Posterous Founder Leaves Startup, Goes to Y Combinator as Design Guru

Posterous co-founder Garry Tan has bid adieu to his startup and is heading to Y Combinator, where he will serve as designer-in-residence.

The move is something of a shocker for several communities, especially considering Posterous’s aggressive marketing throughout 2010 and product roadmap.

In a blog post, Tan wrote, “Effective today, I’m ending my day-to-day development with Posterous and moving into an advisory role.

“Though my day-to-day may change, my faith in the team and the product is unchanged and unwavering. Posterous is in good hands and on the right track to fulfilling its potential. I am proud of what we’ve built together and look forward to the future.”

In his new role at Y Combinator, Tan will be acting as a sort of UI guru to the batches of early-stage startups and projects that come to the incubator. As DIR, he’ll be instrumental in “the early stage of building world-changing consumer products.”

It’s a similar position to those being created at a few VC firms in Silicon Valley; similar to EIRs (entrepreneurs- or executives-in-residence), the DIR works closely with portfolio startups, giving them world-class product direction and advice. There’s some risk of burnout, as Tan and others in his position will be asked to work with a revolving door of startups year after year.

Still, we’re sure that any startups Tan coaches will benefit greatly from his experience and advice. And who knows where that kind of exposure and reach will put Tan next in his career.

However, what we’re now unsure about is Posterous’ future. In spite of its “convert or die” importing campaign, Posterous remains something of a tech scene darling that has yet to grab the mainstream adoption that some of its competitors, such as Tumblr and WordPress, have seen. And a founder leaving a startup before profitability or an exit has been achieved is rarely a good sign of the business’s overall health.

We’ll see what the future holds for Tan and for Posterous. In the meantime, let us know your opinions in the comments.

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