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Y Combinator Is A Stupid Idea

I wanted to call this entry “Y Combinator Is A Bullshit Idea” but the ads on the side wouldn’t have displayed due to the “bullshit” in the title.

So, I just read the Christopher Steiner article “The Disruptor In The Valley” at Forbes.com (which is about Paul Graham and his company Y Combinator) and I immediately thought of the bit from “The Simpsons” (Season 12 – Episode 9) when Homer is undergoing medical experiments for money. He tries an appetite suppressant:

1000Memories, Amish Jani, Andrew Hyde, Andrew Mason, Andy Sack, Ashton Kutcher, Aydin Senkut, Bin 38, Bob Davis, Brad Feld, Brian Kempner, Christopher Steiner, Dan Nova, Daniel Gaisin, Danielle Hootnick, Dave McClure, David Brown, David Cohen, Demi Moore, Demo Day, Diego Gutierrez, Edmond Yue, Emmett Shear, Eric Lefkofsky, Fergal Mullen, FirstMark Capital, Founders At Work, Francis Duong, Gaurav Tewari, Gerald Poch, Greg McAdoo, Harjeet Taggar, Highland Capital Partners, Irena Goldenberg, Jared Polis, Jeff Weiner, Jessica Livingston, Jessica Mah, Jill Kennedy, John Hsin, John Palfrey, Jr., Justin Kan, Justin.tv, Khan Manka, Larry Wilson, Laurence Albukerk, Lawrence Lenihan, Loopt, Manish Patel, Manka Bros., Mark Zuckerberg, Matt Nichols, Michael Arrington, Michael Gaiss, Nick Marsh, OnMedea, Paul Buchheit, Paul Cianciolo, Paul Graham, Peter Bell, Reddit, Richard de Silva, Richard Heitzman, Rick Heitzmann, Robert Morris, Ron Conway, Rudy Adler, Sand Hill Road, Scott Shane, Scott Switzer, Sequoia Capital, Sergey Nazarov, Shabbir Dahod, Shawn Broderick, Sheryl Sandberg, Sterling Phillips, Tapzilla, TechCrunch, TechStars, TextPayMe, Trevor Blackwell, Y CombinatorHOMER: “I’m BLIND!”
SCIENTIST #1: “Who’s gonna buy a pill that makes you blind?”
SCIENTIST #2: “We’ll let marketing worry about that!”

Y Combinator is basically offering Silicon Valley a pill that makes them blind (but marketing will fix it).

They offer a little bit cash to grab a whole lot of equity in these tiny start-ups – most which are not even close to being ready for that kind of exposure (or financial decision).

However, with the right spin, PR and influence behind them, they (apparently) ARE ready for the additional money that others might throw their way (for another giant chunk of equity)… IF they can manage to get through the grueling YC BOOTCAMP.

So many of these companies just aren’t ready and, frankly, just aren’t necessary.

It’s like the YouTube star who gets a small role on “The Big Bang Theory” and can barely speak because they’re so nervous and everyone realizes they have no acting skills whatsoever.

This is not to say that there aren’t a lot of geniuses out there with a lot of great ideas. There are. Most are much smarter than me (but not as smart as Khan Manka, Jr.I’m under order to say).

But these geniuses (and mostly non-geniuses, let’s be serious) are being exploited by Paul Graham and company and tossed to these VC wolves who will eat many a carcass to get to the next Facebook (which MUST BE STOPPED… but I digress).

Seriously, in another Hollywood analogy, any start-up attempting to get their business going through Y Combinator is like the screenwriter in Los Angeles who will pay people to read their script because they “work at a studio.”

The chances of success in one of these cattle call models is virtually zero.

Zero for everyone except Paul Graham (and partners).

As a quick primer, allow me a paragraph (from Wikipedia) to explain Y Combinator to those who may not know what it is:

1000Memories, Amish Jani, Andrew Hyde, Andrew Mason, Andy Sack, Ashton Kutcher, Aydin Senkut, Bin 38, Bob Davis, Brad Feld, Brian Kempner, Christopher Steiner, Dan Nova, Daniel Gaisin, Danielle Hootnick, Dave McClure, David Brown, David Cohen, Demi Moore, Demo Day, Diego Gutierrez, Edmond Yue, Emmett Shear, Eric Lefkofsky, Fergal Mullen, FirstMark Capital, Founders At Work, Francis Duong, Gaurav Tewari, Gerald Poch, Greg McAdoo, Harjeet Taggar, Highland Capital Partners, Irena Goldenberg, Jared Polis, Jeff Weiner, Jessica Livingston, Jessica Mah, Jill Kennedy, John Hsin, John Palfrey, Jr., Justin Kan, Justin.tv, Khan Manka, Larry Wilson, Laurence Albukerk, Lawrence Lenihan, Loopt, Manish Patel, Manka Bros., Mark Zuckerberg, Matt Nichols, Michael Arrington, Michael Gaiss, Nick Marsh, OnMedea, Paul Buchheit, Paul Cianciolo, Paul Graham, Peter Bell, Reddit, Richard de Silva, Richard Heitzman, Rick Heitzmann, Robert Morris, Ron Conway, Rudy Adler, Sand Hill Road, Scott Shane, Scott Switzer, Sequoia Capital, Sergey Nazarov, Shabbir Dahod, Shawn Broderick, Sheryl Sandberg, Sterling Phillips, Tapzilla, TechCrunch, TechStars, TextPayMe, Trevor Blackwell, Y CombinatorY Combinator is an American seed-stage startup funding firm, started in 2005 by Paul Graham, Robert Morris, Trevor Blackwell, and Jessica Livingston. Y Combinator provides seed money, advice, and connections at 3-month programs. In exchange, they take an average of about 6% of the company’s equity.

