Silicon Valley legend Peter Thiel's vision for building the companies of the future.
In Spring 2012, students at Stanford University packed a lecture hall to hear Silicon Valley entrepreneur and investor Peter Thiel teach a course called "Computer Science 183: Startup." Thiel told the class everything he knows about starting a company, going beyond the basics of running a business to answer the much harder question of how to find value where other people do not see it.
Now Thiel and former student Blake Masters, whose notes on the class became an internet sensation, have revised, updated, and expanded on the best parts of the lectures. The result is this unique book: simultaneously an insider's view of Silicon Valley, a practical guide for thinking about business, and a contrarian vision of the future.
Thiel starts from the bold premise that we live in an age of technological stagnation, even if we're too distracted by our new mobile devices to notice. Progress has stalled in every industry except computers, and globalization is hardly the revolution people think it is. It's true that the world can get marginally richer by building new copies of old inventions, making horizontal progress from "1 to n." But true innovators have nothing to copy. The most valuable companies of the future will make vertical progress from "0 to 1," creating entirely new industries and products that have never existed before. Zero to One is about how to build these companies.
Tomorrow's champions will not win by competing ruthlessly in today's marketplace. They will escape competition altogether, because their businesses will be unique. In today's post-internet bubble world, conventional wisdom dictates that all the good ideas are taken, and the economy becomes a tournament in which everyone competes to reach the top. Zero to One shows how to quit the zero-sum tournament by finding an untapped market, creating a new product, and quickly scaling up a monopoly business that captures lasting value.
Planning an escape from competition is essential for every business and every individual, not just for technology startups. The greatest secret of the modern era is that there are still unique frontiers to explore and new problems to solve. Zero to One shows how to pursue them using the most important, most difficult, and most underrated skill in every job or industry: thinking for yourself.
"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 Economist "An extended polemic against stagnation, convention, and uninspired thinking. What Thiel is after is the revitalization of imagination and invention writ large..."
- The New Republic
"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."
- Derek Thompson, The Atlantic
"This book delivers completely new and refreshing ideas on how to create value in the world."
- Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook
"Peter Thiel has built multiple breakthrough companies, and Zero to One shows how."
- Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX and Tesla
" Zero to One is the first book any working or aspiring entrepreneur must read--period."
- 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 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."
- Jeff Immelt, Chairman and CEO, GE
"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."
- Nassim Nicholas Taleb, author of Fooled by Randomness and The Black Swan
"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"
"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."
- Tyler Cowen, New York Times best-selling author of Average is Over and Professor of Economics at George Mason University
"The first and last business book anyone needs to read; a one in a world of zeroes."
- Neal Stephenson, New York Times best-selling author of Snow Crash, the Baroque Cycle, and Cryptonomicon
"Forceful and pungent in its treatment of conventional orthodoxies--a solid starting point for readers thinking about building a business."
- Kirkus Reviews