In 2014, Sam Altman took the helm of Y Combinator, renowned Silicon Valley accelerator known for churning out unicorns including Dropbox, Airbnb, and Stripe. With a mandate to grow as fast as he could, Sam focused on extending Y Combinator’s reach and scope, positioning the firm to capitalize on the next wave of entrepreneurial innovation. In diversifying Y Combinator’s portfolio to include some of the most innovative ideas across verticals like energy, artificial intelligence, robotics, human augmentation, and virtual reality, Altman is driving efforts to push VCs to act differently. In conversation with Adriana Cisneros, CEO and Vice Chairman of Cisneros, we will hear what drives Sam, what keeps him up at night, how Y Combinator decides which moonshot ideas to fund and support, how the accelerator defines entrepreneurial ecosystems, and what it takes to build the next unicorn.
About Y Combinator: Started in March 2005, Y Combinator is an American seed accelerator founded by Paul Graham, Robert Morris, Trevor Blackwell and Jessica Livingston. Y Combinator provides seed money, advice, and connections at two three-month programs per year. In exchange, Y Combinator takes about 7 percent of the company’s equity. The startup founders relocate to the Bay Area for the entirety of the program, which includes weekly dinners keynoted by special guests and culminates in Demo Day, when participants present their products and services to a handpicked audience of potential investors and advisors. Some of the most successful Y Combinator alumni include Dropbox, Airbnb, and Stripe.