Peter Thiel’s new book, Zero to One, is ostensibly a self-help book for those who want to succeed at start-ups. But any powerful self-help book flows from a philosophy of the world, and Thiel reflects his libertarian and transhumanist impulses. Zero to One is thus far more interesting and more original than most business books. But the book is also at times disappointing because, amid arresting insights, it contains overstatements and simplifications. And at the heart of the book is a paradox: Thiel believes that innovation is less than it could be, but he does not offer a convincing explanation of why the market for startups should be failing.
The specific advice to startups is the book’s greatest strength.