Peter Thiel

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pages: 222 words: 70,132

Move Fast and Break Things: How Facebook, Google, and Amazon Cornered Culture and Undermined Democracy by Jonathan Taplin

1960s counterculture, affirmative action, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Airbnb, Amazon Mechanical Turk, American Legislative Exchange Council, Apple's 1984 Super Bowl advert, back-to-the-land, barriers to entry, basic income, battle of ideas, big data - Walmart - Pop Tarts, bitcoin, Brewster Kahle, Buckminster Fuller, Burning Man, Clayton Christensen, commoditize, creative destruction, crony capitalism, crowdsourcing, data is the new oil, David Brooks, David Graeber, don't be evil, Donald Trump, Douglas Engelbart, Douglas Engelbart, Dynabook, Edward Snowden, Elon Musk, equal pay for equal work, Erik Brynjolfsson, future of journalism, future of work, George Akerlof, George Gilder, Google bus, Hacker Ethic, Howard Rheingold, income inequality, informal economy, information asymmetry, information retrieval, Internet Archive, Internet of things, invisible hand, Jaron Lanier, Jeff Bezos, job automation, John Markoff, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, John von Neumann, Joseph Schumpeter, Kevin Kelly, Kickstarter, labor-force participation, life extension, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, Menlo Park, Metcalfe’s law, Mother of all demos, move fast and break things, move fast and break things, natural language processing, Network effects, new economy, Norbert Wiener, offshore financial centre, packet switching, Paul Graham, paypal mafia, Peter Thiel, plutocrats, Plutocrats, pre–internet, Ray Kurzweil, recommendation engine, rent-seeking, revision control, Robert Bork, Robert Gordon, Robert Metcalfe, Ronald Reagan, Ross Ulbricht, Sam Altman, Sand Hill Road, secular stagnation, self-driving car, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley ideology, smart grid, Snapchat, software is eating the world, Steve Jobs, Stewart Brand, technoutopianism, The Chicago School, The Market for Lemons, The Rise and Fall of American Growth, Tim Cook: Apple, trade route, transfer pricing, Travis Kalanick, trickle-down economics, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, universal basic income, unpaid internship, We wanted flying cars, instead we got 140 characters, web application, Whole Earth Catalog, winner-take-all economy, women in the workforce, Y Combinator

Jennifer Burns, Goddess of the Market: Ayn Rand and the American Right (London: Oxford University Press, 2009). Anne Conover Heller, Ayn Rand and the World She Made (New York: Nan A. Talese, 2009). Ayn Rand, The Fountainhead (New York: Bobbs-Merrill, 1943). Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged (New York: Random House, 1957). Peter Thiel, “The Education of a Libertarian,” Cato Institute, April 2009, www.cato-unbound.org/2009/04/13/peter-thiel/education-libertarian. Hans Hermann-Hoppe, Democracy—The God That Failed (Newark: Transaction, 2001). Greg Satell, “Peter Thiel’s Four Rules for Creating a Great Business,” Forbes, October 3, 2014, www.forbes.com/sites/gregsatell/2014/10/03/peter-thiels-4-rules-for-creating-a-great-business/2/#2ea53ac12804. Brad Stone, The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon (New York: Little, Brown and Company, 2013). Chapter Five: Digital Destruction The film The Social Network, written by Aaron Sorkin and directed by David Fincher, is a remarkably honest telling of the birth of Facebook.

Speaking at the Black Hat USA cybersecurity conference in 2015, longtime tech security guru Dan Kaminsky said, “Half of all Americans are backing away from the net due to fears regarding security and privacy. We need to go ahead and get the Internet fixed or risk losing this engine of beauty.” People like Google CEO Larry Page, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, PayPal founder Peter Thiel, and Sean Parker of Napster and Facebook fame are among the richest men in the world, with ambitions so outsize that they are the stuff of fiction: Dave Eggers’s The Circle and Don DeLillo’s Zero K are populated with tech billionaires inventing technology that will enable people to live forever. But this scenario is happening in real life. Peter Thiel, Larry Page, and others are investing hundreds of millions of dollars in research to “end human aging” and to merge human consciousness into their all-powerful networks. As George Packer, writing in the New Yorker, put it, “In Thiel’s techno-utopia a few thousand Americans might own robot-driven cars and live to a hundred and fifty, while millions of others lose their jobs to computers that are far smarter than they are, then perish at sixty.”

First, he kept Zuckerberg centered on Facebook, even though the young coder was spending a lot of time writing another program called Wirehog, which was essentially a version of Napster. Parker convinced him that it would be nothing but trouble in the form of lawsuits from the content community. The genius of Facebook was that the users provided all the content. There was no need to steal pictures, as he had for Facemash, or music files, as Parker had done for Napster. The second thing Parker did was to introduce Zuckerberg to Peter Thiel. Peter Thiel grasped almost immediately the potential of Facebook. As David Kirkpatrick explained in The Facebook Effect: The Inside Story of the Company That Is Connecting the World, “What happened once it opened at a new school was what most impressed Thiel. Within days it typically captured essentially the entire student body, and more than 80 percent of users returned to the site daily!” This was unprecedented, and Thiel knew that Facebook fit all four of his success categories.


pages: 334 words: 104,382

Brotopia: Breaking Up the Boys' Club of Silicon Valley by Emily Chang

23andMe, 4chan, Ada Lovelace, affirmative action, Airbnb, Apple II, augmented reality, autonomous vehicles, barriers to entry, Bernie Sanders, Burning Man, California gold rush, Chuck Templeton: OpenTable:, David Brooks, Donald Trump, Elon Musk, equal pay for equal work, Ferguson, Missouri, game design, gender pay gap, Google Glasses, Google X / Alphabet X, Grace Hopper, high net worth, Hyperloop, Jeff Bezos, job satisfaction, Khan Academy, Lyft, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, Maui Hawaii, Menlo Park, meta analysis, meta-analysis, microservices, paypal mafia, Peter Thiel, post-work, pull request, ride hailing / ride sharing, rolodex, Saturday Night Live, shareholder value, side project, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Skype, Snapchat, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Steven Levy, subscription business, Tim Cook: Apple, Travis Kalanick, uber lyft, women in the workforce

CHAPTER 2: THE PAYPAL MAFIA AND THE MYTH OF THE MERITOCRACY “a lucid and profound articulation”: Derek Thompson, “Peter Thiel’s Zero to One Might Be the Best Business Book I’ve Read,” Atlantic, Sept. 25, 2014, https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2014/09/peter-thiel-zero-to-one-review/380738. “We all have a responsibility”: Peter Thiel, “Peter Thiel: Bloomberg West (Full Show 4/12),” interview by author, Bloomberg, April 12, 2016, video, 56:52, https://www.bloomberg.com/news/videos/2016-04-13/peter-thiel-bloomberg-west-full-show-4-12. Zero to One: Peter Thiel, Zero to One (New York: Crown Business, 2014). Thiel himself told me: Peter Thiel, “Venture Capitalist Peter Thiel: Studio 1.0 (12/18) Bloomberg, Dec. 18, 2014, video, 27:34, https://www.bloomberg.com/news/videos/2014-12-19/venture-capitalist-peter-thiel-studio-10-1218. Stanford began by instituting: News release, Stanford News Service, April 22, 1991, https://web.stanford.edu/dept/news/pr/91/910422Arc1416.html.

“‘Meritocracy’ takes as its core”: Megan Garber, “The Perils of Meritocracy,” Atlantic, June 30, 2017, https://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2017/06/the-perils-of-meritocracy/532215. “I no longer believe”: Peter Thiel, “The Education of a Libertarian,” Cato Unbound, April 13, 2009, https://www.cato-unbound.org/2009/04/13/peter-thiel/education-libertarian. revealed that he was gay: Owen Thomas, “Peter Thiel Is Totally Gay, People,” Gawker, Dec. 19, 2007, http://gawker.com/335894/peter-thiel-is-totally-gay-people. “When I was a kid”: Will Drabold, “Read Peter Thiel’s Speech at the Republican National Convention,” Time, July 21, 2016, http://time.com/4417679/republican-convention-peter-thiel-transcript. “We care deeply about diversity”: Jeff John Roberts, “Mark Zuckerberg Says Trump Supporter Peter Thiel Still Has a Place on Facebook’s Board,” Fortune, Oct. 19, 2016, http://fortune.com/2016/10/19/zuckerberg-thiel.

Sacks and Peter Thiel, The Diversity Myth (Oakland, CA: Independent Institute, 1998): 29. And in 2011, Thiel told: George Packer, “No Death, No Taxes,” New Yorker, Nov. 28, 2011, https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2011/11/28/no-death-no-taxes. “seductions that are later regretted”: Sacks and Thiel, Diversity Myth, 144. “More than two decades ago”: Ryan Mac and Matt Drange, “Donald Trump Supporter Peter Thiel Apologizes for Past Book Comments on Rape,” Forbes, Oct. 25, 2016, https://www.forbes.com/sites/ryanmac/2016/10/25/peter-thiel-apologizes-for-past-book-comments-on-rape-and-race/#7c635d0e4e48. In late 2017, however: Andrew Granato, “How Peter Thiel Built a Silicon Valley Empire,” Stanford Politics, Nov. 27, 2017, https://stanfordpolitics.org/2017/11/27/peter-thiel-cover-story.


pages: 398 words: 108,889

The Paypal Wars: Battles With Ebay, the Media, the Mafia, and the Rest of Planet Earth by Eric M. Jackson

bank run, business process, call centre, creative destruction, disintermediation, Elon Musk, index fund, Internet Archive, iterative process, Joseph Schumpeter, market design, Menlo Park, Metcalfe’s law, money market fund, moral hazard, Network effects, new economy, offshore financial centre, Peter Thiel, Robert Metcalfe, Sand Hill Road, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, telemarketer, The Chicago School, the new new thing, Turing test

See also legal compromises with eBay priorities Democratic party donation flap, 110 Deutsche Bank, 10 developing world, Peter’s plans for, 25–26 digital sweatshops, 58 digital wallet platform for, 9–10 relation to online accounts, 13 diversification, PayPal’s move to, 211, 212–213, 235–236, 260–261 Diversity Myth, The (David Sacks and Peter Thiel), 7, 15, 103 “Dollar” conference room, 144 Doohan, James (“Scotty”), 30, 33–34 reason promotion failed, 52 dotBank, 38–39 decision not to pursue eBay, 54–55 Yahoo purchase of, 83–84 dot-com boom, 6 dot-com crash, 90–92, 178, 187 Peter Thiel’s strategy, 244 drop-in customers, 63–64 eBay “Auction for America” campaign, 220–222 ban on robotic activity, 59–60 BIN (“Buy It Now”) format, 174–175 blocking of PayPal logos, 145 business model, 51 buyer protection policy, 169–170 “Checkout” feature, 228–229, 232 company culture, 296–299 compared to Amazon.com, 44 competition with Amazon auctions, 185–187 Confinity strategies to grow PayPal on, 57–60 financials, 50, 305–306 “Instant Purchase” buttons, 134 integration of PayPal, 299–302 listing fee raises, 187, 305 logo policy, 86 mascot, 297 mission, 307 offer to buy PayPal, 237–238 origins, 51 partnership with AOL, 204 partnership with Visa, 93–94 partnership with Wells Fargo, 80–81 PayPal buyout offer, 255–258 PayPal use of banner ads on, 46–48 PayPal view of threat from, 191 product placement for Billpoint, 262–263 pursuit of payments sector, 96 scalability advantage, 49, 50 “Sell Your Item” (SYI) form, 206–208 slights to PayPal at eBay Live, 274–275 weakness in business model, 132–133 web site, 44 Yahoo attempt to acquire, 83 .

See PayPal milestones Super Bowl commercials, 30 Sydney Olympics, 155 telephone customer service at startups, 100 telephone networks, 41–42 Templeton, Jamie, 18 auction logo insertion tool (AutoLink), 52 dotBank feature challenge, 39 update of PayPal Web site, 81 web server crisis, 101–103 Thiel, Peter announcement of PayPal sale to eBay, 282–283 appointed day-to-day manager of X.com (PayPal), 162 attempt to retain Paul Martin, 266 blue hair dare, 198 career before PayPal, 7 CEO appointment in 2001, 197 choice of employees, 21 concern for employees’ opinions, 216–217 conflict with Bill Harris, 109–110 decision to diversify PayPal, 211 decision to sell PayPal, 302 discussion of Confinity and X.com merger, 73–74 founding of Confinity, 8–9 hiring of Eric, 5–7 IPO moves, 223, 244 leadership after Elon Musk’s departure, 163–165 life after PayPal, 312 machine analogy for PayPal, 196 main objective for Confinity, 41 management strength, 311 management style, 196–198 on “Nightly Business Report” (PBS), 202–203 one million dollar challenge to Eric, 43 out of loop, with Meg Whitman, 301 PayPal valedictory address, 293–295 PayPal “world domination” speech, 25–26, 269 position in X.com (PayPal), 70 public image, 298 reaction to eBay buyout offer, 237–238, 290 reaction to IdeaLab funded competition, 63 resignation from PayPal, 303 resignation from X.com (PayPal), 108–109 role in buyout by eBay, 285 role in Elon Musk ouster, 160 speculation about his leaving, 295 speech after Confinity/X.com merger, 77–78 tactics to combat “eBay threat,” 191 tactic to speed up IPO, 244 venture capital financing, 10, 14, 32–33, 89–91, 197 view of government, 8, 293–295 visit to White House, 197–198 Today Show, 132 transaction payment margins effect on PayPal deficit, 195 Peter Thiel’s explanation of, 196 trust bank status, 168, 241 Tuckfield, Paul, 153, 154 Tumbleweed Communications, 240 TV ads, PayPal’s non-use of, 30 TV publicity for startups, 132, 202–204 United Parcel Service. See UPS shipping feature on PayPal upselling auction sellers to PayPal Shops, 212 AutoLink to PayPal customers, 53 X.com services to PayPal users, 70 UPS shipping feature on PayPal, 260 U.S. Attorney, Eastern Missouri District, 291 venture capital financing competition among startups for, 73 difficulties for startups, 309–310 by Elon Musk, 148–149 by Peter Thiel, 32–33, 77–78, 89–91, 197 on Sand Hill Road, 31 stock market slide impact on, 91 verification, PayPal, 136–138 VeriFone, 10 viral growth business model, 49, 53 Visa and eBay, 93–94, 173, 182 reprimand of PayPal, 148 Wallace, Dave, 20–22, 100, 312 Wall Street eBay/PayPal buyout leak, 257–258 reaction to PayPal IPO, 236 WBN (Wining Bidder Notification) feature from PayPal, 191–192 Web Accept, 281 Webb, Maynard, 298–299 Web enforcement system, 51 web server crisis at X.com (PayPal), 101–103 .

My fellow authors Candice Jackson and Alec Rawls provided me with invaluable feedback as I prepared my manuscript. I also appreciate Ron Kenner’s editing assistance and Sharon Goldlinger’s astute guidance. Brandi Laughey, Jonathan New, Nancy Humphreys, and Steven Phenix have been wonderful to work with. And I’ve never met a more thorough or trustworthy adviser than Hank Terry. I would also like to thank my PayPal compatriots, including Peter Thiel, Max Levchin, David Sacks, and Paul Martin, for providing me with their time and feedback; while the conclusions reached in this book are ultimately my own, I nonetheless appreciate their support and enthusiasm. Friends and family played no small role in this endeavor, and my wife, Beatrice, played a role above and beyond all others; without her steadfast devotion and countless hours laboring alongside me, this project would not have been possible.


pages: 282 words: 81,873

Live Work Work Work Die: A Journey Into the Savage Heart of Silicon Valley by Corey Pein

23andMe, 4chan, affirmative action, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Airbnb, Amazon Mechanical Turk, Anne Wojcicki, artificial general intelligence, bank run, barriers to entry, Benevolent Dictator For Life (BDFL), Bernie Sanders, bitcoin, Build a better mousetrap, California gold rush, cashless society, colonial rule, computer age, cryptocurrency, data is the new oil, disruptive innovation, Donald Trump, Douglas Hofstadter, Elon Musk, Extropian, gig economy, Google bus, Google Glasses, Google X / Alphabet X, hacker house, hive mind, illegal immigration, immigration reform, Internet of things, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, Jeff Bezos, job automation, Kevin Kelly, Khan Academy, Law of Accelerating Returns, Lean Startup, life extension, Lyft, Mahatma Gandhi, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, Menlo Park, minimum viable product, move fast and break things, move fast and break things, mutually assured destruction, obamacare, passive income, patent troll, Paul Graham, peer-to-peer lending, Peter H. Diamandis: Planetary Resources, Peter Thiel, platform as a service, plutocrats, Plutocrats, Ponzi scheme, post-work, Ray Kurzweil, regulatory arbitrage, rent control, RFID, Robert Mercer, rolodex, Ronald Reagan, Ross Ulbricht, Ruby on Rails, Sam Altman, Sand Hill Road, Scientific racism, self-driving car, sharing economy, side project, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Singularitarianism, Skype, Snapchat, social software, software as a service, source of truth, South of Market, San Francisco, Startup school, stealth mode startup, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, TaskRabbit, technological singularity, technoutopianism, telepresence, too big to fail, Travis Kalanick, tulip mania, Uber for X, uber lyft, ubercab, upwardly mobile, Vernor Vinge, X Prize, Y Combinator

Max More For more on cryonics and the extropians, see my report, “Everybody Freeze!,” 2016, Baffler (no. 30). a procedure called parabiosis Jeff Bercovici broke the news of Thiel’s quasivampirisim in an August 1, 2016, Inc. magazine story titled “Peter Thiel Is Very, Very Interested in Young People’s Blood.” Breitbart News would months later dismiss Bercovici’s report as “fake news” after his key source clammed up, though he and the magazine stood by the story. Not good government “A Conversation with Peter Thiel,” April 6, 2015, medium.com. Whatever genuine concerns Thiel might harbor David Streitfeld and Jacqueline Williams, “Peter Thiel, Trump Adviser, Has a Backup Country: New Zealand,” January 25, 2017, nytimes.com. Srinivasan laid out the grand design Balaji Srinivasan, “Software Is Reorganizing the World,” November 22, 2013, wired.com.

on the front page of the Wall Street Journal Erica Orden, “For BIL, Tagging Along with TED Proves to Be an Excellent Adventure,” March 1, 2011, wsj.com. “Our tech titans could save us” James Polous, “Silicon Valley Could Save the World from Climate Change. But We Don’t Want Them To,” May 26, 2015, theweek.com. Gallup reran its poll “Confidence in Institutions,” gallup.com; harrisinteractive.com. “monolithic monstrosity” Peter Thiel interview with Glenn Beck, October 21, 2014. “My path was so tracked” Peter Thiel and Blake Masters, Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future (New York: Crown, 2014). PayPal Jackson, Paypal Wars. In-Q-Tel Robert Scheer, “How the Government Outsourced Intelligence to Silicon Valley,” February 18, 2015, truthdig.com. a lobbyist named Terry Paul Dave Maass, “Hunter Pushes for IED Software Connected to His Mentor,” August 7, 2012, sdcitybeat.com; Proceedings Before the Committee on Armed Services, U.S.

Copyright infringement is against the law. If you believe the copy of this e-book you are reading infringes on the author’s copyright, please notify the publisher at: us.macmillanusa.com/piracy. Vom Affen zum Roboter Acknowledgments If it’s true that suffering builds character, I owe many thanks to Airbnb. In the same spirit, I must thank those who declined to be interviewed, especially Ray Kurzweil, Peter Thiel, and Curtis Yarvin—my three muses. I’m genuinely grateful to everyone who was interviewed, as well as all those pseudonymous people—roommates, conferencegoers, barflies—whose stories were included in this book. Thanks to my shrink, to my wife, Patricia Sauthoff, and to the voters of Oregon, whose wise passage of Measure 91 ensured the timely and relatively painless completion of this book. Thanks to my agent, William Callahan at Inkwell; to my editor at Metropolitan, Connor Guy; and to publisher Sara Bershtel, who read the six-hundred-page first draft.


pages: 455 words: 133,322

The Facebook Effect by David Kirkpatrick

Andy Kessler, Burning Man, delayed gratification, demand response, don't be evil, global village, happiness index / gross national happiness, Howard Rheingold, Jeff Bezos, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, Marshall McLuhan, Menlo Park, Network effects, Peter Thiel, rolodex, Sand Hill Road, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Skype, social graph, social software, social web, Startup school, Steve Ballmer, Steve Jobs, Stewart Brand, the payments system, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Whole Earth Review, winner-take-all economy, Y Combinator

Eduardo Saverin owns 5 percent, Sean Parker about 4 percent, and Peter Thiel around 3 percent (he sold about half his holdings in late 2009, mostly to Digital Sky). Greylock Partners and Meritech Capital Partners each have between 1 percent and 2 percent. Microsoft owns about 1.3 percent, and Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka-shing about .75 percent. Advertising giant The Interpublic Group owns a little less than half a percent, the happy heritage of an ad-and-equity deal in Facebook’s early days. A amall group of current and former employees own a substantial share but less than 1 percent. They include Matt Cohler, Jeff Rothschild, Adam D’Angelo, Chris Hughes, and Owen Van Natta. Others with sizable holdings include Reid Hoffman and Mark Pincus, who invested alongside Peter Thiel in the company’s very first financing round, as well as Western Technology Investments (WTI) which loaned the company a total of $3.6 million in its first two years, and invested $25,000 in that same initial round.

