Request for Startups: News, Jobs, and Democracy

by Y Combinator1/31/2017

Photo by Katie Moum / Unsplash

If you’re working on a startup or non-profit that addresses any of the challenges discussed below, we’d love to see you apply.

News: We’re facing two major issues with news. The first is fake news. The business model for online media rewards the people who get the greatest number of page views, clicks and likes. That results in a system that prizes virality over truth. There are economic incentives for people to post whatever is the most shareable, and now it’s so easy to spin up a fake news site that even teenagers in Eastern Europe are making a living doing it. Building tools for fact-checking and helping people decipher fact from fiction will become increasingly important to keep the electorate informed.

Second is the issue of protecting the freedom of the press. We need an unbiased, independent press to hold people in power accountable. Press also has the responsibility to use its voice and influence to protect those without money and power. We’re looking to fund tools that can help protect and defend journalists and their sources, or new revenue tools that can bolster and sustain independent media organizations.

Future of Work: Jobs will look very different 25 years from now. We’ve already seen a massive shift toward automation, and the pace of technology’s impact on work isn’t slowing down. A study by the World Economic Forum estimates that in the next five years, 5 million jobs in 15 economies will be lost. We’re interested in what comes next. People seek full-time jobs for many reasons, including money, healthcare, and a sense of purpose. We’d love to see solutions that address each of these factors (or any others) in anticipation of a changing job market.

Improving Democracy: There are thousands of ways technology can be applied to improve democracy. For democracy to function effectively, more of us need to be engaged and empowered. We’d like to see startups and non-profits who are using technology to make it easier and more appealing to get involved in the political process, and for that involvement to make an impact. We want technology that makes it easy to understand how new laws and programs impact you and your city’s budget, programs that teach young people and people from underrepresented groups how to run for office, and communication tools that make it easier for citizens to be heard by their representatives. In Summer 2016 we donated to whose mission is to increase voter registration, and we think there’s more space for organizations solving voting problems too. We’d like to see tools that address problems in the voting process, such as voter suppression and gerrymandering, to name a couple of examples. Tech may be able to make a direct impact by measuring how people’s votes have been diluted, showing how representatives are less responsive to their constituents and empowering citizens to do something about it.

We review applications on a rolling basis. Apply here now.


  • Y Combinator

    Y Combinator created a new model for funding early stage startups. Twice a year we invest a small amount of money ($150k) in a large number of startups (recently 200). The startups move to Silicon