Y Combinator accidentally accepts 15,000 companies to a course – but owns its mistake

Y Combinator accidentally accepts 15,000 companies to a course – but owns its mistake

Y Combinator is an ultra-exclusive startup accelerator, with results that justify its haughty reputation. It also runs an free online course called Startup School, for which companies have to apply, and only a few thousand are accepted.

Except this year, when it accidentally admitted literally every startup that applied. Oops.

Over 15,000 companies applied to attend the course, which normally hosts just 3,000 companies, all of whom received emails warmly congratulating them on their acceptance. Bully for them.

Not long after, many reported receiving rejection emails. Apparently there’d been some sort of embarrassing software cock-up on behalf of Y Combinator.

There’s a happy end to the story, however, as Y Combinator decided to allow all startups who applied access to the course, which includes video lectures from successful entrepreneurs, like WhatsApp co-founder Jan Koum.

In an email sent to all applicants, the company pledged to find a way to accomodate all students, saying:

“Our goal has always been to help the maximum number of startups, but we were concerned that our infrastructure for Startup School would not support all the companies that applied, which was more than 15,000 startups. After today’s mistake, though, it seems like the only right thing to do is to let everyone in. We’ve decided to use our error as a forcing function to find a way to make Startup School work for all founders who applied.”

Of course, this particular saga isn’t without parallel from the traditional academic world. Last year, the prestigious Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health accepted all 277 applicants for a single master’s program, only to rescind the offer within just one hour.

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