by Garry Tan10/6/2023
The command center of YC is growing even stronger.
At the helm of YC are the Group Partners, a set of talented, optimistic, and deeply-experienced individuals — all of whom know what it’s like to start a company, because they’ve done it. These are the Unicorn whisperers that choose the founders invited to each YC batch, and the ones supporting those founders and their startups for life.
Today I’m thrilled to welcome a new addition to that set: Pete Koomen. Pete is the co-founder of Optimizely, which builds tools that let companies easily run experiments on their websites and apps.
I met Pete over a decade ago, just before he went through YC’s W10 batch. Like so many YC companies before/since, Optimizely was actually born from the batch; they’d applied with a totally different idea (a way for merchants to give discounts to fans for talking them up on social media, according to their old application), but found a much bigger problem to solve while going through YC.
Even early on, it was clear that Pete was a clever, thoughtful, and multi-faceted founder. He could wear whatever hat his team needed most at that moment. In the early years that meant building product (alongside his co-founder Dan) and scaling the product and engineering teams. Later it meant focusing on sales, leading sales engineering, and helping to close huge enterprise deals. By the time Optimizely was acquired, Pete and his team had climbed up to nearly $120M in ARR.
(Fun fact: Pete is also a literal climber. Check out this picture of him conquering El Capitan.)
Pete first came back to YC last year as a Visiting Group Partner — a similar role, but one that asks for a commitment on a batch-to-batch basis. As with Pete, a number of Visiting Group Partners have gone on to join YC as full-time Group Partners.
On that note, I’m also very happy to welcome two more YC alumni back home as Visiting Group Partners: Tyler Bosmeny and Nate Smith.
Tyler is the co-founder and former CEO of Clever (S12), which lets students and teachers access all of their learning software in one place. If you have a kid in K-12 in the U.S., they probably log into Clever all the time — 60% of them do. In 2021, Clever was acquired for half a billion dollars. Besides his uniquely deep expertise in EdTech, Tyler brings a ton of experience in B2B sales (he was already leading a YC/Stanford class about sales and marketing eight years ago.)
Even before today’s news, YC had more Group Partners than at any point in its history. Every addition brings more experience, more insight, and more personalized attention for each and every YC founder. As an increasing number of YC founders hit their grand slams, more of them are coming home to help the next generation of founders at bat and we love it.
Yet we’re very deliberate in who we bring on, and we’re just as deliberate in why we call them “Partners”. They’re not just partners at YC; they’re partners with their YC companies. Each of us thinks and acts like long-term owners in these companies, because that’s the right way to do this. Any insight, any experience, any strengths we can bring to help these teams succeed, we will. Anyone in startup land can offer you “mentorship”; this is so much more.
Welcome, Tyler and Nate — and congrats, Pete!
Garry is the President & CEO of Y Combinator. Previously, he was the co-founder & Managing Partner of Initialized Capital. Before that, he co-founded Posterous (YC S08) which was acquired by Twitter.