Impressions on "Zero to One"

A couple of thoughts after finishing this book

Last updated on 24 July 2022. Created on 6 September 2021.

Before reading this book I was skeptical. Why? Because of the reputation Palantir Technologies has. And also my impressions of the author of the book based solely on what I read about him and various companies and projects. Not a lot to go on, right? So I started reading it with an open mind.

  • The first interesting idea was the parallel between one-to-many aka globalization and zero-to-one aka innovation.
  • A surprising thought was related to competition. How bad is it for everybody involved. Did not expect this from the author.
  • The next idea that caught my attention is basically referred to as 'PayPal Mafia'. Behind it is the concept that the people that are part of your team matter a lot. And not only their intelligence or skills. It's important to connect with them. Outside of work as well would be ideal.
  • A useful part of the book was towards the end, with a list of around 10 questions that every business should be able to answer in order for it to have success.

How success is defined by the author is a different story. For example, if you create a small company that will sustain you for the rest of your life then I'm pretty sure that Peter Thiel will not consider your company a success. Or you for that matter. If you are not playing in the multi-million-dollars revenue league, you don't exist. You are either on a wrong path and will get eaten by others, or you don't think big enough. There's no other way.

In contrast with the idea of competition from the start of the book, I might add. And this is just one of the points that I disagreed with.

One of the stories presented in the book also revealed how Palantir Technologies basically came to life. If I had to guess it was just an opportunity that presented itself during PayPal times. He saw there's an interest, he thought his approach is unique (or very little put in practice) and so he went on creating it. My own takeaway from these origins' story is that you need a vision. You can't wonder around and see what sticks.

I'm still not sold on the company. Some numbers look great. The stock looks pretty ok (see PLTR). But there's more to that, isn't it? We should look at the impact of that company from multiple points of view: socially, economically, environment impact and so on. But I digress.

Overall, I enjoyed the shortness of the book. Not a lot of bloatware :) Would I read it again? Maybe I would skim some parts of it. Will I recommend it? Sure. Depends on where you are in your journey, though. Some ideas might resonate with you better. Or they might give you a new perspective on things.

If you enjoyed this article and think others should read it, please share it on Twitter or share on Linkedin.