Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
About that time I had an outburst during the Y Combinator Interview (owlpal.substack.com)
511 points by curiousowl 3 months ago | hide | past | favorite | 248 comments

No idea why you would write this up or share it honestly. Call me old fashion but I wouldn't want to do business with someone who scream irrationally as loud as they can in response to simple questions or during business meetings. Especially since the outcome didn't lead to anything, just was 'something different'. Truly what is the message here?

Honestly being in the room I didn't feel screamed at. I felt like we finally got to the real reason why he was passionate about this problem/company. We just had a wade through all the "pitch stuff". I still think he ID'd a huge widespread problem that we still need a solution for.

I probably would have funded the guy (haven't seen the graveyard myself doing these interviews over the years, TBF), too, or at least kept in touch, as mwseibel did. The article made it sound like this wasn't lashing out in an inflammatory way, it was impassioned frustration.

And for every single self-serving puff piece out there about getting rejected from the YC interview, I'd say this one stands out as one of the few that are genuine.

That's fair, thanks for your clarification then.

I don’t get the niece problem… it’s not a lack of itinerary but a lack of time. If I had a relative / friend visit … we’ll I wouldn’t care if we had to just sit in a Starbucks or even McDonalds or do the most obvious tourist stuff as long as there is time.

You wouldn't care, but the niece wouldn't have any interest. I think that's the point, create another outlet for cool activities.

Ok I think I get it. It presumes you both have made time to do the activity.

My thoughts are … well there is timeout / lonelyplanet / TripAdvisor / meetup / city subreddits etc. so there is no shortage of ways to find cool things to do from 4 yr old to 100 year old!

I have a feeling that if successful a site like mentioned would devolve into a groupon or redbaloon though as it searches for more revenue.

The message is written at the end of the post:

> The lesson that I walked away with was to listen to that pain, no matter how irrational it may seem in the moment... I’ve been learning to listen and to trust my emotions in less desperate situations in the years since the YC interview.

I do not think the author is claiming you should shout about your niece in a YC interview. They told a pretty interesting anecdote and gave the insight they gained from it.

Not to be rude but your comment seems kind of like it should just be a downvote (or I suppose a withheld upvote).

I tend to find when someone starts a sentence with "not to be rude" or "with all due respect" or "I don't disagree", this person's subconscious is telling them "hey don't say this thing you're about to say because..."

And then the person just tells their subconscious to take a back seat and prefaces their statement with a dismissive phrase.

It could also mean:

"I'm struggling to find the right words, and the only ones I've found don't reflect the note I'm trying to sound."

There has to be some irony in you writing a passive aggressive reply over me adding in "not to be rude" in an attempt to not sound passive aggressive myself.

Maybe the irony is in me taking the bait and writing a passive aggressive reply to your passive aggressive reply.

I'm sure that you didn't mean to be rude, but you came off that way. That's fine, I also have a hard time articulating a balance between tone and content.

That's why I tend to preface comments that may be perceived as rude with a statement that it is not my intention.

The problem is that so many people use that phrase who actually do intend to be rude, so it has lost all meaning. There’s no point in using it any more.

All right, that is a valid point.

For me, anytime I've used any variation of "with...respect" it stands in as a polite substitute for "Fuck You" just before I tell them exactly why they are full of shit.

That's just me though.

I always read “with all due respect” as “I totally disagree but I also feel you are incredibly wrong, and would like to raise this in a way that gets us to detach our egos from our positions so we can dig into this”.

It does not always work to do this, mind you.

how did you come to believe in this theory?

  > how did you come to believe in this theory?
Eliza bot?

Heh. Just curious about the origin of this pretty detailed knowledge about other people's subconscious thoughts...

My takeaway, more than anything else — as someone who has never interacted with Michael Seibel — is immense respect/admiration for how well he handled it — staying focused on the true goal (understanding the pitch) and in the process coaxing out something even the entrepreneur couldn’t easily vocalize, and along the way gracefully de-escalating the situation.

There are a lot of ways the situation could have ended up with negative value for everyone involved, and it took a bit of skillful steering to turn it into something valuable. That level of emotional composure seems worth developing.

If you don't want to do business with people who are weird and erratic, you're probably not going to be great at seed investing.

What is telling about this example is that what seemed to have made the biggest impression was the least rehearsed, thought out, planned answer he could give, but rather the one that was the most sincere and most "down to earth."

I think there is so much about the YC format which really hints at that strategy likely being your best route of success -- the time constraint, the lack of pitch deck, etc. I mean, these are people who quite literally go through thousands of these. I can't really see any other way to possibly stand out than to try to be radically genuine and sincere, even when that seems (as the author seemed to have thought!) that it is the "less fancy" or "not the thing you are supposed to say." Quite literally anything else will be something they will have heard, at a minimum, dozens of other times.

It seems to me they're not evaluating the pair {problem, solution}, they're evaluating the pair {problem, founder} - the solution may be changed and tweaked and not be special but the founder has to be special, and carefully designed charts with pretty numbers don't explain a founder, emotional speeches do.

> It seems to me they're not evaluating the pair {problem, solution}, they're evaluating the pair {problem, founder}

I think that's a good insight. "Plans never survive contact with the enemy", and so solutions are constantly changing as a startup explores the problem space. Perhaps what VCs are actually looking for is:

1. The founder identified a problem that actually exists.

2. The problem actually has a solution that can be monetized, in theory.

3. They have confidence that the founder can hone in on a viable solution that can be monetized.

The pitch doesn't have to be the solution, it only has to show that a financially viable path to a solution plausibly exists, and that the founder seems competent enough to find the way towards a financially viable outcome. If even one of the above requirements isn't satisfied, investing money doesn't seem sensible.

Or as Mike Tyson put it: Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth

Or: How do you make God laugh? Tell Him your plans.

The evaluation is {solution, founder}.

Problem is, in some sense, irrelevant. You don't make money from the problem.

A good founder makes money from a solution.

How are you inferring that from this blog post? Everything about it seems to be saying "I've heard this solution a million times, and seen a million failures, do you have anything new?"

The answer is to have a solution that has not seen a million failures.

Because, just like the author of the blog, most of us have trained ourselves not to share these kinds of feelings.

In his pitch the founder conceived/pitched the solution as a veiled way to talk about his real problem.

I see it at my job all the time, we talk about technical problems and their solutions as a way of trying to share our fears, anxieties and feelings.

All the heady technical talk is just a proxy for what we really wish we could say.

I know this because I'm often the only one on the team brave enough to state the subtext openly, and have I often been thanked for that.

Every team needs a therapist, it would seem.

> Every team needs a therapist, it would seem.

I have really come to appreciate the need for regular retros on a team. That a team needs a very safe space to explore failures and difficulties. It helps to have someone who can facilitate, but cam be successful without. It should be long enough to feel slighty awkward, so that people have time to articulate thoughts, and there should be no manager for at least half an hour, so that grievances about them can be aired.

I’ve seen teams really come together and vastly improve with regular safe meetings. I’ve also seen teams start to fall apart when the retro format changed to make it harder to delve into some of the emotional parts.

This comment is a refreshing take on what real work looks like - thanks for sharing.

pg has in the past been quite blunt that he sees the quality of the founders as the most important thing, regardless of the solution.

