YC Switches Up Its Management, As Altman Shifts Focus

Famed accelerator Y Combinator has grown a lot under the direction of Sam Altman, who was appointed president roughly two years ago.

It’s grown so much in fact that Altman, known for constantly iterating on YC’s model, says it’s now too big for him to manage as closely as he once did, so he’s shifting more responsibility to a number of his longtime colleagues.

Paul Buchheit, who created Gmail and founded FriendFeed, and who joined Y Combinator a little more than five years ago, is taking over for Altman as managing partner of the core YC program, which admits hundreds of startups every year and whips them into shape for other investors.

YC Fellowship, a lighter-weight version of YC  that provides startup teams with $12,000 grants and access to advice from the YC community, will now have Kevin Hale as managing partner. (Hale joined YC in 2013, two years after selling his YC-backed company, WuFoo, to SurveyMonkey.)

Meanwhile, some things won’t change: For example, former Twitter CFO Ali Rowghani will remain the managing partner of YC Continuity, the $700 million late-stage growth fund that YC announced in October of last year. Hacker News, which was spun out of Y Combinator last September to provide it “full editorial independence,” will also continue to be managed by Dan Gackle, who joined YC full-time in March 2014, after previously cofounding a spreadsheet startup called Skysheet.

As for Altman, he’ll now be running YC Research, a nonprofit research lab formed by the company last October that will make any IP developed freely available to everyone.  (Note: Altman is still looking for the right person to run it full-time.) He says in a post that he’ll also spend his time across YC Fellowship, YC Core, and YC Continuity.

We talked with Altman earlier today for more details. He explained that the new structure “generally reflects how we’ve been operating unofficially over the past few months. It just gives us the opportunity to get more done in parallel, which has been the goal going forward.”

Asked if he was relinquishing any of his decision-making authority, he said no. “I still expect to be involved in every major decision. I just won’t be doing some of the things I was doing before, like, if some investor is misbehaving and we need to go deal with that, I can avoid getting involved hopefully.”

Altman added that he does not expect to spend an inordinate amount of time tinkering with YC Research, saying it doesn’t require much oversight as it has made one investment to date and expects to make just one or two this year. He’s also not in a rush to hire someone into the job of leading the unit. “It’s good to do things for yourself for a while to get a feel for [what the job] requires,” he said.

Altman also made some other announcements today. In the same order that he announced them:

Kirsty Nathoo is going to be the CFO across the entire YC group.

Carolynn Levy and Jon Levy are going to be the General Counsels across the YC group.

Dalton Caldwell is going to be responsible for admissions to the core program.

Kat Mañalac is responsible for the outreach efforts YC does to meet potential new founders, and she’ll also be working closely with Hale on the Fellowship.

Matt Krisiloff, a new hire, is working with Hale on YC Fellowship. Krisiloff previously cofounded a couple of companies, including Entom Foods, which aimed to turn insect meat into a “palatable, sustainable food source.” He also co-founded a mental health directory that helped people find therapists and logged time as an associate with Hyde Park Angels in Chicago.

Denis Mars, another new hire, will work with Caldwell on admissions for YC Core. Mars is a YC alumni (he was the founder of Meetings.io) and the founder of several other companies.

Verena Prescher, a third new hire, is working with Nathoo as the controller of YC Continuity. Prior to joining Y Combinator, Verena was the controller at Felicis Ventures.