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Publisher's Summary

Every moment in business happens only once.

The next Bill Gates will not build an operating system. The next Larry Page or Sergey Brin won’t make a search engine. And the next Mark Zuckerberg won't create a social network. If you are copying these guys, you aren't learning from them.

It's easier to copy a model than to make something new: doing what we already know how to do takes the world from 1 to n, adding more of something familiar. But every time we create something new, we go from 0 to 1. The act of creation is singular, as is the moment of creation, and the result is something fresh and strange.

Progress comes from monopoly, not competition.

If you do what has never been done and you can do it better than anybody else, you have a monopoly - and every business is successful exactly insofar as it is a monopoly. But the more you compete, the more you become similar to everyone else. From the tournament of formal schooling to the corporate obsession with outdoing rivals, competition destroys profits for individuals, companies, and society as a whole.

Zero to One is about how to build companies that create new things. It draws on everything Peter Thiel has learned directly as a co-founder of PayPal and Palantir and then an investor in hundreds of startups, including Facebook and SpaceX. The single most powerful pattern Thiel has noticed is that successful people find value in unexpected places, and they do this by thinking about business from first principles instead of formulas. Ask not, what would Mark do? Ask: What valuable company is nobody building?

©2014 Peter Thiel (P)2014 Random House Audio

What the critics say

"This book delivers completely new and refreshing ideas on how to create value in the world." (Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook)

What listeners say about Zero to One

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Excellent book for Entrepreneurs

Loved this book.
Tells you to create something new instead of competing
In a race to the bottom.
Similar to blue ocean strategy, but really gets into details on the problems that need solving and pitfalls to avoid.
Starting my third listen shortly.

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So poor in every way

Disappointed
The content was weak, insights were old and rehashed. No evidence but supported by anecdotes. Better suited to People magazine.
The narrator is so flat and has no understanding of what he’s reading. It detracts further as he doesn’t get phrasing or terminology and what should be emphasized.

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Redefines your view of the world

I was captivated by this lecture.
it changed the way I see buisness, not like all the others self help books, more of a lesson on buisness mentality and inside view from large companies, I recomend it.

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monotonous narrator but insightful content

monotonous narrator but insightful content. The narrator is reading out loud instead of telling a story. The writing is smart, thoughtful and concise

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Amazing! I will probably listen 5x more

An amazing book. Even better listening directly from them. If your in any sort of business I highly recommend you listen to this!

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Well written and full of examples

Good examples all throughout the book. The narration could have been more lively and with expression.

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Ok book

When I make my first million, I will then go back and reread this book. The stories are ok. The lessons I already know. This book is for the one-percenters. A brilliant man, and I wish him all the best in life.

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Wow

I really like the book great idea shared. Broke down the idea of the heart and soul of a company and what makes good entrepreneurs

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Amazing book

I have read and listened to this book multiple times. Love it so very much.

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Some glaring mistakes amongst… advice ?

Mr. Thiel may be a big name in entrepreneurship, but he clearly failed Economics 101. He just gets all the economics wrong, from confusing perfect competition in a price determination model with a desirable state of competition, to misrepresenting firm theory as macro-economic concepts, to getting comparative advantage plain wrong, economics is clearly not his strong suit. The remainder contains a lot of anecdotes and pointers, which is kind of informative and makes a few decent enough points, but most of those are subjective opinions or based on a population of one. I found very little actual, practical advice in this book… some, but not much. The narration is ok, but one or two words I thought were common are clearly new to the narrator… and what’s with this new fad for pronouncing “niche” as “nitch” ? There are good bits in this book, but that’s just enough to avoid getting one star.

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  • Mark Brandon
  • 2014-10-31

Seems Insightful Until You Think A Little Deeper

What made the experience of listening to Zero to One the most enjoyable?

I am a fan of Peter Thiel, and have read the notes from the Stanford course upon which this book is based. The course notes are better because they expound better on the broad concepts. In the end, the audiobook is certainly worth the price of purchase, but I fail to give it 5 stars because I know from these notes that Thiel can do better.

To summarize two broad concepts, businesses should pursue monopoly because that is where the lion's share of profit is made. Think about Google's monopoly in search (see my comment below about this), or Microsoft's former monopoly in operating systems. Thiel artfully demonstrates how profits flow in a Power Law to these types of firms. Good enough. I agree wholeheartedly with this concept, and Thiel does a better job of explaining it than a dry Econ 101 textbook, but at its heart, it's not new thinking.

The second broad concept is that a series of Power Laws dictate a range of commercialization activities, from the aforementioned profit flow to fundraising success to income to hollywood hits to you name it. This bears repeating because so many entrepreneurs make the mistake of thinking that markets they are entering are more linear.

Both of the concepts are intertwined, and this is where Thiel could do better (he does do better in the course notes).

