Y Combinator entrepreneurs say they were kicked out of the accelerator for criticizing its founders and slamming efforts to skip vaccine lines

paul graham jessica livingston y combinator
Paul Graham and Jessica Livingston, two of Y Combinator’s founding partners.

Two entrepreneurs claimed Friday the startup accelerator Y Combinator kicked them out of its program for speaking publicly about misogyny and members’ efforts to circumvent COVID-19 vaccine eligibility requirements.

“Lol just got kicked out of @ycombinator,” Dark CEO Paul Biggar tweeted.

Biggar said he was expelled for a March tweet in which he claimed two founders posted to internal Y Combinator forums saying they had skipped vaccine queues in Oakland, California, and had shared tips to help other founders also jump spots in line.

Just hours later, Prolific CEO Katia Damer replied to Biggar’s tweet, claiming Y Combinator had kicked her out for speaking about misogyny within the accelerator.

“OK, I’ll come out publicly: 2 weeks ago YC kicked me out as well because I dared to criticise their beloved founders,” Damer said.

“Jessica literally defended a misogynist,” she said, referring to Y Combinator founding partner Jessica Livingston, adding: “I called it out and got expelled from their ‘oh-so-great’ community lmao.”

“YC has systemically disadvantaged female founders for years,” Damer said, claiming Y Combinator’s success stories included “almost exclusively white male founders.”

Y Combinator did not respond to a request for comment on this story.

Venture capital has long had a diversity problem, with firms hiring few investors or employees of color and funneling an overwhelming majority of their investments toward white male founders. Y Combinator has been vocal at times over the years about the need to increase diversity in its ranks, but it has struggled to make significant progress.

In September, Y Combinator touted that its Black-, Latinx-, and female-founded portfolio companies had a combined post-money valuation of $23.6 billion – less than 8% of the more than $300 billion combined valuation of its top companies alone.

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Slack CEO Stewart Butterfield and Away’s Jen Rubio just had their first child together. Here are 13 other power couples who rule the tech world.

Evan Spiegel Miranda Kerr
Snap CEO Evan Spiegel and wife Miranda Kerr.

  • Slack’s Stewart Butterfield and Away’s Jen Rubio just had their first child together.
  • They’re among over a dozen other leaders in the tech industry in relationships with powerful people.
  • Some, like Jeff Bezos and MacKenzie Scott, and Bill and Melinda Gates, have recently split up.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

As the singer Grimes, Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s girlfriend, might say, we appreciate power.

While some tech leaders, like Mark Zuckerberg, have been with their partners since college, notable figures in the tech sector have gravitated toward partners with just as much – or more! – power and pull in their industries.

Some are becoming new parents: This month, Slack CEO Stewart Butterfield and Jen Rubio, the CEO of luggage startup Away, announced the birth of their first child together. The couple got engaged in May 2019, but postponed a planned wedding in Peru after the pandemic hit.

Others, sadly, have broken up: Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and his wife, now MacKenzie Scott, announced in early 2019 that they were getting a divorce. And one of the most famous power couples in the world, Bill and Melinda Gates, are now headed for divorce as well.

Still, there are 14 other notable couples that hail from Silicon Valley who are still going strong.

Jen Rubio and Stewart Butterfield

Who they are: Rubio is the CEO of luggage startup Away, and Butterfield in the cofounder and CEO of work messaging platform Slack.

Their backstory: The relationship between Rubio and Butterfield initially flew under the radar, but it came under the spotlight in May 2019 when Butterfield jokingly proposed to Rubio on Twitter. Butterfield’s Twitter proposal followed news that Away had landed a $1.4 billion valuation, and the Slack CEO joked he wasn’t “just a goldigger.”

Butterfield and Rubio both acknowledged the proposal was a joke after a few hours. They got engaged for real that Memorial Day and announced the birth of their first child together, Oliver, in May 2021.

Emily Weiss and Will Gaybrick

So, a week ago, we got engaged. (!) Even during the wildest most uncertain times, there are silver linings. ❤️

A post shared by Emily Weiss (@emilyweiss) on Mar 18, 2020 at 10:25pm PDT

Who they are: Weiss is the cofounder and CEO of online makeup company Glossier. Gaybrick is the chief product officer at payments platform Stripe. Glossier is valued at more than $1 billion, while Stripe is the most valuable US startup with a valuation of $95 billion

Their backstory: Not a whole lot about their relationship has been shared publicly. The couple made their relationship public in an Instagram post from New Years Day of 2019, then announced their engagement in a post in March 2020

“Even during the wildest most uncertain times, there are silver linings,” Weiss wrote in the caption for the Instagram photo. Their engagement came just as the World Health Organization classified the coronavirus as a “pandemic.”

Evan Spiegel and Miranda Kerr

evan spiegel miranda kerr

Who they are: Spiegel is the cofounder and CEO of Snap Inc., Snapchat’s parent company. Kerr was, at one time, one of the highest-earning models in the world, and is currently the founder of wellness company KORA Organics.

Their backstory: The couple started dating in 2015, and got married in May 2017. They have one son, Hart, who was born in May 2018, and another son, Myles, who was born in October 2019. Kerr also has a son, Flynn, from her previous relationship with actor Orlando Bloom.

Sergey Brin and Nicole Shanahan

sergey brin nicole shanahan

Who they are: Brin is the cofounder of Google. Shanahan is the founder of law-tech company ClearAccessIP and the Bia-Echo Foundation.

