About The Author: Peter Thiel is a billionaire startup entrepreneur, investor and venture capitalist. He is most famous for having launched PayPal with Elon Musk.
Mindsets Come First
Every major moment in business happens one time only.
The next Zuckerberg wont build a social network and the next Larry Page wont build a search engine.
Your best bet then is to learn the mindset of going from zero to one:
Peter Thiel says that the future is only the future if its different from today.
If society doesnt change for a thousand years, then the future is a thousand years away. If things change drastically over the course of a decade, then the future is now.
The author says that nobody can see the future, but we know two things about it: it will be different, and yet it will be rooted in todays world.
Zero to One: The Vertical & Horizontal Way
Peter Thiel says that the dot.com bubble taught entrepreneurs four fake big lessons:
1. Make incremental advances: the only safe path
2. Stay lean and flexible: plans are seen as a straight jacket. try things out instead, dont plan
3. Improve on the competition: dont try to enter new markets prematurely
4. Focus on product, not sales: if you need sales, your product is not good
Thiel says the opposite is true instead:
1. Better to risk boldness than triviality
2. A bad plan is better than no plan
3. Stay away from competitive markets: they destroy profits
4. Sales matters (as much as the product)
Thiel says its just economists who frown over monopolies and love competition.
Its our society that has embraced the competition ideology.
Our educational system is based on competition and businesses love war references (make a kill, sales task force etc.).
The author says that the wars start for trivial reasons and keep going without any real reason.
Short term profit-making culture pervades many startups.
He says the most fundamental question instead is: will this business still be around 10 years from now?
Numbers alone cant tell you the answers, but you have to think critically about your business (in contrast to the number-centrism espoused by Michael Gerber in The E-Myth).
Peter Thiel here talks about luck and its role in business success.
He says the phenomenon of successful serial entrepreneur calls into question the luck logic.
Thiel says that in the ideal culture employees love the company and love their job to the point they dont look at when its time to go home.
Peter Thiel says theres a certain anti-sales mindset in Silicon Valley.
The idea, as wrong as it is, is that if you need to sell a product the product is not that good.
Peter Thiel talks in this chapter about the failure of the clean tech bubble.
He says the reason for the failure is to be researched in 7 key areas every business must address:
1. Engineering: can we create breakthroughs instead of incremental
2. Timing: is now the time to start your business
3. Monopoly: are you starting with a big share of a small market?
4. People: do you have the right team
5. Distribution: do you have a way to distribute your product
6. Durability: will your market be defensible in 10 years in the future
7. Secret: have you identified unique opportunities others dont see?
Zero To One: Conclusions
Thiel says we need new technologies to build a better future.
No other options are possible.
Even a plateau would mean trouble for us, because in a world with finite resources and growing, consuming population, that would be unsustainable.
Go ahead fellow founders and creators then, we need people going from zero to one.
To sustain life on Earth, we need Zero to One Entrepreneurs