Boot camp for startups
The Y Combinator offices sit at the dead center of Silicon Valley, in Mountain View, on a street called Pioneer Way. Outside, the traffic hums along CA-z85 headed either south to Cupertino or north toward Google headquarters. Inside, the decor of the main room combines modern office (big whiteboard, bright orange noise-dampening panels) with camp dining hall (long trestle tables). Y Combinator shares space with a company called Anybots—which makes robots that can be controlled remotely—and occasionally a droid will motor through the room on a Segway-style base.
On this November day, the Terminator itself could be roaming around the main room and the young men (and the occasional woman) gathered here wouldn’t notice. They are attending Interview Day, a chance to compete for a spot in what has become the tech world’s most prestigious program for budding digital entrepreneurs. The interviewees include former product managers at Google, a Midwestern accountant, and a 17-year-old high school student. They hail from Philadelphia, Minnesota, Greece, Russia, England, Spain, and San Francisco. And like would-be starlets flocking to Hollywood, they have come to Mountain View in the hope that Y Combinator will turn them from nameless coders into Silicon Valley celebrities.
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