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

4.17  ·  Rating details ·  56,597 Ratings  ·  2,941 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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Andrew Garvin
Aug 31, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Having worked with Peter - and the PayPal mafia more generally - for almost 10 years now, I have a unique perspective on Zero to One. Indeed, a lot of the ideas contained within are familiar to me. The launching point for the book is Peter's stock interview question - a question he asked me 8 years ago.

'What is something you think is true, but that most people disagree with you on?'

My answer at the time (2006) was: 'There is a bubble in housing.' Of course, that was cheating, since I knew this w
Jacek Ambroziak
Dec 20, 2014 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
Apr 19, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Yevgeniy Brikman
Aug 09, 2014 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
Sindy Li
Dec 18, 2014 rated it 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
Daniel Clausen
Jul 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: books-of-2017
It starts with a simple and elegant thesis: a new idea is a singularity that changes the world.

The best paths in business are new and untried. For this reason, there can be no definite road plan toward their creation. Every formula for innovation is new and unique.

Buried within a book on business and startups is a deep thesis about the relationship between technology, society, and our historical moment. From the beginning, I assumed this was a book written by an MBA or computer scientist, but
Todd N
Sep 28, 2014 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
Arjun Balaji
Jul 01, 2014 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
Brian Yahn
Sep 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
I kind of dismissed Peter Thiel as an idiot after his very public support of President Trump, but that was a mistake.

The premise of Zero to One is enlightening. We always think of business in terms of cut-throat competition. But Thiel makes a very convincing argument that most successful businesses avoid competition whenever possible. The natural extension of that is one should only found a business with a clear path to monopoly. For me, at least, it kind of turned everything I thought I knew ab
James Fairbairn
Aug 10, 2015 rated it it was ok
Starts well, becomes trite, ends delusional.
Jason Weeks
Dec 03, 2014 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
K's Corner
Feb 15, 2015 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
Jan 25, 2015 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.
Jan 11, 2015 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
الكتاب صعب و ممل لكنه مفيد و موجه للسوق الغربي حيث الابتكار و الاختراع لان دول العالم الاول تسير في خط تقدم راسي عكس الدول النامية التي تسير في خط افقي و تعتمد على التقليد فقط. التقدم الافقي هو تقليد الدول المتقدمة وهذا ما يسمى بالعولمة اما التقدم الراسي هو التقدم التكنولوجي وهو يعتمد على الشركات الناشئة لانها قادرة على الابتكار و الاختراع. الشركة الناجحة هي التي تستطيع احتكار السوق بمنتوج جديد و هذا يسمح لها بتحديد الاسعار التي تريد وجمع ارباح تمكنها من تطوير منتوجها باستمرار عكس الشركات التي ت ...more
Sebastian Nickel
Oct 05, 2014 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 13, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2017_read
Lately Thiel has been in the news and one would expect, based on a cursory examination of his backstory and current infamy, a work of diabolical genius or at the very least one with a bit of an edge. That said, the most surprising part of the book is its extreme banality.
Dec 19, 2016 rated it it was amazing
يعتبر مؤلف الكتاب "بيتر تيل" خريح القانون من جامعة ستانفورد الأمريكة من أشهر رياديي الأعمال والمستثمرين الذين استطاعوا أن يجتازوا انهيار شركات التقنية في أواخر عام 2001م أو ما يسمى بـ فقاعة الدوت-كوم أو شركات الانترنت. أسس بيتر مع آخرين شركة باي بال في عام 1998م قبل أن تنتقل ملكيتها في عام 2002م إلى شركة إي-باي في صفقة استحواذ بلغت قيمتها 1,5 مليار دولار. وفي عام 2004م بدأ بيتر أول اسثماراته في الشركات الناشئة من خلال شركة قوقل الناشئة في ذلك الوقت، وقد تولى فيها منصباً إدارياً تنفيذاياً. وفي نف ...more
Tigran Mamikonian
Отличная книга, которую уже прочитали и рекомендовали многие мои друзья-предприниматели. Да и успехи компаний Питер Тиля подтверждают, что он сам практикует свои взгляды весьма продуктивно. Данная книга была написана Тилем с одним из его студентов, который внимательно прослушал и законспектировал курс по предпринимательству Тиля в Стэнфорде.

Основные идеи Тиля:

- ИЗБЕГАЙТЕ КОНКУРЕНЦИЮ: лучше избегать конкуренцию и придумывать новую бизнес нишу, нежели повторять что-то за конкурентами с небольшими
Daniel (Attack of the Books!) Burton
One of the most fascinating books I have read in recent months is Peter Thiel's Zero to One. I am not a tech entrepreneur or even starting a new business. But I found Zero to One so thought provoking and interesting, that I bought it after reading a library copy.

I found myself frequently recommending the book (consider this your recommendation. Go read it. Now), and any book hat Good should be on my shelf for easy access, referral, and lending.

Short and succinct, Peter Thiel's tact seems to ta
Dec 08, 2014 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
Jul 21, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I try to avoid reading books that recently came out because time is the best quality filter for literature. But this book was very highly recommended and I had some free time, so I decided to try it. It blew my mind - ambitious and hopeful, while being skeptical and contrarian at the same time - I finished it in a day.

I recently finished Antifragile by Nassim Taleb, which I also recommend, and this book is a little similar in a sense of being contrarian and distrusting status quo-driven establi
Nov 23, 2014 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!
Ostap Andrusiv
Feb 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Дуже хороша книжка. Цікавий погляд на речі. Треба думати глобально і задавати собі правильні запитання.
Nov 21, 2015 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
Bing Gordon
Jun 06, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A must read that seems unfinished

Thiel's big ideas are spectacular. Brilliant insights about starting small and thinking big. Incisive insights about cleantech. Could have used more examples besides paypal. And doesn't get deeply enough into his biggest idea of all: what do you uniquely believe in?
Joe Donatelli
Nov 01, 2014 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
Apr 22, 2016 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
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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.” 54 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.” 41 likes
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