Thoughts on Zero to One

Noah Adelstein
Apr 11 · 2 min read

I recently re-listened to Zero to One by Peter Thiel and am very glad I did.

It’s a pretty short book and one I’d recommend everyone, regardless of interests, takes a look at because of the frameworks he gives towards thinking about companies, how we spend our lives, and the future.

Some things he said that stuck out

  • A start up is like the smallest group of ppl you need to change the future
  • Monopolistic companies (like Google) will pretend like they are in different/larger markets than they actually are to seem as if they aren’t monopolies
  • In perfect competition, it’s hard to think about the future since so much thought has to be put towards maintaining day-to-day and innovation stagnates
  • Competition is bad so either avoid it if you can or strike hard and try to knock competition out fiercely (and legally). Also, remove pride and ego from the picture
  • A solution typically needs to be 10X better than anything previous in order for it to truly change the game
  • When starting a company, it’s best to capture a monopoly on a very small market (like Amazon did with people who bought books online — only focusing on books)
  • It’s important to be a definite optimist towards the future — with the thought that the future will be positive, but we have to act in order to make it that way. We can’t take for granted that the future will be better so have to find singular ways to make it better
  • A great company is a conspiracy to change the world
  • Have to think about what the future looks like when building a company — he gave the example of all of these solar companies failing after China started heavily subsidizing solar and the companies blamed China, but they could have expected something like that to happen

Specifics on starting a business

In the book, he also mentions 7 important aspects each company needs to be thinking about and focusing on as well as numerous examples and stories from his own experiences (PayPal founder, merged with Elon Musk’s, started Palantir, etc) about what it takes to build a game-changing, successful business.


Overall, it was a pragmatic, inspiring book about building a better future and what it realistically takes as well as how the ones doing it think about the world.

Classic book.

Thoughts on this review/the book in general? Comment or send me a note :)

Full reading list here

Noah Adelstein

Written by

Denver Native | WUSTL ’18 Econ | SF

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