Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future

by: Peter Thiel (2014)

#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER“This book delivers completely new and refreshing ideas on how to create value in the world.”—Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Meta

“Peter Thiel has built multiple breakthrough companies, and Zero to One shows how.”—Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX and Tesla

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.

The Quotes

The perfect target market for a startup is a small group of particular people concentrated together and served by few or no competitors.

All happy companies are different: each one earns a monopoly by solving a unique problem. All failed companies are the same: they failed to escape competition.

As you craft a plan to expand to adjacent markets, don’t disrupt: avoid competition as much as possible.

The most contrarian thing of all is not to oppose the crowd but to think for yourself.

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

The Reviews

In this chest-thumping book, author Peter Thiel comes off as a brilliant young man with a tendency toward exaggeration. Indeed, everything about him seems exaggerated: his businesses successes (founder of PayPal and Palantir), his net worth ($1.5 billion and counting), his educational credits (Stanford BA in philosophy, JD in law), his political views (avowedly libertarian), his energy level (off the charts), his self-confidence (not a doubt in sight), his vision for technology (human longevity, “seasteading” communities, eventual takeover by intelligent machines). And now this book. Let me assure you that Zero to One is worth reading, even if you’re not engaged in the world of startups and venture capital. It’s worth reading in the same way a triple espresso is worth drinking: it makes you feel superhuman, at least for the moment. You can almost hear the caffeine coursing through your veins as you absorb the ideas. You might want to read the book on two levels: both as a business book and as a political manifesto. And because the book is a hybrid, you may need to work a little to separate the baby from the bath water. Thiel’s first point is that creating a game-changing company means going from zero to one—from nothing to something, instead of going from something to a slightly better something. What a zero-to-one company does is lay claim to an uninhabited stretch of market space in order to create a monopoly. A monopoly, in Thiel’s vocabulary, is not the bad kind we associate with bullies. It’s the good kind that opens up valuable market territory by doing something new.Is he simply using the word monopoly to provoke us? Maybe, but it’s an effective way to get our attention so he can deliver the book’s main point, which is simply this: Businesses succeed better when they differentiate rather than compete. Direct competition drains value as companies beat each other up. Differentiation creates value as companies charge more for desirable products and services that customers can’t get anywhere else. It’s the same principle that forms the basis of brand strategy. We’ve already seen many books on the subject, including Positioning in 1981, by Jack Trout and Al Ries, and even classical writings on strategy by Sun Tzu and Carl von Clausewitz.Why play dress-up with old ideas? So Thiel can lash on his peg leg and black eye patch and make room for further piratical assertions.Consider the following:“Creative monopolists” give customers more choices by adding entirely new categories of abundance. The history of progress is the history of new monopolies replacing incumbents. “Every business is successful exactly to the extent that it does something others cannot.” Monopoly, therefore, is not a pathology but a condition of success. While “every monopoly is unique,” he adds, they share these four attributes: “proprietary technology, network effects, economies of scale, and branding.” Without these four, any business will be the equivalent of a family restaurant, where the kids have to wash dishes to keep the place running in the black.He advises us to “err on the side of starting too small.” The perfect place to start is where there’s a small concentration of people served by few or no competitors. From there you can scale it up, as long as you have the advantages of proprietary technology (your secret sauce) and network effects (the tendency of a service to become more valuable as more people use it).Whatever you do, don’t “disrupt” a market, he warns. Disruption has been devalued to “a self-congratulatory buzzword for anything posing as something trendy and new.” Disruptive companies in Silicon Valley often pick fights they can’t win.Also in Silicon Valley, “would-be entrepreneurs are told that nothing can be known in advance; we’re supposed to listen to what customers say they want make nothing more than a ‘minimum viable product,’ and iterate our way to success.” He says that Apple succeeded by doing the exact opposite.He encourages would-be entrepreneurs to ask this question: “What valuable company is nobody building?” Any good answer to this question must necessarily harbor a secret. It can be a secret of nature or secret of human nature, but in both places there are always hidden truths to be discovered—if we only look in a certain way. When you share your secret, you turn others into co-conspirators.With contrarian flair he asserts that the less money a startup pays its CEO, the better it will do. “In no case should a CEO of an early-stage, venture-backed startup receive more than $150,000 per year in salary.” High pay incentivizes him to defend the status quo instead of working aggressively to find and fix problems.“The most important task in business—the creation of new value—cannot be reduced to a formula and applied by professionals.” He observes that most founders are contradictions, bigger-than-life characters who can “make authoritative decisions, inspire strong personal loyalty, and plan ahead for decades.” He cites Richard Branson, Howard Hughes, Bill Gates, and Steve Jobs, and tosses in pop icons such as Elvis, Lady Gaga, Michael Jackson, and Britney Spears.Finally, he examines a range of scenarios for the future of humanity, borrowed from philosopher Nick Bostrom. The most common four are: 1) recurrent collapse, a never-ending oscillation between prosperity and ruin; 2) a plateau, the belief that the rest of the world will catch up to the richest countries, and then we’ll stay at that level; 3) extinction, in which our technology will bring humanity to a cataclysmic end; and 4) takeoff, the idea espoused by transhumanists, in which humans increasingly blend with machines to create a world of complexity and abundance that we can’t even imagine today. Clearly, Thiel is in this camp, although he’s careful not to say it.This is a fascinating collection of thoughts, including some surprising truths and more than a few exaggerations. So which part of the book is the baby, and which is the bath water?Let’s start with monopolies. Do they really serve society better than price-busting competitors? Sure, as long as they unleash creativity and generate broad-based wealth. When they mature into self-perpetuating bullies (such as Microsoft, and increasingly Google, Apple, and Amazon) they tend to block other innovators using any means at their disposal.Next, does every business really succeed exactly to the extent that it does something different? Not quite. First of all, it’s possible to launch a product that’s different but not compelling. Think of Pets.com, Apple Newton, or Clairol Touch-of-Yogurt Shampoo. Second, monopoly status doesn’t always encourage broad success. Monopoly becomes pathology when we create rules that favor a handful of “haves” and in the process hollow out the middle class, as we’re doing now.He notes that every monopoly is unique, sharing only “proprietary technology, network effects, economies of scale, and branding.” This is one of Thiel’s truest observations. Strong companies are those that start with a unique market position; weak companies are those that fail to differentiate, believing the world only wants more instead of different.Erring on the side of starting too small is good advice, too, but what about “Don’t disrupt”? He laments that the concept of disruption has degenerated into anything posing as trendy and new. Granted. But wouldn’t it be better to simply reject the popular definition? He could then reaffirm Clay Christensen’s original epiphany in The Innovator’s Solution—the observation that established products can be upended by cheaper or inferior solutions that don’t at first appear to be threats, then later grow into established products themselves. Christensen was the one who first mapped the road to Monopolyville. Couldn’t Thiel give him the credit?In a sweeping generalization, he claims that Silicon Valley engineers are expected to “listen to what customers say they want” and give it to them. Really? I’ve worked there 35 years and have rarely heard this, except from a few old-school marketers. Even the designers at Apple start with a “minimum viable product” and iterate their way to success. They just do it before they go to market instead of after, so their products seem to spring fully formed from the brow of Tim Cook or Jony Ives.Thiel has said that one of the book’s most valuable contributions is the notion that a monopoly is based on a secret. This is actually a great way to think about it. An interesting fact about these types of secrets is that they tend to stay secrets long after you tell everyone. If an idea is good enough, goes the saying, you’ll have to ram it down people’s throats. Think about the Aeron chair, the Prius, and even PayPal. None of these businesses launched themselves.Another of Thiel’s rules is that the CEO of a startup should never receive more than $150,000 in salary. Nice and concrete. It’s too bad more CEOs of incumbent monopolies couldn’t set a similar example, as Jobs did with his annual salary of $1. What message does a seven- or eight-figure salary send to the employee whose innovative ideas are consistently labeled “too risky?”Finally, are successful monopolists always contradictory characters? Not from where I sit. Warren Buffet, Bill Gates, and Jeff Bezos don’t strike me as particularly contradictory, although I’m sure they’re more driven than they might appear. It could be that Peter Thiel himself is a walking contradiction, and therefore wants to create some positive context for it. He delights in courting controversy, starting at Stanford when he attacked various sacred cows such as political correctness and hate-speech laws in his newspaper The Stanford Review, and now by writing a book that appears to defend monopolists.Despite its exaggerations, pirated ideas, and libertarian swagger—or maybe because of them—Zero to One makes for a lively read. It contains a number of refreshing insights and personal truths that you won’t get from other books on inventing the next big thing. Just keep the baby and throw out the bath water.