As has repeated time and time again to the point of almost becoming mythology in my opinion, pg has posted about how he originally hated the AirBnB idea but loved the founders.

Seems like the sort of thing that wants to be a game. If you asked me to name a successful "urban exploration" startup, I'd probably name Pokemon Go and maybe Groupon.

The former isn't a "startup" companywise, and the latter isn't one now, but both were certainly novel, and strongly adjacent to the space under discussion. They both got people out of their homes and offices and into unfamiliar parts of town. My guess is the ultimate winner will find a way to hit both the Pokemon Go and Groupon psychological buttons at once.

No, the answer is not to be one of the million failures.

Which apparently means keeping your passion under pressure.

You nailed it.

Wait does this mean I get to interview for YC? /s

Not a founder, but a fan of y'alls work :-)

> I can't really see any other way to possibly stand out than to try to be radically genuine and sincere

You could have a unique idea that isn't shit. If you can't have a unique idea that isn't shit, you shouldn't be a startup founder in the first place.

I don't think a unique idea is necessarily required for a startup. It could be instead that you've identified an under serviced market niche. This could still be a very good startup idea.

True, but your idea has to at least be good or relevant, which OP's unfortunately wasn't. It doesn't take some weird emotional outburst to stand out, it takes having an actually good idea. Of course you need to convince them it's a good idea, but again you don't need an emotional outburst for that, if it's an actually good idea it should not be difficult.

In this case the emotional outburst suggested the founder might be in such close contact with the problem that he might find better solutions, and will likely recognize many non-solutions before wasting time on them.

At least that is a takeaway I would have.

It is not everything a VC might want to hear, but it is a positive.

Why would the emotional outburst suggest that when he's already spent so much time on something the YC interviewer considered a non-solution?

You can spend so much time on something, yet it wouldn't tell a YC interviewer that it's a problem you're intent to solve.

Case in point, my YC idea. I spent loads of my free time on building a MVP, got praise for it, but I did not have a burning passion to solve that problem, or even any desire that I wanted to be in that space long term.

What startup has a truly unique idea? Doing the same thing a hundred other companies are doing and being slightly better and luckier is how most of them got successful.

> If you can't have a unique idea that isn't shit, you shouldn't be a startup founder in the first place.

A taxi service available via a phone is not a unique idea, and it loses millions every single day (Uber).

A company that trades in government issued tax credits for not-pollution is not a unique idea, the Reagan administration invented it (Tesla)

A database sold to end users is not a unique idea, IBM did it in the 1960s (Oracle)

This list could go on ad-infinitum.

You’ve grossly mischaracterized every single one of these.

Nice story, but I think people here have the wrong takeaways from it. Having an outburst or sharing personal anecdotes isn't going to help you in an investor pitch. Had it happened earlier in their YC interview things wouldn't have gone any different, as they make it seem. The fundamental questions and doubts would have all been the same.

If you don't have solid differentiators, growth charts, revenue models a touching story will not help your startup.

Yeah, exactly ten years ago I heard a story from the founder of an urban exploration startup (yep) that was about a hundred times more touching and inspiring than this niece story. It was like best story of the year for me. The startup? Failed after two years.

I wonder what the story was

Yes, the author is basically saying that they felt unnoticed and were not receiving enough attention from the VC. Becoming very emotional did capture their raw attention, but in a way that was probably irrelevant to their goals.

This is a clear misreading of what is written in TFA.

They had lots of attention from the VC, but all the VC did was shoot down their idea(s). The emotional outburst changed the mood in the room, and they got a different kind of response from the VC.

I don’t think yours is a good reading, either. They had already gotten all the negative feedback so there wasn’t much of that left to get. The outburst also didn’t change the primary outcome (no funding). All it did was open the door to a different set of questions and a potential advisor (in my opinion not very helpful in this case). We’re also relying on the OP to tell us the mood was better when in fact it could have easily been a pity party to the other people there.

The key point is had the outburst not happened, the author would not have received the insight that "the best ideas address problems with high pain thresholds."

By revealing his pain, he learned the lesson which has apparently since served him well. The rest, including the mood, is just background.

In other words, if you're weighing two opportunities, one which addresses a minor annoyance or vague concern ("oh no, millenials are withdrawn") and another which fills an agonizing void ("why can't I connect with my niece?"), go with the second one.

That's a pretty fair reading. I missed out the "wasn't much left to get" part, although mostly because they didn't actually get much more even with the outburst.

I read it as, at first, they had a mundane take on a problem and a mundane solution. Millennials want experiences so we can <do whatever>. Then, the outburst revealed they actually had a more insightful take on the problem, the specific example of difficulty relating to the author's niece. However, they still didn't have insight into the solution.

My takeaway is something like it's better to drive from the clearest articulation of the problem to the solution, rather than divert into business-speak and make yourself sound cookie cutter. e.g. "I couldn't connect with my niece. It was isolating. Many millenials feel isolated this way. We solved the problem with my niece by doing X. X can scale to other millienials" is a better type of pitch.

Hmm, I think the article shows - to say it another way - a desire for validation from the VC, to be taken seriously. Which is of course a natural thing to want. Instead the VC was casually shooting down their idea. So they wanted a different kind of attention, and acknowledgement that they were different and remarkable (the article is actually pretty clear on this point). They wanted to be remembered, and, well, perhaps they were.

Correct. And after getting that attention they didn’t get funded. Because Michael was likely right and the world doesn’t need yet another urban exploration app. It seems to me that this creates a fun blog post and some long term personal growth but shouting about your niece doesn’t seem like the winning strategy when it comes to VC funding.

They should have understood their core ambition / pain point themselves earlier, and structured the product and strategy based on it. If many people clearly have this problem and it has not been addressed, that's their differentiator.

Though I'm glad they did finally figure it out, I think the lesson is to really reflect on your goals before pitching anything.

I had a previous co-founder have an outburst like this and I immediately cut all ties. It was one of the most astonishing un-professional things I'd ever experienced. It also hurt deeply because I'd largely considered this person to be my friend, until they started sending me threatening texts filled with vitriolic threats basically because things hadn't worked out for our concept. I believe mental health problems may have been the root of this, but it was a really bizarre experience.

I took a break from doing startup anything for about a year after that happened - I still have trust issues as a result of this experience. For anyone who thinks "radical honesty" or BS like that is effective in life or business, you're just going to look like an immature asshole or someone with serious mental issues.

au contraire, storytelling (and an easy to understand story) is all that matters in 2021 seed climate. "vibe is the new diligence"

In a way the story would make a great movie for this reason. If they got funded because of it, it would be like a Silicon Valley episode.

The outburst insight here seems promising. Gen-X people want real-world activities to do with their millennial relatives that are engaging to both. I'm in that situation myself. I struggle with arranging such activities, and I'd be happy to fork out real money for curated, guided shared experiences that connect with both generations.

The next step would be for the founders to start personally arranging such activities and see what works and which parts are hard.

I want a gaming community wherein every month an old multiplayer server based game is revived and people compete for prizes. The problem with this is that it requires good connections to the corporate owners of those games, to get permission to ship the .exe with a simple hex edit changing the master server list host. Or even add game modes. The intent being donations for various charities too of course.

