July 5, 2017 kjubit2017

Book review: Zero to one by Peter Thiel

Can you control your future?

Since the beginning of time people always wanted to know more about the – or their –  future. Will I have a well paid job, house, car, a wife/husband will I get sick or not? Such things always preoccupied people since always. Despite the fact that of course everybody wants to know what the future holds for them there are optimistic and pessimistic approaches.

There were people like Plato and Aristotle, who thought of the world in limits and the only question was how best to cope with our tragic fate. Other than that there were people like Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, who thought material or technological advances will fundamentally change the human life for better. Between all the talking about optimist and pessimistic approaches we can’t forget one thing, companies. They are the ones who sell or want to sell us stuff, which we might need or not.

You might ask yourself how does all this play together? Well easy answer, people either have a positive or negative approach towards their life as well as companies, but how did I come up with all this? Well I read the book by Peter Thiel “Zero to one – notes on startups or building the future”.

Peter Thiel’s book “Zero to one” is a collection of notes from one of his students at Standford University. During the year of 2012 and 2013 Peter thought a course at the renowned university about start ups. One of his ambitious students Blake Masters took detailed notes about this class and somehow made it way even outside the campus of Standford. As a result Peter and Blake wrote this book together. Besides being a bestselling author, Peter Thiel started Pay-Pal in 1998 and made it from a small online commerce company to one of the most important online services nowadays. Other than that he is also a partner at Founders Fund in Sillicon Valley and funded companies like SpaceX and AirBnb. With all that insight into the start up scene and technological (futuristic) developments he wrote his book ‘Zero to one” in cooperation with  Blake.

Our book review

Well there is only one way to describe the book – splendid! The way, how Peter describes the various lessons he learned in life with his start up company Pay-Pal is great. The challenges, obstacles, happy but also annoying moments he had while funding his company were really inspiring. Not only that he is focusing onto big technological companies like Google and Apple he also brings everyday cases that makes reading this book so much fun.

Especially the chapter 8 was one of my favourite ones. In this chapter he writes about “Secrets”. That most of the knowledge we have today had to be discovered or still is undiscovered. As an example he brought the theorem of Pythagoras. Once a hard and long discover for Pythagoras himself is nowadays a problem for each high school student. There were many more examples of secrets but also mysteries like the Big foot and so on. Might sound all really weird when you are reading this now, but trust me in the overall sense it lead to the other cornerstone of the book – the future. Which leads me to my other favourite part the conclusion, if we will have a stagnation or singularity in the next 20 to 30 years. Seeing the view of Peter Thiel on this topic was really interested and inspiring – but you should find out for ourself!

All in all, I only can recommend this book to every person either thinking about their own start up (just like Andi and me) or curious what the future brings. The book was definitely one of the many reasons we also founded Kjubit – but also seeing the different perspectives from Peter Thiel on certain angels was so interesting. This book somehow also developed to our own little “company bible” every time we need some guidance or help this book is right were we need it!

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