Paul Graham Is Stepping Down From His Day-To-Day Role At Top Startup Accelerator Y Combinator


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Startup School

Paul Graham leading a keynote with Mark Zuckerberg for a Y Combinator event.

Paul Graham is stepping down from his day-to-day role at the startup accelerator he co-founded, Y Combinator. Sam Altman, who has been a partner at Y Combinator, will be taking over for Graham.


Y Combinator has found and funded billion-dollar startups such as Airbnb and Dropbox.

Graham says his decision came down to the need for Y Combinator to grow.

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"It has nothing to do with the current startup environment," Graham told Business Insider of his decision. I started trying to recruit Sam to take over back in 2012...I'm just not much good at running the sort of (comparatively) large organization YC is going to have to become. Sam will be much better at that.

Graham will stay on as an advisor and he'll work with startups during YC's office hours.

Here's the blog post Graham just published:


I'm delighted to announce that Sam Altman has agreed to become president of Y Combinator starting next batch. I'll continue to do office hours with startups, but Sam is going to lead YC.

Why the change? Because YC needs to grow, and I'm not the best person to grow it. Sam is what YC needs at this stage in its evolution.

I'm convinced there's a fundamental change happening in the way work gets done. It's becoming normal to start a startup. There will be a lot more startups in 10 years than there are now, and if YC is going to fund them, we'll have to grow proportionally bigger.

Of all the people we've met in the 9 years we've been working on YC, Jessica and I both feel Sam is the best suited for that task. He's one of those rare people who manage to be both fearsomely effective and yet fundamentally benevolent-which, though few realize it, is an essential quality in early stage investing. Sam is one of the smartest people I know, and understands startups better than perhaps anyone I know, including myself. He's the one I go to when I want a second opinion about a hard problem. And his association with Y Combinator is only about a month shorter than mine, because he was one of the founders in the first batch we funded, in 2005.

So when Sam became available in 2012, I started trying to recruit him. It took me over a year, but eventually I succeeded.


YC should feel the same to the startups we fund. Office hours are the way founders interact with me, and I'll still be doing those. In fact, since I'll only be doing office hours and not also worrying about running YC, I'll probably be able to give better advice.