As Facebook grows and grows past 500 million members, one has to ask if there may not be a macro version of the Facebook Effect. Could it become a factor in helping bring together a world filled with political and religious strife and in the midst of environmental and economic breakdown? A communications system that includes people of all countries, all races, all religions, could not be a bad thing, could it? There is no more fervent believer in Facebook’s potential to help bring the world together than Peter Thiel. Thiel is a master contrarian who has made billions in his hedge fund betting correctly on the direction of oil, currencies, and stocks. He is also an entrepreneur, the co-founder, and former CEO of the PayPal online payments service (which he sold to eBay). He was the very first professional investor to put money in Facebook, in the late summer of 2004, and he’s been on the company’s board of directors ever since.

Hoffman was impressed with Thefacebook almost immediately but didn’t want to be its lead investor, given his involvement in LinkedIn. By mid-2004, many in the Internet industry were beginning to wonder if social networking might ultimately all converge in one big network. Although Hoffman didn’t believe that himself, he knew that some would see it as a conflict of interest if he led an investment in Thefacebook. So he arranged for Parker and Zuckerberg to meet with Peter Thiel, the brooding, dark-haired financial genius who had co-founded and led PayPal and was now a private investor. Hoffman is a key member of a very distinct and important Silicon Valley subculture—the wealthy former employees of PayPal. Hoffman remained close to many onetime PayPal colleagues, including Thiel. PayPal created the first successful large-scale online payment system and sold itself to eBay for $1.5 billion in October 2002, just two years after it was created in a merger of two start-ups.


pages: 441 words: 113,244

Seasteading: How Floating Nations Will Restore the Environment, Enrich the Poor, Cure the Sick, and Liberate Humanity From Politicians by Joe Quirk, Patri Friedman

3D printing, access to a mobile phone, addicted to oil, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, agricultural Revolution, Albert Einstein, barriers to entry, Branko Milanovic, British Empire, Buckminster Fuller, Burning Man, business climate, business cycle, business process, California gold rush, Celtic Tiger, Charles Lindbergh, clean water, Colonization of Mars, Dean Kamen, Deng Xiaoping, drone strike, Elon Musk, en.wikipedia.org, failed state, financial intermediation, Gini coefficient, happiness index / gross national happiness, income inequality, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), joint-stock company, joint-stock limited liability company, Kickstarter, low skilled workers, Machinery of Freedom by David Friedman, Mark Zuckerberg, megacity, minimum wage unemployment, Network effects, new economy, obamacare, offshore financial centre, open borders, paypal mafia, peak oil, Peter H. Diamandis: Planetary Resources, Peter Thiel, price stability, profit motive, Ronald Coase, Ronald Reagan, Shenzhen was a fishing village, Silicon Valley, special economic zone, standardized shipping container, stem cell, trade route, UNCLOS, UNCLOS, undersea cable, young professional

Two years later, by the summer of 2015, companies started by Thiel Fellows had an aggregate value exceeding $1 billion. The founder of this fellowship, Peter Thiel, never made a dime from any of this. Peter Thiel’s Wager Here in Silicon Valley, it’s getting harder to be cool. Founding a company, changing the world, and getting rich is not enough to make you an alpha nerd. Such people are a dime a dozen in our neighborhood, which is infected with an acute sense of the luck involved in success and failure. But founding a company that changes the world, getting rich, and then risking your winnings on a second company that changes the world again? That makes you an alpha nerd. The difference between luck and genius emerges when lightning strikes the same nerd twice. Peter Thiel is one of those guys, cubed. The former lawyer cofounded PayPal in 1998, declaring a year later, “Of course, what we’re calling ‘convenient’ for American users will be revolutionary for the developing world.”

In 2014, NASA transmitted a design file to a 3-D printer on The International Space Station which printed tools for astronaut use. Chris Muglia says that when key aspects of construction become an information technology, and every module design is tested at sea, improved on computer, and emailed to a floating 3-D printer, Peter Thiel’s vision of “atoms” become “bits” will unleash exponential progress and rapidly drop the price of seasteads. How cheap could this get? Space Exploration Technologies Corporation, better known as Space X, is an aerospace manufacturer that builds and launches space rockets, founded in 2002 by Peter Thiel’s cofounder at PayPal, Elon Musk, who is also CEO of Tesla Motors. Elon’s goal is to reduce space transportation costs to enable the colonization of Mars. “SpaceX is already 3-D printing essential elements of its rockets rather than purchasing machined parts from a contractor,” says Chris.

I probably spent half of my evenings at lectures at MIT or Harvard listening to people like Mark Zuckerberg—very enlightened people. By day, I did my homework, but at night, instead of staying in my dorm and partying with people, I went to these lectures. I probably learned more from these lectures than from my course work. “Peter Thiel visited MIT one month after I arrived for college to give a speech in which he talked about seasteading. I still have the name tag I used in that event. This Peter Thiel lecture opened up a new door for me. He only briefly touched on the idea of seasteading, but that was enough for me to look into it. I felt he was talking about the ultimate new option.” Zhai consumed research on the potential for ocean cities. “Everybody has a hometown, but if you ask me what my hometown is, I don’t really have an answer.


pages: 230 words: 76,655

Choose Yourself! by James Altucher

Airbnb, Albert Einstein, Bernie Madoff, bitcoin, cashless society, cognitive bias, dark matter, Elon Musk, estate planning, Mark Zuckerberg, money market fund, Network effects, new economy, PageRank, passive income, pattern recognition, payday loans, Peter Thiel, Ponzi scheme, Rodney Brooks, rolodex, Saturday Night Live, sharing economy, short selling, side project, Silicon Valley, Skype, software as a service, Steve Jobs, superconnector, Uber for X, Vanguard fund, Y2K, Zipcar

The other company they invested in around the same time ended up going out of business. TheStreet.com only owned 10 percent of them. So Peter Thiel naturally figured, why fight Elon Musk’s X.com and destroy each other in the process plus waste a ton of time and money when they could just merge and become a monopoly and go public and create real value, even if meant they all had lesser stakes? Once they merged they had twice as many ideas — which meant that their stakes would be worth more than twice as much, since we now know that ideas are more valuable than money. So they merged, went public, and guess what? eBay acquired them for $1.5 billion. Peter Thiel’s final stake was worth $55 million. He didn’t become a billionaire there but his savvy moves had created wealth for generations. I asked him about Facebook, which he didn’t really talk a lot about in his book, at least in relation to the monopoly question.

I have a guess as to how they made the decision but still, that value might be right, or horribly wrong—making it either the best valuation decision or the worst in history. Here’s what I do to value a business. I look at all of the above: The Peter Thiel Four—Monopoly, Scalability, Network Effect, Brand (and I’ll add my Demographics) The Three D’s. I look at what is causing the problems: Death, Divorce, Debt, Delay (because they all add up to a fifth D: Desperation, which drives prices lower) The Marcus Turnaround Method. I look at Product, Process, People—each one of those will have a cost but each one of will improve a company in the eyes of the Peter Thiel Four. Then I ask myself, what does the company look like when it’s turned around or made better? What’s the size of the market and how much will I dominate it? If it’s scalable, how much is it scalable and what’s the value of the additional markets it can scale to?

It starts at zero, meaning you are not yet exercising your idea muscle, and it gets stronger as you start coming up with ten ideas a day, using something I call Idea Sex (a concept I’ll describe in more detail later), and ultimately becoming an Idea Machine. The top right of the matrix (figure 2) is when you are an Idea Machine: you are working nonstop on your own excellent ideas that help the lives of others. You mind dips into dreams, and you make them reality or art or abundance. Founder of PayPal and first investor in Facebook Peter Thiel underlined this for me when he told me the story of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg turning down Yahoo’s offer of $1 billion to buy his company in July of 2006. Zuckerberg would’ve made $250 million that summer. Thiel, who was advising Zuckerberg at the time, wanted him to take it, or at least consider accepting the offer. Zuckerberg decided in ten minutes: No. As Peter put it, ideas were more valuable to Mark than money.


pages: 226 words: 69,893

The Accidental Billionaires: The Founding of Facebook: A Tale of Sex, Money, Genius and Betrayal by Ben Mezrich

different worldview, Mark Zuckerberg, old-boy network, Peter Thiel, rolodex, side project, Silicon Valley, social web

This time, he was looking for something really life changing. Sure, everyone was looking for the next big thing. The difference was, Sean knew what the next big thing was. He knew with a complete, and almost religious certainty: Social Networks. Just a few months ago, he’d made some connections at the social network site Friendster. He’d brought them some series D VC funding, introduced them to his buddies around town—most notably, Peter Thiel, the guy behind PayPal, a colleague who’d also experienced some run-ins with the gang at Sequoia. But Friendster wasn’t going to be Sean Parker’s next home run; it was already too far along, and Sean wasn’t getting in anywhere near the ground floor. And to be honest, Friendster had its limitations. It was really a dating Web site. A good one, more disguised than Match or JDate, but it was about meeting chicks you didn’t know and trying to get their e-mail.

Formerly the Bank of America Center, the behemoth at 555 California Street was an architectural wonder, an enormous, polished granite tower with thousands of bay windows that could be seen for miles, a 750-foot spire rising right out of the epicenter of the city’s financial district. And the man they were on their way to meet—well, he was nearly as impressive as the building itself, both in personal reputation and in what he had already achieved. “Peter’s going to love you,” Sean responded. “Fifteen minutes, in and out, that’s all it’s going to take.” Deep down, he was certain that he was right. Peter Thiel—the founding force behind the incredibly successful company PayPal, head of the multibillion-dollar venture fund Clarium Capital, former chess master, and one of the richest men in the country—was intimidating, fast-talking, and a true genius—but he was also exactly the sort of angel investor who had the guts and the foresight to understand how important—how groundbreaking—thefacebook had the potential to be.

It wasn’t life-changing money, it wasn’t empire-making money, it wasn’t fuck-you money—it wasn’t even as much money as Mark had once turned down, back in high school, when he’d created that MP3 player add-on, simply because he didn’t really give a damn about money, whether it was a thousand dollars borrowed from a friend to start a company, or a million dollars thrown his way from an even bigger company. As far as Sean could tell, Mark still didn’t really give a damn about money; but he couldn’t ignore the sentiment that came with those five hundred thousand dollars, the promise of a future for the company that he’d started in that Harvard dorm room. Peter Thiel had been exactly everything that Sean had prepared Mark for. Scary as hell, brilliant as hell—and willing to play ball. More than that, he’d turned a fifteen-minute pitch meeting into a lunch and an afternoon spent going over the details—of the deal that would ensure thefacebook’s survival, once and for all. At one point, Sean and Mark had even been sent out of the meeting, to walk around town while Thiel and Hoffman and Kohler discussed their pitch—but by the end of the afternoon, Thiel had given them the great news: thefacebook was on its way.


pages: 361 words: 81,068

The Internet Is Not the Answer by Andrew Keen

"Robert Solow", 3D printing, A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace, Airbnb, AltaVista, Andrew Keen, augmented reality, Bay Area Rapid Transit, Berlin Wall, bitcoin, Black Swan, Bob Geldof, Burning Man, Cass Sunstein, citizen journalism, Clayton Christensen, clean water, cloud computing, collective bargaining, Colonization of Mars, computer age, connected car, creative destruction, cuban missile crisis, David Brooks, disintermediation, disruptive innovation, Donald Davies, Downton Abbey, Edward Snowden, Elon Musk, Erik Brynjolfsson, Fall of the Berlin Wall, Filter Bubble, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, Frank Gehry, Frederick Winslow Taylor, frictionless, full employment, future of work, gig economy, global village, Google bus, Google Glasses, Hacker Ethic, happiness index / gross national happiness, income inequality, index card, informal economy, information trail, Innovator's Dilemma, Internet of things, Isaac Newton, Jaron Lanier, Jeff Bezos, job automation, Joi Ito, Joseph Schumpeter, Julian Assange, Kevin Kelly, Kickstarter, Kodak vs Instagram, Lean Startup, libertarian paternalism, lifelogging, Lyft, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, Marshall McLuhan, Martin Wolf, Metcalfe’s law, move fast and break things, move fast and break things, Nate Silver, Nelson Mandela, Network effects, new economy, Nicholas Carr, nonsequential writing, Norbert Wiener, Norman Mailer, Occupy movement, packet switching, PageRank, Panopticon Jeremy Bentham, Paul Graham, peer-to-peer, peer-to-peer rental, Peter Thiel, plutocrats, Plutocrats, Potemkin village, precariat, pre–internet, RAND corporation, Ray Kurzweil, ride hailing / ride sharing, Robert Metcalfe, Second Machine Age, self-driving car, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley ideology, Skype, smart cities, Snapchat, social web, South of Market, San Francisco, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Steven Levy, Stewart Brand, TaskRabbit, Ted Nelson, telemarketer, The Future of Employment, the medium is the message, the new new thing, Thomas L Friedman, Travis Kalanick, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, Uber for X, uber lyft, urban planning, Vannevar Bush, Whole Earth Catalog, WikiLeaks, winner-take-all economy, working poor, Y Combinator

He’s a Ferrari-driving, Stanford-educated moral philosopher, a chess genius and multibillionaire investor who is accompanied everywhere by a “staff of two blond, black-clad female assistants, a white-coated butler and a cook who prepares a daily health drink of celery, beets, kale, and ginger.”71 It would be easy, of course, to dismiss Peter Thiel as an eccentric with cash. But that’s the least interesting part of his story. He is, in fact, an even richer, smarter, and—as a major funder of radical American libertarians like Rand Paul and Ted Cruz—more powerful version of Tom Perkins. Peter Thiel has everything: brains, charm, prescience, intellect, charisma; everything, that is, except compassion for those less successful than him. In the increasingly unequal America described in Packer’s The Unwinding, Thiel is the supreme unwinder, a hard-hearted follower of Ayn Rand’s radical free-market philosophy who unashamedly celebrates the texture of inequality now reshaping America.

The Internet economy “produces very valuable companies with very few employees,” Brooks says of this crisis, while “the majority of workers are not seeing income gains commensurate with their productivity levels.”69 In his 2013 National Book Award–winning The Unwinding, George Packer mourns the passing of the twentieth-century Great Society. What he calls “New America” has been corrupted, he suggests, by its deepening inequality of wealth and opportunity. And it’s not surprising that Packer places Silicon Valley and the multibillionaire Internet entrepreneur and libertarian Peter Thiel at the center of his narrative. The cofounder, with Elon Musk, of the online payments service PayPal, Thiel became a billionaire as the first outside investor in Facebook, after being introduced to Mark Zuckerberg by Sean Parker, the cofounder of Napster and Facebook’s founding president. The San Francisco–based Thiel lives in a “ten thousand square foot white wedding cake of a mansion,” 70 a smaller but no less meretricious building than the Battery.

Cowan underlines the “stunning truth” that wages for men, over the last forty years, have fallen by 28%.78 He describes the divide in what he calls this new “hyper-meritocracy” as being between “billionaires” like the Battery member Sean Parker and the homeless “beggars” on the streets of San Francisco, and sees an economy in which “10 to 15 percent of the citizenry is extremely wealthy and has fantastically comfortable and stimulating lives.”79 Supporting many of Frank and Cook’s theses in their Winner-Take-All Society, Cowen suggests that the network lends itself to a superstar economy of “charismatic” teachers, lawyers, doctors, and other “prodigies” who will have feudal retinues of followers working for them.80 But, Cowen reassures us, there will be lots of jobs for “maids, chauffeurs and gardeners” who can “serve” wealthy entrepreneurs like his fellow chess enthusiast Peter Thiel. The feudal aspect of this new economy isn’t just metaphorical. The Chapman University geographer Joel Kotkin has broken down what he calls this “new feudalism” into different classes, including “oligarch” billionaires like Thiel and Uber’s Travis Kalanick, the “clerisy” of media commentators like Kevin Kelly, the “new serfs” of the working poor and the unemployed, and the “yeomanry” of the old “private sector middle class,” the professionals and skilled workers in towns like Rochester who are victims of the new winner-take-all networked economy.81 The respected MIT economists Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee, who are cautiously optimistic about what they call “the brilliant technologies” of “the Second Machine Age,” acknowledge that our networked society is creating a world of “stars and superstars” in a “winner-take-all” economy.


pages: 265 words: 69,310

What's Yours Is Mine: Against the Sharing Economy by Tom Slee

4chan, Airbnb, Amazon Mechanical Turk, asset-backed security, barriers to entry, Berlin Wall, big-box store, bitcoin, blockchain, citizen journalism, collaborative consumption, congestion charging, Credit Default Swap, crowdsourcing, data acquisition, David Brooks, don't be evil, gig economy, Hacker Ethic, income inequality, informal economy, invisible hand, Jacob Appelbaum, Jane Jacobs, Jeff Bezos, Khan Academy, Kibera, Kickstarter, license plate recognition, Lyft, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, move fast and break things, move fast and break things, natural language processing, Netflix Prize, Network effects, new economy, Occupy movement, openstreetmap, Paul Graham, peer-to-peer, peer-to-peer lending, Peter Thiel, pre–internet, principal–agent problem, profit motive, race to the bottom, Ray Kurzweil, recommendation engine, rent control, ride hailing / ride sharing, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Snapchat, software is eating the world, South of Market, San Francisco, TaskRabbit, The Nature of the Firm, Thomas L Friedman, transportation-network company, Travis Kalanick, Uber and Lyft, Uber for X, uber lyft, ultimatum game, urban planning, WikiLeaks, winner-take-all economy, Y Combinator, Zipcar

One of the leading companies in the open data space is Palantir Technologies. It was highlighted by the civic-minded Code for America; it sponsored O’Reilly’s Gov 2.0 summit and adopts his “Government as a Platform” terminology, and was an early partner of USAid’s Food Security Open Data Challenge.52 Palantir received early funding from the CIA’s In-Q-Tel venture capital arm and from Peter Thiel’s Founders Fund, both organizations known for their deep commitment to openness and equality. Peter Thiel is Palantir’s Chairman of the Board: perhaps he will be pursuing open data projects for the secretive Bilderberg Group, on whose Steering Committee he sits? It would be nice to think that the shift to open data might undermine some vested interests without re-enacting Animal Farm, but the prospects are not bright. One lesson of cultural economics is that creative works for which there is significant demand in a small market can be swamped by near-zero-marginal cost exports from large markets.

Companies see themselves as enlightened participants in these debates, with a social mandate as well as a business mandate; Google’s “Don’t be evil” mantra encapsulates their belief that the company has a moral mission as well as a technological one. Internet culture is also supremely ambitious and self-confident. It’s a confidence captured in venture capitalist Marc Andreessen’s saying that “software is eating the world.” In its outer reaches it is an ambition manifested in ideas of Seasteading (a movement to build self-governing floating cities, started by PayPal founder Peter Thiel) and the Singularity (a belief in “the dawning of a new civilization that will enable us to transcend our biological limitations and amplify our creativity,” originating with the ideas of inventor and now Google employee Ray Kurzweil). Just as Hollywood is both a physical location and a global industry with a distinctive set of traditions, beliefs, and practices, so Silicon Valley is more than a place—it is shorthand for the world of digital technology, specifically Internet technology.

