Aug 11

Marc Hedlund

Marc Hedlund

Y Combinator's Summer Founders Program

I'm at Logan Airport, coming back from the presentation day for the Summer Founders Program at Y Combinator. I'm not sure whether the companies have been announced as funded by the program, other than Reddit and the startup Aaron is developing, so I won't talk about the specifics yet.

But what I will say is, what a great idea and a great program. At least half of the startups in the program are seriously cool and all of them made a ton of progress on very little money and in very little time. Paul Graham and his partners clearly have good selectors for finding talented, motivated people, and they're going after a part of the startup market very badly served by other funders. I'll be really interested to see what happens with these companies next. Most of them need some kind of refinement or help, but several are already well past the hardest part: starting out in the right direction.

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Comments: 12

  Aaron Swartz [08.11.05 08:48 PM]

Os: That post you link to has some pretty serious factual errors.

  Paul Graham [08.11.05 09:17 PM]

If Reddit is a "cheap ripoff" of and, then why are the articles that appear on Reddit so different from the ones either of those two sites? Obviously they're doing something substantially different if there is so little overlap in the results.

Plus what you're seeing now is barely more than a prototype of Reddit. There are a lot of features still in the pipeline.

  Harry [08.11.05 10:02 PM]

Looking at these, looks like Ycombinator knows what they are doing

  Lucas Carlson [08.11.05 10:12 PM]

What's the business model behind Reddit? Sure it might be fun to code, but how will it make money?

  Steven Livingstone [08.12.05 12:04 AM]

It irritates me a little that anything that competes in any remote way with delicious is a "rip off" - it's at such an early stage we don't know what they going to DO with it yet. Did anyone get annoyted when Google displaced AV or Lycos?

I think the program is an excellent idea. It is something i have seen missing here in the UK for years now - fundamental help by people who have a clue. Paul Graham writes some great articles and I think that the money is a small part of what you would get from this program.

I'd personally like to see more successful entrepreneurs take this approach and build a web of active startup advisors.

  Lucas Carlson [08.12.05 03:51 AM]

I didn't call reddit a rip-off because it competed with delicious. As a point of fact, Digg is a relatively new player on the scene that I lavishly praise because of the twists it brings to social bookmarking including a better sense of community and much better user interface.

I called reddit a rip-off because of its relative lack of innovation. Paul has said that the sites listed on reddit are completely different from those on Digg and Delicious... personally I disagree. I personally have yet to find a significant difference in quality of reddit links one way or the other.

I think reddit started with a flawed premise:

"We want to democratize the traditional model by giving editorial control to the people who use the site, not those who run it."

The only innovation that they try to bring to social bookmarking (which already does a great job of democratizing editorial control) is what they call "redditors" who have good editing karma. Personally, I don't think that ranking links higher based on an elite group of "redditors" is all that democratic. Sure those editors had to have good taste to start with so that they built up their karma points, but once they have enough of them, they could theoretically become dictators of their own fancy. Secondly, to "have good taste" means to bookmark the type of sites everyone else bookmarks. If everyone else is bookmarking those sites anyhow, why do we need them telling us what links to look at. What's the difference between an elite group of "redditors" who happen to like what everyone else likes... and just seeing what everyone else likes?

For these reasons I think their innovation ended up little to none. Which leaves us at the level of just another social linking service. So why did I call them a rip-off?

Well, even though there are a lot more features yet-to-be-released, right now the site is bare-bones. It has no categories, you can't tag data, you can't get RSS feeds, you can't search, and there is no API, the community features are lacking. With nothing substantial and new to bring to the scene and a complete lack of anything but the basics, I am not impressed. To top it off, it took me a while to even understand what the site was trying to do. I found the interface unintuitive and awkward.

Again, I hear there will be more to see soon and I will keep my eyes posted.

Furthermore, I think what Paul Graham is doing is great! He has inspired me many times. I definitely think more people should support good projects. I just expected to see something better than what I have seen so far.

  KirkH [08.12.05 12:59 PM]

"Personally, I don't think that ranking links higher based on an elite group of "redditors" is all that democratic."
From Reddit FAQ
Our editorial karma works a bit differently. It is a way for you to be ranked among your peers in order to reap the bragging rights associated with such status.
So it's just a way to see if people think you're relevant, it's even more democratic than Slashdot's karma system.

Here's my take on the two sites:
+ Categories
+ Users
- Unfortunate (but necessary) ad placement
- Not intuitive

+ Simple and intuitive (arrow system)
+ Demotion as well as promotion (helps fight spam)
+ Saved Sites (bookmarking)
+ "Newest" feature is more democratic
+ Simple registration

So, in conclusion, Slashdot is dead. As soon as these systems attach a forum thread to each post (think Fark) AND use an expanded karma system for that (I'm thinking up and down arrows on each post) a community will develop and they'll sell goofy T-shirts, mugs and advertizing by the boatload.

Reddit appears to have a lot going for it.

  Lucas Carlson [08.12.05 01:34 PM]

That's ridiculous, Slashdot != social bookmarking. And I don't know what coolaid you are drinking but Reddit does not have a lot going for it. At least right now, it has one feature and lacks a basic set of functionality.

  Marc Hedlund [08.12.05 02:09 PM]

Okay, I think we've gone over the "is not" vs. "is too" perspective on Reddit enough. If you'd like to keep it going, please head over to the Slashdot thread on internships.

With any batch of startups, there's always a variety of opinion about them -- as the saying goes, that's why they run the horses. I didn't like every one of the startups who presented yesterday, either -- I doubt anyone would. What impressed me yesterday was that nearly all had a huge amount to show after a very short period of time and very little money spent, and that the percentage of companies I liked in some way or another was so high.

  Lucas Carlson [08.12.05 09:21 PM]

That is great to hear, I can't wait to see the ones you are talking about.

  Pranav [09.27.05 04:19 PM]

I see that this has already been brought up as one of the comments..but how would reddit / digg make money ? text adverts ?

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