In this book, Peter Thiel argues for “Radical innovation”, “Definite optimism”, “Anti-competitiveness”, and “Contrarian thinking”
The “lean startup” approach of incremental improvements has dominated the tech scene. Peter believes that this should not be the way forward. He believes that we should start with radical, visionary, and unique ideas instead of trying to improve a solution that already exists. This is in order to increase the chances of escaping competition and building a monopoly.
He thinks that technology has been stagnating because we no longer set grand plans and work diligently to achieve them. We got used to things getting better and expect them to keep doing so out of their own accord. But, in reality, there’s no reason to believe that. And if we don’t revert to planning grand goals, society is doomed. This analysis is applicable both on the government level, as well as on the corporate level. In his own words, “We wanted flying cars, instead, we got 140 characters?”
Peter thinks that “competition is for losers”. This is because competitors tend to compete the profits away so they end-up fighting for scraps, and risk bankruptcy. Unlike monopolies, which do not have to worry about money, can afford big bets and focus on grand plans instead of competitors. He thinks that “All happy companies are different: each one earns a monopoly by solving a unique problem. All failed companies are the same: they failed to escape competition.”
Peter is very skeptical of crowd-thinking. Especially in the tech field, he urges us to differentiate between what’s hype and what’s real, between appearance and substance. He warns against the “madness of the crowds.”. As Nietzsche says “In individuals, insanity is rare; but in groups, parties, nations, and epochs, it is the rule.”
I may write another article to express my own thoughts on this book as I don’t necessarily agree with everything it preaches. That being said, I find this book eerily energizing, and dare I say ‘Nietzschean’.
I’m Ahmed GHRIB, the founder and CEO of LoDeep, a platform that helps students find someone to study with, exchange help, and share resources.
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