y Combinator was founded in 2005 by Paul Graham, Jessica Livingston, Trevor Blackwell, and Robert Tappan Morris.[5]

From 2005 to 2008, one program was held in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and one was held in Mountain View, California. As Y Combinator grew to 40 investments per year, running two programs became too much. In January 2009, Y Combinator announced that the Cambridge program would be closed and all future programs would take place in Silicon Valley.[6]

In 2009, Sequoia Capital led the $2 million investment round into an entity of Y Combinator to enable them to invest in approximately 60 companies a year.[7] The following year, Sequoia led an $8.25 million funding round for Y Combinator to further increase the number of startups the company could fund.[8]

Then, in 2011, Yuri Milner and SV Angel offered every Y Combinator company a $150,000 convertible note investment.[9] The amount put into each company was changed to $80,000 when Start Fund was renewed.[10]

In September 2013, Paul Graham announced Y Combinator would fund nonprofit organizations that were accepted into the program after having tested the concept with Watsi (while continuing to fund mostly for-profit startups).[11]

In 2014, founder Paul Graham announced he was stepping down and that Sam Altman would take over as president of Y Combinator.[12] That same year, Altman announced "The New Deal" for YC startups, which offers $150,000 for 7% equity.[13][14]

Late in 2014, Sam Altman announced a partnership with Transcriptic to provide increased support for Y Combinator's growing community of biotech companies.[15] Then in 2015, he announced a partnership with Bolt and increased support for hardware companies.[16]

The YC Fellowship Program was announced in July 2015, with the goal of funding companies at the idea or prototype stage.[17] The first batch of YC Fellowship included 32 companies that received an equity-free grant instead of an investment.[4]

In January 2016, Y Combinator announced version 2 of the Fellowship program, with participating companies receiving $20k investment for a 1.5% equity stake.[citation needed] The equity stake is structured as a convertible security that only converts into shares if a company has an initial public offering (IPO), or a funding event or acquisition that values the company at $100m or more.[18] The YC Fellowship was short-lived. In September 2016, then CEO Sam Altman announced that the fellowship will be discontinued.[19]

On 11 August 2016, YC announced that YC partners would visit 11 countries to meet with founders and learn more about how they could be helpful to international startup communities. Those 11 countries were Nigeria, Denmark, Portugal, Sweden, Germany, Russia, Argentina, Chile, Mexico, Israel, and India.[20][21]

In September 2016, Y Combinator announced that then CEO Altman would be leaving Y Combinator and moving the role of president of YC Group, which includes Y Combinator.[citation needed] Former Twitter chief financial officer and chief operating officer Ali Rowghani was then in charge of the YC Continuity Fund when it started and continues to act as CEO of YC Continuity. Michael Seibel, who co-founded Justin.tv, is the new CEO of YC Core, the program that Paul Buchheit has run since 2016.[22]

In 2017, Y Combinator announced Startup School, an online course that released public videos and also coached individual startups on a larger scale to replace the fellowship. 1584 startups graduated the program in its first year.[23]

In 2018, Y Combinator announced a new batch of startup school. After a software glitch, all 15,000 startups that applied to the program were accepted, only to learn a few hours later that they had been rejected.[24] But the ensuing outcry led Y Combinator to change course again and decided over an official blog to finally accept all those 15000 companies.[25] Now, every company is accepted to join YC Startup School without any restrictions.

On 20 May 2019, Sam Altman announced he was stepping down and that Geoff Ralston would take over as President of Y Combinator.[26][27]

On 20 April 2020, Michael Seibel announced that the summer 2020 ("S20") will be fully remote, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This includes interviews for the batch, office hours, evening talks, and meetups throughout the batch.[28]


Y Combinator interviews and selects two or more batches of companies per year. The companies receive seed money, advice, and connections in exchange for 7% equity of the company.[29] The program includes "office hours", where startup founders meet individually and group meetings. Founders also participate in weekly dinners where guests from the Silicon Valley ecosystem (successful entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, etc.) speak to the founders.