There's still an existing community for games like the original PC Red Faction, as crazy as that is. Perfectly fun games, just needs players and some names in game streaming to pick it up.

I've thought about this problem a lot too. In my mind, there is no "Adult rec league for eSports" that exists right now. I can go to my local rec center and sign up for adult soccer, football, volleyball to meet people and play for fun in a lightly competitive environment, but no one has done that for eSports yet.

I like the idea of booting up old games in that format as well.

It's definitely a hard problem, but with the increase in recreation time, especially for creative workers, that we're continuing to see I think it could be a big company.

> The problem with this is that it requires good connections to the corporate owners of those games, to get permission

Does it? There might be some games to avoid from publishers that are still active, but I imagine there's a ton of effectively-abandonware games out there to build your idea upon.

I think that's a chicken and egg problem. The community would exist around games that were/are popular (like Red Faction for example). You can't just shoehorn in any old abandonware game and call it a day for community building.

To be blunt: my suggestion is to ask for forgiveness rather than permission. Most people who technically hold the rights to those older games won't care enough about them to enforce it. If they do, they'll almost certainly start with a C&D which is basically free to respond to. Very little risk. By the time you're large enough for them to care about, you've already succeeded and can ask for permissions properly.

Maybe, or maybe they particularly consider a hex edit to be an infringement on their image of the product and think it will harm their chances of selling the rights for a remake. Therefore they sue you because they can. If you can't ask for permission, you're not in a place to ask for forgiveness either.

Fuck I miss Red Faction series - hit me right in the feels.

>The next step would be for the founders to start personally arranging such activities and see what works and which parts are hard.

Yes! If you really believe you have a solution to a problem, then it makes sense to execute that solution in a way that doesn't scale, to verify that, with infinite resources, the solution works, and it feels good. This is a necessary, but not sufficient, condition for what comes next, which is (roughly) about making the production more efficient with technology. If you can maintain the utility of the solution and drive the cost down, there may be profit in those hills!

> I struggle with arranging such activities, and I'd be happy to fork out real money for curated, guided shared experiences that connect with both generations.

In the last few months this has actually become a relatively straightforward problem to solve thanks to now having 10x more data on various social activities due to the pandemic.

I totally agree!

I think the bigger problem here is not just that people have trouble finding those experiences but that all the stuff is targeted at young people. We do some serious work on systemic agephobia and shift some of the cultural focus to People of Age if we want generations to connect.

Just go for a hike together?

I thought the pandemic showed us all that we don't need to pay anyone money to connect. We could just go for a walk together and talk. If that unnecessary massive part of the economy was to disappear, we would have more free time to connect, too.

Just taking a walk and talking with someone with no extra activity for me can be often tiring and not that fun if I don't know the person well. Especially for dates I would rather spend even a fair bit of money to do something super fun rather then hope the conversation goes well.

“People of age”?

>> curated, guided shared experiences that connect with both generations.

I hate to say this, but just GTFO the house and go do something. Anything. Do something neither of you have before, explore the world together. Start by going for a walk someplace. If you don't even know what you like how is someone else going to know?

Curated activities are for tourists on vacation.

I think about how easy the substitutes for real human connection have become. Want a friend to make you laugh? Turn on Netflix. Want a quick hit of your favorite people? Pull up social media. Want intimacy? Fire up Tinder. This basic idea, that someone can deliver you a nice day around the city like ordering a pizza is maybe not so off base. It may seem like an incredible lack of imagination that people couldn't figure out what to do with a free day and a friend in NYC, but maybe imagination is in short supply these days.

Yes, I don't think that the answer to too much technology is more technology.

"something" and "someplace" are the problems here.

What will they like? Which places will be interesting?

It's not at all a given that someone with data and information can't give a more informed opinion on what options are available that may be popular with a set of people than those people themselves.

Why should curated activities only be for tourists on vacation?

There are tons of activities people aren't aware are available, or are aware of but don't know whether would be suitable for them, and which they avoid because there's an opportunity cost to making the wrong choice. Exploring that yourself can be fun, but it's also hit and miss.

The biggest problem to me with this idea isn't the idea that they can do better, but that even the founder took an emotionally charged situation to get to the point of verbalising that this was what he wanted. Wanting to help people who aren't necessarily aware that there's an issue someone could solve for them is tricky.

I live in London. There's stuff to do all over the place. If anything, the challenge is filtering and curating. I'd love a site that did it for me. Especially if it could also book things. Heck, I might even pay for personalised recommendations if it could cut the time I spend on choosing.

But I don't think I'm typical.

I suspect a lot of their potential userbase would be really hard to reach.

I believe Google had a service like this for a bit but it got killed. Don't recall what it is called.

You could book an activity on Airbnb, they offer that. You could go kayaking. You could go apple/pumpkin picking. etc. etc

You just have to think of things.

Yeah, but its thinking of things I'm likely to enjoy that I may not even be aware of are options and researching the options for that activity and which providers are worthwhile that makes it time consuming. Some people enjoy that aspect. I don't.

EDIT: With respect to Airbnb, they're all group activities, which for the most part makes them less interesting to me. I'd like the idea, a map, tickets/bookings if necessary, but for the most part I'd have no interest in guided activities. I get that makes it harder to profit of because you're giving away half the work by telling users about the activity.

>> What will they like? Which places will be interesting?

That's the point. Pick something at random, you'll learn what you find interesting together. You can even bond over discussions about what you didn't like. As long as "random" isn't something that's a hard NO for either party you should be good.

When I lived in SF, sf.funcheap.com was my go-to for this kind of thing, especially random tinder dates.

Everywhere I've lived since has lacked this sort of resource, and it's made meeting people & getting out and exploring much less newbie-friendly.

Maybe I just need to build the change I want to see in the world...

discovering these event discovery websites themselves is one of the challenges.

nyc has theskint, differnet neighborhood specific events listings (bushwickdaily, brokelyn come to mind for me), industry/event category specific listings (like different calendars for music / concerts, calendars for comedy, etc).

one problem is that these event discovery streams are scattered across mediums. for example you might find some nyc events scattered across some promoter's IG account, some that are advertised on TikTok, some on some old fashioned blog style website like those I initially listed above.

aggregators exist as well but they tend to be un-sexy and not likely to find long-tail / niche stuff / cooler more underground stuff.

the solution is often to ask people around you or involved in the space you're interested in how they find out about events. they will then tell you about the mailing list, or the IG account, or the website, or whatever.

of course, smaller cities and towns often don't have as large of 'scenes'. and anywhere you go, it's often more fruitful to just create the scene you want to be a part of.

Woah! Thank you so much for sharing that website

Yeah this is kind of the issue. For some going for a walk and exploring IS the activity. For some, like op, that doesnt seem like its bonding or actually connecting.

It's probably generational and based on how one interacts with others (are most of their friendships online or not).

But most people don't just go out and randomly walk around. And with the exception of high-density cosmopolitan cities, even if you did, you'd just end up in somewhere extremely boring.

One of the more effective ways of knowing where to go, is by talking with friends and collecting, curating that information over time. I don't know if this start-up is capable of replicating that experience - there are tons of urban blogs and the like that claim to do the same that I rarely use - but the problem domain and general solution seems reasonable.

