How to Build the Future | Peter Thiel


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"If you listen to only one podcast this year, this has to be the one."

That's what James wrote after interviewing Peter Thiel in 2014 and, to begin 2023, we've remastered this classic episode for a new audience to experience. To one degree, this time-capsule episode immediately dates itself: Discussion about whether Uber can grow outside of San Francisco; Facebook was the most important social media company; talk of "new banking systems" doesn't revolve around cryptocurrencies and DFi. Make it past the surface, however, and this episode provides 75 minutes of thoughtful and robust discourse around the principles which have made billions and created billionaires.

Among the many lessons in today's episode:

  • Capitalism and competition are antonyms. A capitalist to someone who's in the business of accumulating capital.
  • Great companies do something unique, and because of this unique thing they have monopoly-like pricing power and can create value for all consumers.
  • A company should start when they have a technology that is 10 times better than its closest competitor.
  • "I've never seen anyone succeed with a pitch like "1% of China will buy our refrigerator" because there will be 99 other Chinese companies for the other 99% of China, and they will drive the marginal profits to zero."
  • It's critical to find people with whom you're fundamentally aligned and on the same page when you're starting a business. It's better to have a long pre-history with your co-founder so you understand each other's strengths and weaknesses and can speak to one another honestly.
  • You get maximal cooperation when people's roles are defined in very differentiated ways. As a founder or manager in an early-stage startup, you need to continuously readjust the org chart, continuously redefine people's roles, and make sure that the highs and lows are differentiated so that the lows don't blow up like they might in a primitive, archaic tribe.

(**Check out this incredible write-up outlining the episode from one of our listeners!**)

Click here to find Peter's 2014 book, Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future


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