First of all, monopolies don't become such until one is made, and until that point, it is utterly non-obvious to the vast majority of others. Google's search monopoly, which isn't really a search monopoly but an advertising monopoly, was so unapparent that at the time of Google's founding, most of the smart money had decided that portals were the wave of the future. Only Google decided that building a better search engine was the way to go, and even they did not conceive of their advertising monopoly until many years later. Today, it appears obvious, but it discounts the incredible risks, the incredible execution, and yes, an incredible dose of luck to make it happen.

Second, the book glosses over (again, the course notes don't) another startling fact, which is that there are more powers laws at work to execute the creation of a monopoly. Some of these are:

1) Raising money. I know from experience that raising money requires years of nurturing contacts, and just appearing on an investors' doorstep to say, "I have a vision for a monopoly I want to create" will get you thrown out more often than not. Only a small number of people who are starting out have the ability to cross the chasm between getting funded and not. I would contend that having money to build out your monopoly is one of the prime factors to creating a monopoly. It's a chicken and egg problem.

2) Talent. The best talent wants to work with the best team, but how do you become the best team without having the money (see #1) or the yet-unborn monopoly? Thiel mostly discounts the role of luck, and I found that disingenous. Just take Thiel's own experience. How lucky was it that the two most formidable competitors in payments in 1999, headed by transformational leaders (Thiel and Elon Musk) were located within a few blocks of each other, making them capable of merging and becoming Paypal? How many payments companies might have rivaled Paypal if they were located next door to Elon Musk (not to mention Reid Hoffman and the rest of the mafia)?

3) Geography. Expanding on the concept of #2, there is a Power Law at work for people who are able to get into and afford Stanford Law? Without this, would Thiel be where he is today? Not to mention the founders of Yahoo, Google, Cisco, et al?

4) Buzz. Another chicken and egg problem is that of building buzz. Journalists only want to cover hot companies, but how do you become hot without building buzz? Only a small number of companies are able to cross this chasm.

In the course notes (but not the book), Thiel talks about 11 facets of building a company. You can miss on two or three of them. Otherwise, you are toast. It's threading about 8 needles at a time. These are the concepts that should have been expanded upon. To be fair, this would probably require a multi-volume set.

Thiel discounts the Gladwellian notion that any outlier success can be traced to some fortuitous events. Though I agree that these events are only obvious in hindsight, I'm not convinced.

To me, instruction about crossing these multiple chasms would be more helpful to those of us outside of the valley bubble. Not even "Crossing the Chasm" does a good job of that.







What about Blake Masters’s performance did you like?

He did an admirable job for not being a trained voice actor

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

My review tells the story. I was unsatisfied.

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  • David Mattson Fisher
  • 2020-03-10

Rambling, disappointing

There is no question Peter Thiel has unique experiences to share when it comes to building startups. Unfortunately, this isn't that book. The order, organization, and even some of the topics are illogical. He mixes really good advice, like 'better to be the only player in a small market than a small player in a very large market', with strange side advice. You just roll your eyes when he explains that they rejected all tech proposals but people in suits because 'real engineers wear t-shirts, even when seeking millions in funding.

You can also tell he views himself as more philosopher than businessman, which is why he goes on pointless segues about 'the singularity.' Several chapters seem to have no suggestions or takeaways, like his chapter on whether the best CEOs are all eccentric.

This book has a few amazing points, so you will probably have to read it eventually, but start with a book that started as a book rather than a cobbled together lecture series.

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  • COLLIN K CUSCE
  • 2018-04-13

Great stuff, but monopoly analysis isn't correct.

I really like the overall theme of the book, however I believe Peter is incorrect in his analysis of the virtue of Monopoly. is analysis is only correct if you view capitalization as a measure of ethical value. I think times have shown through the monopolies of Google, Facebook, and Amazon, that choice is the better solution to providing a meaningful existence to humanity. by removing competition you remove. By removing choice you remove options. By removing options you remove the will of the consumer. Peter's take is very compelling but ultimately wrong. I believe that competition is Nature's regulation. For those who cry when regulation is put in place to also say that they want more monopolies seems contradictory to me. Without regulation or competition where are the balancing forces placing pressure on organizations to behave ethically and for the betterment of man. This aside the rest of the entire book is fantastic and I would highly recommend it to anyone interested in even just understanding what it's like to be in a start-up or a founder of one.

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  • James
  • 2014-09-23

In my top 3 favorite Startup books

Where does Zero to One rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

Of roughly 100 business, startup, marketing, tech books I'm listened to, this is a top 5 for sure. Between inspiration and wisdom, philosophy and experience, examples and challenges, this book is great for the first time or the many timed entrepreneur. Peter is a clear authority in the space, and this book is a summary of much of what he's learned.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Zero to One?

Explaining some of the beginnings of Paypal, and opportunities he sees available to future businesses.

Have you listened to any of Blake Masters’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

I don't recall listening to Blake Masters before, however I would gladly listen to books narrated by him in the future. Calm voice, perfect for the wisdom based material in the book.

What did you learn from Zero to One that you would use in your daily life?

