The first half of the book presents Thiel’s view on entrepreneurship and innovation. For example, contrary to popular belief, he condemns competition and praises monopoly.
Throughout this book, Thiel has been stressing the importance of thinking for yourself. Our society has transitioned from “definite optimism” to “indefinite optimism”. Many extremely smart people, who could have created these “0 to 1” changes, ended up getting sucked into lucrative industries such as investment banking, simply because these professions are considered “safe”. As how Thiel puts it in the book,
What could be a more appropriate reward for two decades of resume-building than a seemingly elite, process-oriented career that promises to “keep options open”.
This is actually coherent with his “Thiel Fellowship” program. He is not encouraging people to not go to college. Instead, he wants those who are capable to drop out of this “conventional path”, so that they could focus on making “0 to 1” changes to our society, to make it better.
The second half of the book discusses the methodology to create such “0 to 1” ventures. For example, he encourages early-stage entrepreneurs to focus on small niche markets, and “monopolizing” on small things.
I really enjoyed reading this book, especially learning about Thiel’s philosophy on entrepreneurship. How he contrasts “definite optimism” and “indefinite optimism” is also very eyeopening. Most importantly, this book made me realize that, as embarassing as it sounds, I haven’t been thinking for myself, which consequently motivated me to write this blog post.
I encourage everyone, especially university students studying CS, to give this book a read.