Whatever the intent of the more community-focused Peers activists, the group functioned in part as a front for Silicon Valley lobbying. The funding behind the larger Sharing Economy companies highlights the contradictory currents that drive it. Billionaire and Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has invested in both Airbnb and Uber; leading venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz has invested in Airbnb, Lyft, and delivery service Instacart; Founders Fund, a firm set up and led by billionaire and ­PayPal founder Peter Thiel, has invested in Airbnb, Lyft, and TaskRabbit. ­Goldman Sachs is another investor in Uber as well as WeWork, which has also been funded by JP Morgan. Lending Club sends emails emphasizing that “Instead of paying interest to a credit card company or on a traditional bank loan, you get your loan through ordinary people like YOU who want to invest in YOUR success,” 14 but its board includes John Mack (ex–Morgan Stanley) and Larry Summers (former Treasury secretary).


pages: 377 words: 97,144

Singularity Rising: Surviving and Thriving in a Smarter, Richer, and More Dangerous World by James D. Miller

23andMe, affirmative action, Albert Einstein, artificial general intelligence, Asperger Syndrome, barriers to entry, brain emulation, cloud computing, cognitive bias, correlation does not imply causation, crowdsourcing, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, David Brooks, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, Deng Xiaoping, en.wikipedia.org, feminist movement, Flynn Effect, friendly AI, hive mind, impulse control, indoor plumbing, invention of agriculture, Isaac Newton, John von Neumann, knowledge worker, Long Term Capital Management, low skilled workers, Netflix Prize, neurotypical, Norman Macrae, pattern recognition, Peter Thiel, phenotype, placebo effect, prisoner's dilemma, profit maximization, Ray Kurzweil, recommendation engine, reversible computing, Richard Feynman, Rodney Brooks, Silicon Valley, Singularitarianism, Skype, statistical model, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, supervolcano, technological singularity, The Coming Technological Singularity, the scientific method, Thomas Malthus, transaction costs, Turing test, twin studies, Vernor Vinge, Von Neumann architecture

Vast increases in biological and machine intelligences will create what’s being called the Singularity—a threshold of time at which AIs that are at least as smart as humans, and/or augmented human intelligence, radically remake civilization. A belief in a coming Singularity is slowly gaining traction among the technological elite. As the New York Times reported in 2010, “Some of Silicon Valley’s smartest and wealthiest people have embraced the Singularity.”4 These early adopters include two self-made billionaires: Peter Thiel, a financial backer of the Singularity Institute for Artificial Intelligence, and Larry Page, who helped found Singularity University. Peter Thiel was one of the founders of PayPal, and after selling the site to eBay, he used some of his money to become the key early investor in Facebook. Larry Page cofounded Google. Thiel and Page obtained their riches by successfully betting on technology. Famed physicist Stephen Hawking is so concerned about a bad Singularity-like event that he warned that computers might become so intelligent that they could “take over the world.”

—Vernor Vinge, computer scientist; Hugo Award-winning author, A Fire Upon the Deep; essayist, “The Coming Technological Singularity” “The arrow of progress may kick upwards into a booming curve or it may terminate in an existential zero. What it will not do is carry on as before. With great insight and fore thought, Miller’s Singularity Rising prepares us for the forking paths ahead by teasing out the consequences of an artificial intelligence explosion and by staking red flags on the important technological problems of the next three decades.” —Peter Thiel, self-made technology billionaire; co-founder, Singularity Summit “Many books are fun and interesting, but Singularity Rising is fun and interesting while focusing on some of the most important pieces of humanity’s most important problem.” —Luke Muehlhauser, executive director, Singularity Institute “We’ve waited too long for a thorough, articulate, general-audience account of modern thinking on exponentially increasing machine intelligence and its risks and rewards for humanity.

I’ve become convinced that if an unfriendly ultra-AI is the greatest threat facing humanity, Eliezer’s efforts represent our best hope of survival. In the year 2000, Eliezer founded the Singularity Institute for Artificial Intelligence. Although the Institute has garnered less support than Eliezer believes is justified, the best testament to Eliezer’s credibility comes from the quality of the people who have either contributed to the Institute or have spoken at one of its events. These include: •Peter Thiel—self-made tech billionaire and key financier behind Face-book. Donated $1.1 million to the Institute;91 •Ray Kurzweil—famed investor and Singularity writer; •Justin Rattner—Intel’s chief technology officer; •Eric Drexler—the father of nanotechnology; •Peter Norvig—Director of Research at Google; •Aubrey de Grey—leading longevity researcher; •Stephen Wolfram—developer of the computation platform Mathematica; and •Jaan Tallinn—founding engineer of Skype and self-made tech decamillionaire who donated $100,000.92 I also spoke on the economics of the Singularity at the Institute’s 2008 Summit.


pages: 274 words: 75,846

The Filter Bubble: What the Internet Is Hiding From You by Eli Pariser

A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace, A Pattern Language, Amazon Web Services, augmented reality, back-to-the-land, Black Swan, borderless world, Build a better mousetrap, Cass Sunstein, citizen journalism, cloud computing, cognitive dissonance, crowdsourcing, Danny Hillis, data acquisition, disintermediation, don't be evil, Filter Bubble, Flash crash, fundamental attribution error, global village, Haight Ashbury, Internet of things, Isaac Newton, Jaron Lanier, Jeff Bezos, jimmy wales, Kevin Kelly, knowledge worker, Mark Zuckerberg, Marshall McLuhan, megacity, Metcalfe’s law, Netflix Prize, new economy, PageRank, paypal mafia, Peter Thiel, recommendation engine, RFID, Robert Metcalfe, sentiment analysis, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, social graph, social software, social web, speech recognition, Startup school, statistical model, stem cell, Steve Jobs, Steven Levy, Stewart Brand, technoutopianism, the scientific method, urban planning, Whole Earth Catalog, WikiLeaks, Y Combinator

O’Brien, “The PayPal Mafia,” Fortune, Nov. 14, 2007, accessed Dec. 16, 2010, http://money.cnn.com/2007/11/13/magazines/fortune/paypal_mafia.fortune/index2.htm. 183 sold to eBay for $1.5 billion: Troy Wolverton, “It’s official: eBay Weds PayPal,” CNET News, Oct. 3, 2002, accessed Dec. 16, 2010, http://news.cnet.com/Its-official-eBay-weds-PayPal/2100-1017_3-960658.html. 183 “impact and force change”: Peter Thie, “Education of a Libertarian,” Cato Unbound, Apr. 13, 2009, accessed Dec. 16, 2010, www.cato-unbound.org/2009/04/13/peter-thiel/the-education-of-a-libertarian. 183 “end the inevitability of death and taxes”: Chris Baker, “Live Free or Drown: Floating Utopias on the Cheap,” Wired, Jan. 19, 2009, accessed Dec. 16, 2010, www.wired.com/techbiz/startups/magazine/17-02/mf_seasteading?currentPage=all. 183 “ ‘capitalist democracy’ into an oxymoron”: Thiel, “Education of a Libertarian.” 184 “makes a living being against computers”: Nicholas Carlson, “Peter Thiel Says Don’t Piss Off the Robots (or Bet on a Recovery),” Business Insider, Nov. 18, 2009, accessed Dec. 16, 2010, www.businessinsider.com/peter-thiel-on-obama-ai-and-why-he-rents-his-mansion-2009-11#. 184 “which technologies to foster”: Ronald Bailey, “Technology Is at the Center,” Reason.com, May 2008, accessed Dec. 16, 2010, http://reason.com/archives/2008/05/01/technology-is-at-the-center/singlepage. 184 “way I think about the business”: Deepak Gopinath, “PayPal’s Thiel Scores 230 Percent Gain with Soros-Style Fund,” CanadianHedgeWatch .com, Dec. 4, 2006, accessed Jan. 30, 2011, at www.canadianhedgewatch.com/content/news/general/?

“There are aspects of it that are great and aspects that are terrible, and there are some real choices humans have to make about which technologies to foster and which ones we should be more careful about.” Peter Thiel is entitled to his idiosyncratic views, of course, but they’re worth paying attention to because they increasingly shape the world we all live in. There are only four other people on the Facebook board besides Mark Zuckerberg; Thiel is one of them, and Zuckerberg publicly describes him as a mentor. “He helped shape the way I think about the business,” Zuckerberg said in a 2006 Bloomberg News interview. As Thiel says, we have some big decisions to make about technology. And as for how those decisions get made? “I have little hope,” he writes, “that voting will make things better.” “What Game Are You Playing?” Of course, not all engineers and geeks have the views about democracy and freedom that Peter Thiel does—he’s surely an outlier. Craig Newmark, the founder of the free Web site craigslist, spends most of his time arguing for “geek values” that include service and public-spiritedness.

currentPage=all. 183 “ ‘capitalist democracy’ into an oxymoron”: Thiel, “Education of a Libertarian.” 184 “makes a living being against computers”: Nicholas Carlson, “Peter Thiel Says Don’t Piss Off the Robots (or Bet on a Recovery),” Business Insider, Nov. 18, 2009, accessed Dec. 16, 2010, www.businessinsider.com/peter-thiel-on-obama-ai-and-why-he-rents-his-mansion-2009-11#. 184 “which technologies to foster”: Ronald Bailey, “Technology Is at the Center,” Reason.com, May 2008, accessed Dec. 16, 2010, http://reason.com/archives/2008/05/01/technology-is-at-the-center/singlepage. 184 “way I think about the business”: Deepak Gopinath, “PayPal’s Thiel Scores 230 Percent Gain with Soros-Style Fund,” CanadianHedgeWatch .com, Dec. 4, 2006, accessed Jan. 30, 2011, at www.canadianhedgewatch.com/content/news/general/?id=1169. 184 “that voting will make things better”: Peter Thiel, “Your Suffrage Isn’t in Danger. Your Other Rights Are,” Cato Unbound, May 1, 2009, accessed Dec. 16, 2010, www.cato-unbound.org/2009/05/01/peter-thiel/your-suffrage-isnt-in-danger-your-other-rights-are. 185 talked to Scott Heiferman: Interview with author, New York, NY, Oct. 5, 2010. 188 “good or bad, nor is it neutral”: Melvin Kranzberg, “Technology and History: ‘Kranzberg’s Laws,’ ” Technology and Culture 27, no. 3 (1986): 544–60. Chapter Seven: What You Want, Whether You Want It or Not 189 “millions of people doing complicated things”: Noah Wardrip-Fruin and Nick Montfort, The New Media Reader, Vol. 1 (Cambridge: MIT Press, 2003), 8. 189 “yet to be completely correlated”: Isaac Asimov, The Intelligent Man’s Guide to Science (New York: Basic Books, 1965), 190 “you’ve got a problem”: Bill Jay, phone interview with author, Oct. 10, 2010. 191 ads tailored to her: Jason Mick, “Tokyo’s ‘Minority Report’ Ad Boards Scan Viewer’s Sex and Age,” Daily Tech, July 16, 2010, accessed Dec. 17, 2010, www.dailytech.com/Tokyos+Minority+Report+Ad+Boards+Scan+Viewers+Sex+and+Age/article19063.htm. 191 the future of art: David Shields, Reality Hunger: A Manifesto (New York: Knopf, 2010).


pages: 243 words: 76,686

How to Do Nothing by Jenny Odell

Airbnb, augmented reality, back-to-the-land, Burning Man, collective bargaining, Donald Trump, Filter Bubble, full employment, gig economy, Google Earth, Internet Archive, Jane Jacobs, Jaron Lanier, Kickstarter, late capitalism, Mark Zuckerberg, market fundamentalism, means of production, Minecraft, peer-to-peer, Peter Thiel, Port of Oakland, Results Only Work Environment, Rosa Parks, Sand Hill Road, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Snapchat, source of truth, Steve Jobs, strikebreaker, technoutopianism, union organizing, white flight, Works Progress Administration

, xvi. 37. Peter Thiel, “The Education of a Libertarian,” Cato Unbound, April 13, 2009: https://www.cato-unbound.org/2009/04/13/peter-thiel/education-libertarian. 38. Hannah Arendt, The Human Condition (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1998), 222. 39. Ibid., 227. 40. Ibid., 222. 41. Houriet, 11. 42. Ibid., 13. 43. Ibid., 24. 44. Mella Robinson, “An island nation that told a libertarian ‘seasteading’ group it could build a floating city has pulled out of the deal,” Business Insider, March 14, 2018: https://www.businessinsider.com/french-polynesia-ends-agreement-with-peter-thiel-seasteading-institute-2018-3. 45. Maureen Dowd, “Peter Thiel, Trump’s Tech Pal, Explains Himself,” The New York Times, January 11, 2017: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/11/fashion/peter-thiel-donald-trump-silicon-valley-technology-gawker.html. 46.

He proposed avoiding politics altogether and working instead on “the design of cultural practices.”36 To him, the late twentieth century was an exercise in R&D. The kind of escape that Walden Two embodies reminds me of a more recent utopian proposal. In 2008, Wayne Gramlich and Patri Friedman founded the nonprofit the Seasteading Institute, which seeks to establish autonomous island communities in international waters. For Silicon Valley investor and libertarian Peter Thiel, who supported the project early on, the prospect of a brand-new floating colony in a place outside the law was interesting indeed. In his 2009 essay “The Education of a Libertarian,” Thiel echoes Skinner’s conclusion that the future requires a total escape from politics. Having decided that “democracy and freedom are incompatible,” Thiel’s gesture toward some other option that is somehow not totalitarian is either naive or disingenuous: Because there are no truly free places left in our world, I suspect that the mode for escape must involve some sort of new and hitherto untried process that leads us to some undiscovered country; and for this reason I have focused my efforts on new technologies that may create a new space for freedom.37 For Thiel, only the sea, outer space, and cyberspace can provide this “new space.”

In 2018, two years after the Seasteading Institute signed an informal agreement with French Polynesian officials to allow offshore development there, the government backed out, citing concerns about “tech colonialism.” A documentary on the Institute’s efforts found that Polynesian locals weren’t given much attention at the Seasteading Institute’s events. In a description that might not have displeased Peter Thiel, a local radio and TV personality called the project a cross between “visionary genius” and “megalomania.”44 Thiel had in fact already backed out of the Seasteading Institute because he decided the plans for island nations were unrealistic—amazingly, not in terms of politics. “They’re not quite feasible from an engineering perspective,” he told The New York Times.45 It seems likely, however, that even if his islands had been perfectly designed (by an elite contingent of Plato-ish designers, no doubt) and accepted by existing governments, things could easily have strayed from the plan.


pages: 252 words: 79,452

To Be a Machine: Adventures Among Cyborgs, Utopians, Hackers, and the Futurists Solving the Modest Problem of Death by Mark O'Connell

3D printing, Ada Lovelace, AI winter, Airbnb, Albert Einstein, artificial general intelligence, brain emulation, clean water, cognitive dissonance, computer age, cosmological principle, dark matter, disruptive innovation, double helix, Edward Snowden, effective altruism, Elon Musk, Extropian, friendly AI, global pandemic, impulse control, income inequality, invention of the wheel, Jacques de Vaucanson, John von Neumann, knowledge economy, Law of Accelerating Returns, life extension, lifelogging, Lyft, Mars Rover, means of production, Norbert Wiener, Peter Thiel, profit motive, Ray Kurzweil, RFID, self-driving car, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley ideology, Singularitarianism, Skype, Stephen Hawking, Steve Wozniak, superintelligent machines, technological singularity, technoutopianism, The Coming Technological Singularity, Travis Kalanick, trickle-down economics, Turing machine, uber lyft, Vernor Vinge

The more I learned about transhumanism, the more I came to see that, for all its apparent extremity and strangeness, it was nonetheless exerting certain formative pressures on the culture of Silicon Valley, and thereby the broader cultural imagination of technology. Transhumanism’s influence seemed perceptible in the fanatical dedication of many tech entrepreneurs to the ideal of radical life extension—in the PayPal cofounder and Facebook investor Peter Thiel’s funding of various life extension projects, for instance, and in Google’s establishment of its biotech subsidiary Calico, aimed at generating solutions to the problem of human aging. And the movement’s influence was perceptible, too, in Elon Musk’s and Bill Gates’s and Stephen Hawking’s increasingly vehement warnings about the prospect of our species’ annihilation by an artificial superintelligence, not to mention in Google’s instatement of Ray Kurzweil, the high priest of the Technological Singularity, as its director of engineering.

“I didn’t hide it, as such,” he said, “but it wasn’t like I was walking into labs, telling people I wanted to upload human minds to computers either. I’d work with people on some related area, like the encoding of memory, for instance, with a view to figuring out how that might fit into an overall road map for whole brain emulation.” Having worked for a while at Halcyon Molecular, a Silicon Valley gene-sequencing and nanotechnology start-up funded by Peter Thiel, he decided to stay in the Bay Area and start his own nonprofit aimed at advancing the cause to which he’d long been dedicated. He conceived of Carboncopies as a kind of central gathering point where researchers in various fields—nanotechnology, artificial intelligence, brain imaging, cognitive psychology, biotechnology—crucial to the development of substrate independent minds could meet to share their work and discuss its potential contribution to the cause.

Another of the workshop’s invited participants was a man named Todd Huffman, the CEO of a San Francisco company called 3Scan, which happened to be pioneering exactly this technology. Todd was among the collaborators Randal had mentioned—one of the people who kept him regularly updated about their work, and its relevance to the overall project of uploading. Although one of 3Scan’s initial sources of start-up funding was Peter Thiel—a man who, although he did not explicitly identify with the transhumanist movement, was famously invested in the cause of vastly extending human life spans, in particular his own—it was not a company that had any explicit designs on the brain uploading market. (And the major reason for this was that such a market was nowhere near existing.) It promoted its technology as a tool for the diagnosis and analysis of cell pathologies, as a medical device.


pages: 168 words: 50,647

The End of Jobs: Money, Meaning and Freedom Without the 9-To-5 by Taylor Pearson

"side hustle", Airbnb, barriers to entry, Ben Horowitz, Black Swan, call centre, cloud computing, commoditize, creative destruction, David Heinemeier Hansson, Elon Musk, en.wikipedia.org, Frederick Winslow Taylor, future of work, Google Hangouts, Kevin Kelly, Kickstarter, knowledge economy, knowledge worker, loss aversion, low skilled workers, Lyft, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, market fragmentation, means of production, Oculus Rift, passive income, passive investing, Peter Thiel, remote working, Ronald Reagan: Tear down this wall, sharing economy, side project, Silicon Valley, Skype, software as a service, software is eating the world, Startup school, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Stewart Brand, telemarketer, Thomas Malthus, Uber and Lyft, uber lyft, unpaid internship, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, web application, Whole Earth Catalog

Dan Ariely, Uri Gneezy, George Lowenstein, and Nina Mazar, “Large Stakes and Big Mistakes,” Federal Reserve Bank of Boston Working Paper No. 05-11, July 23, 2005 59. Pink, Daniel H. (2011-04-05). Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us 60. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6h5cY7d6nPU 61. http://www.inc.com/allison-fass/peter-thiel-mark-zuckerberg-luck-day-facebook-turned-down-billion-dollars.html 62. Pink, Daniel H. (2011-04-05). Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us (Kindle Locations 1836-1848). Penguin Group US. Kindle Edition. Conclusion 63. JFK’s speech at Rice University on September 12th, 1962 64. Source: Peter Thiel, Zero to One 65. Author interview with Rob Walling, to download the full interview, go to http://taylorpearson.me/eoj Next Steps 66. http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2014/08/10/high-intensity-strength-training.aspx 67.

Why was one group living in fear of the threat of job loss, unreasonably long hours, and shrinking wages, while another was so overwhelmed by new opportunities they don’t know what to do? Two years after I’d first shown up in Bangkok, I finally got it. What’s Your Secret? “If you do things that are safe but feel risky, you gain a significant advantage in the marketplace.” Seth Godin Multi-millionaire investor Peter Thiel begins every interview with companies he’s considering investing in with the same three questions: What’s your secret? What important truth do very few people agree with you on? What do you believe that is both contrarian and correct? What Thiel and the group in Bangkok understood is based on an old axiom from Archimedes over two thousand years ago: “Give me a lever long enough and a fulcrum on which to place it, and I shall move the world.”

If you look at the current head coaches in the NBA or NFL, the 80/20 rule applies. 80% of them usually have common roots in apprenticing with 20% of the head coaches of the past generation. Technology startups have started to develop “mafias,” or groups of successful entrepreneurs that can trace their roots back to a common source. Elon Musk (Currently of SpaceX and Tesla), Reid Hoffman (LinkedIn), and Peter Thiel (Palantir) all worked together at PayPal.42 Trajectory Theory—A Guide to Hiring an Apprentice (or Getting Hired) Three-time New York Times bestselling author Tucker Max has hired a lot of people to work in an apprentice-type position, and they’ve almost always gone on to be successful in future projects and companies. Why is his track record so good? In his words, he hires “people who have done things.”


