Zero to One by Peter Thiel

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Peter Thiel is an American entrepreneur, venture capitalist, philanthropist, political activist, and author. He was ranked No. 4 on the Forbes Midas List of 2014, with a net worth of $2.2 billion, and No. 246 on the Forbes 400 in 2016, with a net worth of $2.7 billion.

Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future is a 2014 book (release date September 16, 2014) by venture capitalist, PayPal co-founder, and early Facebook investor Peter Thiel along with Blake Masters.

Zero to One is also a New York Times best-selling work and a book that is full of information for those looking to begin their own startups. The book is designed to help readers learn how to launch a successful startup and how to build for the future. This is a must read for anyone who is just getting started and who wants to launch a new business without falling victim to some of the risks that other unprepared first-time entrepreneurs often do. Trust me when I say reading this book early on in your ventures will only help you succeed.

Zero to One is strong where you’d expect it to be strong, mostly in the first half, where Peter Thiel pulls material directly from his now famous course at Stanford. For someone who has read those class notes, this will be a great and more eloquent reminder of some of those concepts, which I found to be new and worth reading.

The middle and end of the book still have some great personal stories about Thiel’s experience with founders and startups in general, but it follows the pattern of most books that are written around a single, really interesting core idea – it stretches to see how far it can scale. Thiel ends up waxing philosophically about the nature of celebrity CEO’s, futurism, and other things that might or might not be interesting or helpful to someone who bought the book to get Thiel’s in-depth explanation of the Zero to One concept. This is where the book splits from the course, and it’s hit and miss.

Thiel covers a few different sets of criteria that can be used to evaluate founders, start-ups, and businesses in general, and they seem roughly right even if the examples he provides were selected as easy examples.

Peter Thiel is a billionaire entrepreneur (he started Paypal in 1998 as a way to create an alternative to the dollar), turned venture capitalist turned author taught a class on entrepreneurship at Stanford. He was the first outside investor in Facebook. He studied philosophy at Stanford University before going on to Stanford Law School, and working in a law firm in New York and then as a derivatives trader on Wall Street.

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“zero to one” ideasfollow four rules;

  • They are bold ideas and not about taking baby steps and making incremental progress.
  • The founder has a clear plan. A wrong plan is better than no plan. See how you can leverage technology.
  • Try to create a small monopoly. That is where profits lie. But never declare yourself as one.
  • Product is important but so is Sales. Nerds often do not get this when they come up with a great product – someone has to sell it.

Thiel has strong opinions on everything – even how you should dress (hint: don’t wear suits ever!). He is a contrarian and is unafraid of offending you by challenging your world view.

The book would inspire you to inspire abandon incremental thinking. This book should be read by everyone who wants to be an entrepreneur. You cannot think short term. Thiel may know a thing or two about success. The PayPal core team members went on to start Yammer, LinkedIn, YouTube and Yelp. It is recommend anybody interested in business or starting a business, at the very least because it has the potential to influence some of the language insiders use to describe business and start-up risk.


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