Friday, December 31, 2021

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

Peter Thiel had gone to Stanford Law School and was hoping to clerk for a supreme court justice and begin the "normal" law career. That did not end up panning out. He flopped around a few things before starting in venture capital. He had some failures before he helped start PayPal and begin a successful career in Silicon Valley. He is somewhat different than the typical silicon valley entrepreneur as gay libertarian who majored in Philosophy before going to law school.

In Zero to One, Thiel provides notes from his experiences in startups. The big start ups focus on big changes. There is space for small incremental improvements, but that is not as likely to lead to giant success. It is also important to know the market. Dominating a small market is different from being a small player in a big market. The human factors can also play an important role in the success or failure of a company. Ownership, possession and control are important factors in the success and motivation of companies. With startups they are often closely aligned, but still sometimes in conflict. With large companies, rent seeking behavior can be more common.

There is some advice on what to do (or not to do) to achieve success. However, this book comes across more as notes on what has been done. The big picture motivation can be more important than the minor details. Sometimes it is the small thing of "sticking with it" - something that the more autistic engineering minds can excell at.

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