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Peter Thiel's Startup 1st Class Essay Notes by @bgmasters

Peter Thiel’s Startup 1st Class Essay Notes by @bgmasters
11:58 PM Apr 08 2012

Stashed in: Young Americans, Libertarian, Learn!, Peter Thiel, Education!, Copying, Singularity!, Pants on fire!, Narcissists!

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I found this to be a fascinating read, but mainly because of how stupid it was.

Apparently of of Thiel's main themes is this dichotomy between "0 to 1" progress and "1 to n" progress. The latter is applying already-successful methods and technologies to solve new problems, or maybe the same problem in a new context. The former is REVOLUTIONARY change that is "new" (or something). I'm not really sure what constitutes a "new" technology, but Thiel seems to believe that Silicon Valley shits it out on the daily.

Despite Blake's disclaimer at the beginning of the article that "[e]rrors, omissions, and/or poor phrasing are [his] own" and that "[c]redit for good substance and wording is Peter’s entirely," I'm still tempted to take issue with an apparent contradiction in VI. Where to Start?.

The notes read as follows:

The path from 0 to 1 might start with asking and answering three questions. First, what is valuable? Second, what can I do? And third, what is nobody else doing?

The questions themselves are straightforward. Question one illustrates the difference between business and academia; in academia, the number one sin is plagiarism, not triviality. So much of the innovation is esoteric and not at all useful. No one cares about a firm’s eccentric, non-valuable output. The second question ensures that you can actually execute on a problem; if not, talk is just that. Finally, and often overlooked, is the importance of being novel. Forget that and we’re just copying.

First he seems to say that, because plagiarism is such a no-no in academia, they are reluctant to copy, and as a consequence produce work that is "esoteric and not at all useful." On the other hand, towards the end he seems to be saying that it's important to be novel, otherwise "we’re just copying."

Mucked up in all of this is a very general confusion about what constitutes copying/"globalization"/"1 to n" and what exactly constitutes "innovation"/"0 to 1".

Perhaps Thiels theory is brilliant and the student is just representing it poorly, but to me it just seems like yet another theory of social science trying to make a preconceived notion fit the data.

Mostly I'm just wondering why it is that Thiel is (seemingly) trying to teach how to "innovate" despite his stated opinion that innovation cannot be taught/copied/reliably-reproduced.

Am I missing something?

He does seem to have too high a tolerance for plagiarism.

But the real problem is that HE is educated but he's trying to tell other people NOT to waste their time on education.

That may not actually ne what Thiel is trying to say, but that's what the student is learning.

And that's a damn shame.

Perhaps some of these "entrepreneurs" will go on and make a lot of money, but where will it leave the rest of them?

Broke, tossed aside, and without prospects to get better because they wasted their formative years.

See also: Do entrepreneurs need to go to college?

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