Timeline of Y Combinator

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This is a timeline of Y Combinator, an American seed accelerator.

Big picture

Time period Development summary
2005 Y Combinator launches. Later it would be considered the first accelerator built on the framework we know today. The conception of the accelerator flourishes after YC launch.[1]
2005–2008 YC runs two programs, one in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and one in Mountain View, California.
Since 2009 YC starts raising money from external investors and manages these funds to increase the number of startups it invests in.[2] The Cambridge program closes and YC moves all its future programs to the Silicon Valley.[3]
2014 YC graduates its first class of nonprofit organizations and starts expanding its reach to back biotechnology start-ups.
2015 YC introduces Y Combinator Research.
2017 YC cumulates investment in about 1,450 companies.[4] The combined valuation of YC companies reaches US$ 80 billion.[5] A Startup School is launched.
2018 YC reaches US$100 billion in market value for their portfolio of 1867 startups they’ve invested in.

Full timeline

Year Month and date Event type Details
1986 Prelude English-born Paul Graham earns his Bachelor of Arts in philosophy from Cornell University. In 1988, he would earn a Master of Science from Harvard University and his doctorate in philosophy by the same university in 1990.[6]
1993 Prelude Now a computer scientist, Paul Graham publishes On Lisp, a book on macro programming in Common Lisp.[7]
1995 Prelude Paul Graham and Robert Tappan Morris start Viaweb, the first software as a service company.[8]
2004 Prelude Paul Graham publishes Hackers & Painters, a collection of essays discussing hacking, programming languages, start-up companies, and many other technological issues.[9][10][11][12][13]
2005 March 1 Creation Y Combinator is founded by Paul Graham, Jessica Livingston, Trevor Blackwell and Robert Tappan Morris to provide seed funding to startups.[14][15]
2005 June Startup School YC launches the “First Batch” of its founding program in the summer. 11 companies graduate, including Reddit and Loopt (co-founded by Sam Altman).[16]
2005 November Background Paul Graham writes an article entitled Startups in 13 Sentences, which gives a list of advices and principles to startups.[17]
2006 January Startup School YC launches Winter 2006 batch YC class. 7 companies graduate, including Clustrix.[16]
2006 January Background Paul Graham writes an article entitled How to Do What You Love, which gives insights into the importance of developing personal interests and choosing work that brings long-term fulfillment over short-term gratification.[18][19]
2006 May Background Paul Graham writes an essay entitled How to Be Silicon Valley, arguing that a tech hub must have nerds and people with money, and proposing next tech hubs, like Boulder and Portland.[20][21]
2006 June Startup School YC launches Summer 2006 batch YC class. 11 companies graduate, including Xobni, Scribd, and OMGPOP.[16]
2006 Competition American seed accelerator Techstars is founded. It is considered the top competitor of YC.[22]
2007 January Startup School YC launches Winter 2007 batch YC class. 13 companies graduate, including Weebly, Virtualmin, Twitch.tv, and Octopart.[16]
2007 February 19 Hacker News Hacker News (news.ycombinator.com) launches with the name Startup News. Initially built by Paul Graham as a demonstration of Arc (Graham's own programming language in development), it would soon prove to be useful for bringing together the companies Graham was supporting and the rest of the folks who wanted in. The website would become successful for its purpose and a key part of YC success.[23]
2007 March Background Paul Graham publishes essay entitled Why To Not Not Start A Startup, which consists of his detailed responses to 16 doubts people typically have about launching their own tech business.[24]
2007 June Startup School Summer 2007 batch YC class launches. 19 companies graduate, including Dropbox, Disqus, Biographicon, AppJet, ZumoDrive, and Songkick.[25][16]
2007 August 14 Hacker News Startup News changes name to Hacker News.[26]
2007 Team (background) Trevor Blackwell is named by PC World one of 50 Most Important People on the Web.[27]
2007 March Publication Jessica Livingston publishes Founders at Work: Stories of Startups' Early Days, a collection of interviews with famous startup founders, including Steve Wozniak, Mitch Kapor, Ray Ozzie, and Max Levchin.[28]
2008 January Startup School Winter 2008 batch YC class launches. 21 companies graduate, including Machine Zone, Heroku, Ninite, Machine Zone, and 280 North.[25][16]
