How the ACLU became Silicon Valley's favorite startup

by Casey Newton


After the ACLU joined Y Combinator, I looked into how it had grown so popular among the Silicon Valley elite.

Supporters say that the ACLU needs all the help it can get — and that nonprofits’ historic deficit in tech literacy justifies its alliance with the startup world. “Nonprofits, as far as what I’ve seen, do not have a great grasp of technology,” said Tiffani Ashley Bell, a Y Combinator alumna and founder of the nonprofit Human Utility (formerly the Detroit Water Project). “And it’s a shame, because it’s a sector that could do so much more if they had a better sense of how to use technology to reach people and expand their impact.” Bell, whose nonprofit went through Y Combinator in 2015, said she was optimistic about the ACLU joining the program. “I suspect it would be great for them to be a part of it,” she said.