Book review of Zero to One by Peter Thiel and Blake Masters

Taking advantage that today  (and tomorrow) is bank holiday in Spain, I carry out one of my passions, writing.

How did I discover this book?

I was working on the rentals department of a real estate company. That afternoon I  picked an american client up in Valencia city center and drive her to La Eliana, where a cosy semi-detached house was located. Since the house belonged to a hunting lover, it was decorated with hunting trophies, that’s means, heads of deer and other animals on the walls, for whose the prospect seemed to feel pity and sympathy. The result: she did not rent that house. During the trip I took advantage to know more about her preferences and hobbies.  Business books were one of them and she recommended me this book. Like I have discovered more about her preferences, the following week, I offered to her another house (without hunting trophies on the walls), which, fortunately this time, was rented by her.

The authors

Peter Thiel was born in Germany and he is a succesful investor and entrepreneur. He was a cofounder of Pay Pal. On 2004 he was the first outsider investor in Facebook.  He has been an early funding of companies like LinkedIn, Yelp, SpaceX or Airbnb. 

Blake Masters was a student at Stanford Law School in 2012 when his detailed notes on Peter’s class «Computer Science 183: Startup» became an internet sensation. He is President of The Thiel Foundation and Chief Operating Officer of Thiel Capital. 

The book

It hasn’t been an easy reading book for me (honestly I stopped its reading a couple of times). On one hand I read it in English, which it is not my native tongue (I’m sorry if you find in my review any grammatical mistake, feel free to write me to change it, feedback is always wellcome) and on the other hand, the authors deny many of the things that I have learned at the university and even in the business schools, promoting, for example, the monopoly, (not only to have a competitive advantage) to success in business.

Its main teachings for the future entrepreneurs,  businessmen or investors can be summarized by the following questions:

The engineering question: Can you create breakthrough technology instead of incremental improvements?

The timing question: Is now the right time to start your particular business?

The monopoly question: Are you starting with a big share of a small market?

The people question: Do you have the right team?

The distribution question:  Do you have a way to not just create but deliver your product?

The durability question: Will your market position be defensible 10 and 20 yeras into the  future?

The secrte question: Have you identified a unique opportunity that others don’t see?

Zero to one reminds me the Black Book of the Entrepreneur written by the Spanish economist Fernando Trias de Bes, which I used when I teached the course How to Make a Businnes Plan in the valencian coworking space Wayco. It tells you truths that you don’t always want to hear about it. This is a disruptive, brave and different book and this is why I recommend it.

Zero to one. Notes on startups or how to build the future.

Written by Peter Thiel and Blake Masters.

Penguin Random House books

London 2014

A book review of David Torija

Acerca de David Torija

Economist and MBA. Business Development Manager, Advisor and Business Strategist. Passionate about Management, Finance, Marketing, Sales, Social Media, Writing and Public Speaking. Cross Cultural and Global Minded. Hard Worker. Entrepreneur. Optimistic, Enthusiastic: Always look on the bright side of life.
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