Y Combinator's motto is "Make Something People Want."[30] The program teaches founders to market their product, team and market, refining their business model, achieving product/market fit, and scaling the startup into a high growth business, etc. The program ends with Demo Day, where startups present their business and sometimes technology to potential investors.[31]

Y Combinator has introduced additional programs since 2015, including:

  • In July 2015, Y Combinator introduced the YC Fellowship Program aimed at companies at an earlier stage than the main program.[17]
  • In October 2015, Y Combinator introduced the YC Continuity Fund. The fund allows Y Combinator to make pro rata investments in their alumni companies with valuations under $300 million. Y Combinator will also consider leading or participating in later stage growth financing rounds for YC companies.[32]
  • Nonprofit research lab YC Research was announced in October 2015. Researchers are paid as full-time employees and can receive equity in Y Combinator.[33][34][35] OpenAI was the first project undertaken by YC Research, and in January 2016 a second study on basic income was also announced.[36] Another project is research on new cities.[37] Australian quantum physicist Michael Nielsen is a research fellow at YC Research since 2017.[38]
  • In October 2015, YC introduced YC Research to fund long-term fundamental research. YC President Sam Altman donated $10m.[33]
  • During 2017–2019, YC launched Startup School, the Series A program, the YC Growth program, Work at a Startup, and YC China.[39]
  • In March 2019, it was reported that Y Combinator was moving headquarters to San Francisco.[40]

As of late 2019, Y Combinator had invested in >2,000 companies,[2] most of which are for-profit. Non-profit organizations can also participate in the main YC program.[41] Few non-profits have been accepted in the last years, among them Watsi, Women Who Code, New Story (charity), SIRUM (organization), Zidisha, 80,000 Hours, and Our World in Data.[42]


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

In 2010, Kirsty Nathoo joined as an accountant and became CFO in 2012.[43]

In early 2010, Harj Taggar joined as an advisor. In September 2010, Alexis Ohanian joined.[44] In November 2010, Paul Buchheit and Harj Taggar were named partners.[45] In 2015, Taggar left YC.[46]

In January 2011, Garry Tan joined YC, first as designer-in-residence and later as partner.[47][48] He left YC in November 2015.[48]

Later in 2011, Aaron Iba joined as a partner.[49]

In February 2014, Sam Altman became president of Y Combinator.[12] Y Combinator also announced a Board of Overseers: Brian Chesky, Adora Cheung, Patrick Collison, Drew Houston, Jessica Livingston, David Rusenko, Emmett Shear, and Sam Altman.

Michael Seibel joined Y Combinator as part-time partner in January 2013 and later became a full-time Partner in 2014.[50]

Ali Rowghani is listed on the YC website as the managing partner of YC Continuity.[50]

The company includes visiting partners Kevin Hale, Solomon Hykes, Holly Liu, Diego Rey, Aaron Epstein.[50][51]

In 2018, Y Combinator announced that Lu Qi, a former CEO of Baidu and Bing, would join the company as CEO of YC China.[52] Y Combinator announced that Lu left YC in November 2019.[53]

In March 2019, Y Combinator announced its president Sam Altman would be transitioning into a Chairman position to focus more on OpenAI.[39][54]


Y Combinator has been blamed for its encouragement of the ageism culture in Silicon Valley. Paul Graham said in 2005 that people over 38 lacked the energy to launch startups.[55] It was also at a Y Combinator event, the 2007 Startup School, that Mark Zuckerberg said, "Young people are just smarter".[56]

