Book: Zero to One
Author: Peter Theil
I was undoubtedly encouraged by the book to forsake
incremental thinking. Everyone who aspires to be an
entrepreneur should read this book. You can’t think in the
near term. Thiel could know a thing or two about achieving
Members of the PayPal core team went on to found
Yammer, LinkedIn, YouTube, and Yelp. In that way, the book
will serve as a manual for entrepreneurs to read in order to
determine whether their idea, like this one, is a “Zero to
When you create something unique that did not exist before
you are going from zero to one. This book isn’t for people
who just want to fiddle around; it’s meant to get you thinking
about big concepts. Problems that haven’t been solved are
ripe for innovation. Conventional schooling teaches students
to make conventional decisions
Thiel argues in his book that, while doing more of the same
cheaply is sometimes the quickest way to advance, human
innovation and technology advancement is what has genuine
worth, having given the world windmills and steam engines,
as well as cars and cellphones.
Those who invent something new must acquire a monopoly
in order to avoid competition, which can lead to large profits
in the long run. When we produce more of the same,
competition becomes fierce and profitability suffers.
Thiel advises starting small, expanding up slowly, and keeping
a low profile to prevent competition. Last movers get a
chance to learn from others.
Thiel criticizes the current educational system for
encouraging grade competitiveness. Sports, leadership
qualities, and academic performance are all gamed on
student resumes. This establishes prejudices and teaches
individuals to be cautious, which hinders innovation.
A good business plan in a startup, he believes, is not a
gamble on one’s future. Founders hunt for hard-to-find
secrets because norms are easy to decipher but mysteries
are not. Often, failures are the result of misunderstanding
the importance of sales and marketing. This is true for
companies like SpaceX which sell sophisticated products.
Thiel cites renewable energy as another example where firms
fell prey to the hype and rushed ahead without considering
basic factors like product differentiation and economic
Our future depends on us. We can change our lives by going
from 0 to 1.
‘Zero to One is a must-read for everyone in business or
preparing to start one.
-YATHAM SRIKAR REDDY