Exploding Offers Suck

by Sam Altman9/8/2014

Exploding offers suck.  Founders should be able to choose the investor they want to work with, not have to make a decision based on time pressure.

As the world of accelerators gets more and more competitive, we’re seeing more and more exploding offers where an accelerator tries to force a company to make a decision about a funding offer before the company has a chance to finish talking to other accelerators.

This is terrible behavior.  It may be the best thing for accelerators to use time pressure to get founders to accept their offer, but it’s definitely not the best thing for founders. 

I want to make our stance on this public: after we make you an offer, we’ll give you until the beginning of our program to decide (though most companies accept quickly, because you can’t start having office hours with us and participating in other ways until you accept).  We ask companies to be transparent with us about needing more time–we won’t rescind our offer.  It’s usually about 45 days from interview to the start of the batch.

Some accelerators use a line about needing to make an announcement about who is in the upcoming batch—which, again, is maybe in the interest of the accelerator but the company should launch when it’s ready.  Sometimes they say they have a fixed amount of desk space, but in practice, if a good company wants to join late, they always make room.

We encourage all other accelerators to join us on this.  It should be an easy yes.  Exploding offers are the wrong thing for founders, and an accelerator that does the wrong thing for founders will not last long.

And founders should think very hard about joining an accelerator that puts forth a short-fuse offer.


  • Sam Altman

    Sam Altman is the CEO of OpenAI. He was the president of YC from 2014-2019. He studied computer science at Stanford, and while there, worked in the AI lab.