Discussions on book: Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future
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Authors:
Publisher: Currency
Publication date:
ISBN-10: 0804139296
ISBN-13: 978-0804139298
Pages: 224
Book club: Business lounge Book club: Future & trends Book club: Thiel's list
Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future
Who you, as an entrepreneur, are taking investments from is no less important, than for investors - who…
Mindstrim.com
at 1am on 4/23/2018

Who you, as an entrepreneur, are taking investments from is no less important, than for investors - who they invest to. As I read somewhere else, meetup.com for example was quite selective as to what investors to bring in, not to disrupt their chosen business philosophy and approach.

Dozens of directors on boards of some nonprofits is rather a sign of a weak board and over-powered top…
Mindstrim.com
at 10pm on 4/22/2018

Dozens of directors on boards of some nonprofits is rather a sign of a weak board and over-powered top management left for itself, as per a good observation from the author.

The author is bravely, and even with some romanticism of German philosophical school of thought, proposing…
Mindstrim.com
at 11pm on 4/19/2018

The author is bravely, and even with some romanticism of German philosophical school of thought, proposing a better way for further development of our civilization - the way of vertical progress with developing new technologies that would leap us into a brighter future, as opposed to the current stagnating horizontal progress of globalized movement towards a common plateau where competition for diminishing resources at all levels would be extremal and wasteful.

Yes, he also uses the book to praise his own genius and ventures he's invested in such as PayPal, Facebook and Palantir. However, he makes so many valuable points throughout the book that this subtle promotion is not annoying and used quite organically in the content.

As fas as I can see, Thiel is a rare prominent leader who is assertively calling for a better way of the real progress. This book must be included in most educational programs, from high schools to universities, to cultivate new leaders and new spirit of "finite/rational optimism" in the society.

In his book the author, accomplished entrepreneur and investor, lays out his view on today's progress in…
Mindstrim.com
at 9am on 4/26/2018

In his book the author, accomplished entrepreneur and investor, lays out his view on today's progress in the world and offers the way for social changes he characterizes as revolutionary. The book is based on his lectures. 

He distinguishes between horizontal and vertical progress:

Horizontal progress is the way of globalization - replicating the same existing things (factories, buildings, etc) around the world and multiplying pollution with the same pace.

Vertical progress is the way of substantial improvement of life by developing new technologies (technologies in a broad sense).

Thiel praises monopolies for their abilities to plan long-term and invest resources in new technologies. On the opposite, competition exhausts resources of businesses and brings little technology developments.

He claims that since around 1970s and until now there has been mostly horizontal progress, with high hopes of humanity having been dropped. He attributes this to infinite optimism of boomer generation, having been capitalized on previous achievements and automatically expecting further developments (thus optimism) without making any certain plans (thus infinite).

The author advocates changes at all social levels, from a worker up to the social elites - to start making concrete plans for developments and implementing them.

Thiel has much hopes for new startups to lead the vertical progress and provides some good advice on running startups (about market positioning for success, board of directors, executive compensation, importance of founders and sales).

He particularly critiques the state of biotechnology startups (partially engaged professors and other staff and infinity of research goals, not trying to better understand the nature of human body) and clean tech (leaders are sales people, not engineers, seeking government subsidies and brining no significant innovations in return), as well as IT companies most of which are mostly involved in horizontal progress.

The author also critiques other areas of stagnating knowledge. For example that the studies of how to improve longevity are effectively replaced by statistical tables created by insurance industry. And how we better know the physics of remote planets while knowing little of diet science. 

Thiel believes China will never catch up with Western countries, and it has been actively pursuing horizontal progress at least to get as much of the world's pie as possible before the tide changes (e.g. with trade restrictions that are starting being imposed on China by US).

He is not expecting technologies to replace humans through 21st century, leaving the possibility of coming close to such edge for 22nd century. He calls for not fearing technologies and working on creation of new ones to improve our lives. Thiel is a believer in technologies to complement people in making things better, and mentions one of his companies Palantir as an example of such synergy (big data analysis by humans using technologies).

It's easy for a billionaire author to say: quit your company if delivery of real results is not valued…
Mindstrim.com
at 8pm on 4/7/2018

It's easy for a billionaire author to say: quit your company if delivery of real results is not valued there. It's also easy for him to say that monopolies are good for employees and general public, that new progressive monopolies replace old reactionary ones ...

He is giving the example of Google. Perhaps he may be thinking differently now ... Firstly, technology monopolies like Google employ a small fraction of workforce. And what would others be left to do in the world of a limited number of such monopolies, not being those lucky ones who made it to working there, or not wanting to work there at all?

Some of such monopolies have become more visible recently in breaching trust and disregarding their customers, such as in the case of Facebook's Cambridge Analytica scandal or when many youtubers were cut off from their share of ad revenues arbitrarily like in the case of the vegan youtuber now prominent for her quest for revenge to the Youtube campus in Silicon Valley. This all is not playing well for the author's idea that monopolies will "save the world".

No real "vertical progress" since 70s
Mindstrim.com
at 9pm on 4/4/2018

Thiel is right on the money stating that there have been no real (he calls it "vertical") progress over the past several decades, outside information technologies and communications. The world around us hasn't changed much.

As he points out, the progress has been rather "horizontal" over the same period (by means of globalization - replication of existing stuff and moving wealth to Asia while multiplying pollution).

A nice example he mentions is how our ancestors were expecting such developments to come next, in the context of past progress until 1970s, as 4-day work week, extremely cheap energy and vacations on the Moon. Instead, we have to grapple with increasingly competitive and exhaustive work life, diminishing earnings and overpriced real estates, while starring at smartphones creating illusion of the latest progress.

And even the latest progress in information technologies has not been especially productive, as someone else pointed out on this site:

Productivity growth has been slowing down. Internet hasn't actually increased substantially productivity, economic growth and living conditions in the West.