Peter Thiel is the co-founder of PayPal and the first outside investor in Facebook. In the Spring of 2012, he gave a lecture course at Stanford for software engineers, calling on them to think boldly and broadly about how they might use their skills to shape the future, and imparting the lessons he has gleaned from his own experience. One of the students in that class – Blake Masters – took notes and posted them online. The blog posts became a huge success, with hundreds of thousands of hits, and became the basis for Zero to One.
We live in an age of technological stagnation, even if we’re too distracted by our new mobile devices to notice. Progress has stalled in every industry except computers, and globalization is hardly the revolution people think it is. It’s true that the world can get marginally richer by building new copies of old inventions, making horizontal progress from ‘1 to n’. But true innovators have nothing to copy. The most valuable companies of the future will make vertical progress from ‘0 to 1’, creating entirely new industries and products that have never existed before. Zero to One is about how to build these companies.