The media could not be loaded.  The first time I read the book, I didn't find it extremely insightful or cohesive. But the second time around it made a whole lot more sense. It's like all these connections started firing up. It's truly a great book with contrarian thinking and insights that make you pause. This video highlights some of these key concepts and hopefully will help you make the connections the first time around. It's part of a larger effort to create a completely-free library of compelling books in a handcrafted video format - check it out at bookvideoclub.com and enjoy!

This book a fun read but it's also a sad, weak and misguided philosophy.It is about one "secret" idea: "Monopolies are SECRETLY good!"That's not really a secret. If YOU OWN THE MONOPOLY you can charge economic rents and increase your income with less risk. Does anyone NOT understand that? Obviously companies like to have monopolies. But that doesn't mean they are a good thing and author's defense of monopolies reads like a satire.• Is Peter just too young to remember how The Big 3 car company's near-monopoly lead to horrible US cars in the 1970s? Competition with Japan saved the US household thousands of dollars.• Is he too young to remember how expensive phones were under The Bell Operating Company in the 1970s? Forced competition by breaking into the baby bells opened up billions of savings and new technologies.• Is he ignorant of the obesity caused by the US Food Pyramid (a government monopoly on dietary guidelines)? Competition from other dietary guidance -- Atkins for one --- is starting to save us billions in obesity-related issues caused by eating too many carbs• Has he never thought that the competition caused by Walmart's relentless focus on distribution efficiency saves the average US houshold several thousand dollars each year... and that is what enables households to buy the next innovation?• Hey, and how about the monopolistic expensive cable companies... were that a good thing, Peter? Rember how going wireless saved us billions AND improved connectivity?Competition in OLD, STAGNANT categories lowers prices... and that saves money to spend on NEW categories and NEW technology.My advice? Skip the book and read lines 13 & 14 of page 194. I'm paraphrasing;"if we engage in globalism we will find the pool of competitors is too large. For a breakthrough, new companies, can only succeed if they start with monopoly share of a small market at first. Too much competition is a bad thing."As a business book, it's mildly entertaining. The idea that you should have the GOAL of building a company that is SO GOOD that it becomes a monopoly... that is a sort of fun way to think about business. But it's a thin treatise for an entire book.But at the country-level, no monopolies are NOT GOOD. It's as if he thinks the answer is for the US to build a wall to keep everyone from Japan, Germany, Britain, South Korea, China, Sweden and all the other brilliant people from disrupting the monopoly he built. It's sad, it's weak and it reaks of fear.3-stars for trying.

Before these socks happened upon my life, I was a nervous wreck. Death, I sensed, was lurking around every corner. I never knew which day could be my last, and the sheer thought of my immediate demise was crippling.But alas, that fear is no more. For once I slipped into these cushiony foot sleeves, the malice and dangers of this world fled my every approaching step. My nightly strolls down the freeway are met with screeches of joy from the tires upon which seat ever so vigilant drivers. Before, I knew that if I had done so, surely I would be met with quite the blow from the the bumper of an SUV, driven by the inconsiderate, and loathsome Karen. Rather, my methodical march of leasure was met only with the soft touch of a cool summer's breeze.It was not more than a day ago, I was held at gunpoint by a ruthless, ill-tempered thug that quickly turned face upon noticing the socks. Hence realizing that he was indeed incapable of harming me. Yes, it would appear as though I am impervious to all known threats. However, there is one troubling unfortunate consequence.For you see, as these socks are now my protectors, their view of threats, it seems, holds no discrimination to any soul within my immediate vicinity. My friends now avoid me as I cross their path. Women avert their gaze and seek refuge from my presence. The common stranger, repelled by the sight of the glowing neon halo around my shins. My own parents have disowned me. I am alone...My only friend. My only companion now, is eternal safety.So yeah the socks work and they look cool. 5/5

If you're like me, you can't even buy socks in this modern age without spending an hour reading reviews. Where once we would go to a department store and grab a bag off the shelf, now we fall down a rabbit hole of online opinions. Let me save you some time.Buy these socks.They do not pill. They do not fade. They don't get holes. They don't lose their elasticity. They are warm in winter and cool in summer.I bought a pack of these a year ago for everyday use, and having worn them, well, every day, I can assure you they are still in top shape. I don't actually work on my feet, but I live in a city and I walk a lot,and I'm generally an active person, and these socks have held up really well. Some day in the distant future when/if they do finally wear out, I will happily replace them with more of the same.

After a few years of wearing suits like a corporate robot and buying those damned dress socks that come in a 3 pack with 3 different patterns, most of which are ugly as sin, I found my self with a drawer full of these time sucking mismatched burdens. Every time I did laundry, it was a half-hour game of memory, and there was always one left over at the end! One day I said, screw this!, bagged them all up, looked at my pile of worthless white socks, which also had a few too many varietals, threw those in too, and dropped them off at the homeless encampment under the freeway.So, i didn't have any socks for a couple days but, when these came, I loved them so much that I bought three more packs! (Plus they're black and match 90% of my wardrobe) They are comfortable, have a nice little compression to the feet, don't smell like hell like my dress socks did at the end of the day, and I never have to match and fold socks again! Pile them all in the drawer, and any two that I pull out in the morning always match. Hours of my life have been given back to me. And they say you can't buy time!

With big feet and a hatred of wearing shoes, I’ve always been hard on socks. For years I’ve gone back and forth between Hanes and Fruit of the Loom and just like clockwork, holes form in the heels. The last straw was when two different package of socks started getting holes on only the second and third wear. That’s when I came to amazon and searched reviews for the best socks.Fast forward two years after buying these and all of my socks still little wear and no signs of any holes starting any time soon. As everyone knows, socks seem to disappear in the wash so I’m only back here to buy more to replace the ones that have gotten lost. Yes they are a little more expensive than Hanes of FotL, but worth every penny!The one thing I don’t love is the brand name plastered on the top of every sock because I mostly walk around in my socks only (and it’s a bit awkward when at a friends house that doesn’t allow shoes inside, it’s hard not to feel like a walking billboard). It would be nice if they could be like the other brands and put the name on the bottom. But because I love the durability of these socks so much, I’ll overlook the blaring brand name.