YC ResearchEdit

YC Research logo

Human Advancement Research CommunityEdit

The Human Advancement Research Community (HARC) project was set up with the "mission to ensure human wisdom exceeds human power".[57][58] The project was inspired by a conversation between Sam Altman and Alan Kay.[59] Its projects include modelling, visualizing and teaching software, as well as programming languages. Members include Alan Kay and Bret Victor. Other people who have worked for HARC include Vi Hart. Patrick Scaglia was chair of HARC and was listed as an advisor in 2017.[60][61]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Jackson, Christopher (Aug 5, 2012). "Y Combinator's first batch: where are they now?".
  2. ^ a b "Y Combinator Companies List".
  3. ^ "Y Combinator Top Companies List – 2019".
  4. ^ a b "Y Combinator". November 11, 2019. Retrieved November 11, 2019.
  5. ^ Graham, Paul (March 15, 2012). "How Y Combinator Started". Y Combinator. Retrieved October 22, 2016.
  6. ^ Graham, Paul (January 2009). "California Year-Round". Y Combinator. Retrieved October 22, 2016.
  7. ^ "Y Combinator Gets The Sequoia Capital Seal Of Approval". TechCrunch. 2009-05-16. Retrieved 2011-02-10.
  8. ^ Rao, Leena (21 May 2010). "Y Combinator Closes New $8.25 Million Fund, Sequoia Is Lead Investor". TechCrunch.com. Retrieved 22 June 2016.
  9. ^ Arrington, Michael (January 28, 2011). "Start Fund: Yuri Milner, SV Angel Offer EVERY New Y Combinator Startup $150k". TechCrunch. Retrieved October 22, 2016.
  10. ^ Rao, Leena (November 26, 2012). "Y Combinator's YC VC Will Replace The Start Fund; Includes Yuri Milner, Andreessen Horowitz But Offers Less Money". TechCrunch. Retrieved October 22, 2016.
  11. ^ Yeung, Ken (6 September 2013). "Y Combinator to Fund Non-Profit Startups with Charitable Donations". The Next Web. Retrieved 1 October 2014.
  12. ^ a b Graham, Paul (February 21, 2014). "Sam Altman for President". Y Combinator. Retrieved October 22, 2016.
  13. ^ Altman, Sam (April 22, 2014). "The New Deal". Y Combinator. Retrieved October 22, 2016.
  14. ^ "Y Combinator's 'New Deal' for startups: More money, same 7% equity". VentureBeat. 2014-04-23. Retrieved 2016-11-29.
  15. ^ Altman, Sam (December 8, 2014). "Transcriptic for YC biotech startups". Y Combinator. Retrieved October 22, 2016.
  16. ^ Altman, Sam (February 5, 2014). "YC for Hardware". Y Combinator. Retrieved October 22, 2016.
  17. ^ a b Loizos, Connie (July 20, 2015). "Y Combinator Just Introduced a New Program to Reach Up to "1,000" Companies Per Year". TechCrunch. Retrieved July 21, 2015.
  18. ^ "Fellowship V2". Y Combinator Posthaven. Retrieved 2016-01-27.
  19. ^ "With a new CEO, Y Combinator will wind down fellowships and start a MOOC". TechCrunch. Retrieved 2020-09-09.
  20. ^ Manalac, Kat. "YC Office Hours in 11 Countries This Fall". Y Combinator Posthaven. Retrieved 10 September 2016.
  21. ^ Modgil, Shweta (2016-08-16). "YCombinator Is Coming To India This September; Here's Why You Should Be Excited". Inc 42. Retrieved 10 September 2016.
  22. ^ Schubarth, Cromwell (13 September 2016). "Y Combinator names new leaders as it changes shape again". Silicon Valley Business Journal. Retrieved 18 October 2016.
  23. ^ Constine, Josh. "1500+ startups graduate Y Combinator's first online Startup School". TechCrunch. Retrieved 2020-04-13.
  24. ^ "Y Combinator accepts 15,000 startups into its online school after software glitch causes confusion". VentureBeat. 2018-08-21.
  25. ^ "Startup School: Every Company that Applied is Now Accepted". Y Combinator Blog. 2018-08-20.
  26. ^ Altman, Sam. "Geoff Ralston for President". Y Combinator. Retrieved 2019-06-17.
