The author Peter Thiel is the co-founder of Paypal and Palantir, and a venture capitalist. This 200-page book stems from his 2012 lecture at Stanford on start-ups.

By 0-to-1, the author refers to the invention of a new technology. In contrast, he considers the globalization, or transferring a working technology from one place to another place, as the process of 1-to-n.

In this book, the author tries to elucidate some common misconceptions on topics such as

  • monopoly versus competition
  • near-term growth versus long-term profits
  • generalist versus specialist
  • nerds versus salesmen
  • computer versus human

He also has some interesting discussion on how one’s perception of future, whether it is definite/indefinite, optimistic/pessimistic, affects actions.

Later in the book the author reviews the internet bubble and the clean energy bubble. He gives his explanation of why most start-ups failed but certain start-ups succeeded in these bubbles. He also provides some practical advices on recruiting, management, sales, culture, etc for start-up companies.

In my opinion, the most important message of the book is to ‘think for yourself’, instead of following or opposing the crowd. When the thinking starts, three questions naturally arise

  • What to do?
  • What to expect?
  • How to make it happen?

The first question is strongly tied to the philosophical question ‘who am I’. The second one requires one’s vision about what is easy, hard and impossible. The answer to the third question clears itself when one finds convincing answers to the first two questions.