It has helped alter the way I will hire in the future. It's validated some theories and challenged other theories. It has me already looking for Zero-One type concepts vs horizontal product improvements in the fields I work in.

Any additional comments?

Just a thank you to Peter Thiel for writing this. Peter doesn't need the income from book sales, nor is he trying to force his way into becoming an authoritative figure in startups because he's already there. This is a gift. This is basically like getting a evening of the best cocktail conversation advice and stories from one of the hall of fame start up allstars.

33 people found this helpful

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  • J
  • 2014-09-24

Awesome Content. Hard to listen to.

What did you love best about Zero to One?

The content is awesome! The lessons broken down into subjects and themes like a college course really makes this book easy to follow and easy to get the overall message.

How could the performance have been better?

The narration was dull and soft spoken. Blake Masters is a super smart dude, just not the greatest audiobook narrator.

Any additional comments?

I highly suggest finding Blake Masters notes on Peter Thiel's class and reading those along with this book.

45 people found this helpful

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  • Daniel
  • 2021-06-04

Defending monopolies is the summary

Defending monopolies isn't a good business model. Please note: By submitting this review you confirm you have read and agree to our Review Guidelines. The processing of reviews may take several days, so we appreciate your patience. Audible posts reviews at its discretion. If the submitted review does not meet our guidelines, you will be notified via email.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Quan Pham
  • 2018-03-06

Boring voice over

The voice of the reader is too boring. He has a very low and neutral voice that makes me so sleepy all the time.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Evan Holladay
  • 2015-06-26

Must read for big thinkers

Great breakdown of lots of big questions for startups, founders and thinkers. Couldn't stop listening

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  • Jessie
  • 2014-11-11

Gives you ideas on how to make a start-up

What made the experience of listening to Zero to One the most enjoyable?

I enjoyed listening to this book because of all the insight it had on what are start-ups and how can you keep them going. Very interesting.

What did you like best about this story?

What I loved best about this story was how it described a lot of the main companies, for example google, and provided details how they interact in today society.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

What moved me the most from this book was that the person who made this book was a co-founder of Paypal which gave this book a lot more credibility.

8 people found this helpful

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  • Oh hai
  • 2014-09-17

The importance of contrarian thinking

This book is itself contrarian in comparison to all other startup books out there. It does an amazing job of forcing you to destroy the foundations upon which you've built so many of your assumptions in the startup world, thereby revealing the truth of how to build something valuable in a world of copy & paste entrepreneurship.

All the real, non-bullshit, subconscious lessons that many successful entrepreneurs have either intuitively known or learned the hard way are concisely stated in this book.

I think I'll likely listen to it a few more times in order to untrain all the other thinking that's been ingrained in my head.

40 people found this helpful

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  • Louis
  • 2020-01-26

a good surprise, and a great book

What did I expected from young billionaires, founder of PayPal and several other flourishing business ?

Clearly some BS trying to explain why he did it right with self-centered pieces of evidence that couldn't be proved or disproved.

what did I got ?

A convincing piece essay on philosophical politic.

Yep. This book is less about start-ups than about the current society and how to improve it. There is still a recipe for exponential grow of start-up but it felt that it was here to not disappoint the reader and I believe the main point of this book is much bigger and much more important than "how to succeed in late capitalism".

I believe that this book is required to understand the complexity of our society and why the collapse seems inevitable and people that have the power to prevent it won't do anything about it.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 2020-01-04

To read with very critic eyes.

A good book, but you shouldn't believe word for word what is said inside. One typical example is the impact of monopoly on market. It is been proven that it is bad (read the wealth of nation for an explanation on how consumers / citizen are the loosers).

But very interesting if you are founding a company :)

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  • selyannes
  • 2019-07-09

Super interessant! A lire!

Un très bon livre. Je ne m'attendais a pas quelque chose de très original, et j ai été surprise! J'avais un apriori très négatif sur l'auteur, et entendre un point de vue originale et construit m'a fait révisé mes opinion

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  • Anonymous User
  • 2020-12-24

Très instructif pour qui veut entreprendre!

Très instructif pour qui veut entreprendre.
Ce livre apprend à penser différemment et aide à comprendre comment créer une start up se démarquant d'un environnement concurrentiel pour générer une croissance virale, exponentielle et durable !

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  • SL
  • 2019-03-02

Insightful book

Clearly structured and full of useful insights about start-ups. Thiel has strong contrarian ideas and opinions backed by philosophy. Sharp advice from someone who really knows what he’s talking about, as a former Paypal co-founder/CEO, Palantir co-founder and Founders Fund VC.

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  • Imad
  • 2018-05-16

Excellent!

Excellent book for would be entrepreneurs or anyone who wonders how to harness innovation and channel it into a viable business.

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  • Hexsail
  • 2018-04-18

Interesting audiobook!

Very interesting point of view and lots of examples coming from an inside view of real companies.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 2017-08-26

A good cultural testimony (the startup spirit)

but not an acedemic worthy enough viewpoint : question it and it becomes actually good