Y Combinator Shrinks Its Winter Class

Y Combinator is paring back its 2013 winter class to less than 50 startups, saying it grew too fast earlier this year.

The startup accelerator said in a blog post this week that it became more selective in interviews with winter applicants after “more things than usual broke” during its summer class. The summer class admitted 84 companies, up from 66 in the winter of 2012.

“We’re still a bit mystified about what happened,” Y Combinator co-founder Paul Graham wrote. “Why was 66 ok and 84 not?”

He said the smaller class would give Y Combinator time to resolve the dilemma. In the past, the firm, which has nurtured companies such as Airbnb and Dropbox, has spent its time analyzing the “predictors of success,” or how to pick the startups most likely to do well.

Over the past several months, the focus shifted to the predictors or failure, looking for qualities missing in startups and for common traits in failed companies, Graham said.

“We even studied the times of day we accepted startups that failed (it turned out that, like judges, we were more tolerant after lunch),” he wrote.

Y Combinator doesn’t plan to stay at 50 companies. “We’ve never had a predetermined batch size,” Graham said. “That’s just the number we ended up with when we tightened our filters as much as we could.” If the same tight filters remain in place and the number of applicants grows, so could the next class.

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