2008 June Startup School Summer 2008 batch YC class launches. 22 companies graduate, including Treehouse, Posterous, Poll Everywhere, Cloudant, and BackType.[16]
2008 Funding program YC open-sources a simplified set of Series AA Preferred Stock financing documents designed to streamline the early stage equity financing process.[29]
2008 Team (background) Jessica Livingston and Paul Graham get married.[30][31]
2008 Team (background) BusinessWeek includes Paul Graham in the 2008 edition of its annual feature, The 25 Most Influential People on the Web.[32]
2009 January YC announces that the Cambridge program will be closed and all future programs will take place in Silicon Valley.[33]
2009 January Startup School Winter 2009 batch YC class launches. 16 companies graduate, including Airbnb.[25][16]
2009 March External funding YC raises about US$ 2 million from Sequoia Capital and a handful of angel investors. Before this, the firm was funded solely by founders Paul Graham, Robert Tappan Morris, Jessica Livingston and Trevor Blackwell.[34]
2009 June Startup School Summer 2009 batch YC class launches. 26 companies graduate, including WePay, Mixpanel, WakeMate, Stripe, RethinkDB, Mixpanel, Lockitron, Listia, DailyBooth, and CarWoo.[25][16] A total of 42 startups graduate in the year.[35]
2009 July Advice for startups Paul Graham publishes post entitled How to Apply to Y Combinator, which explains what YC looks for when reading applications.[36]
2009 Competition Startup accelerator Launchpad LA is founded in California. It is perceived as one of YC's biggest rivals.[22][37]
2010 January Team Winter 2010 batch YC class launches. 27 companies graduate, including OwnLocal, Optimizely, and Creative Market.[16][38]
2010 February 1 Competition Utah-based accelerator BoomStartup is founded. It is seen as one of YC's top competitors.[39][22]
2010 May External funding YC closes a new fund of US$ 8.25 million bt Sequoia Capital leading again, in addition to a number of angels, including Ron Conway, Paul Buchheit, Aydin Senkut, XG Ventures, and Geoff Ralston.[40]
2010 June Startup School Summer 2010 batch YC class launches. 36 companies graduate, including PagerDuty, Docker, Recurse Center, PagerDuty, Homejoy, and 1000Memories.[25][41]
2010 September Team Internet entrepreneur Alexis Ohanian joins YC.[42]
2010 October Background Paul Graham writes essay entitled What We Look for in Founders, summarizing a set of qualities sought in startup founders.[43]
2010 November Team YC announces two new partners: American entrepreneur Paul Buchheit, and Harj Taggar, a former participant in the YC program hired to help advise startups.[44][45][46]
2011 January External funding Yuri Milner starts automatically backing all YC companies, with each start-up receiving US$150,000 from Milner and investor Ron Conway.[47][48]
2011 January Team Garry Tan joins YC, first as designer-in-residence and later as partner.[49][50]
2011 January Startup School Winter 2011 batch YC class launches. 44 companies graduate, including ZeroCater MemSQL, Fivestars, GOAT, Upverter, OrderAhead, MemSQL, Lanyrd, Humble Bundle, Earbits, DrChrono, and Grove.io.[25][16]
2011 Team Aaron Iba[51] and Sam Altman[52] join YC as partners.
2011 June Startup School Summer 2011 batch YC class launches. 63 companies graduate, including Segment, Sift Science, Vidyard, Codecademy, Automatic, Caviar, HackerRank, GoCardless, Verbling, Streak, Science Exchange, Quartzy, LeadGenius, Genius, and Firebase.[25][16]
2011 July Controversy Paul Graham responds defending YC graduate Airbnb in a controversy involving the hospitality service company being accused of mismanagement on ransack carried out by renters on the apartment of an Airbnb user.[53][54]
2012 January Team Geoff Ralston joins YC.[55]
2012 January Startup School Winter 2012 batch YC class launches. 64 companies graduate, including Gusto, LendUp, PlanGrid, Amplitude, Ridecell, Matterport, Rescale, FarmLogs, The Muse, YourMechanic, Swiftype, Socialcam, Shoptiques, PlanGrid, and Hackpad.[25][16]
2012 June Startup School Summer 2012 batch YC class launches. 83 companies graduate, including Coinbase, Instacart, Zapier, Soylent, Clever, Double Robotics, Flightfox, Fullstack Academy, HealthSherpa, Kamcord, Mattermost, and NewsBlur.[25]
2013 August Background Paul Graham writes essay entitled How to Convince Investors.[56]
2013 September Background Paul Graham writes essay entitled How to Raise Money, which focuses on phase 2 fundraising.[57]
2013 September Program Paul Graham announces YC would fund nonprofit organizations accepted into its program after having tested the concept with Watsi (a nonprofit healthcare crowdsourcing platform), while continuing to fund mostly for-profit startups.[58]
2013 October Expansion YC opens a satellite office in San Francisco.[59][60][61]
