Y Combinator (company)

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Y Combinator
Limited liability company
Industry Venture capital
Founded March 2005
Founder Paul Graham, Jessica Livingston, Robert Morris, Trevor Blackwell,
Headquarters Mountain View, California, United States
Number of locations
2 offices (2014)
Key people
Paul Graham, Jessica Livingston, Robert Morris, Trevor Blackwell, Sam Altman, Paul Buchheit, Dalton Caldwell, Kate Courteau, Kevin Hale, Aaron Harris, Justin Kan, Carolynn Levy, Jon Levy, Kat Manalac, Kirsty Nathoo, Geoff Ralston, Michael Seibel, Garry Tan, Qasar Younis, Harj Taggar, Alexis Ohanian, Brian Chesky, Adora Cheung, Patrick Collison, Drew Houston, David Rusenko, Emmett Shear
Products Investments
Website www.ycombinator.com
Paul Graham talking about Prototype Day at Y Combinator Summer 2009

Y Combinator is an American seed accelerator, started in March 2005. Forbes has found YC to be the most commercially successful seed accelerator in the world.[1] Wired has called Y Combinator a "boot camp for startups" and "the most prestigious program for budding digital entrepreneurs".[2] Marc Andreessen has said "Y Combinator is the best program for creating top-end entrepreneurs that has ever existed.”[3]


In its main program Y Combinator interviews and selects two batches of company per year. The companies, which must be based in Silicon Valley for the 3 month program, receive seed money, advice, and connections in exchange for 7% equity.[4] The program includes "office hours", where startup founders meet individually and in groups with Y Combinator partners for advice. Founders also participate in weekly dinners where guests from the silicon valley ecosystem (successful entrepreneurs, venture capitalists etc) speak to the founders. The program aims to focus the founders on working intensively on further developing their product, team and market, refining their Business Model Canvas, achieving product/market fit, scaling the startup into a high growth business, etc. A key principle is that companies make products that people want.[5] The program culminates at Demo Day where startups present their business to a selected audience of investors.[6]

As of November 2014, 27 YC companies were worth over $100m.[7] As of Winter 2015, Y Combinator had invested in ~940 companies including Dropbox, Airbnb, Coinbase, Stripe, Reddit, Zenefits, Machine Zone, Instacart and Weebly, and the combined market capitalization of YC companies was over $65B.[8]

Some non-profit organisations also participate in the main YC program, and are not charged.[9]

In 2015 YC introduced additional programs:

  • In July 2015, Y Combinator introduced YC Fellowship Program, aimed at companies at an earlier stage than the main program, and planning for 1000 startups every year.[10] The first batch of YC Fellowship includes 33 companies, which received an equity-free grant instead of an investment.[11]
  • In October 2015, Y Combinator introduced the YC Continuity Fund, aimed at companies at a later stage than the main program, which will allow YC to make pro rata investments for companies valued under $300 million. Companies with valuations above this level can receive support at the discretion of Y Combinator.[12]
  • In October 2015 YC introduced YC Research, to fund long-term (25 years is mentioned) fundamental research. YC President Sam Altman donated $10m.[13]


Y Combinator was started in 2005 by Paul Graham, Jessica Livingston, Trevor Blackwell and Robert Morris.[14] From 2005 to 2008 one program was held in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and one was held in Mountain View, California. In January 2009, Y Combinator announced that the Cambridge program would be closed and all future programs would take place in Silicon Valley.[15]

In 2009, Y Combinator partnered with Sequoia Capital and angel investors such as Ron Conway, Paul Buchheit and Aydin Senkut to further the support of the young startups with increased funding.[16]

Then in 2011, Yuri Milner and SV Angel offered every Y Combinator company a $150,000 convertible note investment.[17] The amount put in to each company was changed to $80,000 when Start Fund was renewed.[18]

In September 2013, Paul Graham announced Y Combinator would fund nonprofit organizations accepted into its program after having tested the concept with Watsi (while continuing to fund mostly for-profit startups).[19]

In 2014, founder Paul Graham announced he was stepping down and that Sam Altman would take over as President of Y Combinator.[20] That same year, Altman announced "The New Deal" for YC startups, which offers $120,000 for 7% equity.[21]

In February 2015, Sam Altman announced a partnership with Bolt and increased support for hardware companies.[22]


Y Combinator was founded in March 2005 by Paul Graham and Jessica Livingston (who later married) as well as Robert Morris and Trevor Blackwell, with whom Paul had previously co-founded Viaweb.

In early 2010, Harj Taggar, cofounder of Y Combinator-funded Auctomatic, joined as an advisor. In September 2010, Alexis Ohanian, co-founder of Y Combinator-backed Reddit, joined.[23] In November 2010, Gmail creator Paul Buchheit and Harj Taggar were named partners.[24] In 2015, Taggar left YC to start Triplebyte, a startup aiming to assist companies with their technical hiring needs.[25]

In January 2011, Y Combinator-backed Posterous co-founder Garry Tan joined YC, first as designer-in-residence and later as partner.[26]

In the summer of 2014, Sam Altman became president of Y Combinator.[27] Y Combinator also announced a Board of Overseers: Brian Chesky, cofounder of AirBnB, Adora Cheung, cofounder of Homejoy, Patrick Collison, cofounder of Stripe, Drew Houston, founder of Dropbox, Jessica Livingston, David Rusenko, Emmett Shear, and Sam Altman, cofounder of Loopt.