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The Great Stagnation by Tyler Cowen

Asian financial crisis, Bernie Madoff, en.wikipedia.org, endogenous growth, financial innovation, Flynn Effect, income inequality, indoor plumbing, life extension, liquidity trap, Long Term Capital Management, Mark Zuckerberg, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Peter Thiel, RAND corporation, school choice, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, urban renewal

Further, the publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for author or third-party Web sites or their content. http://us.penguingroup.com Acknowledgments For useful comments and discussions, I wish to thank Peter Thiel, Daniel Sutter, Alex Tabarrok, Garett Jones, Bryan Caplan, Robin Hanson, Michael Mandel, Stephen Morrow, Natasha Cowen, Teresa Hartnett, John Nye, Jason Fichtner, Michelle Dawson, Nathan Molteni, Michael Munger, seminar participants at Duke University, and Jayme Lemke. I dedicate this work to Michael Mandel and Peter Thiel, who have blazed the way. The Low-Hanging Fruit We Ate Land, Technology, and Uneducated Kids America is in disarray and our economy is failing us. We have been through the biggest financial crisis since the Great Depression, unemployment remains stubbornly high, and talk of a double-dip recession persists.

Paul Krugman, Nouriel Roubini, and Jeffrey Sachs are all more famous, prizewinning commentators on the questions of macroeconomics and development, and from them you will hear a lot of talk about liquidity traps, currency crises, and the future of Africa. But this group misses many of the critical angles of science and technology and the broader historical picture of how a technological plateau is possible. Peter Thiel, a cofounder of PayPal and an early investor in Facebook (he shows up as a character in the movie Social Network, albeit poorly portrayed), also deserves credit for promoting the idea of an innovation and productivity slowdown. In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, he put it bluntly: “People don’t want to believe that technology is broken.... Pharmaceuticals, robotics, artificial intelligence, nanotechnology—all these areas where the progress has been a lot more limited than people think.

I am using a pre-crisis number to adjust for the fall in GDP from the financial crisis; in that sense, this number is an approximate one and thus a more conservative estimate than what a completely current calculation would yield. For one example of Michael Mandel’s writings, see “Official GDP, Productivity Stats Tell a Different Story of U.S. Economy,” Seeking Alpha, May 10, 2010, http://seekingalpha.com/article/204083-official-gdpproductivity-stats-tell-a-different-story-of-u-s-economy. The Peter Thiel quotation is from Holman W. Jenkins Jr., “Technology = Salvation, An early investor in Facebook and the founder of Clarium Capital on the subprime crisis and why American ingenuity has hit a dead end,” The Wall Street Journal, October 9, 2010. Chapter 3 Does the Internet Change Everything? Some of the employment figures from respective corporate Web sites. See http://investor.ebay.com/faq.cfm, http://investor.google.com/corporate/faq.html#employees, www.facebook.com/press/info.php?


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Transaction Man: The Rise of the Deal and the Decline of the American Dream by Nicholas Lemann

Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Airbnb, airline deregulation, Albert Einstein, augmented reality, basic income, Bernie Sanders, Black-Scholes formula, buy and hold, capital controls, computerized trading, corporate governance, cryptocurrency, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, dematerialisation, diversified portfolio, Donald Trump, Elon Musk, Eugene Fama: efficient market hypothesis, financial deregulation, financial innovation, fixed income, future of work, George Akerlof, gig economy, Henry Ford's grandson gave labor union leader Walter Reuther a tour of the company’s new, automated factory…, index fund, information asymmetry, invisible hand, Irwin Jacobs, Joi Ito, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Arrow, Kickstarter, life extension, Long Term Capital Management, Mark Zuckerberg, mass immigration, means of production, Metcalfe’s law, money market fund, Mont Pelerin Society, moral hazard, Myron Scholes, new economy, Norman Mailer, obamacare, Paul Samuelson, Peter Thiel, price mechanism, principal–agent problem, profit maximization, quantitative trading / quantitative finance, Ralph Nader, Richard Thaler, road to serfdom, Robert Bork, Robert Metcalfe, rolodex, Ronald Coase, Ronald Reagan, Sand Hill Road, shareholder value, short selling, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley ideology, Silicon Valley startup, Social Responsibility of Business Is to Increase Its Profits, Steve Jobs, TaskRabbit, The Nature of the Firm, the payments system, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, Thorstein Veblen, too big to fail, transaction costs, universal basic income, War on Poverty, white flight, working poor

The miseries of Hoffman’s early life ended when he enrolled as an undergraduate at Stanford, in 1989. He became one of the first students in a new major called Symbolic Systems, a combination of philosophy, linguistics, psychology, and computer science. He met his future wife, Michelle Yee, whom he won over, at least as he remembers it, in a typically Hoffman way by outsmarting a much more conventionally handsome rival for her affections. He also made a group of lifelong friends, such as Peter Thiel, a German-born libertarian, later to become famous as a Silicon Valley investor who liked to make provocatively candid pronouncements that were designed to offend people. (Hoffman and Thiel ran successfully for the Stanford student senate as a kind of balanced ticket, with Hoffman as the left-winger and Thiel as the right-winger.) Hoffman was a tireless organizer of student activities and an outstanding student.

In 1997 Hoffman started his own company, SocialNet, which created a way for people to connect with each other for various purposes, mainly dating, using pseudonyms. After a few years, he sold SocialNet to a company called Spark Networks, which now owns the religious dating sites Jdate and Christian Mingle. Then he became the chief operating officer of PayPal, the money transferring service, where Peter Thiel was the founder and chief executive officer. Hoffman had always believed that online communities should be organized around some fundamental human need, such as love or money—he liked to say that you have to tap into at least one of the seven deadly sins. Now he was switching from lust to greed, also correcting an initial mistaken hypothesis he had absorbed from the gaming world, that people would not want to join online communities under their real names.

(Silicon Valley’s favorite motto is, “It is better to beg for forgiveness than to ask for permission.”) As Hoffman later wrote, “At PayPal, we broke the rules, but we did so because we were working toward a better set of rules for everyone.” In the expected order of things, big financial institutions would have established themselves as dominant in the online payments business. That a group of young men whom Peter Thiel liked to describe as having Asperger’s syndrome got out ahead of Visa, Wells Fargo, and other competitors—not to mention an internal division eBay had launched to offer its customers the same service that PayPal offered—was testament to their willingness to operate outside the constraints that governments impose on banks and to their unconventional conviction that building up a big user base was more important than making money, at least in the short run.


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The Scandal of Money by George Gilder

Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, bank run, Bernie Sanders, bitcoin, blockchain, borderless world, Bretton Woods, capital controls, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, Carmen Reinhart, central bank independence, Claude Shannon: information theory, Clayton Christensen, cloud computing, corporate governance, cryptocurrency, currency manipulation / currency intervention, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, Deng Xiaoping, disintermediation, Donald Trump, fiat currency, financial innovation, Fractional reserve banking, full employment, George Gilder, glass ceiling, Home mortgage interest deduction, index fund, indoor plumbing, industrial robot, inflation targeting, informal economy, Innovator's Dilemma, Internet of things, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, Jeff Bezos, John von Neumann, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Rogoff, knowledge economy, Law of Accelerating Returns, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, Menlo Park, Metcalfe’s law, money: store of value / unit of account / medium of exchange, mortgage tax deduction, obamacare, Paul Samuelson, Peter Thiel, Ponzi scheme, price stability, Productivity paradox, purchasing power parity, quantitative easing, quantitative trading / quantitative finance, Ray Kurzweil, reserve currency, road to serfdom, Robert Gordon, Robert Metcalfe, Ronald Reagan, Sand Hill Road, Satoshi Nakamoto, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, secular stagnation, seigniorage, Silicon Valley, smart grid, South China Sea, special drawing rights, The Great Moderation, The Rise and Fall of American Growth, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Tim Cook: Apple, time value of money, too big to fail, transaction costs, trickle-down economics, Turing machine, winner-take-all economy, yield curve, zero-sum game

Distributed to the trade by Perseus Distribution 250 West 57th Street New York, NY 10107 To Bruce Chapman, friend and guide for sixty years Contents PrologueWinning the Debate Chapter 1The Dream and the Dollar Chapter 2Justice before Growth Chapter 3Friedman and the Enigma of Money Chapter 4The Chinese Challenge Chapter 5The High Cost of Bad Money Chapter 6Money in Information Theory Chapter 7What Bitcoin Can Teach Chapter 8Where “Hayeks” Go Wrong Chapter 9The Piketty-Turner Thesis Chapter 10Hypertrophy of Finance Chapter 11Main Street Pushed Aside Chapter 12Wall Street Sells Its Soul Chapter 13A Wrinkle in Time Chapter 14Restoring Real Money Acknowledgments Key Terms for the Information Theory of Money Notes Index The source and root of all monetary evil [is] the government monopoly on the issue and control of money. —Friedrich Hayek Prologue Winning the Debate Humans don’t decide what to build by making choices from some cosmic catalog of options given in advance; instead, by creating new technologies, we rewrite the plan of the world. —Peter Thiel, Zero to One (2014) Will conservatives win the coming economic debate? The nation depends on it. We deserve to win, after all. We have the best economic ideas, so we say, aligned with constitutional liberty and the American Dream. The economy is in trouble, and after two terms of President Barack Obama the Democrats are mostly to blame. After a crash like the 2008 financial debacle, the U.S. economy typically takes off on a seven-year boom.

But as Steve Forbes put it, the world underwent “four decades of slow-motion wealth destruction, as the value of the dollar dropped 80 percent.” Dissolved were the maps and metrics across both space and time. The spatial index is the web of exchange rates between currencies that mediate all global trade. This is a horizontal axis, the geographical span of enterprise. Here existing products are replicated across now-globalized space—in Peter Thiel’s trope, from “one to n.” The indices of time are the interest rates that mediate between past and future—the vertical dimension that takes the economy into the future, what Thiel depicts as the vectors from “zero to one.”8 Since the early 1970s these once-golden gauges and guideposts have lost their meaning, subject now to constant manipulation by government bodies around the globe and by their increasingly nationalized banking systems.

The reason is a decade and a half of economic failure so crippling and pervasive that it has led to a global revulsion against capitalism. Leading economists such as the former Treasury secretary Lawrence Summers and Robert Gordon of the National Bureau of Economic Research have concluded that the world’s economies are entering an era of “secular stagnation,” not merely a cyclical slowdown but a permanent decline of entrepreneurial innovation and technological advance.6 Peter Thiel, by all odds the world’s most visionary venture capitalist–philosopher, has declared that of four possibilities for the world economy—recurrent collapse, plateau, extinction, and technological takeoff—“the hardest one to imagine [is] accelerating takeoff toward a much better future.”7 Deepening the global economic doldrums is a forced transfer of wealth from Main Street to Wall Street so gigantic that it has sharply skewed global measures of the distribution of wealth and income, bringing to a halt fifty years of miraculous and broad-based advances in global living standards.


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Tools of Titans: The Tactics, Routines, and Habits of Billionaires, Icons, and World-Class Performers by Timothy Ferriss

Airbnb, Alexander Shulgin, artificial general intelligence, asset allocation, Atul Gawande, augmented reality, back-to-the-land, Ben Horowitz, Bernie Madoff, Bertrand Russell: In Praise of Idleness, Black Swan, blue-collar work, Boris Johnson, Buckminster Fuller, business process, Cal Newport, call centre, Charles Lindbergh, Checklist Manifesto, cognitive bias, cognitive dissonance, Colonization of Mars, Columbine, commoditize, correlation does not imply causation, David Brooks, David Graeber, diversification, diversified portfolio, Donald Trump, effective altruism, Elon Musk, fault tolerance, fear of failure, Firefox, follow your passion, future of work, Google X / Alphabet X, Howard Zinn, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, Jeff Bezos, job satisfaction, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, John Markoff, Kevin Kelly, Kickstarter, Lao Tzu, lateral thinking, life extension, lifelogging, Mahatma Gandhi, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, Mason jar, Menlo Park, Mikhail Gorbachev, MITM: man-in-the-middle, Nelson Mandela, Nicholas Carr, optical character recognition, PageRank, passive income, pattern recognition, Paul Graham, peer-to-peer, Peter H. Diamandis: Planetary Resources, Peter Singer: altruism, Peter Thiel, phenotype, PIHKAL and TIHKAL, post scarcity, post-work, premature optimization, QWERTY keyboard, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Ray Kurzweil, recommendation engine, rent-seeking, Richard Feynman, risk tolerance, Ronald Reagan, selection bias, sharing economy, side project, Silicon Valley, skunkworks, Skype, Snapchat, social graph, software as a service, software is eating the world, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Stewart Brand, superintelligent machines, Tesla Model S, The Wisdom of Crowds, Thomas L Friedman, Wall-E, Washington Consensus, Whole Earth Catalog, Y Combinator, zero-sum game

[There were] a variety of possible good reasons to go, but none justified a trip in and of itself. He said, ‘There needs to be one decisive reason, and then the worthiness of the trip needs to be measured against that one reason. If I go, then we can backfill into the schedule all the other secondary activities. But if I go for a blended reason, I’ll almost surely come back and feel like it was a waste of time.’ ” * * * Peter Thiel Peter Thiel (TW: @peterthiel, with 1 tweet and 130K+ followers; foundersfund.com) is a serial company founder (PayPal, Palantir), billionaire investor (the first outside investor in Facebook and more than a hundred others), and author of the book Zero to One. His teachings on differentiation, value creation, and competition alone have helped me make some of the best investment decisions of my life (such as Uber, Alibaba, and more).

Novak (p. 378) Alexis Ohanian (p. 194) Amanda Palmer (p. 520) Rhonda Patrick (p. 6) Caroline Paul (p. 459) Martin Polanco (p. 109) Charles Poliquin (p. 74) Maria Popova (p. 406) Rolf Potts (p. 362) Naval Ravikant (p. 546) Gabby Reece (p. 92) Tony Robbins (p. 210) Robert Rodriguez (p. 628) Seth Rogen (p. 531) Kevin Rose (p. 340) Rick Rubin (p. 502) Chris Sacca (p. 164) Arnold Schwarzenegger (p. 176) Ramit Sethi (p. 287) Mike Shinoda (p. 352) Jason Silva (p. 589) Derek Sivers (p. 184) Joshua Skenes (p. 500) Christopher Sommer (p. 9) Morgan Spurlock (p. 221) Kelly Starrett (p. 122) Neil Strauss (p. 347) Cheryl Strayed (p. 515) Chade-Meng Tan (p. 154) Peter Thiel (p. 232) Pavel Tsatsouline (p. 85) Luis von Ahn (p. 331) Josh Waitzkin (p. 577) Eric Weinstein (p. 523) Shaun White (p. 271) Jocko Willink (p. 412) Rainn Wilson (p. 543) Chris Young (p. 318) Andrew Zimmern (p. 540) Contents FOREWORD ON THE SHOULDERS OF GIANTS READ THIS FIRST—HOW TO USE THIS BOOK * * * Part 1: Healthy Amelia Boone Rhonda Perciavalle Patrick Christopher Sommer Gymnast Strong Dominic D’Agostino Patrick Arnold Joe De Sena Wim “The Iceman” Hof Rick Rubin’s Barrel Sauna Jason Nemer AcroYoga—Thai and Fly Deconstructing Sports and Skills with Questions Peter Attia Justin Mager Charles Poliquin The Slow-Carb Diet® Cheat Sheet My 6-Piece Gym in a Bag Pavel Tsatsouline Laird Hamilton, Gabby Reece & Brian MacKenzie James Fadiman Martin Polanco & Dan Engle Kelly Starrett Paul Levesque (Triple H) Jane McGonigal Adam Gazzaley 5 Tools for Faster and Better Sleep 5 Morning Rituals that Help Me Win the Day Mind Training 101 Three Tips from a Google Pioneer Coach Sommer—The Single Decision * * * Part 2: Wealthy Chris Sacca Marc Andreessen Arnold Schwarzenegger Derek Sivers Alexis Ohanian “Productivity” Tricks for the Neurotic, Manic-Depressive, and Crazy (Like Me) Matt Mullenweg Nicholas McCarthy Tony Robbins Casey Neistat Morgan Spurlock What My Morning Journal Looks Like Reid Hoffman Peter Thiel Seth Godin James Altucher How to Create a Real-World MBA Scott Adams Shaun White The Law of Category Chase Jarvis Dan Carlin Ramit Sethi 1,000 True Fans—Revisited Hacking Kickstarter Alex Blumberg The Podcast Gear I Use Ed Catmull Tracy DiNunzio Phil Libin Chris Young Daymond John Noah Kagan Kaskade Luis von Ahn The Canvas Strategy Kevin Rose Gut Investing Neil Strauss Mike Shinoda Justin Boreta Scott Belsky How to Earn Your Freedom Peter Diamandis Sophia Amoruso B.J.

Novak (p. 378) Alexis Ohanian (p. 194) Amanda Palmer (p. 520) Rhonda Patrick (p. 6) Caroline Paul (p. 459) Martin Polanco (p. 109) Charles Poliquin (p. 74) Maria Popova (p. 406) Rolf Potts (p. 362) Naval Ravikant (p. 546) Gabby Reece (p. 92) Tony Robbins (p. 210) Robert Rodriguez (p. 628) Seth Rogen (p. 531) Kevin Rose (p. 340) Rick Rubin (p. 502) Chris Sacca (p. 164) Arnold Schwarzenegger (p. 176) Ramit Sethi (p. 287) Mike Shinoda (p. 352) Jason Silva (p. 589) Derek Sivers (p. 184) Joshua Skenes (p. 500) Christopher Sommer (p. 9) Morgan Spurlock (p. 221) Kelly Starrett (p. 122) Neil Strauss (p. 347) Cheryl Strayed (p. 515) Chade-Meng Tan (p. 154) Peter Thiel (p. 232) Pavel Tsatsouline (p. 85) Luis von Ahn (p. 331) Josh Waitzkin (p. 577) Eric Weinstein (p. 523) Shaun White (p. 271) Jocko Willink (p. 412) Rainn Wilson (p. 543) Chris Young (p. 318) Andrew Zimmern (p. 540) Contents FOREWORD ON THE SHOULDERS OF GIANTS READ THIS FIRST—HOW TO USE THIS BOOK * * * Part 1: Healthy Amelia Boone Rhonda Perciavalle Patrick Christopher Sommer Gymnast Strong Dominic D’Agostino Patrick Arnold Joe De Sena Wim “The Iceman” Hof Rick Rubin’s Barrel Sauna Jason Nemer AcroYoga—Thai and Fly Deconstructing Sports and Skills with Questions Peter Attia Justin Mager Charles Poliquin The Slow-Carb Diet® Cheat Sheet My 6-Piece Gym in a Bag Pavel Tsatsouline Laird Hamilton, Gabby Reece & Brian MacKenzie James Fadiman Martin Polanco & Dan Engle Kelly Starrett Paul Levesque (Triple H) Jane McGonigal Adam Gazzaley 5 Tools for Faster and Better Sleep 5 Morning Rituals that Help Me Win the Day Mind Training 101 Three Tips from a Google Pioneer Coach Sommer—The Single Decision * * * Part 2: Wealthy Chris Sacca Marc Andreessen Arnold Schwarzenegger Derek Sivers Alexis Ohanian “Productivity” Tricks for the Neurotic, Manic-Depressive, and Crazy (Like Me) Matt Mullenweg Nicholas McCarthy Tony Robbins Casey Neistat Morgan Spurlock What My Morning Journal Looks Like Reid Hoffman Peter Thiel Seth Godin James Altucher How to Create a Real-World MBA Scott Adams Shaun White The Law of Category Chase Jarvis Dan Carlin Ramit Sethi 1,000 True Fans—Revisited Hacking Kickstarter Alex Blumberg The Podcast Gear I Use Ed Catmull Tracy DiNunzio Phil Libin Chris Young Daymond John Noah Kagan Kaskade Luis von Ahn The Canvas Strategy Kevin Rose Gut Investing Neil Strauss Mike Shinoda Justin Boreta Scott Belsky How to Earn Your Freedom Peter Diamandis Sophia Amoruso B.J.


