20VC: Sam Altman, Y Combinator President on What Makes Truly Great Leaders, Why We Will See A Compression of Seed Funding & The Future Scaling of YC

Posted on 17th January 2018 by Harry

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Sam Altman is the president of Y Combinator, the world’s most successful accelerator with alumni that includes the likes of Airbnb, Dropbox, Reddit, Flexport and many more incredible companies. Sam is also the co-chair of OpenAI, thenon-profit AI research company, discovering and enacting the path to safe artificial general intelligence. Prior to YC, Sam was co-founder and CEO of Loopt, which was funded by Y Combinator in 2005 and acquired by Green Dot in 2012. Sam also founded Hydrazine Capital, whose stellar portfolio included the likes of Zenefits, Flexport and Soylent.



In Today’s Episode You Will Learn:

1.) How Sam made his way into the world of startups with Loopt and YC? How he came to invest with Hydrazine Capital and then rejoin YC as Partner and now President?

2.) Having watched and seen Paul Graham since Batch 1, what does Sam believe makes Paul Graham the special leader he is? What makes Sam and Paul such great Partners? How did they enact the transition of Sam to President? How did it change the relationship?

3.) What is Sam’s tactic that he uses to fully evaluate the skills and execution of a founder? When investing where did Sam make his most frequent mistakes? Why does Sam expect seed stage investing as a whole, will compress? Is Sam concerned of too much capital in the market at present?

4.) Question from Jack Altman: what is the main difference between a great seed investor and a great Series A investor? Sam has said before he likes to invest in messy, somewhat broken companies”. How does Sam determine between the fixable and the unfixable? How much of a role does price play in his evaluation of an opportunity?

5.) One of Sam’s recent goals was “figure out how to scale YC 2x”. How does Sam think about this in terms of stage? Will YC replace VC with lifecycle funding? How does Sam think about YC’s expansion geographically into China? How does Sam assess the vertical expansion of deep tech and bio tech that YC is going after?

Items Mentioned In Today’s Show:

Sam’s Fave Book: The Making of The Atomic Bomb

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