Startup Teams and Execution

Sam Altman, President of Y Combinator, talks about the last two topics of startups: Cofounders and Execution.



  • trends – trust instincts of young people
  • burnout – address stressors


  • choose someone you know and trust
  • work at cofounder rich company (e.g. facebook rich like Stanford)
  • top companies had 2 founders
  • yc funds 10% of single founder cos
  • 2 or 3 founders best, few more ok.
  • “relentlessly resourceful”
  • tough and calm (as well as smart and technical- coders start software cos, media ppl start media cos)
  • James Bond more than expert in particular domain
  • know founder and early hires for years
  • try not to hire
  • airBNB spent 5 months looking for first hire, then only 2 for first year; bad early hire can ruin co
  • time spent hiring: 0% or 25% ( not at all if not absolutely needed or substantial time, to get it right)
  • source of hires: usually personal referrals for at least the 1st 100 or more works out best
  • most of time aptitude more important than experience unless role requires it
  • are they smart, do they GTD, do I want to spend time w/ them
  • good communication skills; manically determined; pass animal test; would feel comfortable reporting to them
  • equity: roughly 10% to first 10 employees (over 4 years)
  • fire fast


  • culture of co set by watching founders execute day-to-day
  • ceo jobs: set vision; raise money; evangelize; hire and manage; make sure entire co executes
  • founder: focus (you and co): say no a lot; set overarching goals. repeat them; communicate
  • remote co-founding teams really hard
  • intensity (from founder) (startups not good for work life balance)
  • always keep momentum

Additional Reading



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