These socks exceed expectations in their function as a covering for my feet. I daresay they might even be the best socks available, as far as regular socks go. It's a nice, noticeable step up from the baseline in terms of comfort and quality. It's hard to get really fired up about socks, but I mean, if these were a pizza instead of socks, they would be a wicked good pizza, and I'd probably be more enthusiastic.

They are basically good socks for the price, but don't count on consistent sizes. I've ordered three packages of six of the same size but have gotten three different sizes. One was way too large for my 8.5 shoe sized foot, one I consider normal for the sock size, and the last package contained a much smaller sock which suited me just fine because of my smaller feet, but most men would find them way too small. See photo.

I really like these socks. They are comfortable and they have not shrunk after many washes, unlike many of the Merino wool kind which shrink to where they're too tight to put on. But these Dickies socks have a peculiar anomaly going on. After many many washes, they still continue to shed as if new. (see pic). I have to use a brush to clean my Hobbit feet each day i get home from work. I'd like to buy this sock but, this issue drives me crazy. So I can't buy it again or recommend them.

Nice size. Looks good and is strong enough to pump out thicker conditioner with having to water it down. I wish more colors were available in this style.

Looks great in my shower

Not a "bad" product so far, but they are cheaper looking in person than the picture leads you to believe. I could see these being a Dollar Tree item 100%.

THE PUMP WILL NOT WORK. I HAVE TRIED TURNING IT, PRESSING DOWN ON IT AND NOTING HAPPENS. WHAT IS THE BIG SECRET IN GETTING IT TO WORK? THERE ARE NO ARROWS TO INDICATE WHICH WAY TO TURN THEM AND I HAVE NOT BEEN ABLE TO GET SNY OF THER THREE TO WORK. SO FRUSTRATING. I WOULD SEND THEM BACK BUT I HAVE ALREADY P0UT PRODUCT IN THEM.CAN SOMEONE PLEASE CONTACT ME WITH INSTRUCTIONS?

The bottles are adorable but the pumps are cheap and never worked. Contacted the seller and got a run around. Ended up getting new pumps at the dollar store and made it work, but would never buy these again.

We wanted bottles for hand and dosh soap for the kitchen sink. They needed to be big enough to hold a decent amount of soap but also small enough to pick up and depress pump with one hand/finger. Adding to the problem was we wanted something plain and a wide pump top that tapers into the tip. These checked all boxes. I wish they would make more colors. I will be buying more for shampoo, conditioner, etc...

The media could not be loaded.  They look great. But the wording under the Shampoo and Conditioner makes no sense to me. “Discover good mood, leaves hair free.” Like what the?! I wish it just had the main titles and no tag line. Makes me want to take a sharpie and black it out. But hopefully guests won’t read it?! 🥴 Oh, and the containers are made of plastic. I thought they were made of ceramic but am glad they aren’t (in case they fall in the shower, etc.) I give this a 4 only because they look good but that wording throws me way off.

I've been using these for over a month now. These are pretty sturdy and durable. I really liked the color. They did come with the labels on front and I made my own for the sides so I could lessen the bottle madness that happens.

Based on other reviews I had misgivings about quality / defects - but the kit I received was flawless. I wish there was a place to stow the allen key... lose that thing at a trade show and you're in trouble - but in terms of a rigid structure with a reasonable tradeoff for weight, this was completely fine.

I cannot say anything about this Banner Stand Kit. As soon as I opened the bag, I closed it, requested a refund from Amazon, and sent this Banner Stand Kit back to the Seller. Everything inside the bag was in a mess: the rods were scratched, and out of the protective cellophane wraps, piled up (pic. #1); all screws were missing (see picture 2); the carrying bag was ripped (pic. #3).The only good thing I can say is that I am grateful to Amazon: I did not have to fight over the refund. It was released to me and deposited to my CC within a couple of days.Thank you, Amazon! No thanks to the Seller.

The box was in a great shape when received. Found some defects out of the box/bag though - as I unpack the items from the bag. The stitching isn't good enough to hold the base in the bag. The threaded hole to secure one of the stands to its base wasn't in a good shape, hence it ended up ruining the screw thread as well.AkTop reached out and sent me another set at no cost, where I can pick & replace the pieces that were found faulty in the first package. Now I have spare parts for the other bits too. Thank you AkTop!

