Is the University of Waterloo Better than Stanford?

Frank Bruni recently penned an Op Ed in the New York Times titled How to Survive the College Admissions Madness.

Bruni tells the story of a handful of American high school grads and their quest to attend the college of their dreams.

While researching his piece Bruni spoke with Sam Altman, the president of Y Combinator, one of the best-known providers of seed money for tech startups.

Bruni asked him if any one school stood out in terms of students and graduates whose ideas took off. “Yes,” Altman responded. Bruni was prepared to hear Altman tout his alma mater Stanford. After all it’s famous as a feeder of Silicon Valley success.

But Altman surprised him: “The University of Waterloo.”

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Why did Altman name a public school in Ontario when he could have named any elite US college or university. It turns out the University of Waterloo is the source of a plethora of Y Combinator ventures to date. Altman is referring to companies like Pebble, Vidyard, Couple, BufferBox, Thalmic Labs, Amulyte, Reebee, PiinPoint, Neverfrost, MetricWire, and Perceptiv Labs.

Altman’s claim really shouldn’t come as a surprise.

Y Combinator founder Paul Graham said as much two years ago in a Fast Company article, “something is going on in Waterloo because the applications we get from Waterloo students are better than those we get from students of any other university.”