07:02 AM

Y Combinator's Paul Graham Would Never Do A Startup Again

Here is a fascinating interview with Paul Graham, co-founder of Y Combinator, in Inc. magazine, by Issie Lapowsky. (Hat tip Matt Rosoff.)

When did it become the dream of young people to run off to Silicon Valley and found a startup? What happened to make kids' dreams so mundane? 

Paul Graham has been working with hundreds of young business teams for many years and he has lots of interesting things to say in this interview. Here's a few extracts from: Paul Graham on Building Companies for Fast Growth | Inc.com:


- You recently brought on Groupon founder Andrew Mason as a part-time partner. How come?

He is great, that's why. He is brilliant and hilariously funny. One thing I know about start-ups is that, internally, they're all train wrecks. You read about some train wrecks in the press and other train wrecks stay out of the press. I would certainly never hold it against Andrew that his particular train wrecks ended up being reported.

. . .

Are there any bad habits that many Y Combinator founders share?

They don't realize how independent they can be. When you're a child, your parents tell you what you're supposed to do. Then, you're in school, and you're part of this institution that tells you what to do. Then, you go work for some company, and the company tells you what to do. So people come in like baby birds in the nest and open their mouths, as if they're expecting us to drop food in. We have to tell them, "We're not your bosses. You're in charge now."

. . .

How do you know when a small idea has big potential?

We thought Airbnb was a bad idea. We funded it because we really liked the founders. They seemed so determined and so imaginative. Focusing on them saved us from our own stupidity.

The very best ideas usually seem like bad ideas at first. Google seemed like a bad idea. There were already several other search engines, some of which were operated by public companies. Who needed another? And Facebook? When I first heard about Facebook, it was for college students, who don't have any money. And what do they do there? Waste time looking at one another's profiles. That seemed like the stupidest company ever.

. . .

Do you ever miss the excitement of building a start-up yourself?

My God! I would never do that again. It's much easier to be an investor than it is to start a company. I mean, I sort of have started a company, because Y Combinator has become so big, but at least we're not serving data to paying customers or dealing with issues that blow up in the middle of the night. Even though it's more of a company now than I meant to start, it's not as bad as running a start-up.

Lots more here:  Paul Graham on Building Companies for Fast Growth | Inc.com