Pretty good quality for only $100, I can’t complain. I was able to set it up all by myself, no issues with how the metal parts line up. Over all very satisfied with this product, I wouldn’t call it heavy duty, but it’s definitely quite sturdy, good for bask drops & balloon displays. Only 1 small scuff on the bottom support plate but it doesn’t bother me.

Would have returned but need for this weekend. Hardware not installed well making an easy design difficult to assemble. Had to hammer metal bits flat so the poles would fit in the feet holes. Extnsion button to lengthen sides crooked. Had to hammer strait. Should have poles marked a b and c as they are hard to tell apart. Storage bag has velcro to hold parts in place but most had ripped off.

Great product. Stand was a lil cumbersome to assemble. Maybe the bolts could have been welded to not get loose after removing from base.Overall happy.

I was impressed with the sturdiness of the base when I unpacked it but 2 of my poles were defective....still not sure if the unit is useable...in that aspect of review I am not too impressed with the cost of the product.

Some of the poles which ought to easily insert in others are badly machined. It is a struggle at times to get it together. Ovderall it does what I want howeverthe assembly issues almost made me return it.

I really wanted to like this book. I've never read or heard anything previously from Thiel, so I had little bias going in. I heard a recent radio interview with Peter Thiel where I thought he handled questions really well and gave some great advice for entrepreneurs. From the amount of 5 star reviews on Amazon and an online list I found of best business books of all time with this book on it, I was expecting something very profound. I guess you could say no amount of Peter Thiel's novel insights and experiential knowledge could have met my high expectations. However, I was going to give the book 4 stars until I hit about half-way through book, where it just all seemed to go downhill thereafter. I suddenly started questioning many of Thiel's assertions from the earlier chapters, and ended up with a lopsided Pros vs. Cons list. I started researching into Thiel's accomplishment's and failures. The result was a three star review. My opinions are outlined below.I'll start with what I liked:1.) The book has a core theme of empowering the individual. The technological future is not going to happen unless individuals or teams thereof make it happen. The future is not inevitable. Moore's law for transistors just doesn't happen like a natural phenomena; you need a dedicated team of innovators always solving the technical challenges. (Actually, Moore's law is expected to not hold over the next decade, due to technological barriers.) I liked the idea of "You are not a lottery ticket." Too much credit is given to founder blind luck in the creation of successful companies in popular culture. There were a whole lot of people busting their humps with late nights and weekends making these things happen. Startups are not 9-5 M-F jobs with lots of vacation and perks built in.2.) Thiel reminds engineers that while their work is essential at a startup, its not sufficient for a successful business venture. You have to get your product to the customer (i.e. figure out the manufacturing/supply chains/logistics). You have to explain how this product is going to benefit the customer. You have to convince a customer to part from his/her money. This doesn't just magically happen, you're going to have to be a hustler if you ever want to see real profits.3.) Although sometimes obvious, the book is full of useful advice and anecdotal lessons learned from tech startups' failures and successes. If you are planning a startup or interested in joining one you should read this book. You will learn something about entrepreneurship.Here's what I didn't like:1.) Absence of Supporting Evidence. The writing style is very informal, which I actually enjoy (makes for a quick read), but many of his arguments are made poorly (sometimes unconvincingly). There are no citations in this book. No references are mentioned. Subjective opinions and personal anecdotes often substitute for any factual evidence. It's pretty clear Thiel has a disdain for statistics of any kind, both in a factual statistic sense and for any technology that relies on stochastic techniques. The book is also chock full of superlatives and (mostly false) dichotomies. A prime example: "Almost all successful entrepreneurs are simultaneously insiders and outsiders....When you plot them out, founders' traits appear to follow an inverse normal distribution." No citation or reference given....yeesh....I mean is this a personality study Peter Thiel personally did or does he just completely make this up? Another example is his central theme: "All happy companies are different: each one earns a monopoly by solving a unique problem. All failed companies are the same: they failed to escape competition." Not really true of either sentence as counter examples are given even by Thiel later in the book (e.g. some companies implode by poor distribution, infighting, unprofitable ideas, etc.) I'm glad Thiel didn't become a trial lawyer, he'd get embarrassed in any court room. Ironically, the book makes Thiel come across as sounding like the ivory tower university professor he so loathes, with all the 'take my word for it', 'I'm the expert'superficial arguments he makes in the book.2.) Poor definitions and arbitrary/contradictory arguments. It's not real clear what's an incremental advance and what's not. A 10x improvement is not technically feasible or theoretically possible in many fields. For example, a power plant operating at 30% energy efficiency can't have a 10x advance in energy efficiency (more than 100 % efficiency breaks the conservation of energy law). Sometimes just a 2X (100%) advance is a big freaking deal. Doubling the fuel economy