Michael Seibel. Photo: Y Combinator
Aug. 25, 2020 7:00 AM PDT

Y Combinator has won acclaim for a twice-yearly training program that produced Silicon Valley crown jewels such as Stripe and Airbnb. But for the first time since the startup accelerator’s inception in 2005, all 220 participants had to dial in remotely, threatening a valuable component of YC—its ability to help founders forge connections. 

For Michael Seibel, who became CEO of YC's startup accelerator in 2016, restrictions on in-person meetings added to the challenge of running the program. Heading into this year, it had already faced criticism for increasing the number of companies in its batches and for stoking a Silicon Valley hype cycle through its demo day, when venture capitalists compete to invest in untested young startups.

Seibel, in an interview with The Information Monday, deflected those complaints, suggesting some came from people who prefer “superelite groups.” He shed light on how the accelerator adjusted to the year’s upheaval, including encouraging founders to focus on breaking even rather than growth at all costs, and showed how the recent graduates resembled earlier founders who had set up companies in a crisis. 

Get access to exclusive coverage
Read deeply reported stories from the largest newsroom in tech.
Latest Articles
 
Man v. Machine AI
Can Creatives Survive the Future War Against Dall-e 2?
Illustration by Clark Miller
Earlier this year, Karen X. Cheng, a video director in San Francisco, was commissioned by a client to make an augmented reality dress for special events. The idea was to “hide” an animation of a beating heart within the dress, which an Instagram filter would reveal whenever a phone camera was pointed at the wearer’s chest. Cheng, who specializes in creating videos using...
Latest Briefs
 
Peloton Announces Job Cuts, Store Closures and Price Hikes
South Korea’s Mirae Asset Management Led $250 million SpaceX Investment
Founder of Crypto Exchange Houbi in Talks to Sell Stake for $1 Billion
Stay in the know
Receive a summary of the day's top tech news—distilled into one email.
Access on the go
View stories on our mobile app and tune into our weekly podcast.
Join live video Q&A’s
Deep-dive into topics like startups and autonomous vehicles with our top reporters and other executives.
Enjoy a clutter-free experience
Read without any banner ads.
Art by Josh Brill
Exclusive Asia Startups
TikTok’s $4 Billion Advertising Machine Is Messy Behind the Scenes
Two years ago, social media sensation TikTok came up with a slogan to prod brands to be more authentic in their advertisements on the app: “Don’t Make Ads.
Viral Patel, global head of technology investing for Blackstone Credit. Art by Clark Miller.
Exclusive Venture Capital Startups
Blackstone Plans to Back Tech Startups in $2 Billion–Plus Lending Push
Private equity giant Blackstone is gearing up to make its first major push into lending to startups and technology companies—joining a corner of the debt market that’s quickly heating up.
Photo by Alaska Air Group.
Facebook
For Meta’s Next CFO Susan Li, Metaverse Dreams Mean Real-World Challenges
When Meta Platforms reported its first-ever quarterly revenue decline last month, the Facebook parent company also made a key promotion with little fanfare: 36-year-old finance executive Susan Li would become chief financial officer in the fall, replacing longtime CFO Dave Wehner, who held the role for eight years and would transition to a strategy role.
Enterprise Power List Venture Capital Enterprise
Introducing The Information’s Enterprise Tech Power List
The biggest battle in tech is happening where most consumers can’t see it: the cloud. And a new cast of executives and investors are increasingly calling the shots—making decisions about the future of the battle with trillions of dollars at stake.
Art by Clark Miller.
Venture Capital Startups
Venture Capital’s Limited Partners Warn of Fundraising Slowdown
The era of easy money could be over for venture capital firms. Although VC fundraising has so far matched last year’s brisk pace, limited partners—the people and institutions that invest in VC funds—say a slowdown is afoot.
Data Point Amazon Markets
Why Amazon Is Giving Employees Record Amounts of Stock, Even as It Trims Head Count
At a moment when Amazon’s overall workforce is shrinking, the company is awarding stock to employees at a record-breaking clip to keep top talent from heading for the exits.