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Peter Theil, co-founder of Paypal, writes about reaching from zero to one for startups in this book! It’s a good non-fiction read, includes illustrations from several start-ups including Paypal, eBay etc. If you perceive technology to be an integral part of your day-to-day life, this book shows what it takes to get that technology to you!

I enjoyed reading the first half more where Peter differentiates between Vertical (intensive progress) v/s horizontal (extensive progress) progress and  talks about how globalization without technology is unsustainable. Technological innovation or vertical progress is required to challenge the future issues.

It was interesting to read about competition vs monopoly and how monopolists and non-monopolists Businesses are different in nature and what luxuries do the monopolists have. He summarises Proprietary technology, network effects, Branding, Economies of Scale as  Characteristics of Monopoly.

The second half is more about startup advice, financial and ownership nitty gritty for startups.

A startup is the largest group of people you can convince of a plan to build a different future

Anyone who claims to be able to do something great is suspect, and anyone who wants to change the world should be more humble. Small, incremental steps are the only safe path forward.

From the book:

“ZERO TO ONE EVERY MOMENT 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. If you are copying these guys, you aren’t learning from them.”

He writes about why to start small and monopolise and understanding scaling up is important for a business using Ebay and amazon as examples.

From the book:

“Tolstoy opens Anna Karenina by observing: “All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” Business is the opposite. 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.”

To explain why competition is like a war and prevents you from thinking unique, he says:

“The hazards of imitative competition may partially explain why individuals with an Asperger’s like social ineptitude seem to be at an advantage in Silicon Valley today. If you’re less sensitive to social cues, you’re less likely to do the same things as everyone else around you. If you’re interested in making things or programming computers, you’ll be less afraid to pursue those activities singlemindedly and thereby become incredibly good at them.”

Whether or not you have an entrepreneur mindset, this one is quite interesting to read.  

The lesson for entrepreneurs is clear: if you want to create and capture lasting value, don’t build an undifferentiated commodity business.