Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : April 10th 2014 Contents A25
Thursday, April 10, 2014 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
One of Sam Altman s fondest moments
as a tech entrepreneur is the day he met
It was 2008 and Altman had just pre-
sented his location tracking app, Loopt,
at Apple s worldwide developer s confer-
ence. Altman, who was 23 at the time,
dropped out of Stanford and moved to
Mountain View to do what he s done best
his whole life: hack, build, create.
Jobs called the app "cool," Altman said.
"It was in this darkish room, so I could
just see the glasses shining, the two circles,"
Altman, now 28, is dedicated to helping
other founders of startups have moments
The entrepreneur has just taken over as
president of Y Combinator, one of Silicon
Valley s most prominent accelerators that
works with startups in their infancy.
"I love working with really early stage
startups where the outcome is still in
doubt," Altman says. "Maybe they ll go
on to greatness or maybe they ll never get
off the runway at all."
Altman has been a part-time partner
at Y Combinator since 2011. The company s
previous president, Paul Graham, passed
the torch to Altman in February, acknowl-
edging in a blog post that the former Loopt
founder is what the company "needs at
this stage in its evolution."
As part of his new job, Altman is trying
to find promising ideas and founders in
the increasingly crowded startup arena.
His immediate goal: to invest more.
Altman spends most of his time at Y
Combinator s sparsely decorated office in
Mountain View---where the firm s partners
hear ten minute pitches and decide whether
entrepreneurs are capable of building out
a billion dollar business.
It s where Airbnb s founders pitched
their idea. At the time, they had little
money in the bank and a website gaining
no traction. Now Airbnb is reportedly rais-
ing funds that would value the hotel alter-
native service at $10 billion.
Y Combinator has invested in more than
600 companies in the past nine years.
Acceptance into the accelerator translates
to funding, mentorship, and a ticket to
the inner workings of Silicon Valley and
investors that matter.
The program includes notable success
stories like Dropbox and Reddit. Loopt is
another. Altman sold Loopt to Green Dot,
a provider of prepaid debit cards, in 2012
for US$43 million.
Fellow startup founders say Altman s
experience as an entrepreneur and repu-
tation for mentoring early stage companies
makes him the perfect person to lead Y
"He s the quintessential startup founder,"
said Aaron Levie, the CEO of Box. "The
man eats sleeps and breathes startups."
Levie, whose company filed to go public
last month, said he reached out to Altman
after dropping out of college and moving
to Silicon Valley.
"He was super helpful, and I was in awe
of what he was building." he recalls.
But Altman and Y Combinator will now
face a lot more competition. Google
(GOOG, Fortune 500) and Facebook (FB,
Fortune 500) offer handsome salaries and
perks to bright engineers who might oth-
erwise look to start their own companies.
"How do we convince that brilliant engi-
neer that has the idea he s really passionate
about, that can change the world, to start
a startup and not go work as an engineer
at a big company?" Altman says.
Altman has a good perspective on the
difficulties that go along with building a
business. Having lived through the roller
coaster of building his own company, he
knows founders often put their best foot
forward, regardless of how their startup
"If you ask a founder how their company
is doing, they always say, Oh it s great.
We re totally crushing it, and that s almost
never true," Altman says. "Startups on the
inside are always badly broken."
But Altman is ready to get his hands
dirty. He added that he won t fund "a
great idea with bad founders."
"Ideas are cheap and easy and there are
a lot of them," he says. "What we really
care about---are the founders that have the
strength and determination to go out and
build a great company." (CNN)
A doctor who treats a degenerative eye disease
in seniors was paid $21 million by Medicare in 2012,
twice the amount received by the next ophthal-
mologist on a list of 880,000 medical providers
released by the government.
The data on the payments was given to the public
for the first time today by the Centres for Medicare
and Medicaid Services. The list, a detailed account
of how US$77 billion in federal health-care funds
were spent in 2012, showed a wide range in which
some top earners were paid as much as 100 times
the average for their respective fields.
Consumer groups have long urged the release of
data showing Medicare s true cost to taxpayers, saying
it could help highlight fraud, while doctors groups
argued against the release of raw payment data, saying
it may lead patients to jump to the wrong conclu-
"When I was prosecuting Medicare fraud cases
years ago, it was often difficult even for us as pros-
ecutors to get Medicare data in a timely fashion,"
said Jay Darden, a partner at Patton Boggs LLP in
Washington who left the Department of Justice in
2010. "So the notion that now it s not only being
released, but released to the public, that could very
well signal a recognition from CMS that it s had a
problem in the past and it needs to do something
Two doctors listed, who together were paid about
US$30 million, spent time in court in 2013 on claims
they defrauded the government. While Medicare
fraud cases aren t unusual, the data released will pro-
vide a new level of transparency into the agency
practices that may force doctors to become more
careful in how they bill for Medicare patients.
64 times average
Salomon Melgen, a Florida ophthalmologist who
has been linked to a criminal probe involving US
senator Robert Menendez, was paid US$20,827,341
in 2012, or 64 times the average in his field, the data
show. His appeal of a 2009 ruling that found he
overbilled Medicare by US$8.9 million was rejected
last year. Farid Fata, a Michigan oncologist was paid
US$10,063,281 in 2012, was charged with Medicare
fraud in August, according to court records. The data
opens fresh questions about Medicare s payment
"Deterring improper payments is a top priority of
CMS in order to protect beneficiaries and taxpayers,"
said Aaron Albright, a CMS spokesman. The agency
"is working with our contractors to develop an appro-
priate cumulative payment threshold that considers
costs, as well as potential benefits in determining
which claims and providers should be selected for
further scrutiny." Kirk Ogrosky, a former federal pros-
ecutor who now represents Melgen s company, said
US officials who combat fraud shouldn t be looking
at raw payment amounts alone.
'Billed in conformity'
"At all times, Dr Melgen billed in conformity with
Medicare rules," Ogrosky said, referring to his client s
legal situation prior to the release of the 2012 data,
given to media organisations with the agreement
they not disclose the information before this morn-
Fata, in jail since his arrest in August, has pleaded
not guilty to the charges against him, according to
court records. His attorney, Christopher Andreoff of
Southfield, Michigan, didn t respond to phone and
e-mail messages seeking comment on the case.
CMS, meanwhile, won t comment on any data
involving individual doctors, according to spokesman
doctor paid $21
million in 2012,
Meet Silicon Valley's
28-year old whiz kid
Larry Ellison, co-founder and chief executive officer of Oracle Corp, left, accompanied by Hiroshi Mikitani, right, representative
director of Japan Association of New Economy and, co-founder and chief executive officer of Rakuten Inc, meets with Japanese
prime minister Shinzo Abe at the latter's official residence in Tokyo, Japan, on Tuesday. AP PHOTO
ORACLE IN JAPAN
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