"something. Anything". Optionality and lack of time to explore options is the issue. There is nothing wrong with taking a suggestion. It's obvious that this removes some possible serendipity but it also removes barriers to making something happen in the first place.

A certain sort of tourist on a certain sort of holiday at that.

"Michael Seibel is a professional hater. I've never been denied so consistently by such a charming, kind, and basically snuggly person."

Investors are both skeptics and speculators. And they can't be a good speculator without being deeply skeptical.

That's very different from hating and haters, though.

Haters hate irrationally, often driven by malicious envy.

Skeptics rightly ask people to give evidence for their claims, especially if those people are asking for funding. Why should they believe you?

Don Valentine, the founder of Sequoia, was famous for asking: "Why the f*ck should I give you my money?"

He was right to ask that, and that was a tone that worked at the time, when capital was scarcer.

For the record, Michael Seibel is not a hater. He is a skeptic when he has to be. And he is right to be skeptical. The burden of proof, when you have neither product nor traction, must be on the founder to prove to an investor that they should give them money.

The term is entertainingly used here to contrast it with the positive traits listed immediately after it. The sentence loses most of its humor if you change "hater" to "skeptic."

Everybody understands what the author is saying and that it isn't an insult.

I don't believe every one understands that, and while I recognize the attempt at humor, it was not effective for me. It would have been better if the author had chosen the mot juste.

I liken Michael in question-mode to being on train tracks with an engine bearing down on you. He will follow a line of reasoning with deep questions rapid fire. This puts you off guard and makes you lower your defenses – that way he gets to the shared understanding faster.

The important thing for the entrepreneur to do afterwards is to remember your responses and try to understand what he was driving at. There is a lot of emotion in the moment, but when you look back you find the wisdom.

For reference we were lucky enough to get him and Dalton as our YC advisors.

I learned this technique from one of the best YC interviewers of all time - Paul Buchheit.

I assume you get exhausted after doing that all day. Just know that I appreciate you doing it!

I got interviewed by Michael Seibel and didn't get into YC. The difference is my startup was doing 6-figures a month & growing 20% monthly but Michael just hated the idea. It was in cannabis and YC publicly stated they were interested in cannabis companies but apparently not cool with the whole smoking weed part.

It honestly felt like a big waste of time. The critiques weren't helpful, mostly just along the lines of "Why should I like your idea?". I thought we did well in the interview and kept our cool the whole time. We weren't in it for the money as we were profitable and wanted to expand our professional network and talent pool. It felt like we were just there to teach them about the cannabis market. We were acquired a couple years later with a nice outcome and I hold nothing against Seibel but I wish it hadn't felt like he was so antagonistic from the start.

This has been my experience with so many entrepreneurs. They have these visions that are planned and structured and overly though out that they miss the primary pain point their business is trying to solve and lack the ability to pivot because they have overly planned everything out.

I have gone out with entrepreneur clients and after a few drinks I suddenly have clarity as to why they really are trying to build their app/product/etc and that always changes everything. I sorta wish people would be more honest like this more often.

I wonder how much of this has to do with the medium of communication. People often have wonderful clarity when speaking but then muddle things up horribly when they write/create decks/etc.

I previously worked with a very smart and capable woman who was in charge of a client-facing department at an agency I was part of. She would ask me to review a presentation she had put together (often sales-focused, but not always), and I'd go through and at the end I'd often find myself saying, "You know, I'm finding this is (muddled | too much information | unclear). What exactly are you trying to say?"

And then she'd give me a succinct, spoken paragraph that completely nailed it. And I would say, "Okay, write that down and present that!"

I thought about this a fair bit because it was such an effective approach. It bears noting that, AFAIK, different parts of the brain are used for written communication as opposed to spoken communication. For instance it is possible to acquire a brain injury that prevents speech but not writing or vice versa. So although I think part of this issue is psychological (people get less clear, e.g. unnecessarily formal or stilted, when writing), I think another part of it has to do with the way people think.

I think a good technique that helps with this is having someone verbally ask you pointed questions ("what does this do?", "why should I care?", "how is it different?") while being recorded, and then take your spoken answers and use those in your written materials.

I feel while decks are terrible they force whoever said intelligent individual to sit down and try and package all their thoughts into a cohesive narrative. If they can't do that, then they have a seriously problem ahead of themselves getting capital and people to come work for them.

Alternatively - if they can't do that as they are really good speakers, they need to find someone who can translate their in-cohesiveness into something digestible for other people. This skillset is very rare and I would argue is super important in the early days alongside building effective product/executing/product fit.

I often find the confusions comes from not clearly understanding what is being communicated, and what you think the other side expects. The slide deck format, is often build from top-down hierarchy. Slides for areas A, B, C. When really you might have a narrative where you want to convey the material from C, with A & B as footnotes. Are you telling a story or writing the table of contents for textbook?

Agree it isn't the be all end all - but it does force someone to think about the narrative and, to your point, who you are speaking to and what you think you need to communicate and also to try and figure out what the other side expects/knows (which is a tough thing to do).

> People often have wonderful clarity when speaking but then muddle things up horribly when they write/create decks/etc.

I find writing (narrative prose, not PowerPoint) a great way to force me to clarify my thinking.

Totally. Speaking is so easy for me, writing is a bloody challenge. I think it has to do with interaction resonance with another person, too, not just the medium.

Opposite for me. I often wish I could end verbal meetings and send a note instead.

Entrepreneurs can get better at story-telling.

But frankly, fundraising is so formal that it makes it really hard to try. You get a 30m (maybe 60 if you're lucky) slot with an investor and a pitch deck. The investor may decide to lead the meeting themselves and just ask any question that comes to mind (most questions are objections disguised as questions... Sometimes not really disguised at all) or they may just stay quiet and let you do the old pitch monolog.

In any case, it's really stressful especially for first time entrepreneurs and especially if you're introverted and not the witty think-on-your-feet type.

The good news is with time and practice you can get better at it. But generally it is soul-crushing work, at least until you find one investor who "gets" it.. And usually you only need one!

> In any case, it's really stressful especially for first time entrepreneurs and especially if you're introverted and not the witty think-on-your-feet type.

Yes, but maybe it's still a good predictor of which founders will succeed and which won't?

If you can't spontaneously answer probing, challenging questions from customers, employees, vendors, and yes investors, will you do a good job running and growing a successful company?

Many do, by eventually finding and hiring the right person.

There are a lot of confounding variables and luck involved. I’ve met some frankly terribly antisocial founders that happened to get the perfect niche, I’ve met some that worked their asses off and were doing everything right but still failed due to terrible timing and a market crash, and everything in between.

As an entrepreneur, what would you like from your investor in that initial pitch meeting?

A check

Ideally you want to know what boxes you need to tick to get the check. Do they already like the product, and just want to vet the founders. Do they not understand the problem? Do they get the product, but question its ability to scale?

Basically what is the current set of things they require more depth of understanding in order to make their investment decision.

I hear what you're saying, but I think you've drawn the wrong conclusion, from OPs story, and your experience having drinks with clients.

