Startups

Pro-Trump CEO gets booted from Y Combinator over harassment concerns

Comment

Andrew Torba
Image Credits: Twitter/Andrew Torba

Andrew Torba, founder of conservative social network Gab.ai, has been removed from Y Combinator’s alumni network.

To be clear, Gab.ai isn’t a part of YC — instead, Torba participated in the incubator through his previous startup, Kuhcoon (now known as Automate Ads). However, his login to YC’s private social network, Bookface, has now been disabled.

“Once you’re purged from the network, you’ve lost all the ability to interact and network and post job listings and connect with different founders,” Torba said.

While Torba paints this as a free speech issue, YC told BuzzFeed that he was kicked out for “for speaking in a threatening, harassing way toward other YC founders” — particularly in this Facebook comment:

All of you: fuck off. Take your morally superior, elitist, virtue signaling bullshit and shove it.

I call it like I see it, and I helped meme a President into office, cucks.

In Torba’s telling, this was just the culmination of a longer process of disenchantment with Silicon Valley liberalism in general and YC in particular. He described himself as a lifelong “conservative Republican Christian,” a fact he said he hid at first because he worried “it would be a hindrance to my career — which proved to be true.”

Torba became more open about his beliefs six months ago, which he said immediately led other YC founders to “all start piling on” and  “call me a racist, a bigot.” Torba also began to tweet at YC President Sam Altman (who endorsed Hillary Clinton), eventually prompting Altman to block him this past week — after that, in Torba’s view, Altman was looking for “any way to purge me from the Y Combinator network.”

“Y Combinator clearly has chosen their side,” he said. “They’re pandering to immigrants [rather than] American entrepreneurs. They clearly do not welcome Trump supporters.”

Sure, YC stood by Trump supporter Peter Thiel, but Torba said the difference is that he’s not rich and powerful like Thiel.

Torba had also tweeted a screenshot of another founder’s Facebook comment (the founder’s name was removed) that “being a black, Muslim or woman in the USA is going to be very scary” with his own comment: “Build the wall.” Then, in another thread, a YC alum alluded to Torba’s behavior without mentioning him by name, prompting him to jump in: “Say my name when you talk about me, coward. Build the wall.”

Now all of that might make it sound like Torba was working pretty aggressively to burn bridges at YC, but he insisted that’s not the case.

“Here’s what it was: There were the two or three founders that jumped in harassing me on my posts trying to get me in a gotcha moment, trying to test my understanding of immigration law, trying to make me look like an idiot,” he said. So by saying “fuck off,” in his view, he was just telling them, “I don’t owe you anything, I’m done with this.”

“I wasn’t trying to burn the bridge or anything,” he added.

[Hat tip to BuzzFeed for spotting the story and pulling the quotes from Facebook.]

Andrew Torba Facebook

Update: In an email, YC Partner Kat Manalac emphasized that Torba was removed because of his behavior, not because he supports Trump:

The main thing I want to get across here is: we believe that everyone is entitled to their political beliefs and they are welcome to support the political candidates of their choosing. Having an honest, rational dialogue between all parts of the political spectrum is going to be important for us as a country moving forward. But under no circumstances do we tolerate harassing or threatening other founders (or anyone for that matter). Regardless of what you believe, if you act in a hostile way that makes the community feel unsafe, you will be ejected from the YC community.

Manalac added there have been “very few instances” where someone has been removed in the past, and YC hasn’t commented publicly, “But this time we’re saying something because Andrew has been very vocal, and he’s been spreading lies about why he’s been removed.”

Lastly, you can go here to read the full Facebook thread.

More TechCrunch

A new crop of early-stage startups — along with some recent VC investments — illustrates a niche emerging in the autonomous vehicle technology sector. Unlike the companies bringing robotaxis to…

VCs and the military are fueling self-driving startups that don’t need roads

When the founders of Sagetap, Sahil Khanna and Kevin Hughes, started working at early-stage enterprise software startups, they were surprised to find that the companies they worked at were trying…

Deal Dive: Sagetap looks to bring enterprise software sales into the 21st century

Keeping up with an industry as fast-moving as AI is a tall order. So until an AI can do it for you, here’s a handy roundup of recent stories in the world…

This Week in AI: OpenAI moves away from safety

After Apple loosened its App Store guidelines to permit game emulators, the retro game emulator Delta — an app 10 years in the making — hit the top of the…

Adobe comes after indie game emulator Delta for copying its logo

Meta is once again taking on its competitors by developing a feature that borrows concepts from others — in this case, BeReal and Snapchat. The company is developing a feature…

Meta’s latest experiment borrows from BeReal’s and Snapchat’s core ideas

Welcome to Startups Weekly! We’ve been drowning in AI news this week, with Google’s I/O setting the pace. And Elon Musk rages against the machine.