on a car (without negatively affecting its performance, safety, or cost) is a really hard problem that, if solved would be a huge breakthrough. It would line customers up at your door. Even Tesla, the company Thiel has a major hard-on for in the Seeing Green chapter, hasn't achieved that: a new Tesla roadster set you back at least $110,000 US, their lower end vehicles are still North of $60,000 US even with generous government subsidies and incentives. Not exactly a common man's car anyone can afford.Also, the claim of "undifferentiated products" is kind of a straw man argument. Do any two companies really produce identical products? Yes Pepsi and Coca-cola both make similar soft drinks, but they are not identical. Some people like the taste of Coke, others prefer the taste of Pepsi, but they don't taste the same. Big Macs vs. Whoppers. One make/model of vehicles vs. others. One Airline carrier over others. Most people will prefer one over the other, even if just by a little, and even if the prices are different (within a reasonable range). That's why businesses still exist in competitive markets. If this wasn't true, the lowest price, even by a penny, wins by default and monopolies would happen naturally in the long run, without need for any further competition.His last chapter on stagnation or singularity is very nebulous in which he plots "progress" on the vertical axis and time on the horizontal. It's not really clear why he chose just four scenarios? Why not linear progress? Why not linear with a mix of boom/bust cycles? The possibilities/combinations are endless. What does he mean by progress anyway? Computing power? World GDP? The DJI or NASDAQ Index? Your guess is as good as mine.3.) Patently Obvious. Some statements that Thiel writes is blatantly obvious: see Elkin Wells "Ok, not amazing." review for great examples. The irony of this book is that it does not really represent a Zero to One contribution to thinking in technology, entrepreneurship, business, futurism, philosophy, etc. What Thiel states in this book has been said by many other people for quite some time. His central tenet of "creative" monopolies (i.e. a monopoly achieved through secured patents, copyrights, trade secrets, etc.) are a good thing that all startups should strive to achieve, wouldn't surprise anyone who has taken a basic economics or business class or has tried to start a business. I mean who starts a business (excluding franchises) and thinks I'm going to get rich producing exactly the same product this other guy did at the same cost. Everyone thinks their business is unique in some way. On the novelty factor, the US Patent & Trademark Office states it's mission is (it's also in the Constitution) "to promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writing and discoveries." This is pretty obvious stuff, if you have nothing to gain personally by inventing something and sharing it with the world, you probably won't. And we all lose out in that scenario. Thus, a creative monopoly is something to be encouraged. The other key concept here is that these are temporary monopolies on specific products/works (e.g. a utility patent has a expiration of 20 years after filing). Creative monopolies don't last forever. A company has to keep innovating in order to obtain more creative monopolies for different products or refined products. To be fair, I think Thiel was trying to say this about Google and Apple, but he didn't finish the thought.4.) Started Strong, ended very weakly. The first few chapters were pretty balanced and thought-provoking. The later chapters on green technology, characteristics of founders, and a brief comment on what the future may look like were a collection of half-baked and half-hearted ideas. The Founders Paradox chapter was an embarrassingly bad mix of pop culture nonsense that compares tech founders to rock stars and Gods (I'm not kidding or exaggerating). The book has "How to Build the Future" in its title and all we get from Thiel's final chapter is what he thinks the future may look like in a five page conjecture about what shape the progress over time graph may look like. Thoroughly disappointing.5.) The organization of the book is pretty haphazard as well. It jumps from discussions of monopolies and competition and recommendations/pitfalls to avoid for a successful startup (which fit the title of the book) to a poorly argued discussion about founder traits and green technology.6.) Silicon Valley is the center of the Universe? Thiel constantly references Silicon Valley companies and culture ad nauseam. Google this and Apple that. Hoodies, Crocs, and T-shirts are the coolest.....Yes I know it is the IT Mecca and it's where every programmer wants to land a job, but there is a whole startup world outside of the Valley. HBO's Silicon Valley show highlights some of the absurdities within the Valley's tech culture. Silicon Valley tends to suffer from a lot of superiority complexes, group think, and trend chasing as a result of both its real and perceived successes.7.) Peter Thiel can do no wrong, or he can see the future and you can't. Thiel has made a name for himself by claiming to be a "contrarian thinker" and for his financial successes at PayPal, Google, and Facebook. He also likes to point out indefinitely optimistic the financial world is (page 70) as if he somehow knows how to beat the market. However, his hedge fund took a beating just like all the rest of the others during the 2008 crash. He doesn't discuss any of his failed VC endeavors at all in the book. Would be nice to hear what mistakes you've learned from personally. Or maybe every investment Thiel's made has gone gangbusters? Doubtful. Never mentions the highly publicized failure of his Thiel fellowship where he paid $100K to 20 college students to drop out of college and start a business.On page 75 he puts up a table of the differences between software and biotech companies (a