Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future” as Want to Read:
Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

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

4.18  ·  Rating details ·  284,650 ratings  ·  7,644 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 of
Hardcover, 195 pages
Published September 16th 2014 by Crown Business
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Zero to One, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
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 entrepreneuri…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)
Johnny Translation: "Which is the best translation?"

Answer: It's subjective. Click 'All Editions' and go down the list to see which is the most popular one i…more
Translation: "Which is the best translation?"

Answer: It's subjective. Click 'All Editions' and go down the list to see which is the most popular one in your language.(less)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.18  · 
Rating details
 ·  284,650 ratings  ·  7,644 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future
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. Many 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 was a pet
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
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
Jan 03, 2016 rated it did not like it
I hate this book and I suspect that the feeling is mutual.

Zero to One is a bunch of thoughts about entrepreneurs and startups by Peter Thiel, co-founder of Pay Pal. The book doesn't have a central thesis or framework like many other business advice books. Rather, each chapter is more or less self contained set of thoughts about how someone starting a company should to go from "zero to one" (create something new where nothing like it existed before) instead of "one to two" (iterating on something
Apr 19, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
James Fairbairn
Aug 10, 2015 rated it it was ok
Starts well, becomes trite, ends delusional.
Tharindu Dissanayake
"a great founder can bring out the best work from everybody at his company."

Books on business development and entrepreneurship - the good ones - usually have one thing in common: they require slow, patient reading so that the reader will have sufficient amount for time to let the principles sunk in. But in Zero to One, things are different. One could read the entire thing very quickly in a few hours, while retaining most of the contents.

"Monopoly is the condition of every successful business."

Beginnings are special.

To shape the future, Zero To One is an exercise in questioning and revising established wisdom. And what we're all about is thinking about thinking.

This surprised me because I was expecting more startup advice. Even though I disagreed with many of the book's points, I thoroughly enjoyed it. More fundamental stuff, far deeper theories. Secrets, after all, are the biggest competitive advantage.

Grab your copy here.
Otis Chandler
Dec 22, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Otis by: Ted Janus
A fascinating book, great for investing and entrepreneurs. I like how he really focuses on contrarian thinking, and his mental models for it. But only giving it 4 stars because I wish he went deeper there, with more examples. But this quote is gold:

"The most contrarian thing of all is not to oppose the crowd but to think for yourself."

Jeff Bezos says this often - to really create something new and innovate, copying others doesn't typically work. What works is Customer Obsession - focusing obses
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
☘Misericordia☘ ⚡ϟ⚡⛈⚡☁ ❇️❤❣
All Rhodes Scholars had a great future in their past. (c)

So, 'stagnation or singularity'? Which one's it going to be?
A sneak peek into the world as the PayPal & Palantir guy sees it.

...the seven questions that every business must answer:
1. The Engineering QuestionCan you create breakthrough technology instead of incremental improvements?
2. The Timing QuestionIs now the right time to start your particular business?
3. The Monopoly QuestionAre you starting with a big share of a small market?
Peter (on hiatus)
In business, we don’t get the panacea methodology guaranteed to deliver a market-dominating business or monopoly, and the methodology for the next big thing, likely hasn’t been defined yet. We need to look at each business from multiple perspectives and I do believe Peter Thiel provides another unique perspective – not a replacement perspective but an additional one. The research shows that disruptive innovation typically comes from new start companies and they tend to dominate a new
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. ...more
Daniel Clausen
Jul 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing
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
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
Jan 13, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: read_2017
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.
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! ...more
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
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
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
Rahul H
Apr 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Great insight provided from one of the earliest and biggest tech entrepreneur not only for the start-ups but for life. This book gives one very small but the most fundamental rule if one need to do something completely different and new and amazing thing in his/her lifetime whether it is about starting a business or writing a book or making a signature dish etc. The rule is " Start something from Zero ie. from the very foundation of the work and not from the One ie. that has been created in the ...more
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
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.
Chip Huyen
Jul 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This definitely goes to my list of must-read books.
Cal Jahan
Feb 19, 2016 rated it did not like it
So, you'd think a multi-billionaire would have some great insights on start-ups or some fun tech bubble experiences to share. There were some glimmers, but nope, this is not that book. This book reeks of a nerd trying to portray himself off as a renaissance man. Being able to codify experience into theories can be a difficult mental feat, but for those theories to be of value to others or be useful in predicting future events is quite another. There are three reviews printed on the book from Mar ...more
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
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
Vivek Kumar Bagaria
Sep 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Thiel's ideas are idiosyncratic, controversial and eccentric even by silicon valley standards. He starts the books by contrasting 'globalization' (1 to n) -- replicating success allover the world -- from 'technology innovation' (0 to 1) -- developing earth shattering ideas. He argues that the current (over) emphasis globalization will lead to stagnation as most of the companies will operate on low margins, which will hinder large bets/risks. Therefore, he wants the world to shift its weight onto ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »

Readers also enjoyed

  • The Lean Startup: How Today's Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses
  • How to Win Friends and Influence People
  • The 4-Hour Workweek
  • Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future
  • The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change
  • The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers
  • Think and Grow Rich
  • Steve Jobs
  • Business Model Generation
  • Rich Dad, Poor Dad
  • The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life
  • The Power of Positive Thinking
  • Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action
  • The One Minute Manager
  • Rework
  • Thinking, Fast and Slow
  • Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones
  • Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap... and Others Don't
See similar books…
See top shelves…

Related Articles

August has arrived with plenty of interesting destinations for the discerning summer reader—from spooky offshore islands to an...
75 likes · 14 comments
“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.” 116 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.” 90 likes
More quotes…