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Zero to One
Cover of Zero to One
Zero to One
Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future
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#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...
#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...
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  • #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.

Excerpts-

  • From the cover Preface

    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 net-work. If you are copying these guys, you aren’t learning from them.

    Of course, it’s easier to copy a model than to make something new. Doing what we already know how to do takes the world from 1 to n, adding more of something familiar. But every time we create something new, we go from 0 to 1. The act of creation is singular, as is the moment of creation, and the result is something fresh and strange.

    Unless they invest in the difficult task of creating new things, American companies will fail in the future no matter how big their profits remain today. What happens when we’ve gained everything to be had from fine- tuning the old lines of business that we’ve inherited? Unlikely as it sounds, the answer threatens to be far worse than the crisis of 2008. Today’s “best practices” lead to dead ends; the best paths are new and untried.

    In a world of gigantic administrative bureaucracies both public and private, searching for a new path might seem like hoping for a miracle. Actually, if American business is going to succeed, we are going to need hundreds, or even thou­sands, of miracles. This would be depressing but for one cru­cial fact: humans are distinguished from other species by our ability to work miracles. We call these miracles technology.

    Technology is miraculous because it allows us to do more with less, ratcheting up our fundamental capabilities to a higher level. Other animals are instinctively driven to build things like dams or honeycombs, but we are the only ones that can invent new things and better ways of making them. Humans don’t decide what to build by making choices from some cosmic catalog of options given in advance; instead, by creating new technologies, we rewrite the plan of the world. These are the kind of elementary truths we teach to second graders, but they are easy to forget in a world where so much of what we do is repeat what has been done before.
     
    Zero to One is about how to build companies that cre­ate new things. It draws on everything I’ve learned directly as a co-founder of PayPal and Palantir and then an investor in hundreds of startups, including Facebook and SpaceX. But while I have noticed many patterns, and I relate them here, this book offers no formula for success. The paradox of teaching entrepreneurship is that such a formula necessarily cannot exist; because every innovation is new and unique, no authority can prescribe in concrete terms how to be innova­tive. Indeed, the single most powerful pattern I have noticed is that successful people find value in unexpected places, and they do this by thinking about business from first principles instead of formulas.
     
    This book stems from a course about startups that I taught at Stanford in 2012. College students can become extremely skilled at a few specialties, but many never learn what to do with those skills in the wider world. My primary goal in teaching the class was to help my students see beyond the tracks laid down by academic specialties to the broader future that is theirs to create. One of those students, Blake Masters, took detailed class notes, which circulated far be­yond the campus, and in Zero to One I have worked with him to revise the notes for a wider audience. There’s no reason why the future should happen only at Stanford, or in college, or in Silicon...

About the Author-

  • Peter Thiel is a technology entrepreneur and investor best known for co-founding PayPal. Since then he has co-founded the data analytics firm Palantir Technologies, made the first outside investment in Facebook, provided early funding for companies like SpaceX and LinkedIn and established and funds the Thiel Foundation, which nurtures tomorrow’s tech visionaries.
     
    Blake Masters is co-founder of Judicata, a technology startup that builds tools for legal research and analysis. Like Peter, Blake received undergraduate and law degrees from Stanford.

Reviews-

  • The Economist "Crisply written, rational and practical, Zero to One should be read not just by aspiring entrepreneurs but by anyone seeking a thoughtful alternative to the current pervasive gloom about the prospects for the world."
  • The New Republic "An extended polemic against stagnation, convention, and uninspired thinking. What Thiel is after is the revitalization of imagination and invention writ large..."
  • Derek Thompson, The Atlantic "Might be the best business book I've read...Barely 200 pages long and well lit by clear prose and pithy aphorisms, Thiel has written a perfectly tweetable treatise and a relentlessly thought-provoking handbook."

  • - Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook
    "This book delivers completely new and refreshing ideas on how to create value in the world."

  • - Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX and Tesla
    "Peter Thiel has built multiple breakthrough companies, and Zero to One shows how."

  • - Marc Andreessen, co-creator of the world's first web browser, co-founder of Netscape, and venture capitalist at Andreessen Horowitz
    " Zero to One is the first book any working or aspiring entrepreneur must read--period."

  • - Jeff Immelt, Chairman and CEO, GE
    "Zero to One is an important handbook to relentless improvement for big companies and beginning entrepreneurs alike. Read it, accept Peter's challenge, and build a business beyond expectations."

  • - Nassim Nicholas Taleb, author of Fooled by Randomness and The Black Swan
    "When a risk taker writes a book, read it. In the case of Peter Thiel, read it twice. Or, to be safe, three times. This is a classic."

  • - Fortune
    "Thiel has drawn upon his wide-ranging and idiosyncratic readings in philosophy, history, economics, anthropology, and culture to become perhaps America's leading public intellectual today"

  • - Tyler Cowen, New York Times best-selling author of Average is Over and Professor of Economics at George Mason University
    "Peter Thiel, in addition to being an accomplished entrepreneur and investor, is also one of the leading public intellectuals of our time. Read this book to get your first glimpse of how and why that is true."

  • - Neal Stephenson, New York Times best-selling author of Snow Crash, the Baroque Cycle, and Cryptonomicon
    "The first and last business book anyone needs to read; a one in a world of zeroes."
  • Kirkus Reviews "Forceful and pungent in its treatment of conventional orthodoxies--a solid starting point for readers thinking about building a business."

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