real apples to oranges comparison, as evidenced by the table's stark contrast of biotech's study of expensive "poorly understood", "uncontrollable organisms" and software's artificially created, well understood, cheap environment.) He then makes the statement, "It's possible to wonder whether the genuine difficulty of biology has become an excuse for biotech startups' indefinite approach to research in general." Actually, Thiel I think the extreme contrast of lack of knowledge and understanding in a natural complex system like biology versus an artificial system like software (which he just highlighted) is the reason for the indefinite approach. Also Thiel seems to have a disdain for biotech (my guess is he has been burned by the slow pace of biological research on several investments in biotech) without a respect for its inherent complexity versus the highly linear and artificial world of computing. Yes, designing the software for PayPal's digital transactions is not trivial, but it pales in comparison to the difficulty of eradicating every ~100nm cancer cell in a human without killing the host. The number of variables (if they are even known in the biotech example) to account for are orders of magnitude larger than any problem a programmer would face. Re-iteration speed in computing is taken for granted as well. What's the worse that happens if your code has errors? It won't even break the machine it runs on unless that's your intent. We all know what the worse case is in biotech/medicine. He also acts like no innovation has come from biotech in the past 3 or 4 decades. What about the human genome mapping? What about artificial hearts and kidneys? Artificial hips and knees? Genetically modified plants that have 10x better yields? DNA matching of criminals from trace amounts of tissue samples that has revolutionized the justice system?He also didn't see the Green Tech bubble coming? In the seeing green chapter he rails against solar companies for seeking only incremental advances in technology as their major downfall. Yet he fails to see the real technological challenges of solar and wind: they are location specific and their energy density (the amount of energy you get from the same stored volume or weight of the fuel) is nowhere near that of nuclear and non-renewables. That is a huge pitfall to overcome in the energy and transportation sector and it's always been the well-known reason why wind and solar are niche power applications. At a coal or nuclear power plant, if the energy demand from a nearby city goes up, you just burn more fuel and possibly start up another turbine. The amount of fuel you have is only limited by logistics and your onsite storage. Not only are onsite storage needs larger for a solar or wind farm (a battery has much lower energy density than a lump of coal/ fuel rod/gallon of gasoline of the same weight) but your fuel (essentially electrons for storage) is generated onsite. Both wind and solar need enormously large areas of generation equipment (panels or turbines) to generate any appreciable energy for even a small city. And the ideal location for solar and wind power plants are often in deserts or on mountain sides, or miles off the coastline: exactly where most people don't live. So any efficiency gains you get from putting it in an ideal location is lost to power line transmission by having to put it far away from people using the power. The poor energy density is an even bigger problem with electric vehicles. These are multiple engineering feats that need major improvement, not simply a 10x reduction in a single technology. Nevertheless, modest efficiency gains of even a few percent in the energy sector are technically challenging or costly or both; thermal efficiency of conventional power plants have gone up only ~10-15% in the past century. There are fundamental limits to thermodynamics.In the end, Thiel is susceptible to the same dogmas ("peak oil", Malthusian resource shortages, the inevitability of "green" technology, reduce carbon emissions at all costs) that anyone else could end up believing without questioning any assumptions. Thiel shows a glaring ignorance of technology outside of IT. When technical progress doesn't meet the accelerated pace that he's seen in the computing world, he resorts to shooting the messenger and blaming the researchers within the field.9.) If all the negatives above sounds like a class you've taken in college. That's because that's exactly how this book started. Thiel taught a class at Standford about startups with the same material. In fairness, Thiel's audience for the lectures that inspired the book, freshman and sophomores in Stanford's Computer Science department, probably know as much about business and economics as Thiel knows about being humble about his success at PayPal, hence the lack of any real depth on any particular subject matter. However, this is not forgivable when the notes from a class are almost pasted into a hardcover book verbatim. I mean there was a chance for some serious editing, more depth and refinement, and re-organization during this conversion process, but it doesn't appear much thought went into any of these. Honestly I thought the notes were better (which has more chapters as well), because they included many more pictures with better humor and more detail. My guess is that Thiel probably gave outstanding lectures with some cool Powerpoint slides, but any charisma and charm from the lectures were lost during the book transition.Qualifiers and Disclaimers: I'm a bioengineer doing both hardware and software for a small biotech startup. I was a patent examiner (in semiconductors) for the USPTO and still do part-time contract work for them (in mechanical and medical devices) so I see innovation all the time. I also consider myself a libertarian politically, as does Peter Thiel. Read some of the other 3 star reviews of this book, they are very much on point.