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The Politics of Bitcoin: Software as Right-Wing Extremism by David Golumbia

3D printing, A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, bitcoin, blockchain, Burning Man, crony capitalism, cryptocurrency, currency peg, distributed ledger, Elon Musk, en.wikipedia.org, Ethereum, ethereum blockchain, Extropian, fiat currency, Fractional reserve banking, George Gilder, jimmy wales, litecoin, Marc Andreessen, money: store of value / unit of account / medium of exchange, Mont Pelerin Society, new economy, obamacare, Peter Thiel, Philip Mirowski, risk tolerance, Ronald Reagan, Satoshi Nakamoto, seigniorage, Silicon Valley, Singularitarianism, smart contracts, Stewart Brand, technoutopianism, The Chicago School, Travis Kalanick, WikiLeaks

But the analysis of cyberlibertarianism is getting at something subtler: the way that a set of slogans and beliefs associated with the spread of digital technology incorporate critical parts of a right-wing worldview even as they manifest a surface rhetorical commitment to values that do not immediately appear to come from the right. Certainly, many leaders in the digital technology industries, and quite a few leaders who do not work for corporations, openly declare their adherence to libertarian or other right-wing ideologies. Just a brief list of these includes figures like Elon Musk, Peter Thiel, Eric Raymond, Jimmy Wales, Eric Schmidt, and Travis Kalanick. Furthermore, the number of leaders who demur from such political points of view is small, and their demurrals are often shallow. But the group of people whose beliefs deserve to be labeled “cyberlibertarian” is much larger than this. The core tenet of cyberlibertarianism—the insistence that “governments should not regulate the internet”—appears to be compatible with a wide range of political viewpoints.

But as with Bitcoin itself, it is hard not to see—that is, if one is looking for it—the extremist assumptions on which the notions of DAOs and DACs and their ilk are built. One of the main proponents of DAOs and DACs is Vitalik Buterin, author of the passage about “smart contracts” above, “a Canadian college dropout and Bitcoin enthusiast” (Schneider 2014), cofounder of Bitcoin Magazine, and a recipient of one of the US$100,000 Thiel Fellowships funded by the eponymous right-wing technology entrepreneur and PayPal founder Peter Thiel (Rizzo 2014a)—fellowships that specifically promote the rejection of higher education, in a manner harmonious with the rejection by Thiel and others on the right wing of public goods (Lind 2014). Buterin is a cofounder of Ethereum, the best-known project to generalize blockchain technology into applications that go beyond currency-like systems. Buterin (2014) describes DAOs “and their subclass, DACs,” as the “holy grail” of decentralized applications.

The Federal Reserve and Our Manipulated Dollar: With Comments on the Causes of Wars, Depressions, Inflation, and Poverty. Old Greenwich, Conn.: Devin-Adair. Lepore, Jill. 2010. The Whites of Their Eyes: The Tea Party’s Revolution and the Battle over American History. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press. Levin, Mark R. 2009. Liberty and Tyranny: A Conservative Manifesto. New York: Simon and Schuster. Lind, Michael. 2014. “Why Celebrity ‘Genius’ Peter Thiel Is Grossly Overrated.” Salon (September 11). http://www.salon.com/. “List of Bitcoin Heists.” 2014. Bitcointalk.org forum. http://bitcointalk.org/. Liu, Alec. 2013. “Why Bitcoins Are Just Like Gold.” Vice Motherboard (March 21). http://motherboard.vice.com/. Lopp, Jameson. 2016. “Bitcoin and the Rise of the Cypherpunks.” CoinDesk (April 9). http://www.coindesk.com/. Madore, P. H. 2015. “Alleged Sheep Marketplace Owner Identified in Czech Republic.”


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Who Needs the Fed?: What Taylor Swift, Uber, and Robots Tell Us About Money, Credit, and Why We Should Abolish America's Central Bank by John Tamny

Airbnb, bank run, Bernie Madoff, bitcoin, Bretton Woods, buy and hold, Carmen Reinhart, corporate raider, correlation does not imply causation, creative destruction, Credit Default Swap, crony capitalism, crowdsourcing, Donald Trump, Downton Abbey, fiat currency, financial innovation, Fractional reserve banking, full employment, George Gilder, Home mortgage interest deduction, Jeff Bezos, job automation, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Rogoff, Kickstarter, liquidity trap, Mark Zuckerberg, market bubble, money market fund, moral hazard, mortgage tax deduction, NetJets, offshore financial centre, oil shock, peak oil, Peter Thiel, price stability, profit motive, quantitative easing, race to the bottom, Ronald Reagan, self-driving car, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Steve Jobs, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, too big to fail, Travis Kalanick, Uber for X, War on Poverty, yield curve

Claire Cain, “Wearing Your Failures on Your Sleeve,” New York Times, November 8, 2014. 2. Mike Isaac, “Upstarts Raiding Giants for Staff in Silicon Valley,” New York Times, August 19, 2015. 3. Thomas K. McCraw, Prophet of Innovation: Joseph Schumpeter and Creative Destruction (Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press, 2007), 70. 4. Ibid., 73. 5. Julianne Pepitone & Stacy Cawley, “Facebook’s first big investor, Peter Thiel, cashes out,” CNNMoney, August 20, 2012. 6. Peter Thiel, with Blake Masters, Zero to One (New York: Crown Business, 2014), 84. 7. Tim Harford, Adapt: Why Success Always Starts with Failure (New York: Farrar Strauss and Giroux, 2011), 236. 8. George Gilder, Knowledge and Power (Washington, D.C.: Regnery, 2013), 5. 9. Thomas Kessner, Capital City: New York City and the Men behind America’s Rise to Economic Dominance, 1860–1900 (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2004), 216. 10.

Schumpeter further described entrepreneurialism as the “opening of a new market, that is a market into which the particular branch of manufacturer of the country in question has not previously entered.”4 Entrepreneurs are doing something entirely new, something that has never been tested by the markets before. By that very description, such ventures are most often going to end in failure. Billionaire venture capitalist Peter Thiel earned his initial fortune as a cofounder of PayPal. However, his most famous investment success to this day was the $500,000 he invested in Facebook in 2004.5 His PayPal wealth meant that he had money to lose, and odds were the then largely unknown social network would not succeed. That his stake would eventually be measured in the billions is all the evidence we need to prove that he risked losing his entire investment.

Whatever the perks of being in Congress, or for that matter being an ex-politician, great investors can earn billions. So it’s no major insight to say that if Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden, or Marco Rubio had a clue about what companies and business concepts were going to prosper in the future, they would not be members of the political class. Simply put, wealth in the hands of politicians is not the same as wealth in the hands of Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, Peter Thiel, or Jeff Bezos. Government can’t spend or invest us to prosperity for reasons of talent alone. My sermonizing, while true, ultimately amounts to shooting fish in the most crowded of barrels. While the talent differential between politicians and successful investors is blindingly obvious, to point it out is arguably to miss the greater point. Undoubtedly, those who properly decry government in its role as venture capitalist can point to the massive government loan to now bankrupt Solyndra as one of many modern examples of how politicians don’t know how to invest.


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The Education of Millionaires: It's Not What You Think and It's Not Too Late by Michael Ellsberg

affirmative action, Black Swan, Burning Man, corporate governance, creative destruction, financial independence, follow your passion, future of work, hiring and firing, job automation, knowledge worker, lateral thinking, Lean Startup, Mark Zuckerberg, means of production, mega-rich, meta analysis, meta-analysis, new economy, Norman Mailer, Peter Thiel, profit motive, race to the bottom, Sand Hill Road, shareholder value, side project, Silicon Valley, Skype, social intelligence, Steve Ballmer, survivorship bias, telemarketer, Tony Hsieh

The next speaker was Blake Mycoskie, founder of TOMS shoes (http://www.toms.com), a company famous for donating one pair of shoes to children in need for every pair it sells. Blake, of course, did not complete college. Peter Thiel (whom I introduced via e-mail to Elliott) spoke to the audience about his fellowship, and received powerful applause for his comments about the failure of higher education today. A revolution is happening. All of a sudden, I was meeting kids everywhere who were waking up and realizing something profoundly important: they have more power and choice to control their own destiny than most parents, teachers, pundits, and politicians tell them. They don’t need to follow the crowd running into a building that’s burning down, just because everyone else is running into it. They have choice. They have the tools at their disposal now to create their own path through life. Peter Thiel continued on this theme: “I was talking with someone here in San Francisco, who was running a foundation to get minority students into college and then into various tracked careers.

Many thanks to Gregory Berns, PhD; Chris Brogan; Victor Cheng; Keith Ferrazzi; Seth Godin; Ace Greenberg; Cameron Herold; Josh Kaufman; Robert Kiyosaki; Randy Komisar; John Kremer; Charles Murray, PhD; Kenneth Roman; Marian Schembari; Peter Thiel; and Johnny Truant. The following people all connected me to one or more interviewees: Elliott Bisnow; Justin Cohen; Adair Curtis; Mike Del Ponte; Mike Faith; Tim Ferriss; Jonathan Fields; Marie Forleo; Sandor Gardos; Adam Gilad; David Hassell; Cameron Herold; Ken Howery; Lisa Kotecki; Jena la Flamme; Tonya Leigh; Justine Musk; Kenneth Roman; Polly Samson; Marian Schembari; Yanik Silver; and Peter Thiel. Thank you so much for your help. John Kremer’s incredible “College Dropouts Hall of Fame” (http://www.collegedropoutshalloffame.com) provided inspiration, and many of my initial ideas about whom to contact for interviews.

If you’re driven only by a desire for the status that is associated with being an entrepreneur, you’re not going to be willing to deal with the humiliation of sleeping on people’s couches.” Sean famously connected with Mark Zuckerberg when TheFacebook was an infant, and played a crucial role in making Facebook what it is today, adding central innovations like photo sharing and friend-tagging, and introducing Zuckerberg to Peter Thiel (whom we’ll meet later in the book), Facebook’s first investor. Facebook is now well on its way to becoming the single point of login and user authentication for a large swath of the Internet. Sean, with a 7 percent stake in Facebook, is now worth billions. So the first part of marketing has nothing to do with communications or ads or messages. It has to do with the concept of the product or service itself, and how well it is designed to meet needs/ solve the problems of a specific target market.


pages: 381 words: 78,467

100 Plus: How the Coming Age of Longevity Will Change Everything, From Careers and Relationships to Family And by Sonia Arrison

23andMe, 8-hour work day, Albert Einstein, Anne Wojcicki, artificial general intelligence, attribution theory, Bill Joy: nanobots, bioinformatics, Clayton Christensen, dark matter, disruptive innovation, East Village, en.wikipedia.org, epigenetics, Frank Gehry, Googley, income per capita, indoor plumbing, Jeff Bezos, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Kickstarter, Law of Accelerating Returns, life extension, personalized medicine, Peter Thiel, placebo effect, post scarcity, Ray Kurzweil, rolodex, Silicon Valley, Simon Kuznets, Singularitarianism, smart grid, speech recognition, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Steven Levy, Thomas Malthus, upwardly mobile, World Values Survey, X Prize

We are not mere spectators, and Arrison is no mere prophet. Instead, she truly is a great general, who is marshaling all of the vast forces of humanity in its titanic struggle against the Great Enemy of the world, whose true name is Death. I look forward to the battle being joined. Death was natural in the past, but so was the instinct to fight it. The future only has room for one of them. Peter Thiel Spring 2011 San Francisco CHAPTER 1 Humankind’s Eternal Quest for the Fountain of Youth DR. TYRELL: What seems to be the problem? ROY: Death. —Blade Runner FOR AS LONG as humans have been around, they have dreamed about living forever. Now, for the first time in history, science is bringing humanity closer to realizing that dream through advances that could potentially add hundreds of years to the average life span.

And even though Peterson is still the president of the Foresight Institute, she also organizes many successful conferences, including one called the Personalized Life Extension Conference: Anti-Aging Strategies for a Long Healthy Life.39 If that sounds like a fringe conference, think again. The headliner for the event was venture capitalist (VC) Ester Dyson, who sits on the board of directors for genomics company 23andMe and is a former chairman of the illustrious Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, the agency governing the Internet address system. Hedge fund manager, VC, and PayPal cofounder Peter Thiel also delivered a keynote, as did multi-prize-winning scientist Bruce Ames, after whom the Ames test for carcinogens is named. Venture capitalists are now paying close attention to the longevity space. Ester Dyson discussed her interest in an interview with the New York Times. “I’m looking at a lot of companies that are in the formation mode of health and self tracking platforms,” she said in February 2010.40 This helps explain why she was speaking at a life-extension conference organized by Peterson, who is superconnected to individuals in that industry.

The point is that biology has become the latest and greatest engineering project, one that hobbyists celebrate. More importantly, eventually this passion will change the world. Those who have already made it big in the technology industry have not failed to notice. Aside from Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos, other tech titans who are driving interest in the longevity meme include Oracle’s Larry Ellison, PayPal cofounder Peter Thiel, Google’s Larry Page and Sergey Brin, and Microsoft cofounder Paul Allen. TECH TITANS TAKING ON BIOLOGY “Death has never made any sense to me,” Larry Ellison told investigative reporter Mike Wilson, who wrote an authorized biography of the so-called bad boy of Silicon Valley. “How can a person be there and then just vanish, just not be there?. . . Death makes me very angry. Premature death makes me angrier still.”63 With these sentiments, it’s not surprising that Ellison has devoted a large chunk of his wealth to antiaging research.


pages: 128 words: 38,847

The Curse of Bigness: Antitrust in the New Gilded Age by Tim Wu

AltaVista, barriers to entry, collective bargaining, corporate personhood, corporate raider, creative destruction, Donald Trump, income inequality, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Joseph Schumpeter, Kickstarter, move fast and break things, move fast and break things, new economy, open economy, Peter Thiel, price discrimination, road to serfdom, Robert Bork, Silicon Valley, Snapchat, The Chicago School

The Trust Movement’s arguments were, in part, economic: Men like Rockefeller and Morgan simply took the monopoly as a superior form of business organization that was saving the economy from ruin. The U.S. and world economy had undergone terrible shocks in the 1890s, and hundreds of firms were thrown into bankruptcy. Many blamed “ruinous competition” for driving prices too low. In the same way that Silicon Valley’s Peter Thiel today argues that monopoly “drives progress” and that “competition is for losers,” adherents to the Trust Movement thought Adam Smith’s fierce competition had no place in a modern, industrialized economy. Monopolists liked to portray themselves as part of a progressive movement, striving toward a better age, and justified their work using the then-fashionable ideology of “Social Darwinism” and the writings of its English exponent, Herbert Spencer.

Over the years, as with the original Trust Movement, a strong current of self-justification began to creep into the consolidation. This could be a somewhat awkward undertaking for some of the firms who, as startups, had been committed to the old internet ideals of openness and chaos. But now it was all for the best: a law of nature, a chance for the monopolists to do good for the universe. The cheerer-in-chief for the monopoly form is Peter Thiel, author of Competition Is for Losers. Labeling the competitive economy a “relic of history” and a “trap,” he proclaimed that “only one thing can allow a business to transcend the daily brute struggle for survival: monopoly profits.” The big tech firms are a little more circumspect than Thiel. For Facebook, it is not trying to build a global empire of influence so much as “bringing the world closer together.”

United States, 356 U.S. 1 (1958) (Black, J.). 17 “Shall the industrial policy of America”: “Competition,” Louis Brandeis, American Legal News, January 1913 at 5. 17 “bad history, bad policy, and bad law”: “The Political Content of Antitrust,” Robert Pitofsky, University of Pennsylvania Law Review 127 (1979): 1051. 18 “suppress or even destroy”: Board of Trade of City of Chicago v. United States, 246 U.S. 231 (1918) (Brandeis, J.). 21 “a kingly prerogative”: 21 Cong. Rec. 2457 (1889), statement of Sen. John Sherman. CHAPTER ONE 26 monopoly “drives progress”: “Competition Is for Losers,” Peter Thiel, Wall Street Journal, Sept. 12, 2014. 27 “to clear the world of them”: Social Statics, Herbert Spencer, John Chapman, 1851. 28 “The American Beauty Rose”: The History of the Standard Oil Company, Ida M. Tarbell, McClure, Phillips & Co., 1904. 28 “arrest the wheels of progress”: Trusts, S.C.T. Dodd, 1900. 28 “Growth of a large business”: The Incorporation of America: Culture and Society in the Gilded Age, Alan Trachtenberg, Hill and Wang, 2007. 29 “Nothing less was at stake”: The Age of Reform, Richard Hofstadter, Knopf, 1955. 29 “economic and political power would be decentralized”: “What Happened to the Antitrust Movement?”


pages: 176 words: 55,819

The Start-Up of You: Adapt to the Future, Invest in Yourself, and Transform Your Career by Reid Hoffman, Ben Casnocha

Airbnb, Andy Kessler, Black Swan, business intelligence, Cal Newport, Clayton Christensen, commoditize, David Brooks, Donald Trump, en.wikipedia.org, fear of failure, follow your passion, future of work, game design, Jeff Bezos, job automation, Joi Ito, late fees, lateral thinking, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, Menlo Park, out of africa, Paul Graham, paypal mafia, Peter Thiel, recommendation engine, Richard Bolles, risk tolerance, rolodex, shareholder value, side project, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, social web, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Tony Hsieh, transaction costs

People around the world have sent hundreds of billions of dollars to one another over the Web—instantly and safely—thanks to PayPal’s innovative technology. When PayPal went public in 2002 (one of only two companies to do so that year), it gave hope to a technology industry in recession. When eBay acquired the company for $1.5 billion, PayPal staked its claim as a great Silicon Valley success story. Yet the PayPal Plan A did not look anything like the company looks today. In 1998 programmer Max Levchin teamed with derivatives trader Peter Thiel to create a “digital wallet”—an encryption platform that allowed you to store cash and information securely on your mobile phone. That soon evolved to software that allowed you to send and receive digital cash wirelessly and securely via a Palm Pilot (the first of several iterations) so that two friends could split a dinner tab using their PDAs. It was a neat idea that leveraged Max’s and Peter’s technology and finance backgrounds, respectively (complementary assets that gave them a competitive edge as founders).

Amazon, Boeing, UNICEF, and Whole Foods—to pick a handful of companies—are very different organizations, but they are all, ultimately, people organizations. People develop the technologies, write the mission statements, and stand behind the corporate logos and abstractions. People are the source of key resources, opportunities, information, and the like. For example, my long-term friendship with Peter Thiel, which started in college, is what connected me to PayPal. Without the relationship, Peter never would have called me with the life-changing opportunity. Likewise, without the alliance, I wouldn’t have referred Sean Parker and Mark Zuckerberg to Peter during Facebook’s initial financing. In alliances, resources and assistance flow both ways. People also act as gatekeepers. Jeffrey Pfeffer, professor of organizational behavior at Stanford, has marshaled evidence that shows that when it comes to getting promoted in your job, strong relationships and being on good terms with your boss can matter more than competence.

Our different styles make conversation fun. But it’s our similar interests and vision that have made our collaborations so successful. We invested in Friendster together in 2002, at the dawn of social networking. In 2003 the two of us bought the Six Degrees patent, which covers some of the foundational technology of social networking. Mark then started his own social network, Tribe; I started LinkedIn. When Peter Thiel and I were set to put the first money into Facebook in 2004, I suggested that Mark take half of my investment allocation. As a matter of course, I wanted to involve Mark in any opportunity that seemed intriguing, especially one that played to his social networking background—it’s what you do in an alliance. In 2007, Mark called me to talk about his idea for Zynga, the social gaming company he cofounded and now leads.


