June 19, 2024


Unlimited Technology

Y Combinator Grew As Covid Forced It Online


Welcome to this weekly roundup of stories from Matt Turner, Insider’s co-Editor in Chief of business. Subscribe here to get this newsletter in your inbox every Sunday. Plus, download Insider’s app for news on the go – click here for iOS and here for Android.

Hope you’re enjoying your Labor Day weekend. Here’s what we’re going over today:

Y Combinator president Geoff Ralston in front of a bunch of graduation caps with logos of startups that have graduated from the program.

Y Combinator; Skye Gould/Insider

What’s trending this morning:

Y Combinator is scaling up fast

Y Combinator is where aspiring tech founders can meet billionaire investors. They used to accept a small number of startups per cohort, but recently had 377 in its largest-ever (remote) Demo Day:

The three-month program — part startup school, part mentorship — has produced smash hits like $96 billion Airbnb and $95 billion Stripe. For venture-capital firms looking for an edge, seducing a fledgling YC startup with a check before Demo Day is an easy way to get a jump on the competition.

But the flouting of rules that Seibel called out in 2019 points to a transformation underway at YC, which recently celebrated its 16th birthday: The camaraderie, mentorship, and traditions that once defined the YC experience, and in which some of its biggest hits were forged, have all but disappeared.

​​Founders going through the program live all around the world, and it has ballooned to more than 300 companies in a single batch — a scale that’s raised questions among YC alumni, investors, and up-and-coming entrepreneurs about whether the program is still the elite training ground and badge of honor it once was.

Get the inside scoop on the unicorn factory:

Also read:

Working at Theranos meant paranoia and stress for some ex-staffers

Elizabeth Holmes

Nhat V. Meyer/MediaNews Group/Mercury News via Getty Images

As former Silicon Valley superstar Elizabeth Holmes goes on trial, former Theranos employees spoke out about what it was like to work for the ambitious and now-disgraced founder: 

Now, at the start of one of the most anticipated tech trials of all time, which started August 31, former employees look back at Elizabeth Holmes’ Theranos, telling Insider about her infatuation with secrecy and unrelenting belief that their work would change the world. 

Her unconventional requests and expectations — like forbidding the use of the word “blood” during interviews — defined many of their experiences. Several of Holmes’ associates, including former Theranos employees — some of whom are speaking out for the first time — expressed concern that her 7-week-old infant would distract jurors from the crimes she’s alleged to have committed. 

“I hope justice gets served for the investors and patients that were defrauded” a former Theranos operations engineer said.

Read what former staffers say about the high-profile exec:

Also read:

JD Vance wants to save the Rust Belt — but experts are skeptical

Peter Thiel, J.D. Vance, and Donald Trump inside a red state shape of Ohio on a light yellow background

John Lamparski/Getty Images; Astrid Riecken For The Washington Post via Getty Images; Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images; Samantha Lee/Insider

JD Vance, the bestselling author of “Hillbilly Elegy”, is running for Senate in Ohio — one of the highest-profile Senate primaries— but experts say that it isn’t clear what, the author has really achieved in business or philanthropy:

Plenty of politicians seek to bolster their image by pointing to their business acumen and philanthropic efforts. In reality, though, it’s not clear what, if anything, Vance has achieved through his company or his charity.  

A review by Insider of Our Ohio Renewal’s tax filings showed that in its first year, the nonprofit spent more on “management services” provided by its executive director — who also serves as Vance’s top political advisor — than it did on programs to fight opioid abuse. 

 The group, which has shut down its website and abandoned its Twitter account after publishing only two tweets, says it commissioned a survey to gauge the needs and welfare of Ohioans, but Vance’s campaign declined to provide any documentation of the project. A spokeswoman for Ohio’s largest anti-opioid coalition told Insider that she hadn’t heard of Vance’s organization.

“This is a charade,” said Doug White, a nonprofit expert and former director of the master’s program in fundraising management at Columbia University, who reviewed Our Ohio Renewal’s tax filings for Insider. “It’s a superficial way for him to say he’s helping Ohio. None of that is actually happening, from what I can tell.”

Read the full story on Ohio’s high-profile Senate candidate:

Also read:

Tom Montag’s perplexing BofA departure

Tom Montag

Craig Barritt/Getty Images for Tory Burch Foundation

Bank of America senior employees aren’t surprised at COO Tom Montag’s retirement, but the timing of his announcement remains perplexing. Montag has yet to name a successor, though many believe no single candidate will replace him. Several potential heirs could be set to step up:

Speculation that Montag, now 64, could soon retire has swirled for years, according to conversations since 2019 with current and former senior employees who’ve worked with BofA’s global banking and markets president.

But people familiar with Montag said they had pictured a long, celebratory farewell tour — a la Derek Jeter with the New York Yankees — as more in keeping with how the charismatic, larger-than-life figure would have wanted to say goodbye. 

Montag’s retirement was also bundled together with that of fellow senior executive Anne Finucane, 69, who spearheaded efforts to overhaul the bank’s reputation post-financial crisis and leads the firm’s ESG mission. Both are set to depart by year end.

“It’s somewhat unusual that two senior executives would resign simultaneously and that no succession plan for either would be announced,” a former BofA executive told Insider.

See how Bank of America plans to fill the role:

Also read:

Event alert: Join us on Tues., Sept. 14 at 12pm ET for “The Future of Mobility: Data Driving Innovation,” presented by Arity, to learn how technology and data are transforming habits and enhancing app user experience. Register here.

Finally, here are some headlines you might have missed last week.

— Matt 

  • Advertising’s labor shortage is crushing agency employees, who talk of 16-hour days and mounting client demands
  • Insiders say Yale missed an opportunity to add diversity to its iconic, $31 billion endowment
  • Hedge fund pay, revealed: How much engineers, associates, and researchers make at AQR, Bridgewater, Citadel, D.E. Shaw, Point72, and Two Sigma
  • ‘Big 4’ salaries, revealed: How much Deloitte, KPMG, EY, and PwC accountants and consultants make, from entry level to executive roles
  • $9 billion Tanium quietly laid off most of its senior product marketers, a month after its latest CMO left, sources say
  • This startup helps the New York Times and Expedia rank more highly on Google. Check out the pitch deck it used to raise $55 million. 

Compiled with help from Phil Rosen.

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