In 2012 venture capitalist Peter Thiel taught a course in his alma matter Stanford about startup, entrepreneurship, and business in general. And among his many students, one in particular, Blake Masters, took very detailed and diligent notes where it then being copied, shared, and became wildly popular among the students.This book is the polished edition of that concise notes. And it is one of the best business books I’ve ever read.Thiel’s lessons begin with a simple message: Dominate a small niche and scale up from there. As he explains, “[t]he perfect target market for a startup is a small group of particular people concentrated together and served by few or no competitors.”Because, it is easier to dominate a small market than a large market already filled with competing companies. Thiel gave the exaggerated example of the cure for baldness or a drug to safely eliminate the need for sleep, to make the point across. But the message is clear: if we build something valuable that never existed before, the increase in value is theoretically limitless.However, he also throw some cold water over the common believe that great products sell themselves, as plenty of potentially great inventions were born and died without much fanfare. Thiel commented, “[i]f you’ve invented something new but you haven’t invented an effective way to sell it, you have a bad business—no matter how good the product.”And thus he emphasizes the importance of branding, network effects, utilization of technology, etc, including choosing our market carefully and expanding deliberately within it. Chapter 11 on sales, marketing, and advertising covers this in great detail.Alternatively, if we cannot come up with something revolutionary, as a start up we can instead radically improve an existing solution. As Thiel remarked, “PayPal, for instance, made buying and selling on eBay at least 10 times better. Instead of mailing a check that would take 7 to 10 days to arrive, PayPal let buyers pay as soon as an auction ended. Sellers received their proceeds right away, and unlike with a check, they knew the funds were good.”And this book is filled with tactics and examples for these kinds of improvement insights. For example, Thiel mentions about the metrics that he use to set the limits for effective distribution: “The total net profit that you earn on average over the course of your relationship with a customer (Customer Lifetime Value, or CLV) must exceed the amount you spend on average to acquire a new customer (Customer Acquisition Cost, or CAC). In general, the higher the price of your product, the more you have to spend to make a sale—and the more it makes sense to spend it.”The book then step forward to the next progress in a start up: the importance of careful scaling and expansion. Thiel says that there are 2 forms of progress, vertical and horizontal. Vertical progress means doing completely new things (like what Richard Branson have done multiple times from records to airlines to beverages etc), while horizontal progress involves copying things that work, which is a more natural progression. As Thiel commented “[t]he most successful ecompanies make the core progression—to first dominate a specific niche and then scale to adjacent markets—a part of their founding narrative.”The best example for this horizontal progression is Amazon, where they showed how it can be masterfully done, from books to CDs to pretty much everything today. Here’s Thiel again: “Jeff Bezos’s founding vision was to dominate all of online retail, but he very deliberately started with books. There were millions of books to catalog, but they all had roughly the same shape, they were easy to ship, and some of the most rarely sold books—those least profitable for any retail store to keep in stock—also drew the most enthusiastic customers.”Moreover, in the book Thiel also writes about his experience as an investor looking at businesses from the outside perspective, with special mention of the pareto principle, where roughly 20% of successful investments (or start-up attempts) will outperform the 80% of flops and still leave us with a net gain, sometimes even a big one. He provides a compelling argument using many examples to show the principle at work, which is nothing short of an epiphany for me. The message from him is again simple: in the end it’s about the batting average, not the once (or few) in a lifetime home runs. And this also applies in many other walks of life.I could really go on and on about the wide range of topics in this dense book, which also teaches us about disruptions, luck, definite and indefinite views of the future. It tells us about when to fight with all we got, when to step back, or when to merge (if you can’t beat them, join them). And ultimately, it provides us with the day-to-day framework to efficiently run a business, which was the main reason why my entrepreneur friend highly recommended this book to me in the first place.