The Code: Silicon Valley and the Remaking of America by Margaret O'Mara

"side hustle", A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace, accounting loophole / creative accounting, affirmative action, Airbnb, AltaVista, Amazon Web Services, Apple II, Apple's 1984 Super Bowl advert, autonomous vehicles, back-to-the-land, barriers to entry, Ben Horowitz, Berlin Wall, Bob Noyce, Buckminster Fuller, Burning Man, business climate, Byte Shop, California gold rush, carried interest, clean water, cleantech, cloud computing, cognitive dissonance, commoditize, computer age, continuous integration, cuban missile crisis, Danny Hillis, DARPA: Urban Challenge, deindustrialization, different worldview, don't be evil, Donald Trump, Doomsday Clock, Douglas Engelbart, Dynabook, Edward Snowden, El Camino Real, Elon Musk, en.wikipedia.org, Erik Brynjolfsson, Frank Gehry, George Gilder, gig economy, Googley, Hacker Ethic, high net worth, Hush-A-Phone, immigration reform, income inequality, informal economy, information retrieval, invention of movable type, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, Jeff Bezos, Joan Didion, job automation, job-hopping, John Markoff, Julian Assange, Kitchen Debate, knowledge economy, knowledge worker, Lyft, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, market bubble, mass immigration, means of production, mega-rich, Menlo Park, Mikhail Gorbachev, millennium bug, Mitch Kapor, Mother of all demos, move fast and break things, move fast and break things, mutually assured destruction, new economy, Norbert Wiener, old-boy network, pattern recognition, Paul Graham, Paul Terrell, paypal mafia, Peter Thiel, pets.com, pirate software, popular electronics, pre–internet, Ralph Nader, RAND corporation, Richard Florida, ride hailing / ride sharing, risk tolerance, Robert Metcalfe, Ronald Reagan, Sand Hill Road, Second Machine Age, self-driving car, shareholder value, side project, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley ideology, Silicon Valley startup, skunkworks, Snapchat, social graph, software is eating the world, speech recognition, Steve Ballmer, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Steven Levy, Stewart Brand, supercomputer in your pocket, technoutopianism, Ted Nelson, the market place, the new new thing, There's no reason for any individual to have a computer in his home - Ken Olsen, Thomas L Friedman, Tim Cook: Apple, transcontinental railway, Uber and Lyft, uber lyft, Unsafe at Any Speed, upwardly mobile, Vannevar Bush, War on Poverty, We wanted flying cars, instead we got 140 characters, Whole Earth Catalog, WikiLeaks, William Shockley: the traitorous eight, Y Combinator, Y2K

The Hoover Tower points straight up.”17 The high-powered, high-profile Campbell gave his exit interview to a little student newspaper that was barely two years old and only published a few issues a year. The Stanford Review, however, was already making its mark as a self-styled voice of reason for Stanford’s conservative students. Founded in the late spring of 1987, the Review was the brainchild of a sophomore philosophy major named Peter Thiel. German-born and California-bred, a regional chess champion and J. R. R. Tolkien devotee, Thiel had arrived on campus as the battle of the Reagan library raged. For the remainder of his undergraduate years and as a Stanford law student immediately after, Thiel focused his considerable intellectual energies on the Review, making its libertarian-conservative views an inescapable feature of campus life as a fresh, even more polarizing battle erupted: the war over the undergraduate curriculum.

The faculty who agonized over whether to take money from the Pentagon became advisors and mentors to the Valley’s next generation of CEOs. The academic administrators steering the place in this era went on to become influential political advisors in the next. Stanford University’s stormy Reagan years became the stage on which the politics of the next-generation Valley were formed. As sharply polarized as Left and Right were on Stanford’s campus during this time, some common threads connected them. Both Peter Thiel and Terry Winograd were concerned about freedom of speech on campus. Both Glenn Campbell and Don Kennedy believed that Stanford scholars had an opportunity, and a responsibility, to contribute to politics and policy. Both the students crying out for a new, multicultural curriculum and the conservative elders who tut-tutted at the closing of the American mind agreed that the college years shaped a person’s trajectory for the rest of their lives.

(Wojcicki was another child of academics; the professors’ kids were taking over the world.) They snagged Ram Shriram, a former Netscaper now at Amazon, as an advisor; Shriram persuaded his boss Jeff Bezos to make a personal investment too. Wilson Sonsini became Google’s counsel. Very soon the search company had outgrown the garage and moved into more grown-up digs on University Avenue in Palo Alto. They now had six employees. Down the hall was Peter Thiel’s equally tiny Confinity, soon to be renamed PayPal. In June 1999 came a stunning deal: Brin and Page scored a cool $25 million in venture funding, split evenly between two of the Valley’s heaviest dot-com hitters, Kleiner Perkins’s John Doerr and Sequoia’s Michael Moritz. Bezos had advised them where to go for the money, and with confidence that bordered on arrogance, the two graduate students had pitted the VCs against one another in a bidding war.


pages: 239 words: 62,005

Don't Burn This Book: Thinking for Yourself in an Age of Unreason by Dave Rubin

Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, battle of ideas, Bernie Sanders, Burning Man, butterfly effect, centre right, cognitive dissonance, Columbine, Donald Trump, failed state, gender pay gap, illegal immigration, immigration reform, job automation, low skilled workers, mutually assured destruction, obamacare, Peter Thiel, pre–internet, Ronald Reagan, Saturday Night Live, school choice, Silicon Valley, Steven Pinker, Tim Cook: Apple, unpaid internship, War on Poverty, women in the workforce, zero-sum game

It turned out that she was a gender studies professor at the university. Yes, you got that right: a professor at a university using her right to free speech to shut down an invited speaker. Amazingly, this sort of emotional outburst is becoming more and more common within the LGBT world. The Advocate’s treatment of openly gay tech maven Peter Thiel was another case of the left’s cancel culture. Some of its adherents blackballed him from the LGBT community for his support of Donald Trump (who’s also not a Nazi, even if you despise him). Their article titled “Peter Thiel Shows Us There’s a Difference between Gay Sex and Gay” was wildly homophobic, but the editors—who were once pioneers of the gay civil rights movement—couldn’t see this beyond their own agenda. “This intolerance has taken on some bizarre forms,” Thiel later hit back in a speech at the National Press Club.

—Ben Shapiro, author of The Right Side of History “Dave Rubin is bridging America’s great divide. He reminds us that, while we may not always agree with the ‘other,’ we need to LISTEN to them. Rubin has mastered the vital skills of listening and of asking questions that do not serve an ideological agenda.” —Eckhart Tolle, author of The Power of Now and A New Earth “Dave Rubin has been years ahead of the mainstream media, for years.” —Peter Thiel, entrepreneur and investor, author of Zero to One “Dave Rubin is one of the bravest, smartest people I know, as well as a tremendous television presence.” —Tucker Carlson, Fox News host and author of Ship of Fools “Dave Rubin is one of a kind. A truly great interviewer. Bright, curious, and funny.” —Larry King, host of The Larry King Show “Dave Rubin’s genuine curiosity and willingness to seriously consider opinions across the political spectrum have rightly made The Rubin Report a necessary corrective to modern journalism.

If you’ve been watching The Rubin Report, you probably know that my intellectual journey from progressive to rediscovering what it means to be truly liberal has been a long one. But it’s also been facilitated by some of the world’s greatest contemporary thinkers, including Jordan Peterson, Sam Harris, Ben Shapiro, Thomas Sowell, Dennis Prager, Bret Weinstein, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Christina Hoff Sommers, and Peter Thiel. They too came out of the political closet and helped me to see that tribalism is dead, and that diversity of thought is far more important than diversity for its own sake. Now, having gone through the coming out process twice, I’m imparting my wisdom to you. After you read this book, you’ll have no excuses left. You won’t be able to hide anymore. Part biography, part blueprint for a future that’s firmly rooted in the individual rather than the collective, this book details the current madness of the left and, more important, gives you the intellectual tools to figure out who you really are—and with whom you will ally—in these crazy, confusing times.


pages: 292 words: 85,151

Exponential Organizations: Why New Organizations Are Ten Times Better, Faster, and Cheaper Than Yours (And What to Do About It) by Salim Ismail, Yuri van Geest

23andMe, 3D printing, Airbnb, Amazon Mechanical Turk, Amazon Web Services, augmented reality, autonomous vehicles, Baxter: Rethink Robotics, Ben Horowitz, bioinformatics, bitcoin, Black Swan, blockchain, Burning Man, business intelligence, business process, call centre, chief data officer, Chris Wanstrath, Clayton Christensen, clean water, cloud computing, cognitive bias, collaborative consumption, collaborative economy, commoditize, corporate social responsibility, cross-subsidies, crowdsourcing, cryptocurrency, dark matter, Dean Kamen, dematerialisation, discounted cash flows, disruptive innovation, distributed ledger, Edward Snowden, Elon Musk, en.wikipedia.org, Ethereum, ethereum blockchain, game design, Google Glasses, Google Hangouts, Google X / Alphabet X, gravity well, hiring and firing, Hyperloop, industrial robot, Innovator's Dilemma, intangible asset, Internet of things, Iridium satellite, Isaac Newton, Jeff Bezos, Joi Ito, Kevin Kelly, Kickstarter, knowledge worker, Kodak vs Instagram, Law of Accelerating Returns, Lean Startup, life extension, lifelogging, loose coupling, loss aversion, low earth orbit, Lyft, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, market design, means of production, minimum viable product, natural language processing, Netflix Prize, NetJets, Network effects, new economy, Oculus Rift, offshore financial centre, PageRank, pattern recognition, Paul Graham, paypal mafia, peer-to-peer, peer-to-peer model, Peter H. Diamandis: Planetary Resources, Peter Thiel, prediction markets, profit motive, publish or perish, Ray Kurzweil, recommendation engine, RFID, ride hailing / ride sharing, risk tolerance, Ronald Coase, Second Machine Age, self-driving car, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, skunkworks, Skype, smart contracts, Snapchat, social software, software is eating the world, speech recognition, stealth mode startup, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, subscription business, supply-chain management, TaskRabbit, telepresence, telepresence robot, Tony Hsieh, transaction costs, Travis Kalanick, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, uber lyft, urban planning, WikiLeaks, winner-take-all economy, X Prize, Y Combinator, zero-sum game

Gabriel Baldinucci, Chief Strategy Officer at Singularity University and a former principal at Virgin Group’s U.S. venture arm, has observed that there are two levels of immune responses. The first is to defend the core business because it’s the status quo; the second is to defend yourself as an individual because there’s more ROI for you than for the organization. What makes traditional companies highly efficient at expansion and growth as long as market conditions remain unchanged is also what makes them extremely vulnerable to disruption. As Peter Thiel said, “Globalization is moving from one to N copying existing products. That was the 20th century. Now in the 21st century we move into a world where zero to one and creating new products will increasingly be a priority for companies due to the rise of different exponential technologies.” Whatever else they may be, big companies aren’t stupid. They know about this structural weakness and many are striving to fix it.

A quick but relevant side note here: We strongly recommend reading The Lean Startup by Eric Ries as an accompaniment to this chapter, since we’ll be referring to it frequently. In fact, the best definition we’ve found for a startup comes from Ries: “A startup is a human institution designed to deliver a new product or service under conditions of extreme uncertainty.” A second book we recommend is Peter Thiel and Blake Masters’ recent publication, Zero to One: Notes on Startups or How to Build the Future. This is perhaps the best time in the history of business to build a new enterprise. The confluence of breakthrough technologies, acceptance (and even celebration) of entrepreneurship, different crowdsourcing options, crowdfunding opportunities and legacy markets ripe for disruption—all create a compelling (and unprecedented) scenario for new company creation.

Finding an MTP can be seen as a novel and perhaps more interesting way of asking yourself the following questions: What do I really care about? What am I meant to do? Two more questions that can help speed the process of discovering your passion: What would I do if I could never fail? What would I do if I received a billion dollars today? It is not only about you as an entrepreneur, however. It is also about your employees. PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel poses the following question as an effective way to test if a startup has an MTP that will attract not only friends, but also employees beyond your personal network who share your motivation: “Why would the 20th employee join your startup without the perks, [such as] a co-founder title or stock [options]?” Accordingly, you should gauge your MTP against each of the acronym’s letters. Is it Massive?


pages: 382 words: 105,819

Zucked: Waking Up to the Facebook Catastrophe by Roger McNamee

4chan, Albert Einstein, algorithmic trading, AltaVista, Amazon Web Services, barriers to entry, Bernie Sanders, Boycotts of Israel, Cass Sunstein, cloud computing, computer age, cross-subsidies, data is the new oil, Donald Trump, Douglas Engelbart, Douglas Engelbart, Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, Elon Musk, Filter Bubble, game design, income inequality, Internet of things, Jaron Lanier, Jeff Bezos, John Markoff, laissez-faire capitalism, Lean Startup, light touch regulation, Lyft, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, market bubble, Menlo Park, Metcalfe’s law, minimum viable product, Mother of all demos, move fast and break things, move fast and break things, Network effects, paypal mafia, Peter Thiel, pets.com, post-work, profit maximization, profit motive, race to the bottom, recommendation engine, Robert Mercer, Ronald Reagan, Sand Hill Road, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Skype, Snapchat, social graph, software is eating the world, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Steven Levy, Stewart Brand, The Chicago School, Tim Cook: Apple, two-sided market, Uber and Lyft, Uber for X, uber lyft, Upton Sinclair, WikiLeaks, Yom Kippur War

For example, Google’s facial-recognition software had problems recognizing people of color, possibly reflecting a lack of diversity in the development team. Homogeneity narrows the range of acceptable ideas and, in the case of Facebook, may have contributed to a work environment that emphasizes conformity. The extraordinary lack of diversity in Silicon Valley may reflect the pervasive embrace of libertarian philosophy. Zuck’s early investor and mentor Peter Thiel is an outspoken advocate for libertarian values. The third big change was economic, and it was a natural extension of libertarian philosophy. Neoliberalism stipulated that markets should replace government as the rule setter for economic activity. President Ronald Reagan framed neoliberalism with his assertion that “government is not the solution to our problem; it is the problem.” Beginning in 1981, the Reagan administration began removing regulations on business.

Venture capitalists had served as the primary gatekeepers of the startup economy since the late seventies, but they spent a few years retrenching after the dot-com bubble burst. Into the void stepped angel investors—individuals, mostly former entrepreneurs and executives—who guided startups during their earliest stages. Angel investors were perfectly matched to the lean startup model, gaining leverage from relatively small investments. One angel, Ron Conway, built a huge brand, but the team that had started PayPal proved to have much greater impact. Peter Thiel, Elon Musk, Reid Hoffman, Max Levchin, Jeremy Stoppleman, and their colleagues were collectively known as the PayPal Mafia, and their impact transformed Silicon Valley. Not only did they launch Tesla, Space-X, LinkedIn, and Yelp, they provided early funding to Facebook and many other successful players. More important than the money, though, were the vision, value system, and connections of the PayPal Mafia, which came to dominate the social media generation.

Within a month, more than half of the Harvard student body had registered on Zuck’s site. Three of Zuck’s friends joined the team, and a month later they launched TheFacebook at Columbia, Stanford, and Yale. It spread rapidly to other college campuses. By June, the company relocated from Cambridge, Massachusetts, to Palo Alto, California, brought in Napster cofounder Sean Parker as president, and took its first venture capital from Peter Thiel. TheFacebook delivered exactly what its name described: each page provided a photo with personal details and contact information. There was no News Feed and no frills, but the color scheme and fonts would be recognizable to any present-day user. While many features were missing, the thing that stands out is the effectiveness of the first user interface. There were no mistakes that would have to be undone.


pages: 380 words: 109,724

Don't Be Evil: How Big Tech Betrayed Its Founding Principles--And All of US by Rana Foroohar

"side hustle", accounting loophole / creative accounting, Airbnb, AltaVista, autonomous vehicles, banking crisis, barriers to entry, Bernie Madoff, Bernie Sanders, bitcoin, book scanning, Brewster Kahle, Burning Man, call centre, cashless society, cleantech, cloud computing, cognitive dissonance, Colonization of Mars, computer age, corporate governance, creative destruction, Credit Default Swap, cryptocurrency, data is the new oil, death of newspapers, Deng Xiaoping, disintermediation, don't be evil, Donald Trump, drone strike, Edward Snowden, Elon Musk, en.wikipedia.org, Erik Brynjolfsson, Etonian, Filter Bubble, future of work, game design, gig economy, global supply chain, Gordon Gekko, greed is good, income inequality, informal economy, information asymmetry, intangible asset, Internet Archive, Internet of things, invisible hand, Jaron Lanier, Jeff Bezos, job automation, job satisfaction, Kenneth Rogoff, life extension, light touch regulation, Lyft, Mark Zuckerberg, Marshall McLuhan, Martin Wolf, Menlo Park, move fast and break things, move fast and break things, Network effects, new economy, offshore financial centre, PageRank, patent troll, paypal mafia, Peter Thiel, pets.com, price discrimination, profit maximization, race to the bottom, recommendation engine, ride hailing / ride sharing, Robert Bork, Sand Hill Road, search engine result page, self-driving car, shareholder value, sharing economy, Shoshana Zuboff, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, smart cities, Snapchat, South China Sea, sovereign wealth fund, Steve Jobs, Steven Levy, subscription business, supply-chain management, TaskRabbit, Telecommunications Act of 1996, The Chicago School, the new new thing, Tim Cook: Apple, too big to fail, Travis Kalanick, trickle-down economics, Uber and Lyft, Uber for X, uber lyft, Upton Sinclair, WikiLeaks, zero-sum game

In early January 2019, it emerged that Netflix had pulled an episode of its popular comedy show Patriot Act in Saudi Arabia, after government officials complained about one of the actors on the show criticizing Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for his role in the murder of Saudi dissident Jamal Khashoggi and for the Saudi war atrocities in Yemen.20 Meanwhile, Big Tech is taking on the role of Big Brother right here in the United States, working with local, state, and national authorities to create what is starting to look a lot like a surveillance nation. Amazon sells facial recognition technology to the police. Palantir, the big data firm cofounded by PayPal entrepreneur Peter Thiel, works with the LAPD to target citizens in an alarming manner that might have been drawn from the dystopian thriller Minority Report.21,22 What else that data might be used for is anyone’s guess; the clandestine nature of it all makes it nearly impossible to track. But the result is that, little by little, American democracy has ceded a bit more ground to Big Tech. * * * — REGULATORS ARE FINALLY beginning to turn their attention to these issues.

Technologists want to have conversations about economic, political, and social issues on their own terms, or not at all. The bottom line is that these companies have manipulated the system to ensure that they can continue to operate freely, without the burden of pesky government intervention. The result is that they all too often exist in a universe of their own, not just outside of national borders, but somehow transcending borders altogether. It is in this spirit that Palantir’s Peter Thiel and other powerful tech entrepreneurs and investors have suggested that California secede from the Union; Thiel once funded a plan for a network of floating islands that would operate outside of U.S. government jurisdiction, while he and other tech billionaires maintain hideaways in New Zealand. * * * — IN THE MEANTIME, Big Tech itself—like Big Finance before it—has controlled the narrative, using complexity to obfuscate.

I’m not denying that venture capital is often a necessary ingredient for innovation, or that it hasn’t enabled or supported the existence of many worthy enterprises that contribute positively to society and enhance all of our lives. But any time you have a group that is held so high on a pedestal—and swimming in so much wealth—it’s inevitable that at least a portion of those individuals are going to end up developing a bit of a God complex. Consider someone like Peter Thiel, one of the infamous “PayPal Mafia,” and among the first seed investors in Facebook, who went on to launch Palantir and the prominent VC firm Founders Fund. Thiel is a Trump supporter and libertarian who is critical of government and even education: Each year, he famously offers hundreds of thousands of dollars to encourage students to drop out of college and start companies instead. One of his strange obsessions is the desire to cheat death.


pages: 419 words: 109,241

A World Without Work: Technology, Automation, and How We Should Respond by Daniel Susskind

3D printing, agricultural Revolution, AI winter, Airbnb, Albert Einstein, algorithmic trading, artificial general intelligence, autonomous vehicles, basic income, Bertrand Russell: In Praise of Idleness, blue-collar work, British Empire, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, cloud computing, computer age, computer vision, computerized trading, creative destruction, David Graeber, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, demographic transition, deskilling, disruptive innovation, Donald Trump, Douglas Hofstadter, drone strike, Edward Glaeser, Elon Musk, en.wikipedia.org, Erik Brynjolfsson, financial innovation, future of work, gig economy, Gini coefficient, Google Glasses, Gödel, Escher, Bach, income inequality, income per capita, industrial robot, interchangeable parts, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, Jacques de Vaucanson, James Hargreaves, job automation, John Markoff, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, John von Neumann, Joi Ito, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Arrow, Khan Academy, Kickstarter, low skilled workers, lump of labour, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, means of production, Metcalfe’s law, natural language processing, Network effects, Occupy movement, offshore financial centre, Paul Samuelson, Peter Thiel, pink-collar, precariat, purchasing power parity, Ray Kurzweil, ride hailing / ride sharing, road to serfdom, Robert Gordon, Sam Altman, Second Machine Age, self-driving car, shareholder value, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Snapchat, social intelligence, software is eating the world, sovereign wealth fund, spinning jenny, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, strong AI, telemarketer, The Future of Employment, The Rise and Fall of American Growth, the scientific method, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thorstein Veblen, Travis Kalanick, Turing test, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, universal basic income, upwardly mobile, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, We are the 99%, wealth creators, working poor, working-age population, Y Combinator

Massimo Motta, Competition Policy (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007), p. 39. 19.  Peter Thiel, “Competition Is for Losers,” Wall Street Journal, 12 September 2014. 20.  For Microsoft, see Joel Brinkley, “U.S. vs. Microsoft: The Overview; U.S. Judge Says Microsoft Violated Antitrust Laws with Predatory Behavior,” New York Times, 4 April 2000; for Facebook, see Guy Chazan, “German Antitrust Watchdog Warns Facebook over Data Collection,” Financial Times, 19 December 2017; for Google, see Rochelle Toplensky, “Google Appeals €2.4bn EU Antitrust Fine,” Financial Times, 11 September 2017; for Apple, see Adam Liptak and Vindu Goel, “Supreme Court Declines to Hear Apple’s Appeal in E-Book Pricing Case,” New York Times, 7 March 2011; for Amazon, see Simon van Dorpe, “The Case Against Amazon,” Politico.eu, 4 March 2019. 21.  This example is set out in Peter Thiel and Blake Masters, Zero to One (New York: Crown Business, 2014). 22.  

