Y Combinator

A Y Combinator is a mathematical trick that provides a way to do recursions without the need to define symbols and therefore is a way of performing recursions with anonymous functions. I learned that from Paul Graham last Thursday at Y Combinator‘s Demo Day.

For those of you who don’t know, Y Combinator is one part incubator, one part angel fund, one part classroom, and one part alumni group. It all flows from the genius of Paul Graham who selects young teams of hackers, helps them with rent and food money in return for a small amount of equity, and inspires them to go from idea to a launched product in 10 weeks. The end of the 10 week period is Demo Day, a rapid paced show and tell.

This current crop of startups numbers 19 in total and it took about three hours to get through all of them when you include the breaks for food, drink, and rest rooms.

I love going to YC’s demo day. It’s more fun than anything else like it. I think its the young hackers who are laying it all on the line that make it so much fun. And please don’t take this to mean that I don’t enjoy seeing older hackers at work. I like that a lot too. But the youthful enthusiasm on display at demo day is such an optimistic vibe and you can’t help but enjoy that.

Here’s a post by Don Dodge with his thoughts on the day and a photo of him and me during the event. And here’s two twickrs that I did during the event.

There are five or six really promising companies that are coming out of this batch of startups. I am not going to name any of them as I think it would do a dis-service to all the others. And they are heading out to Silicon Valley later this week to do it all again for the west coast VCs.

So I’ll just say congratulations to Paul and Jessica for such a strong group of companies, to all the companies for getting launched in 10 weeks and doing great at demo day, and I’ll say to the west coast VCs that they should carve out some time on their calendars for the west coast stop on the Y Combinator tour. It’s a blast and there are some gems to mine as well.