Top 10 Quotes from the Entrepreneurship Bible “Zero to One”

The below was taken from a Medium article which quickly goes over the top 10 quotes from PayPal founder Peter Thiel’s book, Zero to One:

1. “Zero to One moments in Business happens only once. The next Bill Gates will not build an operating system. The next Larry Page or Sergey Brin won’t make a search engine. And the next Mark Zuckerberg won’t create a social network.”

Every time somebody comes to me and says, “I’m creating a social-network for_____!” I just smile and carry on. Facebook has been done. Twitter has been done. We have to look for the next big thing. Such blockchain, quantum computers, and artificial intelligence. If someone told me they were building “HAL” from “2000: Space Odyssey.” I would sell my house and get on board.

2. “The best entrepreneurs know this: every great business is built around a secret that’s hidden from the outside. A great company is a conspiracy to change the world; when you share your secret, the recipient becomes a fellow conspirator.”

The first thing that comes to mind is Coca-Cola’s hidden recipe. Despite all the Coca-Coal competitors none of them taste quite right. Another example would be Google’s search algorithm. What would Google be if they made their search algorithm public domain? Google is an interesting case study, as they have an ultra top-secret search algorithm on one hand, and an open-source OS system (Android) on the other hand. Personally, I think the notion that businesses that “need” secrecy is a bygone notion.

3. “All failed companies are the same: they failed to escape competition.”

When people think about building a great startup, most of the people are terrified of the competition. In that the competition might steal your great ideas. The normal response on forums is that it’s almost impossible to steal an idea and have better execution. What people should really be worried about is not just the direct competition. But outpacing all other competitors and gaining a monopoly in that space.

4. “Monopoly is the condition of every successful business.”

This is a terrifying statement. But let’s look at the largest companies based on market cap: Apple, Google, and Microsoft. All monopoly platforms in their own right. Apple has dominated the mobile market, Google has dominated the search market, and Microsoft dominated the desktop OS market. I wonder if there is enough space for indie developers to survive in a monopoly environment.

5. “Every culture has a myth of decline from some golden age, and almost all peoples throughout history have been pessimists. Even today pessimism still dominates huge parts of the world. An indefinite pessimist looks out onto a bleak future, but he has no idea what to do about it.”

What do we do when we observe our down downfall and do nothing about it? As a collective we’re witnessing excessive amounts of pollution, corruption from the politicians that are supposed to represent us, an overall implementation of backward policies. Is banning computers from the classroom, the best way to prepare students for the digital world?

6. “By the time a student gets to college, he’s spent a decade curating a bewilderingly diverse resume to prepare for a completely unknowable future. Come what may, he’s ready — for nothing in particular.”

After graduating University with a History major. I’m a bit disillusioned by the academic experience. What in the world am I supposed to do with a History major. Sure I’m better at writing for it. University or school should let students have to freedom to choose their own specialty, rather than building super-generalists. I mean thanks for the Algebra classes? What I would liked to have done was skip chemistry and take more journalism classes.

7. “In a world of scarce resources, globalization without new technology is unsustainable.”

The world’s resources are finite. While global modernization would increase the overall living standards of people. It would also increase the general populations energy consumption. With our current technology, global advancement will be our end. The only way to go forth is to develop scalable technology. Technology such as Google’s search engine can be scaled almost infinitely with a limited amount of resources.

8. “Most of a tech company’s value will come at least 10 to 15 years in the future.”

I’m not going to rent a car when there are taxis. I’m not going to build a taxi company when there is Uber. And I’m not going build an Uber when there are self driving cars. I really like how Peter Theil emphasizes on the future value of companies instead of the current value. While buying a pictures sharing app (Instagram) for $1 billion might seem crazy, Facebook saw the startup’s future potential. What will the next 10 years look like? We’re are terrible at predicting the future.

9. “Madness is rare in individuals — but in groups, parties, nations, and ages it is the rule”

We only seem to realize the madness of our own situation when a foreigner comes to visit. Like how we think that working from 9AM to 9PM is the norm. Sure the “official” time office-hours ends is 5PM. But if you leave the office earlier. You’ll get fired. We have accepted this insanity, due the intense competition for a few open job positions. We have become submissive sheeple.

10. “What important truth do very few people agree with you on?”

We’ll close with the most famous quote. In the case of our startup. One truth that very few people agree with: Most people think that saving the entire article is the best way to save articles. We believe articles should be save through their favorite passages. Most people think that they read the entire article. Statistically, people only read a few key sentences out of an article. Most of us just skim through the headlines. Most people think that comments should be placed at the end of the content. We believe that comments should happen over the text itself, and static text with highlighted contextual comments make awesome content. We are the few people who believe in the potential of cloud synced web/mobile highlighters.


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