OP blew up in his interview and got to the truth. But really, what he shouted when out of control wasn't that different from the story that he started with. Imagine that he started with that honest story. It would have been part of his elevator pitch, and part of his deck, and he would have given that same speech a few hundred times, and all the color and passion would have long since evaporated.

The conclusion that I draw is that you get to the truth by getting someone to switch off autopilot. And that can be done by provoking an emotional reaction (not that that's what the YC guy was intending to do, I'm guessing), or by loosening up through the application of a little alcohol.

It's what I meant. The stop trying to overly polish something and just be honest with your goals. Turn off the "salesman autopilot" so to speak.

I wonder if that happens because an entrepreneur may be caught up in a feeling of what needs to be done, but has yet to clearly articulate the pain/joy/humor driving the work. It wasn't until the OP really pushed himself that he articulated the pain-point his startup was trying to solve.

[Edited for grammar]

So "Keep It Simple, Stupid" is forgotten for whatever reason?

> I sorta wish people would be more honest like this more often.

I don't believe that the majority are being intentionally dishonest

It is that inherent human tendency and bias that limits one’s worldview, a concept I have grappled with and am still learning to manage every week that goes by.

We as humans are all victims to it and we (at least most of us here on HN) recognize the patterns and the innateness within our own selves.

Hopefully as a society we can begin moving forwards to a point in which we are taught from a very young age to recognize these biases and unintentional and/or subconscious behaviors of ours that may be counterproductive to our own individual goals and efforts.

I think everyone appreciates and responds better to a genuine human interaction, even if they don't realize it.

The first things I look for when I'm evaluating someone in almost any context are:

* stand for something, anything

* show me some passion and where you find joy or, conversely what makes you sad.

* tell me what you don't do/support/optimize. Negative space

"...Michael Seibel is a professional hater. I've never been denied so consistently by such a charming, kind, and basically snuggly person."

Haha, chuckled at this. YC was perhaps the only interview in which my co-founder and I felt like the interviewers were incredible kind – but also some of the most challenging ones. We loved it!

We had two rounds of interviews and I'm pretty confident that Michael was the reason why we ended up getting rejected but I'll always love him for how blunt he was with us about not launching sooner (it's a mobile app that uses computer vision, he claimed we should have launched before the ML models were ready and was completely right)

Our interview was on election day in 2016, they called us in for a second interview, we then went out for drinks with a bunch of other founders and watched all of them get email responses that day. We didn't hear back all day and stayed up all night watching the election results come in, then woke up, drove to the airport, took the plane back to NYC and finally got the rejection when we landed.

> but I'll always love him for how blunt he was with us about not launching sooner (it's a mobile app that uses computer vision, he claimed we should have launched before the ML models were ready and was completely right)

Is this advice to always launch sooner still applicable?

I've heard it regurgitated a few times over the past decade or so, especially here and from the YC/VC crowd, and I feel like it made sense at some point.

But nowadays do people not expect a little bit more? The field is more crowded and the bar to entry is much lower for competitors/cloners/etc and your first impression can only be made once.

I've also contemplated this, and the conclusion I've reached is that YC expects the problem you're solving to be so painful that will people will put up with a shitty version.

It doesn't matter that it's 2021 and things have gotten more polished. If it's a painful enough problem people will put up with a shitty solution at first.

Wanna bet there is now a rash of interviewers who have 'breakdowns' about a problem in their lives?

"My {extended family member} has been {mildly imposing verb} for {duration} and {frustrated expression}!"

Sign up now for early access to my Udemy course, Scream Your Way To Funding

Or sign up for mine, How to appear authentic and sincere in your interview.

Because it's easier to learn sincerity and fake it than it is to have an idea that you actually believe in and can support.

Does that sound bitter? It's not meant to.

You can do a lot better with more professional VCs by not having ideas you believe in and can just articulate the gap in the market and how you'll extract value from it and exit. Not gatekeeping VC types here, just saying there are some that are swayed by emotional stories and nobody needs to be.

The analogy I use is an expedition to the new world. Get funding from the Queen, get the ships and crew, sail to the new world, get the gold, come back, distribute profits and disband.

Really there is no need to pretend to get married, or actually get married, to a business line.

I would be immediately suspect of all the founders that cannot compartmentalize the idea. Save the "passion" for all the employees you need to gaslight into accepting lower compensation.

I doubt enough people will read this for that to happen.

I think what's important is not the breakdown, but the demonstration of pain. You can probably recreate this genuinely by focusing on the specific who and what around your customer. Who are they (in his case himself/his sister), why are they in pain (reconnecting with his sister/her brother), and I guess you probably need a way to turn that pain into a gain, but it sounds like that last part is something you iterate on, so it's not as big of a deal.

You don't have to shout at VCs to be interesting to them, but shouting at VCs is a way to show VCs both the who and the what of pain, which they find interesting.

Well, it didn't got him funded so not sure what the lesson is here.

And the Giya site is still email-for-launch-notice mode two years later. So maybe it wasn’t an itch that got scratched.

If the niece was an instigator for the idea, I assumed the author would have created the product and tested it with the niece? If they’ve shown no interest and stayed in their room, maybe it’s not a great idea?

The problem with your statement is that it doesn't account for magical thinking.

Rational thinking: my pitch wasn't great, but I at least connected with the personal problem side of my message. My idea needs work, or my use-case needs attention.

Magical thinking: If I had made that outburst early enough to change the tone, I could have made a better impact with my message. If my pitch starts to go south, just have a breakdown to shift the focus from that to my personal story.

The best response to an investor who absolutely dislikes your company idea is to talk about your real users and why they use you. It sounds like you were saying a bunch of hypotheticals (not convincing) until you finally gave your family as a use case.

They probably didn't have users, looks like the thing still isn't really launched and this interview was two years ago.

basically, get to the point of how you can make them money. if you can't clearly make an argument for that, you've ended up in the room too early.

I find it really curious that all these stories about "how I screwed up" are all of a sudden popping up all over the place. Is there some sort of meme or zeitgeist going around where it's now in vogue to post about how you messed up some big deal or lost some big thing?

I think it could be just Frequency Illusion for your case. I think stories about "how I screwed up" has been always popular on the internet. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frequency_illusion

I don’t know but it’s very interesting and useful. The “how I won” stories are often less useful as the writer has a blind spot of some element of their success (talent/luck/connections etc.)

Opposite of survivor bias? There are going to be many more stories of missteps, and the misstep stories most worth telling are those where someone learned a valuable lesson.

But I'm finding these stories to instead show how naive, childish, or outlandish the founder is. These stories might have lessons learned for others, but it sure doesn't paint the founder in a good light. Are we in anti-truth world now where talking about how bad you are / were is a good thing?

Listening to privileged successful and wealthy people has gotten boring. Everyone feels like they're a "creator" these days, and there are far more non-sophisticated and average people out there than the typical successful Silicon Valley characters.

You're definitely right in that the universe of unsuccessful people far outnumbers those who are successful. I guess we'll be seeing a stream about lost opportunities and lost deals for some time. It's like those Country music ballads where the singer loses it all, but they still have their faith. Sing on.

Lmao no there arent. There are going to be many more missteps made but its much easier to publish a success than a failure.

Thank you for posting this. I remember your interview like it was yesterday.

