Y Combinator: California Year-Round

California Year-Round
Paul Graham
January 2009

As of this summer, Y Combinator is going to be in Silicon Valley year round instead of alternating between the Valley and Cambridge.

The reason has nothing to do with startups: it's because Jessica Livingston and I (who are married despite our different last names) are expecting our first child any day now. We used to think we'd continue to alternate between coasts after we had kids. But as soon as the prospect became real, we knew we wouldn't. We had to choose, and Palo Alto seemed a better place to raise kids than Cambridge, so we chose that.

(Incidentally, this seems to be the main reason Silicon Valley is where it is in the first place. The defining moment for the Valley was when the renegades from Shockley Semiconductor decided to seek a company that would hire them without requiring them to move; that led to the founding of Fairchild Semiconductor, the historical seed crystal of the Valley.)

I think it will be better for the startups we fund to all be in the Valley. We never tried to claim to the startups in the summer cycles that it was a net advantage to be in Boston. The most we could claim was that we could mitigate the disadvantages sufficiently well—for example, by flying everyone out to California to present to investors at our Mountain View office. But we did worry that the Boston groups were losing out. Boston just doesn't have the startup culture that the Valley does. It has more startup culture than anywhere else, but the gap between number 1 and number 2 is huge; nothing makes that clearer than alternating between them.

But while Silicon Valley is a better place for startups than Boston, that isn't why we chose it. If Cambridge seemed a better place to raise kids, we would have stayed there year round instead.

Startup School is going to be in the fall this year, for the same reason: Jessica's going to have her hands full during the time she'd ordinarily be organizing it.

We're happy to say we've recruited one of our secret weapons to be Jessica's shadow while she's on maternity leave: Kate Courteau, the architect who designed both our east and west coast offices. Anyone who's seen either has probably had the same reaction: there's something cool happening here. Kate's why.

Otherwise nothing is changing. We'll still do two investment cycles a year, one starting in January and the other in June. Or rather, nothing more is changing than usual. We're always looking for new things to try.

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