Book Review: The Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future by Peter Thiel

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The theme of the book is the majority of people do one to N, not zero to one. Thiel is trying to show the reader that the majority of people do not go the extra mile to build a successful business, and people need to open their mind to a different point of view. She is successful because she opened her mind and looked a different point of view that she did not agree with at first. For instance, Thiel mentions Tesla on page 166, he says, “Tesla answered the seven questions correctly,” meaning the company should do well because of not skipping a step or missing a beat. Tesla looked at the technology, timing, a monopoly, a team, durability, distribution, and secrets. Tesla determined when it was time to introduce the new eco-friendly cars and to whom would most likely take an interest in purchasing the cars.

My take on the theme was companies need to determine all the nooks and crannies that may occur to cause the company any trouble. Tesla is a great example of that. On the other hand, when Apple was introduced, people did not accept Steve Jobs mobile device at first because it was ahead of its time. If he waited, watched, and listened to people’s wants and desires then he probably would have had a different outcome.

A review from amazon by Athan was highly critical about Thiel’s words and views. He starts out his review by saying, “A better title for this book would have been ‘Six ideas Peter Thiel wants to put out there.” It is not an eye grabbing title, but it brings truth to the book. Out of the six ideas, he believed two were important, and four were unnecessary fillers. The first idea made him angry; the second idea gave him inspiration. The other ideas he already knew that information, because he started up and founded a business. He also stated, “There’s also a couple rants, one against biotechnology and one against green tech, which to my ears sounded tribal.” By tribal, he means standard to a group of economists, and business people trying to do a start up.

After the ideas, Athan mentions Thiel wrote about embarrassing situations. For instance, ‘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.’ He was shocked it was able to print because of how some people would react to knowing that the situation occurred. He wrote Thiel a memo in the review, “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.” He is stating that he understands Thiel’s point of view given how he got to where he and his partners are today.

Thiel’s first idea is “Monopolies are good.” In general, he is stating, profits are decreasing due to competition, and the ability to innovate will be taken away due to lack of profits. Monopolies bring innovation which concludes they are good for everyone. Athan mentions Bill Gates for how he introduced computers into people’s homes. Gates struggled due to mobile devices popularity which gave other entrepreneur’s motivation to receive profits of a monopoly. Therefore, Steve Jobs has been doing this for a long time, and expects other people to do the same thing.

According to Thiel, the government is on it because of the ability to grant investors patents “or freedom from competition from generic drugs to the pharmaceutical companies that first develop new medications” (Athan.) Athan’s response to Thiel’s first idea was, “Erm, where do I start? My mom taught me that ‘necessity is the mother of invention.’ He is trying to say that the world usually denies Thiel’s claims about how monopolies bring innovation. An example he gave for his thoughts was Coke produced a New Coke when water was the company’s only real competition.

My evaluation of the book is Thiel believes very strongly about his views especially in monopolies. He states monopolies are what improve the economy because of how they bring innovation and technology. He believes monopolies will take over a large part of the market because of how much power they have over a market. Based on what I know about monopolies, it appears to be true because monopolies tend to remove competition by being able to adjust price.

I did agree with the Athan about how the first two ideas were important and the others were fillers. When Thiel mentions extremes are the important ones rather than the middle companies, I was thinking that the middle companies are just as important. The middles may not have a lot of money, sponsors, and investors as the extremes, but the middles are usually there to care for the public and the people. When I first read extremes, I thought of Wal-Mart and Target. For the middle companies, I was thinking of local shops or a popular family own restaurant or bakery.

Overall, I was not compelled by Thiel’s thoughts, views, and opinions. I am not an economist, and I will most likely never be one. It was difficult for me to read this book because of how easy it was to get side tracked and think of what was next on my to-do list. I had to search a term here and there to understand the term Thiel used. If he was speaking the book, I think he would eventually develop an angry or firm tone of voice because of how passionate he is about the topic at hand. I do not have much opinion on the matter of economics because of how little knowledge I have on economics. I did not like the book due to not being interested in economics or politics or monopolies or anything of the sort.


Cite this paper

Book Review: The Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future by Peter Thiel. (2021, Feb 27). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/book-review-the-zero-to-one-notes-on-startups-or-how-to-build-the-future-by-peter-thiel/

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