Wow, my estimation of you had cranked up a fair bit - very nice of you to chip in ;)

This article got me wondering what it's like working for that guy. If you're in a meeting and you're telling him things he doesn't want to hear, is something going to set him off and get him screaming at you?

I've had bosses/managers that would lose their cool and yell, and they were by far the worst leaders I've ever worked for.

When an adult can't keep their cool in a professional environment, it's very telling.

Isnt the goal of a pitch meeting to stand out? He stated that they were not doing well and he knew time was running out. It's do something drastic or be passed on. This doesnt seem indicative of that guys everyday behavior. Plus I've worked for lots of people who do get angry and have outbursts every-time you say something they don't want to hear. It's more concerning if this guy didnt think it was odd for him to yell because it shows he doesnt do it often..

Being unhinged isn't the best way to communicate a vision. But it sure does show how you can't handle rejection or frustration well.

What you call unhinged another might call passion. Let's not pretend that all founders are perfectly hinged.

No one is pretending anything. Quite a few founders are unhinged. Many are also passionate. The successful few know when to be appropriately passionate instead of irrationally unhinged. I think we're all smart enough to distinguish between the two. Temper tantrums are not exactly the same as passionate, well-reasoned pitches.

> He stated that they were not doing well and he knew time was running out. It's do something drastic or be passed on.

The Galileo Seven maneuver.

The goal of a pitch meeting is to sell your non-shit idea. OP had a shit idea. That's what blocked him. Hence why "standing out" didn't actually get him funded.

It certainly seems like we're regressing as a society into increasingly more toddler-like behavior with ranting, infantilizing, treating normal adult behaviors as "adulting" and losing touch. If someone screamed like a toddler in a meeting I was at, I'd be like "ok, this meeting is over. Calm down and collect yourself if you can't communicate like an adult. Otherwise, time out for you."

For me it was the "fists clenched, looking down, I let out a scream" -- super weird behavior if you ask me.

he's not really screaming at them though, he's frustrated by his own circumstances... I think it would be different if he flew off the handle and told them to fuck off or whatever... emotions get out of hand in stressful situations, that's just part of being human

And part of being a leader is learning to control and channel your emotions, especially during stressful situations. A failure to do that is a failure to lead.

if that's true than most of the industry seems to be lead by failures... this seems like a "no true scotsman" thing

Even scarier, a lot of people in this thread seem to think it's a good thing.

Well, that’s because it was the point at which the interview started going well

I really fail to understand why Michael allowed this behaviour. If it got to a point where voice has been raised, there should have been a concern started and security called into place, promptly adjourning the meeting. Who knows where else this would have gone after that?

I wouldn't want to know the fury of a disgruntled Founder looking to revenge for a failed YC interview.

Sometimes it is about professionalism. Even though the founder is feeling passionate about their problem space, there are some boundaries you never cross.

Shouting isn't actually dangerous. It's only dangerous when it is combined with violence or a threat of violence.

In this case it's more of an emotional outburst due to frustration.

If you suppress all emotion with an escalation to a threat of police and security you're going to have a far less dynamic and safe workplace.

Perhaps buried in these comments is this but after reading a lot of the "takeaways" many people had from this I have to say the reality is much simpler.

People (Customers, VCs, Entrepreneurs) can empathize or sympathize with stories. They can't with ideas. It's really that simple. It wasn't the outburst or the emotion. It's the story.

If your idea doesn't have a genuine story, it's not likely to end up a genuine business.

I find it odd how much people tend to move the responsibility for obtaining funding on the founders. No doubt the quality (for lack of a better word) of the founders is important. But what about VCs that are actually capable of seeing beyond a mere elevator pitch? Are there such VCs anymore? Or did it all end up as a game of selling your project/product/idea to some clueless person or fund that has the money?

There absolutely are good VCs. It’s probably about a bell curve, like anything else.

Most VCs you’ll meet are nice people and mediocre at what they do. They have money, which for many startups is enough of a reason to work with them.

There is a remarkable difference between partners at Sequoia, Greylock, Benchmark vs. a random fund.

>> But what about VCs that are actually capable of seeing beyond a mere elevator pitch?

I think in any communication, the "burden" of clarity is on the person with more information.

You think you see a real problem. You think you have an idea for how to solve it. You think you are the right person to execute on it. All of that state exists in your mind as a founder, and it's the reason you're standing before the VC.

The VC is experienced in getting these answers out of people because that's what they do all day. As a founder, on the "best" case scenario, you make it easy for the VC to see it. At worst case, you make it so hard that they can't "pull" it out of you despite their best effort.

If they can't get this answer out of you, why would they invest? Why would they think you "have it" when you are not showing it?

I don’t disagree on the importance of communication.

But I have to say, your message seems quite biased towards the VC. Surely not all VCs are created equal. Just as not all founders are equally capable in communicating ideas, I’m sure not all VCs are equally capable in understanding ideas.

Sure, VCs should look for good ideas that are poorly communicated. But it's no surprise that VCs would prioritize funding a good idea that is well-communicated. A founder needs to be able to communicate the value prop to other funders, customers, journalists, awards committees, etc. Being able to communicate via an elevator pitch or conversation is critically important to the success of a startup.

I’ll add, a genuine story that the Founder is apart of.

I have to admit that their project does not seem like something that can generate much revenue. The website is a SPA just asking for an email address. I would like to think the best curation comes from the community, and in order to get community involvement you'd need a platform that is open and free anyhow, like Yelp or Google Reviews.

I was similarly disappointed, because this is a nice blogspam about a solution I might be interested in, but is clearly not available yet (and a .US domain makes me think it won't ever be available around my neck of the woods anyway).

Ah yes, because when facebook, netflix, amazon, google, airbnb started we all sat around with our perfect insight and said "These will generate a lot of revenue!"

It will be cringey if many pitches suddenly incorporated some kind of emotional outburst to get attention. One investor confided to me that watching some of these pitches is like “passing a kidney stone”.

The outburst wasn’t the good part.

The clarification of pain point was the good part.


Getting the interviewer to be _attentive_ is already a given since you've earned the timeslot. Getting them _alarmed_ is what happened here. Showcasing a fighting spirit to stir up some emotional investment.

Though I doubt airing out even the perfect greivance there would've been enough to flip the decision. The growth story just doesn't seem to track.

Also helps that the frustration was aimed at a personal matter instead of directly at someone in the room.

Yeap. Deep burst of personal explanation is rare, and we hide it. -How can my untested thought can be better than the leadings explanations on the subject?

In our work, when we explains things, even When my brother does his YouTube family video... we always follow "today's" way of doing things. It does feel ok, but it taste like déjà-vue.

I find it so more captivating when suddenly a unik-and-personal approach steals the show.

Even if the personal approach can be wrong or ridiculous, it feels always very fresh, compare to the me-too explanation.

It's sharp, it's bare bone, it's naked, it's trurth.

It's worth

> The next time you’ve got a big pain, joy, laugh try following your emotional feet and sharing it before it makes sense. You may surprise yourself.

Or you might deceive yourself in a really insidious way.

Talk to customers.

