If you want to build a better future, you must believe in secrets.
The great secret of our time is that there are still uncharted frontiers to explore and new inventions to create. In Zero to One, legendary entrepreneur and investor Peter Thiel shows how we can find singular ways to create those new things.
Thiel begins with the contrarian premise that we live in an age of technological stagnation, even if we’re too distracted by shiny mobile devices to notice. Information technology has improved rapidly, but there is no reason why progress should be limited to computers or Silicon Valley. Progress can be achieved in any industry or area of business. It comes from the most important skill that every leader must master: learning to think for yourself.
Doing what someone else already knows how to do takes the world from 1 to n, adding more of something familiar. But when you do something new, you go from 0 to 1. The next Bill Gates will not build an operating system. The next Larry Page or Sergey Brin won’t make a search engine. Tomorrow’s champions will not win by competing ruthlessly in today’s marketplace. They will escape competition altogether, because their businesses will be unique.
Zero to One presents at once an optimistic view of the future of progress in America and a new way of thinking about innovation: it starts by learning to ask the questions that lead you to find value in unexpected places.
From the Hardcover edition.
Peter, Masters, Blake Thiel
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
A better title for this book would have been "Six ideas Peter Thiel wants to put out there" but that admittedly sounds less catchy than "Zero to One"
Two of the ideas are HUGE and the rest are filler. The first infuriated me and the second inspired me. The remaining four ideas were not exactly news to me because I once founded and ran a startup. There's also a couple rants, one against biotechnology and one against green tech, which to my ears sounded tribal.
After the ideas and the rants comes some rather embarrassing stuff that probably should not have made it into print. For example "we never invest in entrepreneurs who turn up for the interview in a suit" or "four of the founders of PayPal had built bombs as children." Memo to Peter Thiel: you are successful despite your prejudice against people who don't share your sartorial taste, and your partners made it to adulthood despite having been poorly supervised as children.
Zero to One is a refreshing intellectual deep dive into the motives behind entrepreneurship. It’s full of unique, practical insights, and discusses success in terms of human nature and culture. Along with business strategy, Thiel outlines how successful innovation shapes society and shares an intriguing vision.
Bottom line: This book was worth my time and refined several core beliefs. It made me ask hard questions which, as an entrepreneur, I believe are critical if you want to be honest and prepared.
I like the organized format which reads well linearly, but also allows you to read chapters in the order they interest you most, making key takeaways accessible to review and share.
It’s short enough to finish in a week, and deep enough to cover the entire lifecycle of a company.
Here are the seven questions Thiel writes “Every business must answer:"
1. Can you create breakthrough technology instead of...
I had high hopes, but this book was just ok. I don’t understand the overwhelming number of 5 star reviews, other than people being swayed by the fact Thiel has crushed it on a few of his investments and is a well known name. I was really hoping for some brilliant insights here.
Instead, the book is basically a series of rambling, disjointed essays that spell out Thiel’s philosophies on the world, none of which are particularly earth shattering. One chapter he’s talking about the characteristics of a good startup founder, the next it’s visions for the future of humanity. Nothing is really backed up with any data-driven evidence, though he does bring in real-world examples to support many of his theories, which is nice. The rambling/meandering nature of the book’s sections in and of itself is forgivable - he’s an entrepreneur/investor, not a writer, after all - what bothered me more was that the majority of his points seemed to be...
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