If you want to create and capture lasting value, look to build a monopoly, says Peter Thiel. Other big statements were made in the recent live stream for his latest book Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock since 2004, you’ve probably heard of Peter Thiel. If you haven’t heard of him, then you’d definitely PayPal, Facebook, LinkedIn and Airbnb to name a few companies he’s started or have been an early investor in.
Thiel’s an interesting guy with lots of stories to share and who sometimes ends up tangentially talking about space travel and living to 120. Possibly the most controversial concept that Thiel explores is his belief that capitalism and competition are opposites, while they are traditionally expressed as synonyms.
“A capitalist is someone who accumulates capital, a world of perfect competition is a world where the capital gets competed away,” he said.
Here are a few more fine nuggets of information, courtesy of one of the most influential entrepreneurs of our times.
“All trends are overrated” he says, describing the many startups which only have a lifespan of a couple of years. Thiel invested in Facebook because it was different to most social media platforms and trends at the time. Most social media websites had nicknames or avatars or another identity code names, Facebook was different as it was linked directly to the genuine individual.
“Disruption is not a great word, you should set out to make a company successful. Napster was disruptive to the music industry and in many ways they achieved their goal, they were on the cover of Time magazine. A year later they were shut down by the American Government.”
“We all get addicted to competition.”
Thiel sees Google, for example, as a capitalistic company because it is extremely profitable but it has no real competition in search. Thiel believes when you compete, you end up focusing on the people or companies you are competing against and you lose sight of what else is valuable and important. That is what keeps you from being innovative.
With the rise of start-ups, tech companies and digital agencies it has never been a better time to update, advance and upgrade your business model and your offerings. Apple, a computer which makes most of its revenue from their phones is now investing heavily into watches.
Apple has also recruited many senior people in the car industry to compete with self-driving cars developed by Google. What else can you offer, what else can you add, and what product could you explore more in depth? What else can you add which will provide an edge to competitors.
I’ve always been interested in this guy’s lucky track record of funding the right companies at the right time. His $500,000 investment in Facebook netted a $1 billion return and was the inspiration behind the main character in the film Thank you for Smoking which he was also the producer. He was also the inspiration behind the HBO comedy series Silicon Valley character Peter Gregory, who was a quirky venture capitalist with bizarre body language and gestures.
Stephen Molloy is the author of How Apps are Changing the World and is involved with many start-ups.