2013 January Team American entrepreneur Michael Seibel begins working at YC part-time as a partner.[62][63]
2013 January Startup School Winter 2013 batch YC class launches. 46 companies graduate, including Airware, Bitnami, CrowdMed, Goldbely, InfluxDB, Strikingly, Teespring, Zenefits, Wevorce, Wefunder, and Watsi (the first nonprofit funded by YC[64][65])[16]
2013 June Startup School Summer 2013 batch YC class launches. 53 companies graduate, including CoreOS, DataRank, DoorDash, True Link, 7 Cups, and Webflow.[16]
2014 January Startup School Winter 2014 batch YC class launches. 74 companies graduate Cruise, Flexport, Algolia, CodeCombat, Flexport, Guesty, Move Loot, Unbabel, and seven non-profits: Caremessage, Codenow, Immunity Project, Noora Health, One Degree, Open Curriculum, and Zidisha.[25][16] The non-profits are expected to further their social missions by focusing on their business model rather than solely relying on donations.[66]
2014 February Team Paul Graham announces that Sam Altman will take over as President of YC.[67]
2014 February Funding program As of date, YC cumulates more than 630 seeded startups.[2]
2014 March Conference YC hosts its first annual Female Founders Conference.[68]
2014 March Team Paul Graham steps away from his leadership role at YC, and also from his regular duties maintaining Hacker News, whose administration would go to hands of other staff members.[69][70]
2014 April 22 Funding program YC announces a new standard deal of investment of US$120,000 for 7%, which replaces its previous standard deal of on average US$ 17,000 for 7%, plus a safe that converted at the terms of the next money raised for another US$ 80,000. The new investment would come in two chunks, which together would represent a flat 7% of the company.[71]
2014 April Funding program YC Combinator starts expanding its reach to back biotechnology start-ups.[72][73]
2014 June Startup School Summer 2014 batch YC class launches. 78 companies graduate, including Ginkgo Bioworks, Checkr, uBiome, Rigetti Computing, Front, ShipBob, and SFOX among others become part of the Summer 2014 batch YC class.[25] Quora joins as an experiment in late-stage investments, but wouldn't be included in YC's portfolio stats.[74]
2014 July Requests for Startups YC publishes its Requests for Startups, listing several areas of interest such as energy, artificial intelligence, robotics, biotechnology (fighting disease, slowing aging, merging humans and computers, downloading memories, genetic programming, etc.), healthcare (ways to make the service better for less money), food and water availability, education (solutions combining technology with one-on-one in-person interaction), internet infrastructure, levers for productivity, science (new business models for basic research), commuting solutions, and a million jobs-potential companies.[75]
2014 September Requests for Startups As of date, YC lists the following fundable start-up ideas:
  • Energy: "Cheap energy, from new sources and long-lasting batteries"
  • Artificial intelligence: "Programs that imitate human creativity, desire and consciousness"
  • Robots: "From self-driving cars to space exploration"
  • Biotech: "Slowing ageing, downloading memories, genetic programming"
  • Healthcare: "Preventative healthcare, sensors, data and medical devices"
  • Pharmaceuticals: "Noortropics, smart drugs that enhance human intelligence"
  • Food and Water: "Solving upcoming problems with food and water availability"
  • Education: "Combine mass-scale tech with one-on-one in-person interaction"
  • Internet Infrastructure: "Better security and free communication"
  • Government: "Replacing bad software, crowdfunding for social services"
  • Human Augmentation: "Software that makes humans happier and more organized"
  • Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality: "Virtual and augmented reality that mimics physical presence"
  • Science: "Material, nanotech, space technology"
  • Transportation: "Lightweight, short distance personal transportation"
  • One Million Jobs: "Creation of new jobs for humans that can not be done by computers"
  • Programming: "What comes after programming languages?"
  • Hollywood 2.0: "New ways to discover celebrities online and distribute content"
  • Diversity: "Make tech more inclusive to all ages, races and cultures"
  • Developing Countries: "Vertical integrated businesses in China, India and South East Asia"
  • Enterprise Software: "Making expensive software cheap"
  • Financial Services: "Better ways to save and invest money"
  • Telecommunications: "Even better than Skype"[76]
2015 January Startup School Winter 2015 batch YC class launches. 113 companies graduate, including Gitlab, EquipmentShare, Atomwise, Razorpay, Qventus, GrubMarket, and 4 non-profits: DemocracyOS, Democracy Earth,

