Y Combinator is zeroing in on bigger, breakaway companies with a new growth-stage program

Y Combinator famously funds a lot of companies, but there’s always more it could be doing, said its president, Sam Altman, in an interview with TechCrunch this fall. “I do think startups are a super important vehicle to make things happen in the world today and I think we are nowhere near the limit of how many we can help.”

Altman had added that YC is “always slightly broken, because we’re always trying to grow; we’re always trying to do new things.” And while he didn’t offer specifics on what new things YC might try,  today, the outfit is taking the wraps off one of those initiatives: a new growth-stage program designed to help both YC companies and non-YC companies figure out how to scale.

The idea is partly to address what YC companies have described to its leadership as a thinning of its network over time, largely because there simply aren’t as many companies that make it to the growth stage. YC estimates that of the more than 1,200 active YC companies in the world today, about 60 or so employ more than 100 people.

YC also sees an opportunity to work with companies that are too busy trying to keep the wheels on the track to think much about the big picture. Some of the questions that founders tell them they could use help with are how to recruit engineers at scale, and how to accelerate user growth and acquisitions systematically.

Presumably, too, the program allows YC to cement its relationship with maturing companies — an increasingly tall order in a world drowning in later-stage capital, including, most obviously, from Softbank’s nearly $100 billion Vision Fund.

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