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:
HOMER: “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:
Y 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.
In 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.
Jill Kennedy – OnMedea
P.S. – Also Digg is dead – R.I.P. – so is Electus and Comic-Con… but I digress… again.