Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Paul Graham’s Y Combinator Start-Ups Strut Their Stuff and Investors Eat It Up

One way you can tell that Y Combinator’s Paul Graham is a big deal: The start-up founders he mentors refer to him by his initials. As in, “PG says we should…” And, “PG always….”

A more pertinent measure of Graham’s influence: His “Demo Day,” when his start-ups strut their stuff after three months of product-building, packs a roomful of Silicon Valley’s most connected investors and buyers. Firms I spotted in attendance yesterday include Google (GOOG), Intel (INTC), AOL (AOL), Accel, Benchmark, Spark and Bessemer.

And I wasn’t looking at name tags that closely. Because I spent most of my time watching the Y Combinator guys (and yes, there was nary a woman among the 26 start-ups) make their pitches, which were generally compelling. And at the very least, enthusiastic. One even included this promise: “This is literally the next Google.”

Gotta love that. I’ll tell you about some of them down the road.

But first, let’s talk to Graham himself about the state of the start-up world, the renewed interest in angel investing, and his definition of a successful start-up. Actually, I’ll spoil the last one for you: “The founders end up rich.”


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The problem with the Billionaire Savior phase of the newspaper collapse has always been that billionaires don’t tend to like the kind of authority-questioning journalism that upsets the status quo.

— Ryan Chittum, writing in the Columbia Journalism Review about the promise of Pierre Omidyar’s new media venture with Glenn Greenwald