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Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future

4.17  ·  Rating Details ·  42,638 Ratings  ·  2,336 Reviews
If you want to build a better future, you must believe in secrets.

The great secret of our time is that there are still uncharted frontiers to explore and new inventions to create. In Zero to One , legendary entrepreneur and investor Peter Thiel shows how we can find singular ways to create those new things.

Thiel begins with the contrarian premise that we live in an age o
Hardcover, 195 pages
Published September 16th 2014 by Crown Business
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Santiago Ortiz No, this book, used as guide, is a trap. Read Start Small, Stay Small: A Developer's Guide to Launching a Startup, real stuff there, not…moreNo, this book, used as guide, is a trap. Read Start Small, Stay Small: A Developer's Guide to Launching a Startup, real stuff there, not entrepreneurial pseudo-philosophy.(less)

Community Reviews

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Jacek Ambroziak
Dec 21, 2014 Jacek Ambroziak rated it it was amazing
I thoroughly enjoyed the book even if I have found myself in violent disagreement with many of its thoughts. The book opens up with these words.

"Every moment in business happens only once.

The next Bill Gates will not build an operating system. The next Larry Page or Sergey Brin won’t make a search engine. And the next Mark Zuckerberg won’t create a social network. If you are copying these guys, you aren’t learning from them.

It’s easier to copy a model than to make something new: doing what we al
Aug 04, 2014 Nick rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sindy Li
Dec 18, 2014 Sindy Li rated it really liked it
Shelves: business, technology
I heard about this book when it came out and thought that there was no way I would read a book on startups. Not that I don't see great things coming out of some startups, but I am not the only one who has developed a fatigue of the many random startups founded by fellow Silicon Valley dwellers who are engineers, MBAs, or a little bit of both, and of the many other Valley dwellers who claim they want to do a startup without knowing what it will be about!

After my dad bought a copy in Taipei I deci
Yevgeniy Brikman
Nov 26, 2014 Yevgeniy Brikman rated it liked it
This book fluctuates between brilliance and madness. When it focuses on the mechanics of start ups, it's great. When it focuses on Thiel's philosophies, it's a bit whacky. Thiel enjoys being a contrarian too much. Doing something new and valuable may require being a contrarian, but just being contrarian doesn't mean your ideas are new and valuable. Worth reading if you're interested in startups, but be prepared to skim and shake your head.


* Great chapters on how to build a monopoly, approa
Arjun Balaji
Jul 21, 2014 Arjun Balaji rated it really liked it
[Note: this review was written for an advance copy, so there may be minor differences between references made here and in the first edition.]

Contrary to my own expectation, I quite enjoyed Peter Thiel's newest book. Though put off by some of Thiel's contrarian (and in some cases, delusionally bullish) opinions, after reading Blake Master's notes from Stanford's CS183, I was pretty excited for their latest collaboration. While the latter half of the book is chock full of startup advice, the first
Todd N
Sep 28, 2014 Todd N rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: People with important truths that very few people agree with you on
Even worse than the self-help section of the bookstore, you need to go into the entrepreneur part of the business section of the bookstore to find a copy of this book.

Unless you are one of those Twitter jerkoffs who is tweeting about your startup or -- worse -- your insights on the latest VC trends, you will probably want to wear a disguise when procuring a copy of this book. But it's totally worth it.

This book is a refinement, with new ideas added, of notes from a class (CS183: Startup) that Mr
K's Corner
Feb 23, 2015 K's Corner rated it liked it
3.5 stars. An interesting read with some interesting and thought-provoking insights for tech startups and some not so that just come across as opinionated commentary.
Aaron Wolfson
Prior to this book, which has received enormous buzz and effusive praise, for whatever reason I thought of Peter Thiel as a stuffy businessman rather than a brilliant thinker. I associated him more with his investing career than his experiences as a founder of Paypal and Palantir. In this book he wears both hats, and he also takes turns as a historian, futurist, and cultural psychologist and anthropologist. His ideas and prescriptions are as wide-ranging as they are concrete and actionable. From ...more
May 06, 2015 Anna rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Anna by: dan p
“ZERO TO ONE EVERY MOMENT IN BUSINESS happens only once. The next Bill Gates will not build an operating system. The next Larry Page or Sergey Brin won’t make a search engine. And the next Mark Zuckerberg won’t create a social network. If you are copying these guys, you aren’t learning from them.”
Peter ― Thiel, Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future

It is always a useful experience to read the thoughts of a successful entrepreneur and mentor. According to the book notes, this
Jason Weeks
Dec 03, 2014 Jason Weeks rated it liked it
Peter Thiel's book is definitely worthwhile reading.