The Human Utility, and Sirum.[25][16]

2015 February Conference YC hosts its second annual Female Founders Conference.[77]
2015 February Requests for Startups Y Combinator releases The Application Video as a request for startups to briefly introduce themselves and explain their project. The videos are requested to be uploaded on YouTube, or an alternate service.[78]
2015 March Team Peter Thiel joins Y Combinator as one of 10 part-time partners.[79]
2015 March A four-hour invite-only crash course by Sam Altman is held at the seed fund's headquarters to teach new angel investors how to "evaluate founders and their ideas and how angels can be helpful to companies they invest in".[80]
2015 April Funding program As of date, the total value of YC–birthed startups is approximately US$ 50 billion.[81]
2015 May Team Harjeet Taggar leaves YC.[82][83]
2015 June Startup School Summer 2015 batch YC class launches. 102 companies graduate, including Bitmovin, Ironclad, Gigster, Second Measure, and 3 non-profits: 80,000 hours, Innerspace, and New Story.[25][16]
2015 July Funding program YC introduces the YC Fellowship Program aimed at companies at an earlier stage than the main program.[84]
2015 August 26 Recognition Fortune calls YC "a spawning ground for emerging tech giants".[85]
2015 October Funding program YC introduces the Y Combinator Continuity Fund. The fund allows Y Combinator to make pro rata investments in their alumni companies with valuations under US$300 million. Y Combinator also considers leading or participating in later stage growth financing rounds for YC companies.[86]
2015 October Funding program YC introduces Y Combinator Research to fund long-term fundamental research. YC President Sam Altman donates US$ 10million.[87] Researchers would be paid as full-time employees and be able to receive equity in Y Combinator.[87][88][89]
2015 October 31 Advice for startups Michael Seibel tweets his top ten pieces of advice for preparing for a YC Interview.[90]
2015 November Team Garry Tan leaves YC.[50]
2015 November Team Paul Graham writes essay entitled Jessica Livingston, where he claims that "Jessica knows more about the qualities of startup founders than anyone else ever has", and that she "literally made" YC by curating and nurturing more than anyone YC as a "nexus of people".[91]
2015 December Team (background) Sam Altman cofounds OpenAI, a non-profit company aimed at the safe development of artificial general intelligence. He and Jessica Livingston are announced as financial backers of the new company.[92][93]
2016 January Funding program YC announces version 2 of the program, with participating companies receiving US$ 20,000 investment for a 1.5% equity stake. The equity stake is structured as a convertible security that only converts into shares if a company has an IPO, or a funding event or acquisition that values the company at US$ 100 million or more.[94]
2016 January Startup School Winter 2016 batch YC class launches. 128 companies graduate, including Rappi, Podium, Boom, Embark, Function of Beauty, and three non-profits: dev/color, Mrelief, and SHRI (Sanitation and Health Rights in India).[16][25]
2016 January YC announces its intention to run basic income experiment with giving people enough money to subsist. The small pilot program is set to run in Oakland, California, where some people would receive a fixed set of money every month.[95][96][97]
2016 February Partnership Edtech-focused accelerator Imagine K12 merges with YC and opens enrollment for program known as "YC/Imagine K12". The purpose is to form an education-focused vertical within YC and fund edtech companies.[98][99][100]
2016 June Startup School Summer 2016 batch YC class launches. 105 companies graduate, including Scale Labs, People.ai, The Athletic, MessageBird, Hush, and three non-profits: New Incentives, Vote.org, and Women Who Code.[25][16]
2016 August 11 Funding program YC announces that YC partners would be visiting 11 countries during the fall to meet with founders and learn more about how they can be helpful to international startup communities. These 11 countries are Nigeria, Denmark, Portugal, Sweden, Germany, Russia, Argentina, Chile, Mexico, Israel, and India.[101][102]
2016 September Funding program YC announces broad, organizational changes, including winding down its YC Fellowships and launching a MOOC in 2017.[103]
2016 September Team Michael Seibel is announced as the new CEO of Y Combinator Core unit.[104][105]
2016 September 20 Advice for startups Online publishing platform Medium publishes post by Aditya Agarwalla titled Y Combinator Application Advice for International Companies, which attempts to give a quick set of points for those applying for YC.[106]
2016 September 27 Requests for startups YC updates its Request for Startups (RFS), which now includes enterprises offering improvements in food and farming, mass media (ways to improve the technology), and technologies and strong metrics-driven approaches for underserved communities and social services.[107]
2017 January 3 Request for startups YC publishes updated Request for Startups, seeking enterprises working te get clean, abundant and cheap water faster, and offering ideas ranging from lower-cost desalination plants, novel purification technologies, smart irrigation systems, mechanisms to reduce water usage, or novel approaches in water management.[108]
