Peter Thiel's book is just the type of business book I admire: crisp (hence: short), highly readable and centered around a single, compelling idea, preferably a controversial one. In this case this is no small feat: if one of the founders of Paypal is speaking, surely he’s got a lot to say. Staying focused and crisp must have been a painful process for Peter Thiel.
The controversial aspect of Peter’s reasoning resides in the fact that any entrepreneur should forget about the fashionable golden rules of entrepreneurship (read: the lean startup principles).
Proof of point, one of Peter’s advise sounds a bit like this: “only start a business if you know how to succeed. Better be an employee of Google with 0,01% of stock rather than having a 100% ownership of a business that’s failing” (this is not a quote from the book, just what I noted from it).
One more? Modern star-up principles say you shouldn’t do long-term planning. Go ahead and learn while you walk. Peter’s advise? Make long-term plans. Yahoo wanted to buy Facebook for $1B at a certain time, but Zuckerberg had bigger plans. Who was right?
Other ‘lean startup’-principles should be shattered, according to Peter. Forget about staying lean & flexible, forget about focusing on product instead of sales, forget about incremental advances.
Instead? Go for x10 times better. And stick to your plan. This explains a bit the title of the book: going from 0 to 1 is the aim, the disruptive change.
So overall, Peter’s message is to create monopolies, which is not at all a bad thing. It’s truly about creating new markets, rather than differentiate yourself with slight alterations in existing markets. Does that ring a bell? Anybody? Surely, this sounds a bit like the Blue Ocean Strategy, no? The only difference is that this book is written by someone who actually created such a blue ocean…
Highly compelling read, and I was particularly struck by one point Peter made about how culture determines the way we, as a community, look at the future, and the possibilities it entails: