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Zero to One

Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future

This book can be downloaded and read in Apple Books on your Mac or iOS device.



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.

Doing what someone else already knows how to do takes the world from 1 to n, adding more of something familiar. But when you do something new, you go from 0 to 1. The next Bill Gates will not build an operating system. The next Larry Page or Sergey Brin won’t make a search engine. 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.

From Publishers Weekly

Aug 11, 2014 – In his first book, PayPal cofounder Thiel presents a series of musings for example,"Doing what we already know how to do takes the world from 1 to n, adding more of something familiar. But every time we create something new, we go from 0 to 1" rather than a cohesive narrative. He begins with promise, drawing a strict distinction between horizontal progress making more of what already exists in the world and vertical progress creating something entirely new. To accomplish the latter, he proposes, more businesses need to think like startups. From there, the text sprawls wildly from one subject to the next, with periodic references to PayPal's evolution as the main recurring motif. His provocative central premise is that successful businesses should strive to be monopolies that readers should build something singular and exciting enough that it will be the only one of its kind. Though the book is presented as an instructional guide, it gives the reader little to take away. A brief meditation on the lessons of the dot-com bust ("make incremental advances," "stay lean and flexible," "improve on the competition," "focus on product, not sales") offers standard truisms rather than practical insights. Thiel touches on how to build a successful business, but the discussion is too abstract to offer much to the next Steve Jobs or Peter Thiel.

Customer Reviews

Great insight into successful business

I enjoyed the book thoroughly. It gave me a greater understanding about how successful businesses arise. They don't arise overnight. The thought process and strategy is beautifully described by the author.

Building the Future: A Manifesto

A main theme in the book is thinking for yourself and looking at the world from first principles. Only then will you be able to see undiscovered secrets (opportunities) in nature or in people to create a company that has no competition and can capture all the value of a market. Thiel goes into great depth and did a great job at explaining the correct mindset entrepreneurs must be in to create not only the next SpaceX, Facebook, and Google, but save the world as well. I cannot stress this enough, do not start or fund a business before reading this book.


Before reading this book, I had never heard of Peter Thiel. After reading this book, I know who is one of the leading thinkers in America. Peter confirmed for me what I already knew. Making a better widget is not the answer, but rather imaging something that no one else has imagined and make that.

Microsoft and Samsung are making fatal mistakes by comparing themselves to Apple. Their CEO's need to read this book.

Thanks Peter and Blake.

Zero to One
View in iTunes
  • $14.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Small Business & Entrepreneurship
  • Published: Sep 16, 2014
  • Publisher: The Crown Publishing Group
  • Seller: Penguin Random House LLC
  • Print Length: 224 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: This book can only be viewed on an iOS device with Apple Books on iOS 12 or later, iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

Customer Ratings