The head of Silicon Valley’s largest startup accelerator is recruiting candidates for the 2018 California elections

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Y Combinator President Sam Altman announced his plans to tackle California’s 2018 gubernatorial race.
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Brian Ach/Getty

The head of Silicon Valley’s largest startup accelerator – a company responsible for launching Airbnb, Dropbox, and Zenefits, among others – announced on Wednesday his plans to back a range of candidates to run in 2018 California elections.

Y Combinator President Sam Altman, 32, has led the company since 2014. Since taking over, he has shown a keen interest in projects intended to foment civic and social change.

In the July 12 blog post, entitled “The United Slate,” Altman outlined many of the platforms on which his potential candidates would run. Cost of living and education ranked as the most pressing, while healthcare and national defense also are towards the top, Altman told Business Insider.

Taxes will likely play a big role in Altman’s plan. For housing, he pointed to a system in Vancouver known as the international buyer’s tax, which places a huge tax on non-Canadian citizens buying real estate in Vancouver. Outsider real estate purchases are an epidemic in California’s Bay Area, Altman said, because those people seldom spend time in California but eat up precious residential areas.

He also believes in single-payer healthcare and allocating 10% of the $600 billion defense budget to improving protections against cyberattacks. He said he has no plans to run for office himself.

“I’m hoping to find a set of candidates that believe in the same principles, that I can then help support and build technology for,” Altman said.

Altman had hinted that he was looking for candidates back in April before a crowd at San Francisco’s Commonwealth Club. At the time, he had put out a call to his friends in Silicon Valley. No one turned up. Now he is stepping up to the mic to address the public.

“I’m basically trying to lift a page from the Y Combinator playbook here,” Altman told Business Insider, referring to the company’s approach of picking startups to back by casting as wide a net as possible.

Prior to Y Combinator, Altman was the founder and CEO of Loopt, a social networking app, which he sold in 2012. He replaced Paul Graham as head of Y Combinator in 2014 and quickly expanded its scope to include science-based startups and non-profits.

In his personal time, Altman has also become more civically-minded since Donald Trump became the Republican nominee for president.

In Oakland, Y Combinator is running a small trial of “basic income,” in which 100 residents receive $1,000 to $2,000 a month to see how it affects people’s lives. Altman, together with Y Combinator partner Adora Cheung, has also proposed exploring building new cities from the ground up.

His new announcement brings the activism into the public realm, with no ties to Y Combinator. (“This is Sam as an individual,” he said.) People who have never run for public office but share Altman’s vision are encouraged to shoot him an email, he said.

“People are so afraid to say what they actually believe because they want to make everyone happy, that they don’t just dump all their policies ideas into one place,” he said. “Which is what I’m going to try to do.”