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Summary and Critique of

Peter Thiel and Blake Masters’s

Zero to One

Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future

by I.K. Mullins

Copyright©2014 I.K. Mullins. All Rights Reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or retransmitted in any form or by any means without the written permission of the author.

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The first part of this book includes a chapter-by-chapter unofficial summary of Peter Thiel and Blake Masters’s Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future. It is followed by a critical analysis of the book.

Peter Thiel is an entrepreneur and venture capitalist who co-founded such companies as Palantir and PayPal. He arrived in Silicon Valley in 1985. In 1998, Thiel co-founded PayPal with a group of his friends. At that time, PayPal was called “Confinity.” In 2000, he merged this business with Elon Musk, a well-known polymath of Silicon Valley and a founder of

Peter Thiel and Blake Masters’s book, Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future, is based on the course Thiel taught at Stanford University in 2012. It provides entrepreneurs with ideas on creating a successful startup company.

In his book, Thiel argues that the first objective of a founder of a successful business has to be the invention of a new product, one which has not existed before. Thiel further identifies it with a secret, which, in his opinion, is the key to building a valuable company. He advises that the company’s secret has to be something unfamiliar, yet important and feasible. The company has to look where no one else is looking in order to identify a secret that has the potential for become a crucially important asset of the company.

Thiel argues that startup companies should make every effort to become a monopoly in the market, and they should avoid getting into competition with the companies that produce similar kinds of products. According to Thiel, the right human capital, including co-founders capable of working well together and employees who have confidence in the company’s mission, is an important strategic asset of every successful startup. Sales, marketing and distribution of a product are also crucially important to a company’s success.

In his book, Thiel shares his philosophy on business development and management, and he shares his observations and ideas on education and life. 


Go to Part I A Summary

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