It is certainly true that not all dropouts start large, successful technology companies; it is also true that the point of education is not necessarily to raise everyone to start a large technology company. But among those who do, dropouts are not uncommon, and it is a pattern worth reflecting upon for a moment. Alongside that list’s anecdotal power, there are also deeper arguments about why faith in “more education” might be misplaced. The entrepreneur Peter Thiel offers the most provocative version of that case. He claims that higher education is a “bubble,” arguing that it is “overpriced” because people do not get “their money’s worth” but go to college “simply because that’s what everybody’s doing.” Thiel does not deny that those who are better educated tend to earn more on average, as we saw before. Instead, he is suspicious that we never get to see the counterfactual: how these students would have done without their education.

Take Michael Porter, the definitive business strategy guru of the last few decades, whose 1980s books Competitive Strategy and Competitive Advantage were on the shelves of all discerning corporate leaders. Those books guided readers toward nothing less than economic domination: first, find markets ripe for monopolizing (or create new ones); second, dominate and exclude others from these chosen markets. Today, the same advice is given even more forthrightly. “Competition is for losers,” wrote Peter Thiel, the entrepreneur, in the Wall Street Journal. “If you want to create and capture lasting value, look to build a monopoly.”19 What, then, is the problem with an absence of competition? The economic argument advanced by competition authorities is that a monopoly in a given market means that our welfare is lower, both today and tomorrow. It is lower today because companies without competitors are able to inflate their profits, either by charging higher prices or providing poorer-quality products and services to customers.


pages: 213 words: 70,742

Notes From an Apocalypse: A Personal Journey to the End of the World and Back by Mark O'Connell

Berlin Wall, bitcoin, blockchain, California gold rush, carbon footprint, Carrington event, clean water, Colonization of Mars, conceptual framework, cryptocurrency, disruptive innovation, diversified portfolio, Donald Trump, Donner party, Elon Musk, high net worth, Jeff Bezos, life extension, low earth orbit, Marc Andreessen, Mikhail Gorbachev, mutually assured destruction, New Urbanism, off grid, Peter Thiel, post-work, Sam Altman, Silicon Valley, Stephen Hawking, Steven Pinker, the built environment, yield curve

According to New Zealand’s Department of Internal Affairs, in the two days following the 2016 election, the number of Americans who visited its website to inquire about the process of gaining citizenship increased by a factor of fourteen compared with the same day in the previous month. That same week, The New Yorker ran a piece about the superrich making preparations for a grand civilizational crack-up. Speaking of New Zealand as a “favored refuge in the event of a cataclysm,” Reid Hoffman, the founder of LinkedIn, claimed that “saying you’re ‘buying a house in New Zealand’ is kind of a wink, wink, say no more.” And then there was Peter Thiel, the billionaire venture capitalist who had cofounded PayPal and had been one of Facebook’s earliest investors. It had recently emerged that Thiel had bought a sprawling property in New Zealand, on the shores of Lake Wanaka, the apparent intention of which was to provide him with a place to retreat to should America become unlivable due to economic chaos, civil unrest, or some or other apocalyptic event.

It was Anthony’s contention that if I was interested in the end of the world, I had to understand the relationship between his country and the Silicon Valley tech elite. He was also of the opinion that if I wanted to understand it, I had to go there. And so somewhere in the course of our email exchange, a plan started to formulate. I was going to travel to New Zealand, and we were going to take a trip to Peter Thiel’s apocalypse retreat on the shores of Lake Wanaka. * * * — After the hike up to Mount Eden, Anthony dropped me off at my hotel. I dumped my bags and I wandered the streets of downtown Auckland awhile. My jet lag had by then progressed into a kind of fugue state. I was operating on existential factory settings, reduced to the barest human functionality. Realizing that I hadn’t eaten in something like twelve hours, and that I was in fact ravenously hungry, I found myself drifting, as though without awareness or volition, toward the familiar sight of a Nando’s.

(He had written some enthusiastic criticism on Denny’s work, and the two had started a correspondence, which eventually opened out onto the prospect of some kind of collaboration. Anthony characterized his own role in the project as an amalgamation of researcher, journalist, and “investigative philosopher, following the trail of ideas and ideologies.”) The exhibition was called The Founder’s Paradox, a name that came from the title of one of the chapters of Peter Thiel’s 2014 book Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future. Together with the long and intricately detailed catalog essay Anthony was writing to accompany it, the show was a reckoning with the future that Silicon Valley techno-libertarians like Thiel wanted to build, and with New Zealand’s place in that future. The Sovereign Individual, too, was a central element of the show. When I got to the gallery, Simon Denny, whom Anthony had described to me as “kind of a genius” and “the poster-boy for post-Internet art,” was making some last-minute preparations for the show’s opening.


pages: 165 words: 47,193

The End of Work: Why Your Passion Can Become Your Job by John Tamny

Albert Einstein, Andy Kessler, asset allocation, barriers to entry, basic income, Bernie Sanders, cloud computing, commoditize, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, Downton Abbey, future of work, George Gilder, haute cuisine, income inequality, Jeff Bezos, knowledge economy, Mark Zuckerberg, Peter Thiel, profit motive, Saturday Night Live, Silicon Valley, Stephen Hawking, Steve Ballmer, Steve Jobs, There's no reason for any individual to have a computer in his home - Ken Olsen, trickle-down economics, universal basic income, upwardly mobile, Yogi Berra

Untaxed wealth doesn’t lie idle. It’s either saved, directly invested in ways that put it in the hands of innovators, or spent on goods and services, giving more people the ability to match their work with their passion. Each dollar taxed away makes it marginally more expensive for the rich to invest their capital in risky new advances. Innovators need that capital because experimentation is very expensive. Peter Thiel, the billionaire co-founder of PayPal and one of the original investors in what became Facebook, knows the perils of investing in the ideas of the future. In his book Zero to One, he explains that “most venture-backed companies don’t IPO or get acquired; most fail, usually soon after they start. Due to these early failures, a venture fund typically loses money at first.”11 This is why much lighter taxation on existing wealth would benefit everyone.

Indeed, taxes on the rich hurt those who aren’t well to do much more than they hurt the rich themselves. Thiel is a good example. He’s constantly experimenting with new ideas. He even believes death itself can be cured.12 But experimentation is enormously expensive, and the disappearance of common killers like cancer and heart disease will require gigantic investments. More money provides more chances to fail expensively on the way to success. But what good are all of Peter Thiel’s investments in technology for those of us who want to marry work and passion but find technology terrifying? Just remember how technological advances have ushered in a more economically advanced society overall. We hear all the time that technology is a job killer, and it’s true that the automobile, computer, GPS, Wi-Fi, and smartphone have rendered plenty of old forms of work obsolete. But the prosperity wrought by technological advances has given us more jobs to choose from.

Heppenheimer calls a “bottomless pot of money,” which he used to purchase control of Trans World Airlines in 1939.25 Telling those around him “I’ve got the money,”26 Hughes invested in what became the Lockheed Constellation, a fast plane with a pressurized cabin that could fly above the weather.27 Passenger travel by air became common thanks to inherited wealth backing risky ideas. Nowadays high-risk, high-reward investing is the preserve of venture capital. Since most start-ups fail, as Peter Thiel points out, we need those investors with the capacity to lose enormous sums before they land on the rare success story. Indeed, inherited wealth was particularly crucial to Silicon Valley’s rise. As Walter Isaacson recounts in The Innovators, “For much of the twentieth century, venture capital and private equity investing in new companies had been mainly the purview of a few wealthy families, such as the Vanderbilts, Rockefellers, Whitneys, Phippses, and Warburgs.”28 Venrock, the Rockefeller family’s venture capital vehicle, invested alongside Arthur Rock in Apple Computer.29 Technology is not the only field to benefit from the existence of inherited fortunes, of course.


pages: 346 words: 89,180

Capitalism Without Capital: The Rise of the Intangible Economy by Jonathan Haskel, Stian Westlake

"Robert Solow", 23andMe, activist fund / activist shareholder / activist investor, Airbnb, Albert Einstein, Andrei Shleifer, bank run, banking crisis, Bernie Sanders, business climate, business process, buy and hold, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, cloud computing, cognitive bias, computer age, corporate governance, corporate raider, correlation does not imply causation, creative destruction, dark matter, Diane Coyle, Donald Trump, Douglas Engelbart, Douglas Engelbart, Edward Glaeser, Elon Musk, endogenous growth, Erik Brynjolfsson, everywhere but in the productivity statistics, Fellow of the Royal Society, financial innovation, full employment, fundamental attribution error, future of work, Gini coefficient, Hernando de Soto, hiring and firing, income inequality, index card, indoor plumbing, intangible asset, Internet of things, Jane Jacobs, Jaron Lanier, job automation, Kenneth Arrow, Kickstarter, knowledge economy, knowledge worker, laissez-faire capitalism, liquidity trap, low skilled workers, Marc Andreessen, Mother of all demos, Network effects, new economy, open economy, patent troll, paypal mafia, Peter Thiel, pets.com, place-making, post-industrial society, Productivity paradox, quantitative hedge fund, rent-seeking, revision control, Richard Florida, ride hailing / ride sharing, Robert Gordon, Ronald Coase, Sand Hill Road, Second Machine Age, secular stagnation, self-driving car, shareholder value, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, six sigma, Skype, software patent, sovereign wealth fund, spinning jenny, Steve Jobs, survivorship bias, The Rise and Fall of American Growth, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Tim Cook: Apple, total factor productivity, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, urban planning, Vanguard fund, walkable city, X Prize, zero-sum game

Spillovers also affect the behavior of individual companies, as businesses strive to maximize the value of the intangibles they do make. Indeed, a significant part of the strategy of intangible-rich companies is combining and managing their intangibles in such a way as to minimize the spillovers and maximize the benefits they get from them. Someone who is unusually honest about the lengths businesses go to in order to stop others benefiting from their lovingly created intangibles is venture capitalist and entrepreneur Peter Thiel, the so-called don of Silicon Valley’s PayPal Mafia. Thiel’s refreshingly candid book on entrepreneurship Zero to One makes it clear that the way to create very valuable start-ups is to create businesses that, as far as possible, have monopoly positions in big markets. In Thiel’s management philosophy, you create these defensible opportunities by investing in the right sorts of software, marketing, and networks of customers and suppliers (three classic intangibles) and by bringing them together in ways that competitors find hard to copy.

Similarly, to satisfy their own investors, VC funds rely on home-run successes, made possible by the scalability of assets like Google’s algorithms, Uber’s driver network, or Genentech’s patents. Third, VC is often sequential, with rounds of funding proceeding in stages. This is a response to the inherent uncertainty of intangible investment. The nature of uncertainty in start-ups is that it tends to reduce over time. When Peter Thiel made the first external investment of $500,000 in Facebook in 2004, the company’s fortunes were considerably more uncertain than when Microsoft invested $240 million in 2007. Funding in rounds helps resolve uncertainty by working through the development of business in stages. For investors, it creates an “option value,” that is, a value to delaying follow-on investment until information is revealed.

A third way that the new economy has turned out, perhaps not quite as expected, is what might be called a “rush for scale.” Alongside the small portfolio contractors and lean, networked businesses we see some behemoths: new multi-billion-dollar companies with big scale and bigger ambitions. As we have seen in chapter 5, the leading firms seem to have become even more leading: more profitable, more productive. Peter Thiel, the cofounder of PayPal, has written engagingly on these issues in his book Zero to One, stressing that commercial success is built on exploiting network effects and economies of scale: as he points out, Twitter can easily scale up but a yoga studio cannot. We shall argue that these seemingly contradictory changes all arise from the essential economic characteristics of intangible assets. To tell this story, we start by arguing that the evolution of work and the cult of management come not only from changes in social norms and the like, but also from the evolution of companies.


Falter: Has the Human Game Begun to Play Itself Out? by Bill McKibben

23andMe, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Airbnb, American Legislative Exchange Council, Anne Wojcicki, artificial general intelligence, Bernie Sanders, Bill Joy: nanobots, Burning Man, call centre, carbon footprint, Charles Lindbergh, clean water, Colonization of Mars, computer vision, David Attenborough, Donald Trump, double helix, Edward Snowden, Elon Musk, ending welfare as we know it, energy transition, Flynn Effect, Google Earth, Hyperloop, impulse control, income inequality, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Jane Jacobs, Jaron Lanier, Jeff Bezos, job automation, life extension, light touch regulation, Mark Zuckerberg, mass immigration, megacity, Menlo Park, moral hazard, Naomi Klein, Nelson Mandela, obamacare, off grid, oil shale / tar sands, pattern recognition, Peter Thiel, plutocrats, Plutocrats, profit motive, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Ray Kurzweil, Robert Mercer, Ronald Reagan, Sam Altman, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, smart meter, Snapchat, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Steven Pinker, strong AI, supervolcano, technoutopianism, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, traffic fines, Travis Kalanick, urban sprawl, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, Y Combinator, Y2K, yield curve

The Atlantic, September 2017. CHAPTER 18 1. Steven Johnson, How We Got to Now: Six Innovations that Made the Modern World (New York: Riverhead Books, 2014), p. 148. 2. Jason Pontin, “Silicon Valley’s Immortalists Will Help Us All Stay Healthy,” Wired, December 15, 2017. 3. Maya Kosoff, “Peter Thiel Wants to Inject Himself with Young People’s Blood,” Vanity Fair, August 1, 2016. 4. Maya Kosoff, “This Anti-Aging Startup Is Charging Thousands of Dollars for Teen Blood,” Vanity Fair, June 1, 2017. 5. Peter Thiel, “The Education of a Libertarian,” cato-unbound.org, April 13, 2009. 6. Benjamin Snyder, “This Google Exec Says We Can Live to 500,” Fortune, March 9, 2015. 7. Katrina Brooker, “Google Ventures and Bill Maris’ Search for Immortality,” stuff.co.nz, March 11, 2015. 8. Sy Mukherjee, “We’re Finally Learning More Details about Alphabet’s Secretive Anti-Aging Startup Calico,” Fortune, December 14, 2017. 9.

Steve Wozniak (cofounder of Apple) said that Steve Jobs (deity) considered Atlas Shrugged one of his guides in life.3 Elon Musk (also a deity, and straight out of a Rand novel, with his rockets and hyperloops and wild cars) says Rand “has a fairly extreme set of views, but she has some good points in there.”4 That’s as faint as the praise gets. Travis Kalanick, who founded Uber, used the cover of The Fountainhead as his Twitter avatar. Peter Thiel, a cofounder of PayPal and an early investor in Facebook, once launched a mission to develop a floating city, a “sea-stead” that would be a politically autonomous city-state where national governments would have no sway.5 Some of Silicon Valley’s antigovernment sentiment is old, or at least as old as anything can be in Silicon Valley. As early as 2001—before the iPhone and Facebook, back in the days when you just checked email—a writer named Paulina Borsook published Cyberselfish, a book she called a “critical romp through the terribly libertarian culture of high-tech.”

Genetics plays a part in determining who we are and how our lives proceed, but as Nathaniel Comfort, a professor of the history of biology at Johns Hopkins, points out, “Decent, affordable housing; access to real food, education, and transportation; and reducing exposure to crime and violence are far more important.”6 Consider the experience of the writer Johann Hari, invited to a conference organized by Peter Thiel on depression, anxiety, and addiction. He was amazed to find that most of the participants were convinced that such problems were caused by “malformations of the brain.” When it was his turn to speak, Hari said, “As your society becomes more unequal, you are more likely to be depressed.” Humans, he continued, “crave connection—to other people, to meaning, to the natural world. So we have begun to live in ways that don’t work for us, and it is causing us deep pain.”7 If we wanted to somehow engineer better humans, we’d start by engineering their neighborhoods and schools, not their genes.


pages: 410 words: 101,260

Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World by Adam Grant

Albert Einstein, Apple's 1984 Super Bowl advert, availability heuristic, barriers to entry, business process, business process outsourcing, Cass Sunstein, clean water, cognitive dissonance, creative destruction, cuban missile crisis, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, Dean Kamen, double helix, Elon Musk, fear of failure, Firefox, George Santayana, Ignaz Semmelweis: hand washing, Jeff Bezos, job satisfaction, job-hopping, Joseph Schumpeter, Kickstarter, Lean Startup, Louis Pasteur, Mahatma Gandhi, Mark Zuckerberg, meta analysis, meta-analysis, minimum viable product, Nelson Mandela, Network effects, pattern recognition, Paul Graham, Peter Thiel, Ralph Waldo Emerson, random walk, risk tolerance, Rosa Parks, Saturday Night Live, Silicon Valley, Skype, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Steven Pinker, The Wisdom of Crowds, women in the workforce

as was Nelson Mandela: “Nelson Mandela, the ‘Gandhi of South Africa,’ Had Strong Indian Ties,” Economic Times, December 6, 2013, articles.economictimes.indiatimes.com/2013-12-06/news/44864354_1_nelson-mandela-gandhi-memorial-gandhian-philosophy. Elon Musk . . . Lord of the Rings: Tad Friend, “Plugged In: Can Elon Musk Lead the Way to an Electric-Car Future?” New Yorker, August 24, 2009, www.newyorker.com/magazine/2009/08/24/plugged-in. Peter Thiel . . . Lord of the Rings: Julian Guthrie, “Entrepreneur Peter Thiel Talks ‘Zero to One,’” SFGate, September 21, 2014, www.sfgate.com/living/article/Entrepreneur-Peter-Thiel-talks-Zero-to-One-5771228.php. Sheryl Sandberg . . . A Wrinkle in Time: “Sheryl Sandberg: By the Book,” New York Times, March 14, 2013, www.nytimes.com/2013/03/17/books/review/sheryl-sandberg-by-the-book.html. Jeff Bezos . . . A Wrinkle in Time: “Jeffrey P. Bezos Recommended Reading”: www.achievement.org/autodoc/bibliography/WrinkleinT_1.

When entrepreneurs wait for the market to cool down, they have higher odds of success: “Nonconformists . . . that buck the trend are most likely to stay in the market, receive funding, and ultimately go public.” Third, along with being less recklessly ambitious, settlers can improve upon competitors’ technology to make products better. When you’re the first to market, you have to make all the mistakes yourself. Meanwhile, settlers can watch and learn from your errors. “Moving first is a tactic, not a goal,” Peter Thiel writes in Zero to One; “being the first mover doesn’t do you any good if someone else comes along and unseats you.” Fourth, whereas pioneers tend to get stuck in their early offerings, settlers can observe market changes and shifting consumer tastes and adjust accordingly. In a study of the U.S. automobile industry over nearly a century, pioneers had lower survival rates because they struggled to establish legitimacy, developed routines that didn’t fit the market, and became obsolete as consumer needs clarified.