  27. ^ "Y Combinator president Sam Altman is stepping down amid a series of changes at the accelerator". TechCrunch. Retrieved 2020-09-09.
  28. ^ Seibel, Michael. "YC S20 Remote Batch". Y Combinator. Retrieved 2020-04-21.
  29. ^ Altman, Sam. "The New Deal". Y Combinator. Retrieved 22 April 2014.
  30. ^ Graham, Paul (April 2008). "Be Good". PaulGraham.com. Retrieved 8 February 2016.
  31. ^ Graham, Paul (June 2014). "What happens at YC". Y Combinator. Retrieved 8 May 2013.
  32. ^ Altman, Sam (October 15, 2015). "YC Continuity". Y Combinator. Retrieved February 8, 2016.
  33. ^ a b Altman, Sam (October 7, 2015). "YC Research". Y Combinator Posthaven. Retrieved October 22, 2016.
  34. ^ Yeung, Ken (2015-10-08). "Sam Altman commits $10M to start Y Combinator research lab". VentureBeat.
  35. ^ Newton, Casey (7 October 2015). "Y Combinator is launching its own in-house moonshot group". The Verge. Vox Media.
  36. ^ "YCR is a non-profit research lab". Y Combinator Research. Retrieved October 22, 2016.
  37. ^ Cheung, Adora. "New Cities".
  38. ^ "Michael Nielsen". michaelnielsen.org. Retrieved 2019-03-27.
  39. ^ a b Combinator, Y. "Updates from YC". Y Combinator. Retrieved 2019-03-11.
  40. ^ Kawamoto, Dawn (March 11, 2019). "Venture capital powerhouse is latest Silicon Valley firm to open San Francisco office". www.bizjournals.com. San Francisco Business Times. Retrieved March 16, 2019.
  41. ^ Graham, Paul (September 2013). "YC Will Now Fund Nonprofits Too". Y Combinator. Retrieved 18 October 2016.
  42. ^ "Here are the 85+ startups that launched at YC's W19 Demo Day 1". TechCrunch. Retrieved 2019-07-09.
  43. ^ Rao, Leena (2013-02-09). "Meet Kirsty Nathoo, Y Combinator's Secret Financial And Operational Weapon". techcrunch.com. TechCrunch. Retrieved 2020-01-20.
  44. ^ Arrington, Michael (2010-09-01). "Reddit Cofounder Alexis Ohanian To Join Y Combinator". TechCrunch. Retrieved 2012-02-28.
  45. ^ Graham, Paul (2010-11-12). "Y Combinator announces two new partners, Paul Buchheit and Harj Taggar". Y Combinator Posterous. Retrieved 2012-02-28.
  46. ^ Former YC Partner Harj Taggar Is Building The New Technical Hiring Pipeline With TripleByte (May 7, 2015), Kim-Mai Cutler, TechCrunch
  47. ^ Melanson, Mike (2011-01-14). "Posterous Co-Founder Garry Tan Leaves for Y Combinator". Readwriteweb.com. Retrieved 2012-02-28.
  48. ^ a b "Former Y Combinator Partner Garry Tan on What Too Many Startups Get Wrong". Fortune. Retrieved 2019-03-18.
  49. ^ Tan, Garry (January 23, 2012). "Welcome Garry and Aaron". Y Combinator Posthaven. Retrieved October 22, 2012.
  50. ^ a b c "Y Combinator hires first black partner to recruit more minorities". USA Today. 2014-12-03.
  51. ^ Seibel, Michael. "Welcome Eric, Holly, Diego, Matt, Nic, Kenny, Kyle, Adele, Jose, Matt, Ramon, and Gia". Y Combinator. Retrieved 2019-03-18.
  52. ^ "Y Combinator is launching a startup program in China". TechCrunch. Retrieved 2019-10-27.
  53. ^ "An update on YC China". Y Combinator. Retrieved 2019-10-27.
  54. ^ "Y Combinator president Sam Altman steps down to focus on OpenAI". VentureBeat. 2019-03-08. Retrieved 2019-05-27.
  55. ^ "How to Start a Startup". paulgraham.com.
  56. ^ "Say what? 'Young people are just smarter'". 28 March 2007.
  57. ^ Research, Y Combinator. "HARC". harc.ycr.org.
  58. ^ "Y Combinator launches new "Human Advancement Research Community"". 11 May 2016.
  59. ^ "Y Combinator Research launches Human Advancement Research Community, Alan Kay participating". 11 May 2016.
  60. ^ Altman, Sam. "HARC".
  61. ^ "Members". 26 November 2017. Archived from the original on 2017-11-26.

External linksEdit