2017 January Startup School Winter 2017 batch YC class launches. 107 companies graduate, including Brex, Faire, etc, and 7 non-profits: Centre for Effective Altruism, Dost Education, No Lean Season, and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).[109][25][16]
2017 January Team YC recruits the American Civil Liberties Union as an advisor on immigration, after the group has successfully stopped President Donald Trump’s ban on immigrants from certain nations.[110]
2017 January 31 Request for startups YC publishes updated Request for Startups, seeking enterprises that offer tools for fact-checking, solutions envisioning the future of work, and enterprises using technology to make it easier and more appealing to get involved in the political process to improve democracy.[111]
2017 March Advice for startups Online platform Codementor publishes blog entitled 31 Tips for a Successful Y Combinator Application, which summarizes important factors to writing a successful YC application.[112]
2017 May Advice for startups Strikingly (the first Chinese company to graduate from YC) publishes blog giving advice on how to get into YC.[113]
2017 Team Australian quantum physicist Michael Nielsen becomes research fellow at YC Research.[114]
2017 June Recognition Forbes ranks YC one of two "Platinum Plus Tier U.S. Accelerators".[115]
2017 June Startup school Summer 2017 batch YC class launches. 123 companies graduate.[16]
2017 June 16 Funding program On a considered "world’s biggest startup demo day ever", as much as 1,584 companies complete YC’s online Startup School Founders Track program, a figure out of 2,820 startups accepted from the 13,321 companies that applied to YC’s 10-week program of one-on-one mentorship from past YC startup founders.[116]
2017 September 19 Request for Startups YC publishes its new Request for Education Startups, listing a few categories of education application, like process automation for operational efficiency, underserved markets (citing CodeHS as example), new approaches to old ideas, unusual business models, new school models (citing The Rumie Initiative as example), artificial intelligence, virtual reality and augmented reality.[117]
2017 November Team Peter Thiel leaves YC as a partner, a year after political differences rose between Donald Trump supporting Thiel and many of his peers in the tech world.[118][119]
2018 January Startup school Winter 2018 batch YC class launches. 143 companies graduate, including three non-profits: Tarjimly, Callisto, and Mind Emulation Foundation.[16]
2018 March 6 Request for Startups YC publishes its updated Request for Startups, listing 9 new categories: Brick and Mortar 2.0, Carbon Removal Technologies, Cellular Agriculture and Clean Meat, Cleaner Commodities, Improving Memory, Longevity and Anti-Aging, Safeguards Against Fake Video, Supporting Creators, and Voice Apps.[120]
2018 June Startup school Summer 2018 batch YC class launches. 107 companies graduate, including AnnieCannons and Enveritas.[16]
2018 Summertime Financial YC reaches US$100 billion in market value for their portfolio of 1867 startups they’ve invested in since 2005.[121]
2018 August Team Chinese-American engineer Qi Lu joins YC as the Head of YC Research and to run YC China.[122][123]
2018 September Team (background) BusinessWeek includes Paul Graham in 2008 edition of its annual feature, The 25 Most Influential People on the Web.[124]
2018 September 28 Funding program YC announces it will increase the size of its investments to US$ 150,000 for 7 percent equity starting with its winter 2019 batch.[59][125][126][127]
2018 October Team (background) Paul Graham and Robert Morris release Arc, a dialect of the language Lisp.[128]
2018 Funding program YC companies raise over US$ 964 million across 97 Series in the year.[129]
2019 January Startup school Winter 2019 batch YC class launches. 115 companies graduate, including three non-profits: Our World in Data, Upsolve, and Voting Works.[16]
2019 March Team It is reported that YC would be moving headquarters to San Francisco.[130][59]
2019 March Team (background) Jessica Livingston launches Summer Hackers Scholarship, which seeks to train aspiring women coders.[131]
2019 May 9 Startup school YC China announces to open for applications for their first batch, which would take place during the fall 2019. The three-month program would be held in Beijing and tailored to the Chinese market.[132]
2019 May 20 Team Y Combinator announces Geoff Ralston as new President of YC.[133] Meanwhile, Sam Altman would be transitioning to Chairman to spend more time focusing on Open AI.[134][135]
2019 May 21 Requests for startups YC updates its Requests for Startups with new addition titled Government 2.0, seeking to fund enterprises that create solutions that provide citizens the foundations for economic growth, and that are not well addressed by the United States Government, such as access to quality education, affordable housing/healthcare/food, physical safety, accurate news and information, a social safety net, and a livable environment.[136]

