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 technological stagnation, even if we’re too distracted by shiny mobile devices to notice. Information technology has improved rapidly, but there is no reason why progress should be limited to computers or Silicon Valley. Progress can be achieved in any industry or area of business. It comes from the most important skill that every leader must master: learning to think for yourself.

The next Bill Gates will not build an operating system. The next Larry Page or Sergey Brin won’t make a search engine. Copying others takes the world from 1 to n, adding more of something familiar. But when you do something new, you go from 0 to 1. Tomorrow’s champions will not win by competing ruthlessly in today’s marketplace; they will escape competition altogether, because their businesses will be unique.

Zero to One presents at once an optimistic view of the future of progress in America and a new way of thinking about innovation: it starts by learning to ask the questions that lead you to find value in unexpected places.

A Note from Peter Thiel

In 2012 I taught a class at Stanford called Computer Science 183: Startup, in which I told my students what I know about the world and how to change it. Blake Masters, then a law student at Stanford, took detailed notes on the class and posted them online. People read and discussed them widely, on the Stanford campus, and even in the New York Times.

Blake’s notes captured the excitement in the room, but there’s no reason why the future should happen only at Stanford, or in college, or in Silicon Valley. To start a wider conversation, we have refined and expanded on the best ideas from the class to make a richer, fresher, more readable text. Zero to One is about learning from Silicon Valley why and how the most valuable businesses in the world are the ones that solve problems in new ways rather than competing on well-trodden paths. We hope you enjoy and profit from it.

-Peter

Class notes

Draft

Advance copy

Book

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