Peter Thiel book tour

Peter Thiel book tour

Good morning, All,

First, a big thank you to Jeanne Sullivan, who was the Investor at last week’s SOS Breakfast with an Investor. Amazing advice, as always, and she held court and stayed an extra two hours in order to speak to everyone who wanted her ear and pearls of wisdom. Our thanks to all of you who attended as well and hope to see you next month. Details for our next breakfast coming next week.

Every now and then, an article or two come to our attention and it’s stop the presses time. Peter Thiel is on a book tour (“Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future) and has a lot to say about this industry. Technology Stalled in 1970. Peter Thiel says he’s trying to get entrepreneurs to go after bigger problems than the ones Silicon Valley is chasing. He makes excellent points and also makes you wonder – with the exception of the Elon Musks of the world – if Silicon Valley has truly produced Masters of the Universe. Self-driving cars and Droids aside, Google sells soap. And your information, with greater accuracy than Nielsen. The cars and smart phones aren’t their bread and butter. They’re merely other vehicles for gathering information, no pun intended. Yes, having information at your fingertips on demand is wonderful, but the overarching revenue model – advertising and information-gathering: underwhelming. Invasive. And certainly at least several degrees short of genius. Here’s another thought piece, that’s worth your time: Free Is the Curse of the Internet.

To paraphrase Peter Thiel, we didn’t get flying cars. Or even a better mousetrap. You still get the same basic ones available at the corner hardware store, but via Amazon Prime. All we’ve done so far, besides provide a bit of convenience, is to potentially enabled one of the world’s greatest dystopian nightmares.

As Thiel says, “the great companies of the world are the ones that have had a long-term vision, and Apple never bought into the lean movement.” They always kept their eye on the prize. Then again, Thiel says, “you have to think of companies like Microsoft or Oracle or Hewlett-Packard as fundamentally bets against technology. They keep throwing off profits as long as nothing changes.” And Google and Facebook still need to sell soap and lots of it. It  maybe when that long overdue paradigm shift is finally achieved that we’ll see true change in this brave, still relatively new world of online.

True Masters of the Universe don’t need to angle for control of every aspect of our lives, as the Facebooks and Googles of the world do, which means that the future is still up for grabs. Why do we suspect that it’s still early days? The Googles and Microsofts and Facebooks of the world have pretty much been on buying sprees the last few years. They’ve made some good purchases – some, maybe less than stellar.

The bottom line: with all of their brain trust and money, they had to go outside of the company to stay relevant.  True Masters of the Universe have the vision to see the future coming. So go for it. Onward and forward.

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