Though every street corner in San Francisco seems to house a startup incubator these days (and promising folks are coming out of the woodwork to start new ones), Y Combinator is at the top of the heap. Thursday night, Silicon Valley prince Facebook bestowed its endorsement on YC, announcing a relationship with the Mountain View, Calif.-based program to mentor its startups.
At an event in Palo Alto, Facebook said it would offer startups “product, technical and design resources” and “priority access to our technologies and programs such as Facebook Credits, Instant Personalization and upcoming beta features.” With Facebook’s support, Y Combinator will specifically be looking for relevant social startups for its winter 2011 class.
It won’t be hard for entrepreneurs to read between the lines here. Facebook is an increasingly active acquirer of small startups. In a blog post, Carl Sjogreen (a product manager on Facebook Platform after his company Nextstop was acquired) noted Facebook recently bought the YC company Divvyshot, and complimented social integrations at YC alums Scribd and Justin.tv. (On the flip side, both Facebook and Y Combinator have fielded criticism for their encouragement of companies that tackle relatively small problems and sell out for amounts that don’t reward investors.)
In the near future, we think it will be hard to imagine a web experience that is not personalized. Startups that can build in these interactions from the beginning — not simply add them to existing products — will be the examples of transformative social experiences others will follow.
Y Combinator also has a relationship with Twitter and a close relationship with Sequoia Capital.
Please see the disclosure about Facebook in my bio.