Founder Ethics

April 2016

Y Combinator is a network of people who trust one another, often solely on the basis of participation in the YC program.

The YC community is strong because its members share a set of common values such as integrity, respect and accountability. We believe these are critical traits for founders to have. The continuing strength and value of this network hinges on the trustworthiness of its members. Founders who behave unethically put the reputation of the entire community at risk.

Some examples of ethical behavior we expect from founders are:

  • Treating co-founders and employees with fairness and respect.
  • Not using misleading, illegal or dishonest sales tactics.
  • Being honest with investors and partners.
  • Not harassing or threatening any co-founder, YC community member, employee, or anyone else.
  • Keeping off-the-record or confidential information (whether about YC itself or a YC company) private and secret.
  • Treating emails and other communications shared within the YC network as confidential, and not forwarding to non-YC founders, investors, or the press.
  • Not behaving in a way that damages the reputation of his/her company or of YC.
  • Being honest in the YC application and interview process.
  • Keeping your word, including honoring handshake deals, contractual obligations and the like.
  • Treating the money invested in your company with the utmost respect, to be used exclusively to further the goals of the company.
  • Abiding by the Y Combinator Name & Logo Usage Guidelines.
  • Generally behaving in a professional and upstanding way.

To maintain our community, if a founder behaves unethically during or after YC, we will revoke their YC founder status. This includes access to all Y Combinator spaces, software, lists and events. All founders in a company may be held responsible for the unethical actions of a single co-founder or a company employee, depending on the circumstances.

We will stand behind you no matter how much your company struggles, as long as you behave ethically.