Their backstory: The couple has been linked since 2015, when they were seen together at the star-studded wedding for a dating app CEO in Jamaica. The couple reportedly have a baby girl together who was born in late 2018, although they’ve kept information about their child under wraps. Brin has two other children from his previous marriage to 23andMe CEO Anne Wojcicki.

It was revealed in October 2019 that Brin and Shanahan have been married since 2018, but there were no other details made public about the wedding.

Karlie Kloss and Joshua Kushner

josh kushner karlie kloss

Who they are: Kushner is the founder of venture capital firm Thrive Capital and is the cofounder of health insurance startup Oscar Health. Kloss is a prominent model who runs coding camps for young girls called Kode with Klossy.

Their backstory: Kloss and Kushner reportedly started dating in 2012. The couple got married in October 2018 in a small ceremony, then got married again in June 2019 on a ranch in Wyoming. In March, the couple announced the birth of their first child, Levi. 

Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan

Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan

Who they are: Zuckerberg is the CEO and cofounder of Facebook. Chan is a former pediatrician. Together, the couple launched the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, a philanthropy focused on science and education.

Their backstory: Zuckerberg and Chan are college sweethearts — they met in 2003 while they were students at Harvard University. In May 2012, the day after Facebook went public, they got married in a surprise ceremony. The couple has two daughters together, Max and August, who were born in 2015 and 2017.

Serena Williams and Alexis Ohanian

Serena Williams. right, and husband Alexis Ohanian

Who they are: Ohanian is the cofounder of Reddit, and later cofounded the VC firm Initialized Capital. Williams is one of the best tennis players in the world, and ranks third on the all-time list of most winning players with 39 major tournament titles. In 2014, Williams launched her own investment firm, Serena Ventures, to invest in companies like Billie, Tonal, and Daily Harvest.

Their backstory: The couple met in May 2015 in Rome, and started dating that same year. They got engaged at the end of 2016 at the same place in Rome where they had first met. Williams gave birth to the couple’s daughter, Alexis Olympia Ohanian, in 2017, and they got married later that year.

Marissa Mayer and Zachary Bogue

marissa mayer zach bogue

Who they are: Mayer is the former CEO of Yahoo, and the cofounder of software company Sunshine. Prior to Yahoo, she was Google’s 20th employee. Bogue is a cofounder and managing partner at the investment firm DCVC.

Their backstory: The couple met through a mutual friend in 2007, and got married two years later. Mayer announced her first pregnancy in 2012 on the same day she was publicly named Yahoo’s CEO. She gave birth to identical twin girls in 2015.

Marc Benioff and Lynne Benioff

marc benioff lynne benioff

Who they are: Marc Benioff is the founder and CEO of enterprise cloud company Salesforce. Lynne Benioff is a notable philanthropist who serves on the board of the nonprofit ONE, UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospitals, the Benioff Ocean Initiative, and others.

Their backstory: The Benioffs were married in 2006, although details of their Hawaiian wedding were kept under wraps. In 2018, the couple bought Time Magazine together for $190 million.

Dave Morin and Brit Morin

dave morin brit morin

Who they are: David Morin helped to create Facebook Platform and Facebook Connect, and cofounded Path, a now-defunct photo-based platform. He’s currently an investor with VC firm Offline Ventures. Brit Morin is the founder of Brit + Co., a popular lifestyle media company for millennial women.

Their backstory: The pair first met when they both were working at Apple years ago. They got engaged in 2011 after an elaborate proposal set in the Maldives, and got married the following year.

Kevin Hartz and Julia Hartz

Julia and Keith Hartz

Who they are: Kevin Hartz and Julia Hartz cofounded the ticketing company Eventbrite in 2006. He is currently a chairman at the company, while she serves as CEO.

Their backstory: The couple met back in 2003 at a mutual friend’s wedding. In a 2012 interview with Business Insider, Julia Hartz said that “we knew we wanted to start a company together before we lived together.” The pair got married in 2006, and now have two children.

Barry Diller and Diane von Furstenberg

Barry Diller Diane Von Furstenberg

Who they are: Diller founded the Internet company IAC in 1995, and now serves as a chairman for that company and for Expedia. Furstenberg is a lauded fashion designer who first rose to fame after marrying into a royal German family.

Their backstory: The couple got married in 2001, but have had an on-and-off relationship and friendship that’s spanned more than 40 years. They first met in the 1970s at a party Diller was hosting.

Paul Graham and Jessica Livingston

paul graham jessica livingston y combinator

Who they are: Graham and Livingston helped found Y Combinator, a wildly successful startup accelerator program that’s produced companies like Dropbox, Airbnb, and Stripe.

Their backstory: The pair started Y Combinator in 2005 while they were already dating. They got married in 2008, and now have two sons.

Diane Greene and Mendel Rosenblum

Diane Greene
Diane Greene, CEO of the Google Cloud Platform.

Who they are: Greene and Rosenblum both helped found the cloud computing software company VMware in 1998. They also cofounded the cloud startup Bebop, which Google acquired in 2015. Greene was put in charge of Google’s cloud computing unit, and later sat on Alphabet’s board of directors. Greene is now chairman of the MIT Corporation, which is Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s board of trustees.

Their backstory: The couple met while attending the University of California, Berkeley, when Rosenblum gave Greene a ride on his motorcycle. They have two children together.

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