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Behind the curtain of Y Combinator, the 'sleep-away camp for startups'

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y combinator (flickr)
y combinator (flickr)

Since its founding in 2005, Y Combinator has become one of the most prominent seed accelerators in Silicon Valley, haven given rise to companies like Airbnb, Dropbox, and Reddit. Every year, the organization and its founder, Paul Graham, hold two three-month "terms" for hand-picked entrepreneurs — sessions that Nathaniel Rich, in a recent piece for the New York Times, likens to "a sleep-away camp for startup companies."

Every "YC" term culminates in Demo Day, when representatives from each startup pitch their ideas to some of the Valley's most prominent investors. It's a time for the industry to scope out the "next big thing," but it's also a time for everyone to step back and see where the market is headed — especially as fears of another bubble begin rising to the surface. "An unspoken question on Demo Day is, 'How long can this possibly last?'," Rich writes in his extensive profile. "YC’s job is to assure investors that it is here to stay."