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Who Sent Out Fake Y Combinator Fellowship Acceptance Emails?

Someone played a really nasty prank on unwitting entrepreneurs.

Sujaimages2 / Thinkstock

In a cruel prank that sounds like something out of a startup founder’s worst nightmare, some unknown person sent a bunch of fake emails telling applicants their startup had been accepted for Y Combinator’s new $12,000 fellowship program.

The emails, sent from “,” popped up on social media yesterday during Y Combinator’s Demo Day. There was a tweet from the Y Combinator account, one from co-founder Paul Graham (that was later deleted) and a Medium post by one frustrated recipient. Y Combinator president Sam Altman confirmed the phony acceptance letters in an email to Re/code.

Kurt Braget / Medium

“Someone registered and sent some fake acceptance emails,” Altman said. “We don’t know who or why, but obviously an incredibly mean-spirited thing to do to people.”

Getting a spot in the coveted Y Combinator startup accelerator is notoriously competitive and difficult. On an episode of the “Re/code Decode” podcast last month, Altman told Re/code Executive Editor Kara Swisher that the new eight-week fellowship is meant to broaden the experience of entrepreneurs and companies that enter Y Combinator. The program is a “lighter version of YC for idea and prototype-stage companies” that doesn’t require people to move to the Bay Area, one of Y Combinator’s well-known stipulations.

To the right (click to enlarge) is a screenshot of the email taken by fellowship applicant Kurt Braget that was posted on Medium. Do you know who’s behind the prank? Have any good guesses? Send me an email at

This article originally appeared on

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