Zero To One: Notes

Here are some notes I made while reading the book Zero To One by Peter Thiel. I highly recommend you to check it out, if you are interested in business and startups.

Notes
  • Courage is in shorter supply than genius – needed for progress
  • Future is different, and it’s rooted in today
  • Vertical progress is technology. Technology is any new and better way of doing things.
  • Small groups of people bound together by a sense of purpose change the world
  • A startup is the largest group of people you can convince of a plan to build a different future
  • Question clearly what we think we know about the past
  • Enable regular people to do more, to be more, to earn more
    • Netscape – gave opportunity for regular people to come online
    • Facebook/LinkedIn – regular people to have a page
    • Twitter – regular people to say something
    • Uber – regular people to be drivers/earn money
    • Instagram – regular people to be better photographers
    • Amazon – regular people to shop more conveniently/cheaper
    • Apple – regular people to own a computer
    • Microsoft – regular people to buy and run software to do things
    • Google – regular people to access information/encyclopedia
    • Email – regular people to communicate with each other
    • YouTube – regular people to upload and share videos
  • Create value and capture it – margins matter, be a monopoly, not a perfect competition
  • Monopoly – technical, government favors, existing strength
  • Competitive ecosystem means too many ruthless people in space, always go to where no one’s looking
  • Creative monopolies are powerful engines to move society forward (they don’t create artificial scarcity/price controls but an abundance of value). New products that benefit everybody and sustainable profits for the creators
  • History of progress is history of monopoly businesses to drive out incumbents
  • All happy companies are different, each one forms a monopoly by solving a unique problem. All failed companies are same as they failed competition
  • The more we compete the less we actually gain
  • Monopoly characteristics: Proprietary technologies, Network effects, Economies of Scale, Branding
  • Once you are 10x better you escape competition
  • Progress without planning is evolution. The best evolutions win
  • In startups intelligent design/long term planning works better than Darwinism
  • The most important things are singular
  • People are afraid of secrets since they are scared to be wrong
  • Board of three is ideal, it should never exceed 5 people unless the company is public
  • Companies work better when the CEO gets paid least
  • Openness to invention, new creation should always occur
  • No company has a culture, every company is a culture. Perks without substance are meaningless
  • Time is your most valuable asset
  • People have to be talented and excited to work specifically with us, and work cohesively after they are hired
  • Recruiting is core competence, it should never be outsourced
  • Why should someone join your company as the 20th employee? Mission or team is compelling – why we are doing something important that no one else will get done
  • Anybody who is swayed more by perks shouldn’t be hired
  • The opportunity to do irreplaceable work on a unique problem with great people
  • Everyone in your company should be different in the same way
  • Required reading books, equally obsessed new hires
  • One employee only does one thing, and nothing else, and that should be unique for everyone. And everyone is evaluated for that one thing only
  • Make a cult, not a group of employees. Be fanatically right about something the rest of the world doesn’t
  • Selling is equally important as cutting edge disruptive technology
  • A product is viral if its core functionality encourages users to invite their friends to be users too
  • Most businesses fail not because of a bad product but bad sales
  • Press equally important
  • Man Machine solution – humans and computers working together to create value, enabling humans to do more
  • Don’t replace human efforts but expand it
  • How can computers help humans solve her problems
  • Indefinite fears of the far future should not stop us from doing definite plans today
  • If you’re at Tesla you’re the equivalent of special forces
  • An entrepreneur can’t benefit from macro trends if he doesn’t have a unique micro insight
  • Every kind was a ruling god, and every god a murdered king
  • Value can not be created by professional managers and trained professionals – only disruptors
  • The lesson for founders is that individual prominence and adulation can never be enjoyed except on the condition that may be exchanged for individual notoriety and demonization at any moment
  • Only by seeing our world anew, as fresh and strange as it was to the ancients who saw it first, can we both recreate it and preserve it for the future
New Business Checklist
  • Engineering: Can you create a breakthrough technology instead of incremental improvements?
  • Timing: Is now the right time to start your particular business?
  • Monopoly: Are you starting with a big share of a small market?
  • People: Do you have the right team?
  • Distribution: Do you have a way to not just create but distribute your product?
  • Durability: Will your market position be defensible 10 or 20 years into the future?
  • Secret: Have you identified a unique opportunity that others don’t see?

Here’s the book in case you want to check it out:


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

1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLERIf you want to build a better future, you must believe in secrets.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 sin…