Peter Thiel's Contrarian Strategy
Jay Liew stashed this in silicon valley
This is a way better article than the image you selected, Jay!
Breakout Labs shines a spotlight on a contrarian contention Thiel has been advancing in essays, talks, and debates since about 2008, which has come to be known as the “tech stagnation thesis.” Thiel contends that the amazing advances we have seen in computer science and communications have masked ominously disappointing progress in energy, transportation, biotech, disease prevention, and space travel. That slowdown, he maintains, accounts for the near stagnation in real incomes and wages we have experienced since 1973, and for widening inequality in wealth distribution.
“In the last 40 years in the technology world,” as Thiel puts it, “we’ve had enormous progress in the world of bits, but not as much in the world of atoms.” The notion is encapsulated in the tag line of Thiel’s venture capital firm, Founders Fund: “We wanted flying cars, instead we got 140 characters.”
To address this problem, his Breakout Labs supports only “hard tech” startups—ventures that aren’t focusing on websites, social media, or information technology—and those that are too speculative to attract angel investors or even government grants. He gives these companies a shot of capital with which to try to prove that their technology works in hopes that they will then be able to attract conventional VC funding—as Modern Meadow managed to do this past June.
Peter Thiel's new book sounds good.
Later this month Thiel’s fame will probably balloon further when he publishes Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future. The title refers to the distinction Thiel draws between transformative, “vertical” change—going from zero to one—and incremental, “horizontal” change—going from one to n. “If you take one typewriter and build 100, you have made horizontal progress,” he explains in the book’s first chapter. “If you have a typewriter and build a word processor, you have made vertical progress.” (Read excerpt here.)
“The book is nominally about entrepreneurship,” Zuckerberg observes in an interview withFortune, “but what I actually think it’s about is the philosophy of how you go about creating value in the world.”
Zero to One is based on what Silicon Valley digerati knowingly refer to as “CS183”—the catalogue designation for the undergraduate computer science course Thiel taught during Stanford’s spring 2012 trimester. Thiel’s lectures became an online sensation after Stanford law student Blake Masters, then 25, began posting—originally without permission—reconstructions of each one on his Tumblr blog.
After his fourth installment became the subject of a New York Times op-ed column by David Brooks, Masters recalls, he decided to check with Thiel to see if he minded. “Go ahead and keep posting,” Thiel emailed back. Masters’ blog has since received close to 2.4 million page views from 560,000 unique visitors.
“The course notes have had a huge impact,” venture capitalist Marc Andreessen tells me. “Every entrepreneur we meet has read those back to back.” Andreessen co-wrote the code for the first modern web browser and co-founded the VC firm Andreessen Horowitz.
When Thiel decided to write the current book—a pared-down, more elegant treatment of the same material, with some additions—he turned for help to Masters, who is now listed as the book’s co-author.
Was he lucky or was he good?
“Peter was never a nuts-and-bolts operations guy,” writes Sacks in an email. “But he had a knack for identifying all the big strategic issues and getting them right.” In March 2000, he recalls, PayPal was raising a $100 million financing. Puffed up with the bravado of the dotcom bubble, most people wanted to hold out for better terms. “Peter kicked everyone’s butt to get the round closed,” Sacks continues. “A couple of days later the market crashed. Had we waited another week, the company would have died.”
What's wrong with the pic I picked? LOL. It's still Peter Thiel, but a rarely seen one--thus unique!