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Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future Hardcover – September 16, 2014

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Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future + The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers + Traction: A Startup Guide to Getting Customers
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Crown Business (September 16, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0804139296
  • ISBN-13: 978-0804139298
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.6 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #8 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


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”
-Fortune Magazine

"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

About the Author

Peter Thiel is an entrepreneur and investor. He started PayPal in 1998, led it as CEO, and took it public in 2002, defining a new era of fast and secure online commerce. In 2004 he made the first outside investment in Facebook, where he serves as a director. The same year he launched Palantir Technologies, a software company that harnesses computers to empower human analysts in fields like national security and global finance. He has provided early funding for LinkedIn, Yelp, and dozens of successful technology startups, many run by former colleagues who have been dubbed the “PayPal Mafia.” He is a partner at Founders Fund, a Silicon Valley venture capital firm that has funded companies like SpaceX and Airbnb. He started the Thiel Fellowship, which ignited a national debate by encouraging young people to put learning before schooling, and he leads the Thiel Foundation, which works to advance technological progress and long- term thinking about the future.

Blake Masters was a student at Stanford Law School in 2012 when his detailed notes on Peter’s class “Computer Science 183: Startup” became an internet sensation. He went on to co-found Judicata, a legal research technology startup.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

37 of 39 people found the following review helpful By David Landau on September 16, 2014
Format: Hardcover
Zero to One is a refreshing intellectual deep dive into the motives behind entrepreneurship.
It’s full of unique, practical insights, and discusses success in terms of human nature and culture. Along with business strategy, Thiel outlines how successful innovation shapes society and shares an intriguing vision.

Bottom line: This book was worth my time and refined several core beliefs. It made me ask hard questions which, as an entrepreneur, I believe are critical if you want to be honest and prepared.

I like the organized format which reads well linearly, but also allows you to read chapters in the order they interest you most, making key takeaways accessible to review and share.

It’s short enough to finish in a week, and deep enough to cover the entire lifecycle of a company.

Here are the seven questions Thiel writes “Every business must answer:"

1. Can you create breakthrough technology instead of incremental improvements?

2. Is now the right time to start your particular business?

3. Are you starting with a big share of a small market?

4. Do you have the right team?

5. Do you have a way to not just create but deliver your product?

6. Will your market position be defensible 10 and 20 years into the future?

7. Have you identified a unique opportunity that others don’t see?

These are from the “seeing green” chapter on profitability, and form a basis for much of the content.

Rather than offer scripts or formulas, Thiel discusses the logic of starting a company that will make a truly meaningful and unique impact on the world.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Kevin Kruse on September 17, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
If a billionaire venture capitalist walked up to you--and his startup cred’s included being the co-founder of PayPal and Palantir--and he said, “Hey, kid. Let’s grab lunch and I’ll tell you everything I know about creating the next breakthrough company.”

You’d go right?

Well Zero to One by Peter Thiel gives you this chance.

As a serial entrepreneur and angel myself, I’m no newbie to the startup game, so I was shocked by how many times I was dragging my finger to yellow-highlight passages—long passages—in Thiel’s book.

Just some of my favorite short quotes include:

“Horizontal or extensive progress means copying things that work—going from 1 to n...Vertical or intensive progress means doing new things—going from 0 to 1.”

“…humans are distinguished from other species by our ability to work miracles. We call these miracles technology.”

“What valuable company is nobody building?”

“As a good rule of thumb, proprietary technology must be at least 10 times better than its closest substitute in some important dimension to lead to a real monopolistic advantage…The clearest way to make a 10x improvement is to invent something completely new.”

“Every startup is small at the start. Every monopoly dominates a large share of its market. Therefore, every startup should start with a very small market.”

“Disruption also attracts attention: disruptors are people who look for trouble and find it.”

“Thiel’s law: a startup messed up at its foundation cannot be fixed.”

“In no case should a CEO of an early stage, venture-backed startup receive more than $150,000 per year in salary.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on September 16, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Zero to one is a tricky kind of how to book. It's aim is to help you think about what has never been thought before. To create something that has never before existed. To go from zero to one. Then, with that one, take it to a very great many.

There are many examples, like google before search, or paypal. The problem is stark for our world. If all the people of the world become rich like those in the west, as they ought to and are doing, then our world is not sustainable. We need to innovate our way out of that trap. There need to be lots more zeros to ones that then scale.

A how to book to create entirely new concepts that no one has thought of before, then grow them, is a tall order. Obviously, Peter Thiel and Blake Masters can't actually give such ideas. Instead, they try to show the reader how to think relevant new thoughts, or build an intuition pump.

The intuition pump involves rigorously considering questions. What is valuable? Then, what can I do? And third, what is nobody else doing? An intellectual rephrasing is: What important truth do very few people agree with you on? A business version is: What valuable company is nobody building? You are on the right track if "Most people believe in X. But the truth is not X.”

An entirely different problem from zero to one is making that idea real in the form of a viable business that can go from one to many. To have the impact required, and to be sustainable, the business has to create value and to capture at least some of the value it creates.
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