Keynote: Paul Graham, YCombinator

This is way bigger than the last PyCon we talked at. It was 2002. Just a small fraction of the attendance today.

What is silicon valley like?

  • The center of silicon valley moves around.
  • Where is the greatest collection of people who want to make stuff happen

We are in the center of silicon valley right now, right here

A list of 7 Giant startup ideas (be a billionaire!!)

  • The biggest startup ideas are frightening

  • The threaten your identity

  • Start the next google

  • The right ideas are just on the right side of impossible

  • Microsoft really lost their way when they got into the search business
    • The did this because they were afraid of Google
  • Google may have peaked, but doesn’t mean there is a room for a new search engine

  • Paul is nostalgic to the old google.

  • Now results are like scientology results. What’s true is true for you (big laughs)

Find the tiny thing that turns into the giant idea. Find the dinosaur egg.

Replace Google

  • make a search engine that all the hackers use
  • Maybe only 10,000 users but you’d be in a powerful position
  • Make the search engine you want

Replace Email

  • Email is a to-do list not communication

  • But it’s a shitty to-do list

  • Tweaking the inbox is not enough

  • Make a to-do list protocal

  • Gives more power to the receipent

  • People send emails to themselves is proof of this (I do this all the time)

  • Entreanched protocols are almost impossible to replace

  • But it’s time

  • Powerful people are in pain because of email
    • This means you can make money on this idea!!
    • You have a dinosaur chicken!
    • Build it and make it fast
  • He could justify spending tons of money on this

Replace Universities

  • Is reluctant to suggest this.

  • The last couple decades universities have went down a bad path

  • They are like expensive country clubs

  • Might get replaced by a whole bunch of little things
    • Many will not look like universities at all
  • Change the way people learn

  • Universities are kinda like a credential at this point
    • So maybe crenditals have to be done outside of this

Kill Hollywood

Huge Applause

  • Slow to embrace the internet

  • Can now call the winner for delievry mechanism for entertainment
    • It is the Internet
  • Hates TVs

  • Some of the attention people spend watching TV can be stole by other things

  • Still a residual demand for people who want to watch a story unfold

  • How do we deliver drama via the Internet
    • Must be on a larger scale than YouTube
  • Two ways delivery and payment can play out

A new Apple

  • Was talking to somebody who knew Apple well. Asks the question, “Post Steve Jobs can Apple still innovate” Answer: No

  • Who is going to make the next iPad
    • Maybe none of the existing players
  • Only want to get a product visionary as CEO is for that person to start the company. (And that person doesn’t get fired)

  • The next Apple is a start up

  • Who’s going to make the future

  • There is a vacuum. Ready for a new company to lead the way.
    • People are used to following

Bring back the old Moore’s Law

  • Hardware was solving softwares problems

  • Not anymore

  • Would be great if a start up could give back something of the old Moore’s Law

  • Make many CPU’s look and act like one super fast one

  • Programmers like convience

  • In world of web services we don’t see processors anymore

  • Instead of the compiler, build stuff out of smaller components. (hadoop, map / reduce)

  • Create a market place for optimization
    • Write bots to do the optimization

Ongoing Diagnosis

  • Imagine the ways we will seem backwards to people in the future

  • Ridiculous we have to wait for symptoms to know we have problems
    • Example: heart problems
    • Have to wait until your arteries are 90% blocked to know there is a problem
  • Surely, in the future this will happen. People will know how blocked their arteries are like their weight

  • Next example, Cancer

  • Traditionally you feel symptoms, go to the Dr. Need to start looking for problems pro-actively.

  • If people are scanned all the time - there will be less freak-out moments

  • Going against thousand of years of medical history


  • If you want to take on a problem, don’t make a frontal attack.

  • Don’t say you’re replacing email, say you’re building to-do list software

  • Start with small things, make them bigger

  • Start small for your own sake, not for other people

  • Bigger your ambitions the longer they take to realize
    • The more you have to look into the future, the more you’ll be wrong
  • Columbus “There is something in the West”

  • Blurry view of the future is the best


  • The idea of what is property? What is convient to be called property. Land didn’t used to be, but it is now.

  • Now files move around like smells. Doesn’t make sense to charge people for copies anymore.

  • Question about Replacing universities. Other value to them than learning.
    • Would it be bad if people don’t physically meet? Things have to happen in person.
    • Things can be made that involve people meeting in person.
  • Get a degree from people, not institutions

  • Maybe universities used to be like this