Paul Graham: Essays

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The Ronco Principle

January 2015<p>No one, VC or angel, has invested in more of the top startups than Ron Conway. He knows what happened in every deal in the Valley, half …

Startups

Life is Short

January 2016<p>Life is short, as everyone knows. When I was a kid I used to wonder about this. Is life actually short, or are we really complaining …

Mind

What Doesn't Seem Like Work?

January 2015<p>My father is a mathematician. For most of my childhood he worked for Westinghouse, modelling nuclear reactors.<p>He was one of those lucky …

Programming

Don't Talk to Corp Dev

January 2015<p>Corporate Development, aka corp dev, is the group within companies that buys other companies. If you're talking to someone from corp dev, …

Programming

A Reply to Ezra Klein

January 2016<p>I thought perhaps it would be worthwhile to reply to what Ezra Klein wrote about Economic Inequality. It's an important topic, and his …

Equality

Economic Inequality: The Short Version

January 2016<p><i>As often happens when you say something controversial, there have been some very adventurous interpretations of the essay I just wrote</i> …

Equality

Economic Inequality

January 2016<p>Since the 1970s, economic inequality in the US has increased dramatically. And in particular, the rich have gotten a lot richer. Nearly …

Equality

The Refragmentation

January 2016<p>One advantage of being old is that you can see change happen in your lifetime. A lot of the change I've seen is fragmentation. US …

Equality

Let the Other 95% of Great Programmers In

December 2014<p>American technology companies want the government to make immigration easier because they say they can't find enough programmers in the …

Programming

How to Be an Expert in a Changing World

December 2014<p>If the world were static, we could have monotonically increasing confidence in our beliefs. The more (and more varied) experience a …

Programming

How You Know

December 2014<p>I've read Villehardouin's chronicle of the Fourth Crusade at least two times, maybe three. And yet if I had to write down everything I …

Programming

The Fatal Pinch

December 2014<p>Many startups go through a point a few months before they die where although they have a significant amount of money in the bank, …

Programming

Mean People Fail

November 2014<p>It struck me recently how few of the most successful people I know are mean. There are exceptions, but remarkably few.<p>Meanness isn't …

Programming

Jessica Livingston

November 2015<p>A few months ago an article about Y Combinator said that early on it had been a "one-man show." It's sadly common to read that sort of …

Startups

A Way to Detect Bias

October 2015<p>This will come as a surprise to a lot of people, but in some cases it's possible to detect bias in a selection process without knowing …

Programming

Write Like You Talk

October 2015<p>Here's a simple trick for getting more people to read what you write: write in spoken language.<p>Something comes over most people when they …

Programming

Default Alive or Default Dead?

October 2015<p>When I talk to a startup that's been operating for more than 8 or 9 months, the first thing I want to know is almost always the same. …

Programming

Before the Startup

<b>Want to start a startup?</b> Get funded by Y Combinator.<p>October 2014<p><i>(This essay is derived from a guest lecture in Sam Altman's startup class at</i> …

Startups

How to Raise Money

<b>Want to start a startup?</b> Get funded by Y Combinator.<p>September 2013<p>Most startups that raise money do it more than once. A typical trajectory might be …

Venture Capital

Why It's Safe for Founders to Be Nice

August 2015<p>I recently got an email from a founder that helped me understand something important: why it's safe for startup founders to be nice people.<p>…

Startups

Investor Herd Dynamics

<b>Want to start a startup?</b> Get funded by Y Combinator.<p>August 2013<p>The biggest component in most investors' opinion of you is the opinion of other …

Venture Capital

How to Convince Investors

<b>Want to start a startup?</b> Get funded by Y Combinator.<p>August 2013<p>When people hurt themselves lifting heavy things, it's usually because they try to …

Programming

Change Your Name

August 2015<p>If you have a US startup called X and you don't have x.com, you should probably change your name.<p>The reason is not just that people can't …

Programming

Do Things that Don't Scale

<b>Want to start a startup?</b> Get funded by Y Combinator.<p>July 2013<p>One of the most common types of advice we give at Y Combinator is to do things that …

Startups

Startup Investing Trends

June 2013<p><i>(This talk was written for an audience of investors.)</i><p>Y Combinator has now funded 564 startups including the current batch, which has 53. The …

Venture Capital

How to Get Startup Ideas

<b>Want to start a startup?</b> Get funded by Y Combinator.<p>November 2012<p>The way to get startup ideas is not to try to think of startup ideas. It's to look …

Startups

The Hardware Renaissance

<b>Want to start a startup?</b> Get funded by Y Combinator.<p>October 2012<p>One advantage of Y Combinator's early, broad focus is that we see trends before most …

Programming

Startup = Growth

<b>Want to start a startup?</b> Get funded by Y Combinator.<p>September 2012<p>A startup is a company designed to grow fast. Being newly founded does not in …

Startups

Black Swan Farming

<b>Want to start a startup?</b> Get funded by Y Combinator.<p>September 2012<p>I've done several types of work over the years but I don't know another as …

Startups

The Top of My Todo List

April 2012<p>A palliative care nurse called Bronnie Ware made a list of the biggest regrets of the dying. Her list seems plausible. I could see</i> …

Programming