As of May 2015, additional Y Combinator partners are Dalton Caldwell, founder of imeem and app.net; Kevin Hale, cofounder of Wufoo; Aaron Harris, cofounder of Tutorspree; Justin Kan, cofounder of Exec, Twitch.tv and Justin.tv; Attorneys Carolyn Levy and Jon Levy; Kat Manalac; Kirsty Nathoo; Geoff Ralston, creator of Rocketmail; Michael Seibel, cofounder of Socialcam; and Qasar Younis, cofounder of Talkbin. Kate Courteau is the director of Y Combinator's non-profit program.[28]


In 2013, Y Combinator began accepting nonprofit organizations. Notable Y Combinator-backed nonprofits include Watsi (crowdfunding medical treatment in developing countries), Immunity Project (using machine learning to develop an HIV/AIDS vaccine), Noora Health (empowering patient family caregivers to take better care of their loved ones at home), 80,000 Hours (provides career advice to help top graduates choose the most impactful careers),[29] CareMessage (using mobile technology to help improve health outcomes for underserved patients) and Zidisha (direct person-to-person lending to developing countries).[30]

Kate Courteau runs Y Combinator's non-profit program.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ http://www.forbes.com/sites/tomiogeron/2012/04/30/top-tech-incubators-as-ranked-by-forbes-y-combinator-tops-with-7-billion-in-value/
  2. ^ Levy, Steven (2011-05-17). "Y Combinator Is Boot Camp for Startups". Wired. Retrieved 2011-06-24. 
  3. ^ https://www.ycombinator.com/
  4. ^ Altman, Sam. "The New Deal". Retrieved 22 April 2014. 
  5. ^ https://twitter.com/sama?ref_src=twsrc%5Egoogle%7Ctwcamp%5Eserp%7Ctwgr%5Eauthor
  6. ^ Graham, Paul. "What happens at YC". Retrieved 8 May 2013. 
  7. ^ https://twitter.com/sama/status/535886478501376000
  8. ^ Altman, Sam. "YC Stats". Retrieved 26 August 2015. 
  9. ^ http://www.ycombinator.com/nonprofits/
  10. ^ Loizos, Connie. "Y Combinator Just Introduced a New Program to Reach Up to "1,000" Companies Per Year". Retrieved 21 July 2015. 
  11. ^ Altman, Sam. "YC Stats". Retrieved 26 August 2015. 
  12. ^ Hughes, Chase. "YC Announces its YC Continuity Fund". Pro Business Plans LLC. Retrieved 17 October 2015. 
  13. ^ http://blog.ycombinator.com/yc-research
  14. ^ "How Y Combinator Started". Paul Graham. Retrieved 2012-03-15. 
  15. ^ "California Year-Round". Y Combinator. Retrieved 2009-01-29. 
  16. ^ "Y Combinator Gets The Sequoia Capital Seal Of Approval". TechCrunch. 2009-05-16. Retrieved 2011-02-10. 
  17. ^ "Start Fund: Yuri Milner, SV Angel Offer EVERY New Y Combinator Startup $150k". Retrieved 2011-01-28. 
  18. ^ Rao, Leena Rao. "Y Combinator’s YC VC Will Replace The Start Fund; Includes Yuri Milner, Andreessen Horowitz But Offers Less Money". 
  19. ^ Ken Yeung (6 September 2013). "Y Combinator To Fund Non-Profit Startups With Charitable Donations". The Next Web. Retrieved 1 October 2014. 
  20. ^ "Sam Altman for President". Y Combinator. Retrieved 2014-02-21. 
  21. ^ "The New Deal". Y Combinator. Retrieved 2014-04-22. 
  22. ^ "YC for Hardware". Y Combinator. Retrieved 2015-02-05. 
  23. ^ Wednesday, September 1st, 2010 (2010-09-01). "Reddit Cofounder Alexis Ohanian To Join Y Combinator". TechCrunch. Retrieved 2012-02-28. 
  24. ^ Graham, Paul (2010-11-12). "Y Combinator announces two new partners, Paul Buchheit and Harj Taggar". Y Combinator Posterous. Retrieved 2012-02-28. 
  25. ^ Former YC Partner Harj Taggar Is Building The New Technical Hiring Pipeline With TripleByte (May 7, 2015), Kim-Mai Cutler, TechCrunch
  26. ^ Melanson, Mike (2011-01-14). "Posterous Co-Founder Garry Tan Leaves for Y Combinator". Readwriteweb.com. Retrieved 2012-02-28. 
  27. ^ "Sam Altman for President". YCombinator blog. February 21, 2014. 
  28. ^ "Partners". Y Combinator. Retrieved July 17, 2014. 
  29. ^ Taylor, Colleen (August 4, 2015). "80,000 Hours (YC S15) Helps Top Graduates Choose Careers That Matter". Retrieved October 6, 2015. 
  30. ^ "Zidisha Is International Microlending, Immunity Project Is An HIV Vaccine; Two Nonprofits Currently Doing Y Combinator". January 24, 2014. Retrieved July 21, 2014. 

External links[edit]