AngelList Alpha Review

Angel List “Alpha” – it’s new. In short, it’s a copy of Hacker News by Y Combinator. You just submit URLs. The links will be very similar (same market, maybe even the same people) but maybe with less ‘incumbent developer’ bias. The older, original Hacker News users have secret super powers to ‘downvote’ the new users, which is not immediately apparent until you ask around.

Angel List Alpha is similar, but instead of peer review you have a yet to be unmasked gatekeeper-curator. I suppose you could call it a “URL bin” or “URL chat” – it’s like a Pastebin but you only get URLs. Maybe from a moderation standpoint it’s advantageous to only allow URLs.

I’d say the more established Hacker News will get you more attention from many of the same people. Originally, I think Hacker News was more developer oriented, but over time more entrepreneurial (non-technical) folks signed up. That said, I think Hacker News probably attracts more bootstrap-oriented entrepreneurs compared to the VC-oriented entrepreneurs on Angel List. And I’d say Hacker News probably has more procrastinating employees (career developers) compared to Angel List. So the markets are similar but slightly different.

You could submit the same article to both platforms, and LinkedIn, and maybe Twitter. The unique advantage of Hacker News is that it’s (optionally) anonymous. So with HN you get a lot of insider information that you wouldn’t otherwise get from a platform were everyone is identified and therefore at risk of losing their job. Some of the “throwaway” accounts on HN have the best information.

From the announcement email:

Poke around, see what’s under the hood and post content that you find informative and inspiring. Some examples of content you could post:

  • The BIG news story of the day that you’re excited about.
  • Super interesting articles/videos/podcasts that inspire thought and discussion.
  • Compelling stories from lesser known people, blogs, and publications.


1. I could implement this in about a week depending on the complexity of integration with an existing userbase. Even without logins, it’s basically just a chatroom with URLs. As an add-on for an existing business, it seems like a good idea to get free news/updates of interest to/from your particular users/market.

It’s not exactly a new idea to curate some links, but how many businesses actually do it? The risk though, Google’s Panda/Penguin updates were specifically designed to diminish the benefit (penalize) content aggregation. If you don’t really care about SEO, then I suppose this is a cool idea.

We had similar functionality on eWallstreeter, which for whatever reason was not really impacted by Panda/Penguin. And years later I created a similar but more advanced tool internally to organize my own data.

2. The gatekeeper is going to sway the bias, like Techmeme is always biased to push Apple products. So if you’re into Linux, for example, Techmeme is mostly useless. I see the same thing happening with Angel List Alpha. Once you determine the bias, you already know what kind of articles will surface. Then you’re not really getting news, you’re just reinforcing the curators’ points of view.