He has some fantastic points about start-ups, working environments for new and small businesses and a strong level of conviction for his methodology and beliefs which is nice to read.

That being said, he's self indulgent in parts of this book - perhaps his choice as a self-made billionaire (I don't know) - and more importantly he spends a lot of time focusing on all the great achievements of his inner circle. There is in fact life beyond silicon
Sebastian Nickel
Oct 30, 2014 Sebastian Nickel rated it liked it
I think it's worth reading of you're interested in starting and funding businesses, especially since it's such a quick read. I found PT's thoughts on and defense of monopolies particularly interesting.
But I was disappointed by the strength of his argumentation. I expected this book to read like the work of a sharp, keen thinker, but his reasoning throughout the book is actually very sloppy and relies very heavily on cherry picked examples.
Jan 25, 2015 Yunling rated it did not like it
I'm sorry. I don't know why all the rave. This book is full of pontification and cliche. And sometimes shameless ones. Not to mention the every now and then judgmental categorical commentaries. I had to return the audio book half way thru. Total lack of nutrition.
Dec 29, 2014 Sarah rated it liked it
Thiel is worth hearing out based on his resume alone, and there's logic in his central premises about monopoly (which signals creativity, adds value to the world by providing cool new stuff to buy, and apparently, affords companies the luxury of not being evil) and competition (which signals no profits and a thankless life). His seven factors of startup success make sense in a necessary but not sufficient kind of way, and facetiousness aside, the book goes beyond just having a wildly successful ...more
James Fairbairn
Aug 10, 2015 James Fairbairn rated it it was ok
Starts well, becomes trite, ends delusional.
Aug 15, 2015 Keegan rated it really liked it
Shelves: business
This is an important book for anyone interested in starting or growing a successful business. Thiel shares a bounty of insights from his career as a founder and VC. Because it's Peter Thiel, you're going to get a healthy dose of anti-college editorializing, among other themes not entirely germane to the subject at hand.
That aside, it's worth reading.

Thiel has this great knack for conveying empirical findings on business, markets, etc. in a way that makes them appear retrospectively obvious. The
Ostap Andrusiv
Feb 02, 2016 Ostap Andrusiv rated it it was amazing
Дуже хороша книжка. Цікавий погляд на речі. Треба думати глобально і задавати собі правильні запитання.
Nov 22, 2015 Gordon rated it really liked it
Here's the single best idea I got out of this book: an interview question. Thiel would ask prospective hires, "What is one view you hold on an important matter, shared by few other people?" Responses ranged from the banal, to the flummoxed, to the truly insightful. Clever question.

This book is a collection of Silicon Valley business wisdom for the startup world, based on a course that he taught at Stanford in 2012. Its contents would probably startle few people, but is very well written and rich
Joe Donatelli
Nov 02, 2014 Joe Donatelli rated it liked it
Peter Thiel’s new business book “Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future” offers an unintentionally grim view of the future. This sounds like I didn’t enjoy it, but that’s not the case.

“Zero to One” is packed with insight. Thiel, who founded PayPal, shares truths that have an audience beyond the entrepreneurs for which the book is intended. It works as a guide to starting a company and to getting ahead in the workplace. Its lessons can be applied by individuals who will never
Undrakh Ganzorig
Jun 09, 2016 Undrakh Ganzorig rated it it was amazing
Zero to One offers far more than a simple how-to book to successfully survive as a startup. Actually no success stories of survivor companies are similar just as each individual has unique attributes potentially leading them to success; as Peter Thiel puts it, all happy companies are different. Reading Mr. Thiel's story of building PayPal won't make someone a next game changer, but his notes on startups and tech industry in general are good insights to a market generating great amount of wealth ...more
Федор Кривов
Компании, не занимающие монопольного положения на рынке, предпочитают другой сорт лжи, заявляя: «Мы стоим особняком от всех!» Предприниматели всегда склонны занижать уровень конкуренции — но для стартапа эта ошибка может стать фатальной. Ужасная ошибка — описывая свой рынок, стараться сузить его как можно сильнее, чтобы ваша компания казалась безусловно доминирующей на нем. Предположим, вы хотите открыть в Пало-Альто ресторан британской кухни. «Никто этого не предлагает, — радуетесь вы. — Мы зах ...more
Sep 17, 2014 Joel rated it it was amazing
On its surface, Zero to One is a brisk tour de force of contrarian business advice. The popular media have already picked up on many of the central ideas to be found, viz. the importance of vertical "intensive" growth rather than just horizontal "extensive" growth, innovative monopolies versus destructive competition, and definite over indefinite views of the future. Were this just another pop business book, these ideas alone would be enough to make it worth your time. But as you should be aware ...more
Shweta Nigam
Aug 03, 2015 Shweta Nigam rated it liked it
A thought-provoking book written by Peter Thiel who is one of the Paypal founders and CEO of Palantir. This is not a secret receipe for starting small business but talks about the approach to start "small" and dominate the micro market. If some one is currently running a business or hoping to build one, the book reads like a worksheet to help you develop your idea.