Numerical and visual data

Google Scholar

The following table summarizes per-year mentions on Google Scholar as of December 13, 2021.

Year "Y Combinator"
2006 30
2007 42
2008 40
2009 50
2010 67
2011 119
2012 136
2013 256
2014 271
2015 344
2016 511
2017 576
2018 635
2019 613
2020 612
Y combinator gscho.png

Google Trends

The comparative chart bellow shows Google Trends data for YCombinator (Company), Techstars (Company), 500 Startups (Topic), Venture Catalysts (Topic) and Startupbootcamp (Topic), from January 2004 to April 2021, when the screenshot was taken. Interest is also ranked by country and displayed on world map.[137]

YCombinator, Techstars, 500 Startups, Venture Catalysts and Startupbootcamp gt.png

Google Ngram Viewer

The chart below shows Google Ngram Viewer data for Y Combinator, from 2000 to 2019.[138]

Y Combinator ngram.png

The chart below shows pageviews of the English Wikipedia article Y Combinator, from July 2015 to March 2021.[139]

Y Combinator wv.png

Meta information on the timeline

How the timeline was built

The initial version of the timeline was written by User:Sebastian.

Funding information for this timeline is available.

Feedback and comments

The timeline was posted on the following Facebook groups: YCombinator Startup School 2018/2019 [1]

Feedback for the timeline can be provided at the following places:


What the timeline is still missing

Timeline update strategy

See also

External links


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