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Zero to One Summary

Here’s the Zero to One summary. Learn how startups become successful from Peter Thiel and Blake Masters. Also learn how the future is made through innovation. Any industry, not just information technology, can take a rapid progress.


Zero to One authors Peter Thiel and Blake Masters explain how startups can be successful. They explain the disadvantage of having a competition and how to achieve rapid growth.

They also explain that many businesses often neglect sustainability. They only focus on growth. But the key to continuous growth and survival is sustainability. That’s why we always need new technology if we want our businesses to be sustainable.

About the Authors

Peter Thiel is a German-American entrepreneur who co-founded PayPal. He was also the first outside investor in Facebook. As a successful angel investor and venture capitalist, he has already helped many startups achieve massive growth.

Blake Masters is an entrepreneur and lawyer who attended Stanford Law School. He made detailed notes during a Peter Thiel’s class onĀ Computer Science 183: Startup.

Main takeaways: Zero to One Summary

Let’s discuss the key takeaways from their book:

  1. Think of the biggest leaps.
  2. Build a monopoly.
  3. The founder should always have a vision.

Think of the biggest leaps

Do something new if you want to go from 0 to 1. If you can solve humanity’s biggest problems, that’s even much better.

People (including the billionaires) are looking to solve “impossible” problems. How can we have cheap access to clean water? Is it possible to live in the moon? Is it possible to live in Mars? Will there come a time when we all live using only renewable energy sources? Is death just a disease, if so what’s the cure?

It’s hard to imagine the possibilities. That’s because we can’t predict much about the future of technology. There will be huge leaps that even scientists can’t predict. Suddenly our assumptions will be forever changed.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t get any ideas of what leaps will happen. Think of what a billion people would need. Also follow the activities of the Google founders and Bill Gates. Notice that they don’t talk a lot about the search engine. They’re talking and thinking about the future of humanity.

The successful startups of the future will be solving humanity’s biggest problems. They will easily attract investors. Their businesses will be unique. Their competition (if there is) won’t be able to catch up.

Build a monopoly

We talked about how the competition won’t be able to catch up. That’s because there will almost be none. There are only a few people who dedicate their lives and resources in solving the big problems.

It will be a monopoly. That’s because you will have the best solutions. Nothing can beat you. If competitors start appearing, they won’t be able to catch up. The reason is you’re already far ahead they can’t see your dust anymore.

Microsoft is almost a monopoly because 75% of the computers are running on Windows. They’re enjoying healthy profits. They can then use those profits to dominate even more.

Well, you might be thinking that Windows is not that good. But Microsoft is actually the best in many areas such as business strategy. They’re good at dominating the market.

Google is also almost a monopoly. They’re the best search engine out there. No one can almost compete head to head with it. That’s why they also enjoy healthy profits. Now Google is actually using those profits to go beyond the search engine. They’re now pioneering innovations that will change the face of the Earth.

So for your startup, aim for a monopoly. Stand out and make your competition irrelevant. If you have a monopoly, that means you’re doing something that other businesses can’t do. It means you’re the best at something.

The result will be you would enjoy more profits. You can then invest some of those to solving other big problems. You can also use those profits to get further ahead.

The founder should always have a vision

So much depends on the founder. Without a vision, the whole company will just stay where it is. Or worse, the company will just die. But with a vision, the company might take new frontiers. The employees will be inspired. They’ll also win the confidence of the investors.

That’s why you need to have a vision if you’re a startup founder. Dream big. That’s what successful founders do. Some of them are even slightly delusional. They have an entirely different reality.

Most people listen to those successful founders and think they’re total weirdos. Their minds are always in the future. Most of what they talk about are not here yet. They sense the future opportunity and most people won’t understand it.

You should have a vision that inspires you and your employees. This way all of you will work harder than before. Whenever you spot an opportunity, you’ll always be ready to take the plunge.

It’s scary. But the vision actually sets apart the successful founders from the rest.

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