Good and big and cute but the exterior cream color chipped off shortly after.

I like this kettle a lot. It has a pole inside that shows 1-3 cups so that I don’t have to fill it if I’m only having 1 or 2 cups of tea. I also use it to boil water if I’m making spaghetti because I can fill it up and it boils faster than waiting for a pot to boil. Saves time.

The kettle doesn’t shut off. It keeps boiling the water. Thank goodness we were home to discover this issue. We tried a few more times over the last few days in hopes it wasn’t broken. Never buying Black & Decker again.

Correct

Boils quick and is lovely looking. Second one I have owned. Many compliments on shape and colour!!

Perfect size, works well! I love the style too!

Excellent design on the kettle. Easy to use and very stylish. My girlfriend loves tea, the easy to use design make it possible for her or any of my friends that want to use hot water.Could I use the kettle as a weapon? Yes with enough water.Can you idiotically scald yourself? Hard to but possible if you leave your hand over the steam spout.

As I filled my kettle again this morning (in the thousands if I was guess at how many times I have already done so), I had the thought, "I am so glad I bought this".The handle is stable and I thought I would be in the way but it's not. I hold it and pop the lid off with the same hand while filling. It's metal so it doesn't break if I tap it against the sink/counter. Finally, it holds a lot and heats quickly.I really like this kettle and will replace it if it ever breaks, but there is no sign of it breaking down after all this time.

Great kettles but overpriced.

It's only supposed to do two things: 1) Weigh 35 pounds & 2) Be coated in vinyl. It delivers exactly what it promises.

These look great and are perfect for what I need them for

Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future
⭐ 4.6 💛 22901
kindle: $17.99
paperback: $13.99
hardcover: $5.15
Buy the Book