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How Y Combinator Changed the World

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How Y Combinator Changed the World

If launching Airbnb, Stripe, and Dropbox weren’t enough, the famous accelerator has had an outsize – and mixed – impact on all of us.


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Y Combinator’s influence reverberates beyond the tech industry. 

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Y Combinator has become a Silicon Valley household name. The company has helped thousands of start-ups get going, including such blockbusters as Airbnb. However, Y Combinator’s impact stretches beyond the tech start-up sector. As Steven Levy explains in Wired, the company helped define an investment culture centered around the celebration of audacious founders and investors’ unceasing, frantic search for the next unicorn.


Y Combinator helped thousands of start-ups launch their business ventures, including Airbnb and Dropbox.

Computer scientist and entrepreneur Paul Graham founded Y Combinator with banker Jessica Livingston – now his wife – in 2005. Sam Altman took over leadership in 2014, and it has since launched companies whose total valuation exceeds $400 billion. Twice a year, Y Combinator selects more than 1,000 start-up applicants to pitch their business plans in one-minute presentations during an event called “Demo Day.”

In its most recent round, Y Combinator selected 401 companies to enroll in its Startup School program. Besides receiving $125,000 in exchange for a 7% stake in their companies, start-up entrepreneurs receive mentoring and guidance for incorporation, trademarking...

About the Author

Steven Levy is a tech writer for Wired.

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