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Zero to-one

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Summary of Peter Thiel's book

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Zero to-one

  1. 1. Zero to One Notes on Startups, Or How to Build the Future. Summarized by Eric Driggs
  2. 2. Vertical Horizontal Order of magnitude incremental technology globalization innovation commodity monopoly Capitalism (competition)
  3. 3. Competitive lies Monopoly lies “we’re special” “It’s competitive” Going to corner the market not the monopoly government looking for Overestimate your market, proposition value, or marketing Mask your monopoly through diversification (e.g. google non-advertising businesses) Intersection of narrow markets Union of large markets British food ∩ restaurant ∩ Palo Alto search engine ∪ mobile phones ∪ wearable computers ∪ self-driving cars
  4. 4. Commiditization reduces profits over time
  5. 5. Monopoly peak profit occurs before commoditzation
  6. 6. • Definite > Indefinite (focus, effort) • Definite Pessimism: prepared for challenges • Definite Optimism: invest/commit resources for planned future
  7. 7. Philosophy Quadrant
  8. 8. Adage Quadrant Definite Indefinite Optimistic “We chose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because thy are easy, but because they are hard” “keep options open” Pessimistic “Winter is Coming” “Kick the can down the road”
  9. 9. Software has good risk/reward Biotech? Not so much.
  10. 10. Progress comes through investment (Definite)
  11. 11. Venture capital Startups have high risk, so only invest in startups with the potential for orders of magnitude of improvement (innovation/monopoly).
  12. 12. Secrets have tremendous value • what important truth do very few people agree with you on?
  13. 13. Goals Easy Hard Impossible Attractive if you believe hard problems are solver or unattainable (Fundamentalism) Secrets Is it really? (Wiles solving Fermat’s last theorem) Innovation “If you think something hard is impossible, you’ll never even start trying to achieve it. Belief in secrets is an effective truth.”
  14. 14. How to find secrets? Nature People Study physical world Study people What secrets is nature not telling you? What secrets are people not telling you. Where is no one else looking? Defy conventions Test assumptions
  15. 15. Effective alignment (accountability, vision and goals) Ownership Possession Control Shared between founders, employees Investors Managers / employees Board of directors Ineffective alignment: DMV (possession not accountable to ownernship or control) Ownership Possession Control We the people DMV employees Government representatives
  16. 16. When to sell Founders only sell when they have no more concrete visions for the company, in which case the acquirer probably overpaid; definite founders with robust plans don’t sell, which means the offer wasn’t high enough. When Yahoo! offered to buy Facebook for $1 billion in July 2006, I thought we should at least consider it. But Mark Zuckerberg walked into the board meeting and announced: “Okay, guys, this is just a formality, it shouldn’t take more than 10 minutes. We’re obviously not going to sell here.” Mark saw where he could take the company, and Yahoo! didn’t. A business with a gooddefinite plan will always be underrated in a world where people see the future as random.
  17. 17. Effective Marketing Lifetime value > Acquisition cost Consumer Small Business Big Business Traditional Advertising Dead zone Sales teams Cheap per customer Customer value < sales team cost Customers acquired < advert cost Expensive per customer Lots of sales Few big sales First to dominate = last mover (monopoly)
  18. 18. Will tech replace or empower humans?
  19. 19. Will tech replace humans? Computers are tools, not rivals Technology Humans No intention Intentionality No desire Desires Large data processing Complicated plans Deterministic Complex Judgements 16,000 CPU Recognizing cat 75% Small child Recognizing cats 99.9%
  20. 20. Complementary Fraud Prevention The fraudsters’ adaptive evasions fooled our automatic detection algorithms, but we found that they didn’t fool our human analysts as easily. So Max and his engineers rewrote the software to take a hybrid approach: the computer would flag the most suspicious transactions on a well-designed user interface, and human operators would make the final judgment as to their legitimacy. Thanks to this hybrid system—we named it “Igor,” after the Russian fraudster who bragged that we’d never be able to stop him—we turned our first quarterly profit in the first quarter of 2002 (as opposed to a quarterly loss of $29.3 million one year before). The FBI asked us if we’d let them use Igor to help detect financial crime. And Max was able to boast, grandiosely but truthfully, that he was “the Sherlock Holmes of the Internet Underground.”
  21. 21. Founders aren’t average. Faith in secrets changes your behavior.