On Friday, Silicon Valley's premiere start-up factory, Y Combinator, announced that it will move its 30th Demo Day, scheduled for March 23, to an online-only format. It will not host company founders, investors and members of the media in-person due to increasing fears over the spread of coronavirus.
Founded by Paul Graham and Jessica Livingston in 2005, the pioneering accelerator and venture fund gave rise to ventures as far-ranging as Airbnb, Cruise Automation, Dropbox and Stripe, all valued well over $1 billion at this point.
In recent years, YC has invited press, investors and other select partners to its general purpose demo days, and then held a separate Demo Day just for investors. Participation is invite-only. The investor Demo Day can feel like "speed dating" to match start-ups and prospective backers or board members. Some YC companies have deal offers in-hand even before Demo Days, however.
YC has live-streamed Demo Day events in the past, but also controls who is allowed to watch them. That means they're well-positioned to move online-only in light of the outbreak of the increasing number of cases of COVID-19 in and around Silicon Valley.
Below is the notice that Y Combinator CEO Michael Seibel sent informing the YC community of its decision:
On March 23, YC will host our 30th Demo Day online. With the growing concern over COVID-19, we believe this is the right thing to do for the safety of all attendees, including our team, founders, investors, and the media.
While we won't be able to recreate every aspect of Demo Day, we'll try our best to create an amazing experience for investors, our founders, and all of you.
Presentations will be pre-recorded and released to all investors and media at the same time on Monday, March 23 on our Demo Day website. We will also provide additional written background information on each company and access to their decks. Finally, our software will make it easy for investors and founders to exchange contact information so that they can arrange one-on-one meetings. All of this will happen on the same YC Demo Day website that investors, founders, and media have used over the past five years.
For 15 years, startup investors have supported every new batch of YC companies we know the same will be true for this batch.
We care about all of your safety so we hope you are keeping up to date on all official announcements re: coronavirus and are taking steps to protect yourselves, your loved ones, and your team.