Compared to other startup funds, Y Combinator provides very little money ($17,000 for startups with two founders and $20,000 for those of three or more). This reflects Graham’s theory that between free software, dynamic languages, the web, and Moore’s Law, the cost of founding a startup has greatly decreased.

1000Memories, Amish Jani, Andrew Hyde, Andrew Mason, Andy Sack, Ashton Kutcher, Aydin Senkut, Bin 38, Bob Davis, Brad Feld, Brian Kempner, Christopher Steiner, Dan Nova, Daniel Gaisin, Danielle Hootnick, Dave McClure, David Brown, David Cohen, Demi Moore, Demo Day, Diego Gutierrez, Edmond Yue, Emmett Shear, Eric Lefkofsky, Fergal Mullen, FirstMark Capital, Founders At Work, Francis Duong, Gaurav Tewari, Gerald Poch, Greg McAdoo, Harjeet Taggar, Highland Capital Partners, Irena Goldenberg, Jared Polis, Jeff Weiner, Jessica Livingston, Jessica Mah, Jill Kennedy, John Hsin, John Palfrey, Jr., Justin Kan, Justin.tv, Khan Manka, Larry Wilson, Laurence Albukerk, Lawrence Lenihan, Loopt, Manish Patel, Manka Bros., Mark Zuckerberg, Matt Nichols, Michael Arrington, Michael Gaiss, Nick Marsh, OnMedea, Paul Buchheit, Paul Cianciolo, Paul Graham, Peter Bell, Reddit, Richard de Silva, Richard Heitzman, Rick Heitzmann, Robert Morris, Ron Conway, Rudy Adler, Sand Hill Road, Scott Shane, Scott Switzer, Sequoia Capital, Sergey Nazarov, Shabbir Dahod, Shawn Broderick, Sheryl Sandberg, Sterling Phillips, Tapzilla, TechCrunch, TechStars, TextPayMe, Trevor Blackwell, Y CombinatorIn other words, throw a bunch of shit on the wall and see what sticks.

Great for Paul Graham (based on his idea, Y Combinator would have gotten $20,000 from Y Combinator), but terrible for almost all of those thousands who apply to his program every year just in the hope of getting the YC stamp of approval (and 60 lbs of chili).

So Y Combinator is a Venture Capitalist that funds your start-up so that your start-up can get funded by another Venture Capitalist.

Enough with these f-ing VCs, man.

Whatever happened to creating a company, becoming successful and growing it based on that initial success?

Success because you have a product that people really (REALLY) want.

Thousands of techies are just sitting around coffee shops and cafes in all the “Silicon Valleys of the world” trying to think up new ideas that Paul Graham (and others like him) might like.

Not because it’s an idea that the start-up founder actually believes in anymore – but because it’s one that might get funding.

I mean, fuck passion, right?

These days it’s not whether your company succeeds or fails, it’s whether it gets funded in the first place and a mention on TechCrunch.

1000Memories, Amish Jani, Andrew Hyde, Andrew Mason, Andy Sack, Ashton Kutcher, Aydin Senkut, Bin 38, Bob Davis, Brad Feld, Brian Kempner, Christopher Steiner, Dan Nova, Daniel Gaisin, Danielle Hootnick, Dave McClure, David Brown, David Cohen, Demi Moore, Demo Day, Diego Gutierrez, Edmond Yue, Emmett Shear, Eric Lefkofsky, Fergal Mullen, FirstMark Capital, Founders At Work, Francis Duong, Gaurav Tewari, Gerald Poch, Greg McAdoo, Harjeet Taggar, Highland Capital Partners, Irena Goldenberg, Jared Polis, Jeff Weiner, Jessica Livingston, Jessica Mah, Jill Kennedy, John Hsin, John Palfrey, Jr., Justin Kan, Justin.tv, Khan Manka, Larry Wilson, Laurence Albukerk, Lawrence Lenihan, Loopt, Manish Patel, Manka Bros., Mark Zuckerberg, Matt Nichols, Michael Arrington, Michael Gaiss, Nick Marsh, OnMedea, Paul Buchheit, Paul Cianciolo, Paul Graham, Peter Bell, Reddit, Richard de Silva, Richard Heitzman, Rick Heitzmann, Robert Morris, Ron Conway, Rudy Adler, Sand Hill Road, Scott Shane, Scott Switzer, Sequoia Capital, Sergey Nazarov, Shabbir Dahod, Shawn Broderick, Sheryl Sandberg, Sterling Phillips, Tapzilla, TechCrunch, TechStars, TextPayMe, Trevor Blackwell, Y CombinatorJill Kennedy – OnMedea

P.S. – Also Digg is dead – R.I.P.so is Electus and Comic-Con but I digress… again.

Permanent link to this article: http://mankabros.com/blogs/onmedea/2010/11/03/y-combinator-is-a-stupid-idea/

82 comments

5 pings

  1. dis says:

    you keep spamming this blog post on every ycombinator / paul graham media post since YEARS. it reflects poorly on you and your business if spam is the only way you can keep your clicks up

  2. Kizi says:

    Thanks for sharing the article, all ideas are reasons

  3. Rosa says:

    When I first saw the Y in an orange box, I was all wtf and shrguged a bit when I looked up Y Combinator as a math reference. But you know, I knew instantly that Paul Graham was about being different that what was on the current menu. And that was a good thing that made me listen more closely to what he had to say and what the organization would become. Good stuff.

  4. Huz says:

    Thanks for sharing the article

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