General FAQ

Will you invest in and/or advise our startup?

I invest in and advise startups through Y Combinator. If you want investment, the way to get it is to apply for our next round of funding. If we fund you, you can have all the advice you want (if not more).

Sorry, but I can't give advice to every startup that writes to me. It's as much as I can do to keep up with the ones we've funded.

Can I mirror an essay on my site?

I'd rather you linked to it instead. I like to keep track of which ones people read, because it gives me ideas of what to write about next. I also like to be able to fix typos.

Can I include an essay in my school newspaper?

Sure, go ahead. Please include the url of the original though.

Can I put a translation into another language online?

Sure. Please include the url of the original, and send me the url of your translation so I can make a link to it.

How long does it take you to write an essay?

Usually about two weeks. What You Can't Say took a month, partly because the topic was so dangerous. How to Start a Startup took a week, because I started it a week before I had to deliver it as a talk. Writing, Briefly was the fastest, at just over an hour.

Why did the school authorities veto the plan to have you give the talk that became "What You'll Wish You'd Known?"

They didn't have anything against me specifically, but because I wouldn't be coming from any organization, they wouldn't have any guarantee I wouldn't say dangerous things. Whereas if I came to speak from IBM or the State Department, and told the students they should all go out and try heroin, I'd be fired.

Which shows one reason public schools lose. A private school would probably have taken the risk, but the administration at a public school has to consider all the fuss parents might make in the worst-case scenario.

Are any of your paintings online?

I don't really consider myself a painter. I was trained in painting, but I haven't worked seriously at it for years. For the curious there is one image online. The painting on the cover of ANSI Common Lisp is also one of mine.

Are you the photographer Paul Graham?

No, that's a different guy.

You say in "Taste for Makers" that setting text in sans serif fonts was a mistake. So why do you use them on your site?

I was talking about books. The resolution of computer screens is much lower.

Why is the text on your site so narrow? It wastes screen space.

The aim of web design is not to use all available screen space. It is legibility. Text is most legible with no more than 70 characters per line.