Why Pitching Y Combinator Via Pornhub Doesn’t Work

When I first started getting linked to this I was positive I was being trolled, but it's real. This is definitely one of those stories that can only really be described as interesting. A two-person team of entrepreneurs from Be A Cow Inc. who are applying for Y Combinator's Fellowship program decided to get Y Combinator's attention by buying ads on Pornhub. The ads asked people to pass on a video message to the incubator's President, Sam Altman, to have him take an extra hard look at their application. The video itself is casual and features the…Read more …

What It Felt Like To Get Rejected By Y Combinator

Y Combinator is one of the top startup accelerators in the world and has invested in hugely successful companies including Dropbox, Airbnb, Coinbase, Stripe, Reddit, Zenefits, Instacart and Weebly.  Its reputation is such that every well-informed startup wants in for its programs; Y Combinator's fellowship program received 6,500 applicants this summer. It can be particularly stinging for passionate startup founders to be rejected, and there have been many stories circulated about what it's like to be rejected, how to get over the rejection, and why you were likely rejected. My story is, on paper, no different from…Read more …

The Real Message of the Airbnb Rejection E-mails

Airbnb founder Brian Chesky recently published a brief but fascinating post on Medium from Airbnb’s early days. Michael Seibel introduced the team to seven prominent Silicon Valley investors during Airbnb’s attempt to raise. They were attempting to raise $150,000 in exchange for 10% of the company’s equity. Airbnb has since gone on to grow explosively, with its valuation being worth an estimated $24 billion. None of those investors bit. The post features E-mails from the investors all politely declining, citing reasons including a lack of expertise, a perceived too-small market segment, and concerns…Read more …

Feature Rollouts: What Valve and Bethesda Got Wrong

If you’re an employee at Valve or Bethesda, I imagine you remember a very wild week in April. Video game publisher Valve, at the time, had unveiled a system to enable paid modifications on its Steam platform. Just four days later the plan was abandoned after a massive backlash. The system would have used Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim as a pilot, a game notable for its huge modding community that has kept interest in the game high long after its release in 2011. Mods for Skyrim have ranged from minor graphical improvement tweaks…Read more …

The Problem With Hiring A Chief Diversity Officer

It's no secret that there's a diversity issue in Silicon Valley and tech in general. Mike Isaac of the New York Times recently published an article highlighting incremental progress by tech companies and quoting Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Google as all collectively saying they "could do better" when it comes to hiring diverse candidates. If you read any statement by a tech company on diversity, it will likely be put forth by a chief diversity officer, head of global diversity or some variation of the role. The idea of hiring a chief diversity officer has gained…Read more …

On Steam Refunds and Antagonism Towards Customers

Valve's video game digital distribution platform, Steam, recently implemented a digital returns policy. By all accounts this is fantastic news and a big win for customer rights. Video game returns - even for physical copies - have been difficult to come by for very long time. Usually the most you could do is get a new copy of a defective physical disc, at least where I live. GOG.com and EA's Origin have only fairly recently implemented digital return policies. Return policies when it comes to online media have been fickle for a long time, and…Read more …

It’s Time To Ditch Stock Photos

Everyone in the business world can and should know that content is king. The major search engines and social networks love quality content. Facebook loves it and Google loves it. Pinterest is built around the curation of quality content. Beyond the effects of driving traffic and word-of-mouth referrals, enjoyable content is enjoyable for the person who matters most: The user. The major tech players understand this and are doing their best to cultivate environments where high quality content thrives. So with the above in mind, why are so many businesses using vapid, shallow, insipid stock photos that…Read more …