Why does YC practice age discrimination via its application form?

It is an accepted norm in professional life not to ask people their age, especially during times like interview process. Govt EEOC also states that age discrimination is illegal. Yet YC asks for your age on its application form? Heard of it from some people who said they viewed that question like oh, ‘is this how I’ll be judged, instead of just on my business idea?

Didn’t know about it until now and it made me wonder if YC is as prejudiced as others have been saying.


  • Asking an applicants age does not mean they practice age discrimination…

    Sam Altman:

    “We want to fund more women because it’s the right thing to do, but we’re not doing this for diversity’s sake alone. We want to fund more women because we are greedy in the good way–we want to fund the most successful startups, and many of those are going to be founded by women.”

    “Many are also going to be founded by people of different races, different religions, from different countries, straight, gay, in their 20s, or in their 50s. All of those apply to people in the current YC batch. In fact, they all apply to the YC partnership as well. Again, we don’t do this for the sake of diversity. We do it because we want to get the best people, whatever they’re like.”

    http://blog.samaltman.com/what-ive-learned-from-female-founders-so-far

      • Does YC accept founders older than 30?

        Yes. And according to PG, age is neither a penalty nor a bonus. He writes: “I don’t actually know the numbers. We don’t keep track. But I know there haven’t been any with founders in their 50s, and only 2 or 3 with founders in their 40s or their teens. Most founders are in their 20s or 30s. Completely guessing, I’d say 15-20% have founders in their 30s.” (That was a year ago, so the numbers may have changed.)

        Basically, the age distribution of YC companies is pretty close to the age distribution of applicants. More YC founders are 25 than 35, but more 25-year-olds apply than 35-year-olds.

        (Paul has an essay where he says the ideal range to start a startup is 22-38. As far as I know, that isn’t a rule, just a suggestion. YC has accepted plenty of people younger than 22, and at least a few over 38.)

        Source: http://blog.zencoder.com/2010/09/21/doing-y-combinator-in-your-30s/

        – – –

        Paul Graham

        “… we fund the best people out of those who apply. As far as I can tell, the age distribution of people we fund is the same as the age distribution of applicants”

        “I think the main reason we get more applicants in their 20s is that the older people are, the more difficulty they have getting n cofounders to be free of obligations all at the same time.”

        “I don’t actually know the numbers. We don’t keep track. But I know there haven’t been any with founders in their 50s, and only 2 or 3 with founders in their 40s or their teens. Most founders are in their 20s or 30s. Completely guessing, I’d say 15-20% have founders in their 30s.”

        “Off the top of my head, I’d say that older founders are more likely to succeed. They don’t give up so easily. On the other hand, they also tend to have much higher burn rates, which make their startups easier for circumstances to kill.”

        Source: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=1642238

      • How many over 40 have applied? I’d wager much fewer than those in their 20s.

        If PG is correct: being older may actually help you… provided your personal “burn rate” isn’t a risk to you company.

    • Silicon Valley is known for their love of platitudes but reality is quite different. Look at all the sharing economy startups that talk a good game of empowerment but on reality it’s all about the almighty dollar and their users are just pawns to be used and abused.

  • Sure, count age groups after admission, just to know distribution in each cohort and historically. But why ask about it BEFORE admission? Why ask anything that not directly related to the project or entrepreneurial potential? Fact is, people automatically assign certain views/characteristics to others based on age, which will influence their final decisions in judging applications. Why ask at all, if it supposedly has no impact on final decisions?

  • YC, like most other incubators and VCs, despise older people because
    1. They hate the thought that they themselves get old and want to “be part” of a younger, dynamic environment
    2. They hate it even more when someone comes in with real experience, deep industry knowledge, and maybe even better connections, and tells them what silly herd animals they are funding stupid me-too apps no one cares about outside the SV bubble.

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