Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future – Peter Thiel, Blake Masters

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An integral part of the now legendary “Paypal Mafia” coterie that included Elon Musk (of Space X and Tesla fame); Reid Hoffman (of Linkedin); Steve Chen, Chad Hurley and Jawed Karim (of You Tube), David Sacks of Yammer and Russel Simmons of Yelp, Peter Thiel is today acknowledged as one of the most astute, successful and proven serial entrepreneurs.

Thiel’s first glimpse was accorded to Silicon Valley in 1985. After two stints at Stanford he went on to establish PayPal (formerly known as “Confinity”) in the company of friends in 1998. A couple of years down the road, Thiel merged his business with Elon Musk, who was busy incorporating his own venture titled  X.com.

In this crisp and transparent book, Thiel lays down some of the essential facets underpinning every successful start-up venture – a venture that has the vision and verve to unlock what Thiel perceives to be the secret of either nature or man. Articulating the subtle yet significant difference between globalisation and technology, this master investor and innovator pours forth with clarity on the myopic blinkers that act as insurmountable hurdles to success.

Exhorting on the need to create monopolies so that the effect of competition is minimized, Thiel holds forth of what he terms are the “Characteristics of Monopoly”:

  1. Having or developing a proprietary technology that outperforms what is currently available;
  2. Developing a network (or platform) so that users are more likely to use your product;
  3. Potential to scale and operate in large markets and with lots of users; and
  4. Creating a strong brand that touches every point of the customer experience

For a start-up to be successful, Thiel postulates the following prerequisites:

  1. Technology: Can you create breakthrough technology?;
  2. Timing: Is it the right time to start now?
  3. Monopolies: Are you starting with a big share of a small market?
  4. Team: Do you have the right team?
  5. Sales: Do you have a way to deliver the product?
  6. Future: Will your market be defensible 10 –20 years in the future?
  7. Secret: Have you identified a unique opportunity?

While not a ‘how-to-guide’ (as professed in the very introduction by Thiel himself), “Zero to One”, is explicitly different from a whole horde of business and management spiels doing the rounds today. It is inspiring, inimitable and inviting.

(Written as part of the Blogchatter’s A2Z Challenge) – PART 26 ALPHABET Z)

 

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