I would have enjoyed if the author would have given more details about the whole process of creating companies, more insights about o
Paulo Hora
Sep 24, 2015 Paulo Hora rated it it was amazing
«Tolstoy opens Anna Karenina by observing: “All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” Business is the opposite. All happy companies are different: each one earns a monopoly by solving a unique problem. All failed companies are the same: they failed to escape competition.»

Just brilliant. Peter Thiel is a legendary entrepreneur but also one great thinker. His principles and vision help everyone to start to see and think different.

«Whenever I interview someone fo
Jason Lim
Feb 20, 2016 Jason Lim rated it it was amazing
My second read through this book. Peter Thiel is a massive contrarian (and I'm against extreme contrarianism and extreme conformity), but his ideas are grounded and logical. Anyone working in technology or building new businesses would benefit from understanding the economic, philosophical, and technological ideas that Thiel brings up.

In his own words, "The most contrarian thing of all is not to oppose the crowd but to think for yourself"
Jose Papo
Sep 23, 2014 Jose Papo rated it it was amazing
This book is so good that it deserves two readings. Peter Thiel gives many of his insights about startups, what kind of businesses tech entrepreneurs must focus (think 10X better and cheaper) Venture Capital funds and how VCs think, how to hire and choose co-founders and many other crucial topics for startups. A must read.
Iftekhar Alam Himel
Some books are about facts. Some books are about wisdom. This is the perfect blend of both. You really get to experience the mind of a startup with the maturity of someone who has "been there, done that". Trust me, this is beyond the typical start up myths and clichés, a book worth reading!
Nov 23, 2014 Melissa rated it did not like it
This book had nothing insightful or unique to offer. I found myself nodding in common sense to many of the points. It reads like college notes (what it is based on) but I would've asked for my 3 credits back. Skip it!
Tomasz Muter
Nov 04, 2015 Tomasz Muter rated it it was amazing
I love books like this. Brilliant, deep, honest, credible. You will find much more truth and business rules than in any other book I know. 5 stars!
Punit Lohani
Feb 12, 2016 Punit Lohani rated it it was amazing
The best way to predict the future is to define it. If you want to build the future, then read this book. It is about how to leverage the uncertainties of future to build startups. The book provides a new perspective on risk taking. It stands out for its original ideas and thought provoking questions. Moving from 0 to 1 is different from moving from 1 to 2.

Not everything is right with Silicon Valley. In the past 30 years, it has mostly been one sided software focussed revolution. The truth is th
Josh Friedlander
Peter Thiel is the ne plus ultra of Silicon Valley's tech evangelists - brilliant, polymathic, future-positive and rationalist. He is also - judging from the tone of this book - every inch the abrasive and gauche savant recently caricatured on HBO.

Peter Gregory

There is a world of information in Zero to One on startup practice protocols: dealing with VCs, divvying up equity and options, and funding rounds; but also on the new frontiers of tech, sources of inspiration, the development of myth and how it relate
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Goodreads Librari...: Fix ISBN and combine 1 16 Feb 25, 2016 02:37PM  
Palantir: Zero To One 3 19 Oct 09, 2015 03:09PM  
Reading Along Wit...: Peter Thiel, “Zero to One: Note on Startups, or How to Build the Future.” 1 11 Oct 28, 2014 06:39PM  
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“ZERO TO ONE EVERY MOMENT IN BUSINESS happens only once. The next Bill Gates will not build an operating system. The next Larry Page or Sergey Brin won’t make a search engine. And the next Mark Zuckerberg won’t create a social network. If you are copying these guys, you aren’t learning from them.” 38 likes
“The best entrepreneurs know this: every great business is built around a secret that’s hidden from the outside. A great company is a conspiracy to change the world; when you share your secret, the recipient becomes a fellow conspirator.” 29 likes
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