Zero to One

Some things I jotted down when reading the book Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future by Peter Thiel and Blake Masters. Derek Sivers has more extensive notes.


Competition drives profits to zero. Do not compete; build a monopoly.

Start by monopolizing a small market.

Definite/indefinite and optimism/pessimism. In the 1970s a shift to indefinite thinking occurred. Recent philosophy and careers focus on process. Indefinite optimism is unsustainable.

Baby boomers learned to overrate the power of an individual’s context to determine their success.

Software startups remain the few with definite thinking. They apply engineering in a controlled environment and are not regulated. Biotech is the opposite.

Recently Darwinian metaphors have become increasingly common in business. “Nothing can be known in advance.” Iteration without a plan can only take you to a local maximum, it can’t take you from zero to one.

Venture returns aren’t normally distributed. A venture fund should only invest in startups able to return the whole value of the fund.

Life is not a portfolio. You should focus relentlessly on something you are good at doing, but first you must think whether it will be valuable in the future.

You can’t start a cult anymore.

No field is important enough to grant success by mere participation.

Founders are insider-outsiders.

Ayn Rand was half right: her villains were real but her heroes were fake.


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Tags: business, literature, nonfiction, notes.