What if it's a problem where you feel the pain so acutely that you want to rip your hair out but then you observe others and they seem to make peace with the pain of the problem? Case in point: dev project management tools (jira, monday, asana..). Nobody complains but it's like a nagging pain that pokes at you all day long (and I suspect affects your true productivity, at least mine).

The problem with those dev project management tools is they are not dev project management tools. They are for higher up bosses to decide on and they have different requirements to the developers. There are plenty of upstart dev-focused alternatives if your team is lucky enough to choose.

which new ones are dev focused?

I've maybe missed the point of this discussion but the thing that strikes me the most is that the most meaningful example he brought forward in that pitch - his niece living with him and having no connection - he had no solution for!

I'd get it if he was identifying being isolated from others in a meaningful way as a problem and he'd come up with some magic beans to address this disconnect, for example to address when his niece came to stay with him and it resulted in a good outcome as opposed to what actually happened.

But that's not what happened. He was just frustrated. What was there to pitch/learn and apply for others in this story?

Very strange. I'm obviously missing something. Hopefully someone can point it out

I think what I find amusing is the author essentially outlined an argument for Sinek's Start with Why premise. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u4ZoJKF_VuA

Albeit it sounds like you don't get to shape the questions you're asked. But I'm willing to bet you can bend your answers towards the specific pain point that prompted them to start this project (their niece). Then go on to what you're app does, then the TAM.

And this is coming from someone who isn't a huge fan of Sinek either..

*Edit - I'm curious from those who've been through YC if my idea about bending your answers actually has any merit in your experience?

VCs are still rational beings. They don't fund something just because someone is emotionally attached to the idea. If you get a huge number of people emotionally attached... then that's a different story.

OT but I made an a webapp for myself to do exactly this - Mirrorspace [0] shows me nearby interesting things that are usually not searchable on google maps or similar.

You can even place media posts at your current location that others can see on the map, but the content is only visible when you are within 50m.

I use it when I travel (more frequently these days!), but I have not updated it in a looong time. Might open source it one day

[0] - https://app.mirrorspace.net

Whats your strategy for finding interesting things not on google maps?

currently it is basically a UI map wrapper for https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Special:Nearby, with the additional functionality for users to post text and images to their specific location. I was going to monetise it by allowing people to pay to increase the viewable radius of a post, and/or having people pay a small amount to the uploader to view a post from outside the default radius.

>to listen to that pain

With the business problem being at its core "Millenials have too much disposable money and time on their hands, much more than they know what to do with", one really has to put an effort to creatively search for and to listen very carefully to find any pain in that.

PG is so right. We're drowning in problems; just take something around, see how bad it is, and make it better.

Maybe you'll get all the problems those before you had. Maybe. But at least the high pain is here, and attempting to deal with it will get you started.

I love this. The more raw and honest we are with our narratives. The less polished we try to be. The more intimately understandable things are on a primal level. The much higher our likelihood of connecting a real life opportunity to economic outcome.

I've been a part of so many investor pitches and presentations (both receiving and pitching), and one major trend I constantly see is entrepreneurs who have the right itch or instinct into a problem space but they haven't fully thought through why people should care. When they give reasons for why people should care, it's often removed from reality and overly idealistic. A lot of people get bitter for getting turned down on this "last mile" of reasoning that investors demand, but _everything_ is in this last mile. This is how you orient your team to think about problems. This is how you become customer obsessed. This is how you market why you exist.

Michael Seibel is a better person than me. I wouldn’t have handled it that gracefully.

You could go back to customer development and figure out a way to connect with your niece.

And then try to scale it. And then try to monetize it. That sounds even harder getting the VC pump and dump lottery ticket, though.

But I think step 1 is doable.

It sucks being forced to place your dreams in someone else's hands.

I don't think anyone is forced to do that. Put another way, maybe people should consider other dreams.

Getting validation from a VC is like step zero in forming a successful business. We need to go easy on the VC hero worship. The only thing that matters is finding a customer.

Is it just me or is monospace text unpleasant to read? Obviously that’s not the case when I’m writing code, so maybe I’m not used to reading normal prose in mono typeface?

The lesson here is that you should make screaming at the top of your lungs about your god damn niece your opening line. Also good for an impromptu elevator pitch.

It shows that empty anecdotes and emotionality are much more important to entrepreneurs than analysis, facts, logic and reasoning.

It reinforces my worst suspicions, to be frank.

"I wish there was an app to help me connect to my niece" is a really fucking weird vibe. Not every problem you have can or should be solved with a piece of software.

> "I wish there was an app to help me connect to my niece" is a really fucking weird vibe.

It's not so weird. Facebook is essentially the same folly.

Perhaps you meant sad.

I feel like Facebook used correctly is more like social broadcasting, updating your entire social circle on your goings-on, alongside messenger and WhatsApp for one-to-one constant contact. Of course, Facebook used wrong is a similar weird vibe when you pretend you have friends because you constantly "like" the statuses of people you used to be close with.

This is a similar feeling I got while reading the story.

> Well I thought that we'd spend a lot of time doing things together but that's not how it turned out. She's always in her room, and I'm always at work or doing my own thing.

Maybe she just doesn't enjoy his company anymore? People's relationships fall apart, and not much can be done. Maybe they are at different stages in their lives, and there's not much of a connection and need in each other anymore.


There's another comment up the chain, I thought of replying to it but deemed too off-topic. Why would Gen-Xers and Millennials would want to connect with each other in a social setting? I get the mentorship/work related networking/etc part, but other than that, why would those 2 groups talk to each other if they are not relatives?

Even being just a few years apart with your friends can be weird.

Sometimes it's better not to connect to each other.

That's not what they said.

They want a place to go and connect with their niece and their app is supposed to help you find that place.

Yeah I know that's what they said, to which my response would be: "Just talk to her, ask her what she's into. Failing that, pick a social thing that people do like mini-golf or a Starbucks or a restaurant, and invite her to do that".

The pain point of "I can't connect with my niece" is not solved with "I need an app to recommend social venues I can invite her to". That's just not the problem you're trying to solve - but it is a bullshit yarn you can spin to try to pitch yet another local venue discovery app.

Chiming in to say it might also be the thinking that quality is more important than quantity in social relationships - true to point, but when your quantity is zero, ANY interaction has quality. Just knock on her door and go out for a coffee, almost any random thing would work. Not even out of 0 and freaking out to achieve the local maxima.

Except that sometimes talking with someone doesn't yield any results aside from "I dunno", "whatever", etc.

They're looking for the piece that says "here's an attractive idea" that gets that someone involved.

Sometimes I have a similar issue with my son. It's usually as simple as saying "here's what we're doing this weekend" as opposed to getting the brick wall response to "what do you want to do this weekend?" of "I dunno."

There are tons of different websites that offer "Things to do in ____" but most of them are so spammy. Something that was personalized based on your preferences/interests, or based on a group of people's preferences, would open up a lot of doors.

This is not a technical problem. If anything, what you would really need is a seminar or paid course to teach people how to interact with other humans instead of trying to rely on some app... Some people really don't know how to just talk to other people and express their feelings / figure out plans. No app is ever going to solve that.

Perhaps there's value in a business of "teaching humans how to human".

>Perhaps there's value in a business of "teaching humans how to human".

If you hire people, the answer here is yes. My experience is that technical skills are 'easy' to teach, but interpersonal skills are almost impossible.

If you figure out how to train people from a wide swath of humanity, different backgrounds, and disparate experiences to be human people and communicate effectively and efficiently, you'll literally, not figuratively, be the king of the planet.

what impresses me about this situation is how Siebel was trying to get the crux of the problem and not just the sales spiel.

Nice little article, but more surprising to me was that I worked with Jabari at PaperlessPost for a short time! Cool dude :)

Yeah of course, these people treat you better after you snap. Investors don't respect nice people. You need to create fear. As my friend once told me, "you need to be a killer."

They can't have killers on the loose hating their guts, they need to bribe them into compliance. That's what funding is really about. Unfortunately, it's a bad idea because it puts killers into positions of authority. Maybe that's why society is so messed up now.

I didn't perceive this as him snapping or being impolite or being a "killer". He was just being real with us.

Does VC (read: capitalism in general) encourage sociopathy? Yes. But what you wrote reads a little intentional/conspiratorial. It's not a case of "VCs want to control the monsters", it's "if the cold rational decision is to fire 10 people who won't be able to afford rent, you'll be more successful as a businessperson if you do that rather than being an empathic human being and refusing to fire them".

I believe that the intelligence of a system can be greater than the sum of its parts. The individuals don't necessarily need to explicitly conspire together. All it takes is one or two influential people behind the scenes who see a possible problem or a possible opportunity and start gently tugging the strings in the direction they want. The puppets don't need to understand what they're doing. It works better if they don't.

I liked his outburst. I subscribed to Giya. Let's see what they got.

The incentive to stand out in a VC meeting is too high.

I want to hear the niece's side of the story.

Did he literally scream? At the floor?

So what happened to the product?

hey it could be worse, you could be homeless like me, in about 7 days..

So the guy wants a better relationship with his niece and he thinks it would be better if only he had a glorified TripAdvisor clone?

This feels like peak Silicon Valley cluelessness

Thinking every problem has a tech/app solution.

"Please respond to the strongest plausible interpretation of what someone says, not a weaker one that's easier to criticize. Assume good faith."

"When disagreeing, please reply to the argument instead of calling names. 'That is idiotic; 1 + 1 is 2, not 3' can be shortened to '1 + 1 is 2, not 3."

"Don't be snarky."


Is this linkedin? Agree?

The armchair quarterbacking in this thread is ridiculous. This was a great, and really human, take on pitching that 99.99% of founders miss. Pitching VCs (or YC) is only ostensibly about raising financing. Pitching is about refining your idea, identifying problem / solution pairs and subsets (or supersets!) of your primary pitch you haven't considered, building relationships and a whole lot more.

That fact that Michael Seibel is responding to folks in this thread who are doing the quarterbacking speaks volumes to the success of this founder's pitch in spite of not receiving an invitation to YC this go-around. First, a rejection today is not a rejection tomorrow. Second, Michael is a busy guy. The fact he's taking the time to speak up for a founder he feels a connection with is perhaps worth more long-term than a single YC acceptance letter. There are YC-backed founders that never get that level of attention.


Was this written by GPT-3?

GDC7 quite consistently posts incomprehensible shit. Honestly a lot of HN regulars have become incomprehensible recently.

Got to farm that karma somehow so you can sell thought leader hackernews accounts.

Has there yet been a known case of HN account selling? Digg started with voting brigades but I've yet to hear of even that on HN.

Also, what would be the purpose of selling an HN account?

The same reason you would sell any other social account. You build a profile that seems real, sell it, then the buyer uses that profile to upvote and post comments on their new product release which blows up on HN and generates much more interest and potential revenue than it would otherwise.

I don't have proof that it is happening but it happens on every other social site so it would be shocking if it isnt happening here.

GDC7 was created 62 days ago and has two-digit karma, sure you're not thinking of someone else? (Just seems unlikely you'd recognise such a new and not particularly highly up-voted account.)

I've had an inane conversation with them previously. Probably they have two-digit karma as they are downvoted a lot.

I love you too, Joe!

I read this. I then re-read it because I was thinking that maybe I just missed something or didn't understand the analogy since I am not a hockey fan (pucks are for ice-hockey, right?).

I then re-read it once more. I am now convinced that this doesn't mean anything. It's a vomit of words. Someone please help explain this to me.

Agreed, entrepreneurs these days severely undervalue the benefits of releasing brain juice

Years of experience make some things incredibly obvious where things are going.

My failure to convince others makes it _appear_ like I am skating where the puck is going, when I was simply following it down an obvious path, and no one else was.

But maybe this is common for tech focused people surrounded by non-techies?

> My failure to convince others makes it _appear_ like I am skating where the puck is going, when I was simply following it down an obvious path, and no one else was.

It's not like there is a difference isn't it? Gretsky probably thought other players were stupid or were poisoned by lead or something.

#1 is the lonliest number, you are at the local top, meaning the local #1

What you are experiencing goes with the territory, you should focus your efforts on hyping yourself up as the individual sitting at the local top, instead of ruminating on the collective organizational goals which are not being reached in the most streamlined and effortless way because other people aren't at your level.

But you can still try to stimulate them to improve like Gretsky himself and Jordan did in their own teams.

But I have been horribly wrong also, so I'm not so inclined to lead boldly. I think Jordan and Gresky had the benefit that their team also thought they knew what was best.

> But I have been horribly wrong also, so I'm not so inclined to lead boldly

I think Musk spews a lot of BS, but one thing I agree with him is that if you think you have an edge you want to bet frequently because as the high frequency will have your edge manifest itself and you'd end up better/way better than random.

Also yet another important point is that your competitor is not somebody who is Omniscient and gets it right 100% of the times, but people who hold your same role in competing organizations.

So being wrong is not terrible, unfortunately the terrible part is that unlike sports the mistakes of people in your same position in competing organizations are hidden from your collegues and teammates. Hence the grass is always greener, and the comparison immediately skips to the Omniscient being.

That is a huge problem, and I don't know if it will ever be solved given that work is unspectacular and there is not a trail of events and decisions which can be publicly examined.

No such thing as a highlight reel (and even there was, nobody would ever bother looking at it.)

What I get from this is that the idea was shit and after he snapped he was comforted like a baby, which made him feel better about being rejected.

There's a famous passage in Dostoyevsky's Brother's Karamazov: "It is pain that teaches to scream" (can't find the exact quote) -- manifesting your pain is important most times. Just make sure to manifest and communicate it in a good way!

Is there a website that shows only technical or scientific content from HN? Seems weird how often HN likes to promote its own content. I couldn't imagine the BBC having several articles a week on itself.

I can't name one, but if you find it, please let me know!

A HN-like site you might like is https://lobste.rs/ . It only has technical content.

Thanks! :)

Is there a website that shows only technical or scientific content from HN? Seems weird how often HN likes to promote itself and go on about funding. I couldn't imagine the BBC having several articles a week on itself.

Given that HN is a forum and not a news publisher, I find this comparison lacking at best

OK then

HN is pretty explicitly business/startup-friendly, and has been since its inception. "Just the tech from HN" maps pretty closely to https://lobste.rs/.

Guidelines | FAQ | Lists | API | Security | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact