Y Combinator

American seed money startup accelerator

Encyclopedia from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Y Combinator Management, LLC
TypeLimited liability company
IndustryStartup accelerator
FoundedMarch 2005; 18 years ago (2005-03)
FoundersPaul Graham, Jessica Livingston, Robert Tappan Morris, Trevor Blackwell
Number of locations
2 offices (2014)
ProductsVenture capital, investments

Y Combinator (YC) is an American technology startup accelerator launched in March 2005.[1] It has been used to launch more than 4,000 companies,[2] including Airbnb, Coinbase, Cruise, DoorDash, Dropbox, Instacart, Quora, PagerDuty, Reddit, Stripe and Twitch.[3] The combined valuation of the top YC companies was more than $600 billion by January 2023.[4] The company's accelerator program started in Boston and Mountain View, expanded to San Francisco in 2019, and was entirely online during the COVID-19 pandemic.[5] YC is back in person as of the summer 2023 batch. Forbes characterized the company in 2012 as one of the most successful startup accelerators in Silicon Valley.[6]


Paul Graham talking about Prototype Day at Y Combinator Summer 2009

Y Combinator was founded in 2005 by Paul Graham, Jessica Livingston, Robert Tappan Morris, and Trevor Blackwell.[7]

From 2005 to 2008, one program was in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and one was 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 be in Silicon Valley.[8]

In 2009, Sequoia Capital led the $2 million investment round into an entity of Y Combinator to enable it to invest in approximately 60 companies a year.[9] In 2010, Sequoia led an $8.25 million funding round for Y Combinator to further increase the number of startups the company could fund.[10]

In 2011, Yuri Milner and SV Angel offered every Y Combinator company a $150,000 convertible note investment.[11] The amount put into each company was changed to $80,000 when Start Fund was renewed.[12]

In September 2013, Y Combinator began funding nonprofit organizations that were accepted into the program after testing the concept with Watsi.[13]

In 2014, Sam Altman replaced Graham as president of Y Combinator.[14] In 2014, Y Combinator began a new deal for startups, offering $150,000 for 7 percent equity.[15]

In 2014, Altman announced a partnership with Transcriptic to provide increased support for Y Combinator's growing community of biotech companies.[16] In 2015, he announced a partnership with Bolt and increased support for hardware companies.[17]

The YC Fellowship Program was announced in July 2015, with the goal of funding companies at the idea or prototype stage.[18] 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 changed the fellowship program, with participating companies receiving $20k investment for a 1.5 percent equity stake. The equity stake is structured as a convertible security that converts into shares only if a company has an initial public offering (IPO), or a funding event or acquisition that values the company at $100 million or more.[19] The fellowship was discontinued in 2017.[20]

In 2016, Y Combinator 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.[21]

Former Twitter chief financial officer and chief operating officer Ali Rowghani, who was in charge of the YC Continuity Fund when it began, became CEO of YC Continuity. Michael Seibel, who co-founded Justin.tv, became CEO of YC Core, the program that Paul Buchheit had run since 2016.[22]

In 2017, Y Combinator began Startup School, an online course that released public videos and coached individual startups. More than 1500 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 accept all those 15,000 companies.[25] Now, every company is accepted to join YC Startup School without any restrictions.

In 2019, Geoff Ralston replaced Altman as president of Y Combinator.[26][27]

In January 2022, YC announced a new standard deal of $500,000 ($125,000 for 7% and an additional $375,000 on an uncapped safe with an MFN).

The summer 2020 batch was conducted remotely via videotelephony due to the COVID-19 pandemic.[28]

In the summer of 2022, Y Combinator intentionally shrunk the number of startups within its accelerator down 40% from 414 companies to 250 companies.[29]

In January 2023, Garry Tan returned to YC as president and CEO.[30]


Y Combinator interviews and selects two batches of companies per year. The companies receive a total of $500,000 in seed money as well as advice, and connections. The $500,000 in funding is made up of $125,000 on a post-money S.A.F.E in return for 7% equity and $375,000 on an uncapped S.A.F.E. with a most favored nation (MFN) provision. Non-profits receive a $100,000 donation.[31] The program includes "office hours", where startup founders meet individually and participate in group meetings. Founders also participate in weekly meetups 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."[32] The program teaches founders how to market their product, refine their teams and business models, achieve product/market fit, and scale the startup into a high growth business, etc. The program ends with Demo Day, where startups present their business and technology prototypes to potential investors.[33]

Y Combinator operates additional programs and a fund designed to support and invest in startups which have already graduated from the main accelerator program. The Series A Program, YC Post-A Program, YC Growth Program, and YC Continuity fund are operated by the same team and focus on helping fast growing YC startups, and startups raising their Series B funding of $20 million to $100 million.[34][35]

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.[18]
  • 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.[36]
  • Nonprofit research lab YC Research was announced in October 2015. Researchers are paid as full-time employees and can receive equity in Y Combinator.[37][38][39] OpenAI was the first project undertaken by YC Research, and in January 2016 a second study on basic income was also announced.[40] Another project is research on new cities.[41] Australian quantum physicist Michael Nielsen is a research fellow at YC Research since 2017.[42]
  • In October 2015, YC introduced YC Research to fund long-term fundamental research. YC President Sam Altman donated $10m.[37]
  • During 2017–2019, YC launched Startup School, the Series A program, the YC Growth program, Work at a Startup, and YC China.[43]
  • In March 2019, it was reported that Y Combinator was moving headquarters to San Francisco.[44]

As of late 2021, Y Combinator had invested in >3,000 companies,[2] most of which are for-profit. Non-profit organizations can also participate in the main YC program.[45] Few non-profits have been accepted in the last years, among them Watsi, Women Who Code, New Story, SIRUM, Zidisha, 80,000 Hours, and Our World in Data.[46]


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.[47]

In early 2010, Harj Taggar joined as an advisor. In September 2010, Alexis Ohanian joined.[48] In November 2010, Paul Buchheit and Harj Taggar were named partners.[49] In 2015, Taggar left YC.[50] Taggar returned to YC in 2020 as a group partner.

In January 2011, Garry Tan joined YC, first as designer-in-residence and later as partner.[51][52] He left YC in November 2015.[52]

[53] Later in 2011, Aaron Iba joined as a partner.[54]

In February 2014, Sam Altman became president of Y Combinator.[14]

Michael Seibel joined Y Combinator as part-time partner in January 2013 and later became a full-time Partner in 2014.[55]

The company includes managing directors, group partners, visiting group partners and team members as listed on its website.[53]

In 2018, Y Combinator announced that Lu Qi, a former CEO of Baidu and Bing, would join the company as CEO of YC China.[56] Y Combinator announced that Lu left YC in November 2019 and that it had decided not to pursue a program in China.[57]

In March 2019, Y Combinator announced its president Sam Altman would be transitioning into a Chairman position to focus more on OpenAI and Geoff Ralston would be the new president.[43][58]

In January 2022, Garry Tan returned to YC as president and CEO.


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.[59] It was also at a Y Combinator event, the 2007 Startup School, that Mark Zuckerberg said, "Young people are just smarter".[60] Research on this issue published by Harvard Business Review found Y Combinator's views to be misguided, as the average age of a successful startup founder was found to be 45 years old.[61]

Open Research project

The Human Advancement Research Community (HARC) project was set up with the "mission to ensure human wisdom exceeds human power".[62][63] The project was inspired by a conversation between Sam Altman and Alan Kay.[64] Its projects include modelling, visualizing and teaching software, as well as programming languages. Members included Alan Kay, Bret Victor, and Vi Hart. Patrick Scaglia was chair of HARC and was listed as an advisor in 2017.[65][66] YC Research disaffiliated with Y Combinator and now operates as Open Research.[67][68]

See also


  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". January 14, 2021. Retrieved January 14, 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  5. ^ Patel, Nilay (2021-06-08). "The next generation of startups is remote". The Verge. Retrieved 2021-07-05.
  6. ^ Geron, Tomio (April 30, 2012). "Top Startup Incubators And Accelerators: Y Combinator Tops With $7.8 Billion In Value". forbes. Retrieved September 21, 2021.
  7. ^ Graham, Paul (March 15, 2012). "How Y Combinator Started". Y Combinator. Archived from the original on July 17, 2014. Retrieved October 22, 2016.
  8. ^ Graham, Paul (January 2009). "California Year-Round". Y Combinator. Archived from the original on March 6, 2017. Retrieved October 22, 2016.
  9. ^ "Y Combinator Gets The Sequoia Capital Seal Of Approval". TechCrunch. 2009-05-16. Retrieved 2011-02-10.
  10. ^ Rao, Leena (21 May 2010). "Y Combinator Closes New $8.25 Million Fund, Sequoia Is Lead Investor". TechCrunch.com. Retrieved 22 June 2016.
  11. ^ Arrington, Michael (January 28, 2011). "Start Fund: Yuri Milner, SV Angel Offer EVERY New Y Combinator Startup $150k". TechCrunch. Retrieved October 22, 2016.
  12. ^ 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.
  13. ^ Yeung, Ken (6 September 2013). "Y Combinator to Fund Non-Profit Startups with Charitable Donations". The Next Web. Retrieved 1 October 2014.
  14. ^ a b Graham, Paul (February 21, 2014). "Sam Altman for President". Y Combinator. Retrieved October 22, 2016.
  15. ^ "Y Combinator's 'New Deal' for startups: More money, same 7% equity". VentureBeat. 2014-04-23. Retrieved 2016-11-29.
  16. ^ Altman, Sam (December 8, 2014). "Transcriptic for YC biotech startups". Y Combinator. Retrieved October 22, 2016.
  17. ^ Altman, Sam (February 5, 2014). "YC for Hardware". Y Combinator. Retrieved October 22, 2016.
  18. ^ 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.
  19. ^ "Fellowship V2". Y Combinator Posthaven. Retrieved 2016-01-27.
  20. ^ "With a new CEO, Y Combinator will wind down fellowships and start a MOOC". TechCrunch. 13 September 2016. Retrieved 2020-09-09.
  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 (16 June 2017). "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. 8 March 2019. Retrieved 2020-09-09.
  28. ^ Seibel, Michael (April 20, 2020). "YC S20 Remote Batch". Y Combinator.
  29. ^ Mascarenhas, Natasha (2022-08-02). "Y Combinator narrows current cohort size by 40%, citing downturn and funding environment". TechCrunch. Retrieved 2022-09-15.
  30. ^ "Y Combinator Names Venture Capitalist Garry Tan As Its Next President". Forbes. Retrieved 2023-02-24.
  31. ^ Nathoo, Kirsty (January 2022). "The New Deal". Y Combinator. Retrieved 16 January 2022.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  32. ^ Graham, Paul (April 2008). "Be Good". PaulGraham.com. Retrieved 8 February 2016.
  33. ^ Graham, Paul (June 2014). "What happens at YC". Y Combinator. Retrieved 8 May 2013.
  34. ^ "Y Combinator Continuity". Retrieved 18 October 2021.
  35. ^ "YC Growth Program". Retrieved 18 October 2021.
  36. ^ Altman, Sam (October 15, 2015). "YC Continuity". Y Combinator. Retrieved February 8, 2016.
  37. ^ a b Altman, Sam (October 7, 2015). "YC Research". Y Combinator Posthaven. Retrieved October 22, 2016.
  38. ^ Yeung, Ken (2015-10-08). "Sam Altman commits $10M to start Y Combinator research lab". VentureBeat.
  39. ^ Newton, Casey (7 October 2015). "Y Combinator is launching its own in-house moonshot group". The Verge. Vox Media.
  40. ^ "YCR is a non-profit research lab". Y Combinator Research. Retrieved October 22, 2016.
  41. ^ Cheung, Adora. "New Cities".
  42. ^ "Michael Nielsen". michaelnielsen.org. Retrieved 2019-03-27.
  43. ^ a b Combinator, Y. "Updates from YC". Y Combinator. Retrieved 2019-03-11.
  44. ^ 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.
  45. ^ Graham, Paul (September 2013). "YC Will Now Fund Nonprofits Too". Y Combinator. Retrieved 18 October 2016.
  46. ^ "Here are the 85+ startups that launched at YC's W19 Demo Day 1". TechCrunch. 19 March 2019. Retrieved 2019-07-09.
  47. ^ Rao, Leena (2013-02-09). "Meet Kirsty Nathoo, Y Combinator's Secret Financial And Operational Weapon". techcrunch.com. TechCrunch. Retrieved 2020-01-20.
  48. ^ Arrington, Michael (2010-09-01). "Reddit Cofounder Alexis Ohanian To Join Y Combinator". TechCrunch. Retrieved 2012-02-28.
  49. ^ Graham, Paul (2010-11-12). "Y Combinator announces two new partners, Paul Buchheit and Harj Taggar". Y Combinator Posterous. Retrieved 2012-02-28.
  50. ^ Former YC Partner Harj Taggar Is Building The New Technical Hiring Pipeline With TripleByte (May 7, 2015), Kim-Mai Cutler, TechCrunch
  51. ^ Melanson, Mike (2011-01-14). "Posterous Co-Founder Garry Tan Leaves for Y Combinator". Readwriteweb.com. Retrieved 2012-02-28.
  52. ^ a b "Former Y Combinator Partner Garry Tan on What Too Many Startups Get Wrong". Fortune. Retrieved 2019-03-18.
  53. ^ a b "People". Y Combinator. Retrieved 2022-05-19.
  54. ^ Tan, Garry (January 23, 2012). "Welcome Garry and Aaron". Y Combinator Posthaven. Retrieved October 22, 2012.
  55. ^ "Y Combinator hires first black partner to recruit more minorities". USA Today. 2014-12-03.
  56. ^ "Y Combinator is launching a startup program in China". TechCrunch. 15 August 2018. Retrieved 2019-10-27.
  57. ^ "An update on YC China". Y Combinator. Retrieved 2019-10-27.
  58. ^ "Y Combinator president Sam Altman steps down to focus on OpenAI". VentureBeat. 2019-03-08. Retrieved 2019-05-27.
  59. ^ "How to Start a Startup". paulgraham.com.
  60. ^ "Say what? 'Young people are just smarter'". 28 March 2007.
  61. ^ "Research: The Average Age of a Successful Startup Founder Is 45". Harvard Business Review. 11 July 2018. Retrieved 18 October 2021.
  62. ^ Research, Y Combinator. "HARC". harc.ycr.org.
  63. ^ "Y Combinator launches new "Human Advancement Research Community"". 11 May 2016.
  64. ^ "Y Combinator Research launches Human Advancement Research Community, Alan Kay participating". 11 May 2016.
  65. ^ Altman, Sam. "HARC".
  66. ^ "Members". 26 November 2017. Archived from the original on 2017-11-26.
  67. ^ "YC Research, now OpenResearch, and its portfolio of research projects are no longer affiliated with Y Combinator". ycr.org. Retrieved 2023-03-06.
  68. ^ "OpenResearch". www.openresearchlab.org. Retrieved 2022-05-19.

External links

Original content from Wikipedia, shared with licence Creative Commons By-Sa - Y Combinator