Startups Weekly: It’s the dawning of the age of AI — plus,  Musk is raging against the machine

IndieBio’s Bay Area incubator is about to debut its 15th cohort of biotech startups. We took special note of a few, which were making some major, bordering on ludicrous, claims…

IndieBio’s SF incubator lineup is making some wild biotech promises

YouTube TV has announced that its multiview feature for watching four streams at once is now available on Android phones and tablets. The Android launch comes two months after YouTube…

YouTube TV’s ‘multiview’ feature is now available on Android phones and tablets

Featured Article

Two Santa Cruz students uncover security bug that could let millions do their laundry for free

CSC ServiceWorks provides laundry machines to thousands of residential homes and universities, but the company ignored requests to fix a security bug.

23 hours ago
Two Santa Cruz students uncover security bug that could let millions do their laundry for free

OpenAI’s Superalignment team, responsible for developing ways to govern and steer “superintelligent” AI systems, was promised 20% of the company’s compute resources, according to a person from that team. But…

OpenAI created a team to control ‘superintelligent’ AI — then let it wither, source says

TechCrunch Disrupt 2024 is just around the corner, and the buzz is palpable. But what if we told you there’s a chance for you to not just attend, but also…

Harness the TechCrunch Effect: Host a Side Event at Disrupt 2024

Decks are all about telling a compelling story and Goodcarbon does a good job on that front. But there’s important information missing too.

Pitch Deck Teardown: Goodcarbon’s $5.5M seed deck

Slack is making it difficult for its customers if they want the company to stop using its data for model training.

Slack under attack over sneaky AI training policy

A Texas-based company that provides health insurance and benefit plans disclosed a data breach affecting almost 2.5 million people, some of whom had their Social Security number stolen. WebTPA said…

Healthcare company WebTPA discloses breach affecting 2.5 million people

Featured Article

Microsoft dodges UK antitrust scrutiny over its Mistral AI stake

Microsoft won’t be facing antitrust scrutiny in the U.K. over its recent investment into French AI startup Mistral AI.

1 day ago
Microsoft dodges UK antitrust scrutiny over its Mistral AI stake

Ember has partnered with HSBC in the U.K. so that the bank’s business customers can access Ember’s services from their online accounts.

Embedded finance is still trendy as accounting automation startup Ember partners with HSBC UK

Kudos uses AI to figure out consumer spending habits so it can then provide more personalized financial advice, like maximizing rewards and utilizing credit effectively.

Kudos lands $10M for an AI smart wallet that picks the best credit card for purchases

The EU’s warning comes after Microsoft failed to respond to a legally binding request for information that focused on its generative AI tools.

EU warns Microsoft it could be fined billions over missing GenAI risk info

The prospects for troubled banking-as-a-service startup Synapse have gone from bad to worse this week after a United States Trustee filed an emergency motion on Wednesday.  The trustee is asking…

A US Trustee wants troubled fintech Synapse to be liquidated via Chapter 7 bankruptcy, cites ‘gross mismanagement’

U.K.-based Seraphim Space is spinning up its 13th accelerator program, with nine participating companies working on a range of tech from propulsion to in-space manufacturing and space situational awareness. The…

Seraphim’s latest space accelerator welcomes nine companies

OpenAI has reached a deal with Reddit to use the social news site’s data for training AI models. In a blog post on OpenAI’s press relations site, the company said…

OpenAI inks deal to train AI on Reddit data

X users will now be able to discover posts from new Communities that are trending directly from an Explore tab within the section.

X pushes more users to Communities

For Mark Zuckerberg’s 40th birthday, his wife got him a photoshoot. Zuckerberg gives the camera a sly smile as he sits amid a carefully crafted re-creation of his childhood bedroom.…

Mark Zuckerberg’s makeover: Midlife crisis or carefully crafted rebrand?

Strava announced a slew of features, including AI to weed out leaderboard cheats, a new ‘family’ subscription plan, dark mode and more.

Strava taps AI to weed out leaderboard cheats, unveils ‘family’ plan, dark mode and more

We all fall down sometimes. Astronauts are no exception. You need to be in peak physical condition for space travel, but bulky space suits and lower gravity levels can be…

Astronauts fall over. Robotic limbs can help them back up.

Microsoft will launch its custom Cobalt 100 chips to customers as a public preview at its Build conference next week, TechCrunch has learned. In an analyst briefing ahead of Build,…

Microsoft’s custom Cobalt chips will come to Azure next week

What a wild week for transportation news! It was a smorgasbord of news that seemed to touch every sector and theme in transportation.

Tesla keeps cutting jobs and the feds probe Waymo

Sony Music Group has sent letters to more than 700 tech companies and music streaming services to warn them not to use its music to train AI without explicit permission.…

Sony Music warns tech companies over ‘unauthorized’ use of its content to train AI

Winston Chi, Butter’s founder and CEO, told TechCrunch that “most parties, including our investors and us, are making money” from the exit.

GrubMarket buys Butter to give its food distribution tech an AI boost

The investor lawsuit is related to Bolt securing a $30 million personal loan to Ryan Breslow, which was later defaulted on.

Bolt founder Ryan Breslow wants to settle an investor lawsuit by returning $37 million worth of shares