With a proof of concept, but no working prototype, she had a chicken-and-egg problem: she needed funding to build a prototype, but her idea was so radical that investors wanted to see a prototype first. As the solo founder of a technology startup, with no engineering background, she needed allies to move forward. Three years later, I met Perry at a Google event. After landing $750,000 in seed money from Mark Cuban, Marissa Mayer, and Peter Thiel’s Founders Fund, her team had just finished its first functional prototype. It could power devices faster than a wire, at longer distances, and would be ready for consumers in two years. By the end of 2014, her company, uBeam, had accumulated eighteen patents and $10 million in venture funding. Perry took her place onstage in a lineup that included Snoop Dogg, a Nobel Prize winner, and former President Bill Clinton.


pages: 499 words: 144,278

Coders: The Making of a New Tribe and the Remaking of the World by Clive Thompson

2013 Report for America's Infrastructure - American Society of Civil Engineers - 19 March 2013, 4chan, 8-hour work day, Ada Lovelace, AI winter, Airbnb, Amazon Web Services, Asperger Syndrome, augmented reality, Ayatollah Khomeini, barriers to entry, basic income, Bernie Sanders, bitcoin, blockchain, blue-collar work, Brewster Kahle, Brian Krebs, Broken windows theory, call centre, cellular automata, Chelsea Manning, clean water, cloud computing, cognitive dissonance, computer vision, Conway's Game of Life, crowdsourcing, cryptocurrency, Danny Hillis, David Heinemeier Hansson, don't be evil, don't repeat yourself, Donald Trump, dumpster diving, Edward Snowden, Elon Musk, Erik Brynjolfsson, Ernest Rutherford, Ethereum, ethereum blockchain, Firefox, Frederick Winslow Taylor, game design, glass ceiling, Golden Gate Park, Google Hangouts, Google X / Alphabet X, Grace Hopper, Guido van Rossum, Hacker Ethic, HyperCard, illegal immigration, ImageNet competition, Internet Archive, Internet of things, Jane Jacobs, John Markoff, Jony Ive, Julian Assange, Kickstarter, Larry Wall, lone genius, Lyft, Marc Andreessen, Mark Shuttleworth, Mark Zuckerberg, Menlo Park, microservices, Minecraft, move fast and break things, move fast and break things, Nate Silver, Network effects, neurotypical, Nicholas Carr, Oculus Rift, PageRank, pattern recognition, Paul Graham, paypal mafia, Peter Thiel, pink-collar, planetary scale, profit motive, ransomware, recommendation engine, Richard Stallman, ride hailing / ride sharing, Rubik’s Cube, Ruby on Rails, Sam Altman, Satoshi Nakamoto, Saturday Night Live, self-driving car, side project, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley ideology, Silicon Valley startup, single-payer health, Skype, smart contracts, Snapchat, social software, software is eating the world, sorting algorithm, South of Market, San Francisco, speech recognition, Steve Wozniak, Steven Levy, TaskRabbit, the High Line, Travis Kalanick, Uber and Lyft, Uber for X, uber lyft, universal basic income, urban planning, Wall-E, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, WikiLeaks, women in the workforce, Y Combinator, Zimmermann PGP, éminence grise

He founded a hackerspace in Santa Barbara, and after meeting several friends there—including the then 16-year-old Bahnken, who wandered in one day to learn to code—they founded a string of start-ups. Phillips was laser focused on his entrepreneurship, too. He devoured online videos by Y Combinator head Sam Altman, and he imbibed Zero to One, the business-building tome of Silicon Valley’s archlibertarian icon Peter Thiel. “Peter Thiel’s book on entrepreneurship is brilliant,” he tells me. “The idea of, you gotta do something fundamentally better—it can’t be a little bit better. But I don’t mention the name Peter Thiel in certain places because I hate his politics.” Ideologically, in fact, Phillips had wandered all over the map, searching for a political home. “Six parties in six years,” he says. In college he’d dabbled with anarchism and libertarianism; he liked their intellectual rigor and shared their concern that people who amass centralized power typically abuse it.

as he wrote: Noam Cohen, “After Years of Abusive E-mails, the Creator of Linux Steps Aside,” New Yorker, September 19, 2018, accessed October 7, 2018, https://www.newyorker.com/science/elements/after-years-of-abusive-e-mails-the-creator-of-linux-steps-aside. weary giants of flesh and steel: Hettie O’Brien, “The Floating City, Long a Libertarian Dream, Faces Rough Seas,” CityLab, April 27, 2018, accessed August 18, 2018, https://www.citylab.com/design/2018/04/the-unsinkable-dream-of-the-floating-city/559058/. “that freedom and democracy are compatible”: Peter Thiel, “The Education of a Libertarian,” Cato Unbound, April 13, 2009, accessed August 18, 2018, https://www.cato-unbound.org/2009/04/13/peter-thiel/education-libertarian. “that offer poor services”: Paul Bradley Carr, “Travis Shrugged: The Creepy, Dangerous Ideology Behind Silicon Valley’s Cult of Disruption,” Pando, October 24, 2012, accessed August 18, 2018, https://pando.com/2012/10/24/travis-shrugged. probably have been stillborn: Fred Kaplan, “When America First Met the Microchip,” Slate, June 18, 2009, accessed August 18, 2018, http://www.slate.com/articles/arts/books/2009/06/when_america_first_met_the_microchip.html.

When he studied computer science at the University of Illinois, he learned about Marc Andreessen, the graduate who just a few years earlier had done insanely well, cocreating the Netscape browser and becoming an overnight millionaire. Levchin was an intense introvert, but the romance of start-ups entranced him. While a student, he founded not just one but three companies, and when the last one sold for $100,000, he packed his worldly possessions—mostly a pile of electronics—into a truck and drove with some friends to Silicon Valley. He crashed with a friend, and one day, wandered into a lecture on political freedom by Peter Thiel at the Stanford campus. Back then, Thiel was a lawyer and former Wall Streeter who’d studied philosophy and was a fervid libertarian. Levchin enjoyed the talk and met Thiel later to pitch his latest software ideas. He’d been writing ingenious encryption that ran on the weak chips of handheld PDAs like the PalmPilot, the hot tech of the day. They hit on the idea of creating software to let people transfer money digitally—from one PalmPilot to another, or even online: PayPal.


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Blitzscaling: The Lightning-Fast Path to Building Massively Valuable Companies by Reid Hoffman, Chris Yeh

activist fund / activist shareholder / activist investor, Airbnb, Amazon Web Services, autonomous vehicles, bitcoin, blockchain, Bob Noyce, business intelligence, Chuck Templeton: OpenTable:, cloud computing, crowdsourcing, cryptocurrency, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, database schema, discounted cash flows, Elon Musk, Firefox, forensic accounting, George Gilder, global pandemic, Google Hangouts, Google X / Alphabet X, hydraulic fracturing, Hyperloop, inventory management, Isaac Newton, Jeff Bezos, Joi Ito, Khan Academy, late fees, Lean Startup, Lyft, M-Pesa, Marc Andreessen, margin call, Mark Zuckerberg, minimum viable product, move fast and break things, move fast and break things, Network effects, Oculus Rift, oil shale / tar sands, Paul Buchheit, Paul Graham, Peter Thiel, pre–internet, recommendation engine, ride hailing / ride sharing, Sam Altman, Sand Hill Road, Saturday Night Live, self-driving car, shareholder value, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Skype, smart grid, social graph, software as a service, software is eating the world, speech recognition, stem cell, Steve Jobs, subscription business, Tesla Model S, thinkpad, transaction costs, transport as a service, Travis Kalanick, Uber for X, uber lyft, web application, winner-take-all economy, Y Combinator, yellow journalism

Those referral bonuses were actually brilliant, because their cost was so much lower than the standard cost of acquiring new financial services customers via advertising. (We’ll discuss the power and importance of this kind of viral marketing later on.) The insanity, in fact, was that we were allowing our users to accept credit card payments, sticking PayPal with the cost of paying 3 percent of each transaction to the credit card processors, while charging our users nothing. I remember once telling my old college friend and PayPal cofounder/CEO Peter Thiel, “Peter, if you and I were standing on the roof of our office and throwing stacks of hundred-dollar bills off the edge as fast as our arms could go, we still wouldn’t be losing money as quickly as we are right now.” We ended up solving the problem by charging businesses to accept payments, much as the credit card processors did, but funding those payments using automated clearinghouse (ACH) bank transactions, which cost a fraction of the charges associated with the credit card networks.

This emphasis makes sense in an environment where companies need to seek product/market fit for new and rapidly changing products and markets. Consider how Amazon expanded into new markets like AWS rather than simply honing its retail capabilities, or how Facebook has been able to adapt to the shift from a text-based social network accessed via desktop Web browsers to an image- and video-based social network accessed via smartphones (and soon, perhaps, VR). UNDERLYING PRINCIPLE #4: THE CONTRARIAN PRINCIPLE My friend Peter Thiel has written eloquently about the power of being a contrarian in his book Zero to One. Whenever I interview someone for a job, I like to ask this question: “What important truth do very few people agree with you on?” This question sounds easy because it’s straightforward. Actually, it’s very hard to answer. It’s intellectually difficult because the knowledge that everyone is taught in school is by definition agreed upon.

Google has astutely expanded the market since then by leveraging the power of its business model to make and monetize key acquisitions like Android, Google Maps, and YouTube. Distribution Google’s technology receives most of the credit for the company’s success, and it is impressive. However, this means that Google’s skillful use of the distribution growth factor is often overlooked. To go from “yet another search engine” to “the last search engine” (as my old friend Peter Thiel put it in his 2014 Stanford lecture “Competition Is for Losers”), Google had to leverage a series of existing networks and partners. For example, Google’s bold deal to power AOL’s search results helped the company grow its search business by orders of magnitude. Later, other distribution bets like the Firefox partnership, the acquisition of Android, and the creation of the Chrome browser all paid off and helped maintain Google’s distribution dominance.


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Creative Intelligence: Harnessing the Power to Create, Connect, and Inspire by Bruce Nussbaum

3D printing, Airbnb, Albert Einstein, Berlin Wall, Black Swan, Chuck Templeton: OpenTable:, clean water, collapse of Lehman Brothers, creative destruction, Credit Default Swap, crony capitalism, crowdsourcing, Danny Hillis, declining real wages, demographic dividend, disruptive innovation, Elon Musk, en.wikipedia.org, Eugene Fama: efficient market hypothesis, Fall of the Berlin Wall, follow your passion, game design, housing crisis, Hyman Minsky, industrial robot, invisible hand, James Dyson, Jane Jacobs, Jeff Bezos, jimmy wales, John Gruber, John Markoff, Joseph Schumpeter, Kickstarter, lone genius, longitudinal study, manufacturing employment, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, Martin Wolf, new economy, Paul Graham, Peter Thiel, QR code, race to the bottom, reshoring, Richard Florida, Ronald Reagan, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley ideology, Silicon Valley startup, six sigma, Skype, Steve Ballmer, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, supply-chain management, Tesla Model S, The Chicago School, The Design of Experiments, the High Line, The Myth of the Rational Market, thinkpad, Tim Cook: Apple, too big to fail, tulip mania, We are the 99%, Y Combinator, young professional, Zipcar

. $44.2 Billion,” Safe Haven, October 17, 2012, accessed October 20, 2012, http://www.safehaven.com/article/27361/ us-august-net-trade-deficit-reported-at-us442-billion. 235 Even in high tech: Michael Mandel, “Innovation Failure,” Mandel on Innovation and Growth, October 5, 2010, accessed October 21, 2012, http://innovationandgrowth.wordpress.com/2010/10/05/ innovation-failure/; Michael Mandel, discussions with the author, 2012. 235 A National Science Foundation report: Mark Boroush, “NSF Releases New Statistics on Business Innovation,” October 2010, accessed October 12, 2012, http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/ infbrief/nsf11300/. 235 At an Aspen Institute: TPI Aspen Forum, August 21 to 23, 2011, https://techpolicyinstitute.org/aspen2011/. 235 Peter Thiel, a cofounder: Rip Empson, “Max Levchin and Peter Thiel: Innovation in the World Today Is Between ’Dire Straits and Dead,’” TechCrunch, September 12, 2011, http://techcrunch.com/2011/09/12/ max-levchin-and-peter-thiel-innovation-in-the-world-today-is-between-dire-straits-and-dead/. 235 and we haven’t seen any new breakthroughs in energy: Ken Bossong, “Renewable Energy Provided 11% of Domestic Energy Production in 2010,” Renewable Energy World, accessed September 15, 2012, http://www.renewableenergyworld.com/rea/news/ article/2011/04/ renewable-energy-provided-11-of-domestic-energy-production-in-2010. 235 We have all been feeling the ripple: Michael Mandel, “Why Isn’t the Innovation Economy Creating More Jobs?”

With enough money to do a start-up, Zuckerberg hired Owen Van Natta from Amazon, and Van Natta was instrumental in increasing revenue and building out the company from twenty-six employees to hundreds. Then he fired Van Natta and hired Sheryl Sandberg, a veteran manager from Google, to help him scale Facebook to a global corporation. Along this journey, according to Blodget, Zuckerberg sought counsel from the likes of Peter Thiel, who was an early investor; Marc Andreessen, now a board member; and LinkedIn’s Reid Hoffman. None of this was easy for Zuckerberg, who was far more comfortable as a software programmer and product designer. But he pushed himself to find people who could teach him a wide variety of communication and business skills, which he used to further his vision. When I saw him in Davos, he was already on his way to shape shifting from computer nerd to high-tech entrepreneur, exuding a confidence in his calling that didn’t exist when he was in school.

A National Science Foundation report released in September 2010, called the 2008 Business R&D and Innovation Survey (BRDIS), showed that only 9 percent of public and private companies engaged in either product or service innovation between 2006 and 2008. This is an extraordinary and unexpected fact. Because of the proliferation of cool gadgets like tablets and smart phones, many of us believe we’re living in an era of immense innovation—but we’re not. At an Aspen Institute Conference on technology in 2011, Peter Thiel, a cofounder of PayPal and an early investor in Facebook, said that except for big advances in computer-related areas, innovation has actually “stalled out.” There’s been little innovation in transportation and we haven’t seen any new breakthroughs in energy, with alternatives to hydrocarbons making up just a fraction of all energy production. We have all been feeling the ripple effects of the innovation shortfall.


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Trees on Mars: Our Obsession With the Future by Hal Niedzviecki

"Robert Solow", Ada Lovelace, agricultural Revolution, Airbnb, Albert Einstein, anti-communist, big data - Walmart - Pop Tarts, big-box store, business intelligence, Colonization of Mars, computer age, crowdsourcing, David Brooks, Elon Musk, en.wikipedia.org, Erik Brynjolfsson, Flynn Effect, Google Glasses, hive mind, Howard Zinn, if you build it, they will come, income inequality, Internet of things, invention of movable type, Jaron Lanier, Jeff Bezos, job automation, John von Neumann, knowledge economy, Kodak vs Instagram, life extension, Lyft, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, Marshall McLuhan, Peter H. Diamandis: Planetary Resources, Peter Thiel, Pierre-Simon Laplace, Ponzi scheme, precariat, prediction markets, Ralph Nader, randomized controlled trial, Ray Kurzweil, ride hailing / ride sharing, rising living standards, Ronald Reagan, self-driving car, shareholder value, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Skype, Steve Jobs, TaskRabbit, technological singularity, technoutopianism, Ted Kaczynski, Thomas L Friedman, Uber and Lyft, uber lyft, working poor

This is more than just impatience—it’s ideology. When Peter Thiel founded PayPal, he envisioned it as a way to disrupt, as George Packer writes in his book The Unwinding, “the ancient technology of paper money” and “create an alternate currency online that would circumvent government controls.” At PayPal meetings, Thiel revved up the troops by telling them that “PayPal will give citizens worldwide more direct control over their currencies than they ever had before.” He told his staff, “It will be nearly impossible for corrupt governments to steal wealth from people through their old means because if they try, the people will switch to dollars or pounds or yen, in effect dumping the worthless local currency for something more secure.”48 What do Peter Thiel and many of the suddenly rich dot-com gurus of the ’90s want to achieve?

They have to do this, because in the tech sectors that increasingly dominate our perceptions, consensus is emerging: college is a big waste of time and money. Dale Stephens got his start when he was “selected out of hundreds of individuals around the world” to be a 2011 Thiel Fellow. The notion of the Thiel fellowship—a kind of unscholarship dreamed up and funded by PayPal founder, now billionaire venture capitalist, Peter Thiel—is exactly the kind of challenge that the university presidents are desperately trying to respond to. Thiel funds students not to go to university. Instead, those accepted into his program are moved to San Francisco and given money and advice in order to pursue their dream ideas in the form of start-up companies hell-bent on disruption. It comes full circle: the result of Dale Stephens’s Thiel fellowship is UnCollege, the social network and advocate site for those who choose not to pursue higher education.

Any such device or technology is an automatic upgrade, an inherent net positive; breaking down institutions is a by-product of that, since institutions, whether they are educational, governmental or even corporate, slow down the individual, slow down the race to future. So we cut through the fat, empower the individual and create new anti-institution institutions capable of bringing about even faster cycles of tech upgrade. As Peter Thiel puts it: “There’s this alternate virtual world in which there’s no stuff, it’s all zeros and ones on a computer, you can reprogram it, you can make the computer do anything you want it to. Maybe that is the best way you can actually help things in this country.”47 Will the Tricorder work? Will it really solve a wide range of health care problems ranging from lack of access to doctors to the ordering of unnecessary tests?


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To Save Everything, Click Here: The Folly of Technological Solutionism by Evgeny Morozov

3D printing, algorithmic trading, Amazon Mechanical Turk, Andrew Keen, augmented reality, Automated Insights, Berlin Wall, big data - Walmart - Pop Tarts, Buckminster Fuller, call centre, carbon footprint, Cass Sunstein, choice architecture, citizen journalism, cloud computing, cognitive bias, creative destruction, crowdsourcing, data acquisition, Dava Sobel, disintermediation, East Village, en.wikipedia.org, Fall of the Berlin Wall, Filter Bubble, Firefox, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, frictionless, future of journalism, game design, Gary Taubes, Google Glasses, illegal immigration, income inequality, invention of the printing press, Jane Jacobs, Jean Tirole, Jeff Bezos, jimmy wales, Julian Assange, Kevin Kelly, Kickstarter, license plate recognition, lifelogging, lone genius, Louis Pasteur, Mark Zuckerberg, market fundamentalism, Marshall McLuhan, moral panic, Narrative Science, Nelson Mandela, Nicholas Carr, packet switching, PageRank, Parag Khanna, Paul Graham, peer-to-peer, Peter Singer: altruism, Peter Thiel, pets.com, placebo effect, pre–internet, Ray Kurzweil, recommendation engine, Richard Thaler, Ronald Coase, Rosa Parks, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley ideology, Silicon Valley startup, Skype, Slavoj Žižek, smart meter, social graph, social web, stakhanovite, Steve Jobs, Steven Levy, Stuxnet, technoutopianism, the built environment, The Chicago School, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, the medium is the message, The Nature of the Firm, the scientific method, The Wisdom of Crowds, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, Thomas L Friedman, transaction costs, urban decay, urban planning, urban sprawl, Vannevar Bush, WikiLeaks

Kirkpatrick, “Egyptian Revolt’s Leaders Count Their Mistakes,” New York Times, June 14, 2012, http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/15/world/middleeast/egyptian-revolts-leaders-count-their-mistakes.html?pagewanted=all. 129 German-born investor Peter Thiel: some of the best reporting on Thiel includes Brian Caulfield and Nicole Perlroth, “Life After Facebook,” Forbes, February 14, 2011, http://www.forbes.com/forbes/2011/0214/features-peter-thiel-social-media-life-after-facebook.html; Jonathan Miles, “The Billionaire King of Techtopia,” Details, September 2011, http://www.details.com/culture-trends/critical-eye/201109/peter-thiel-billionaire -paypal-facebook-internet-success; George Packer, “No Death, No Taxes,” The New Yorker, November 28, 2011, http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2011/11/28/111128fa_fact_packer; Ashlee Vance and Brad Stone, “Palantir, the War on Terror’s Secret Weapon,” Businessweek, November 22, 2011, http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/palantir-the-vanguard-of-cyberterror-security-11222011.html. 129 a video on Palantir’s YouTube channel: see “Creating Transparency with Palantir,” uploaded July 5, 2012; available at http://www.youtube.com/watch?

v=8cbGChfagUA&feature=plcp. 130 “because the first place most of us want to experiment”: Tabatha Southey, “A Billionaire’s Waterworld Takes Libertarianism to New Depths,” Globe and Mail, August 19, 2011, http://www.theglobeandmail.com/commentary/a-billionaires-waterworld-takes-libertarianism-to-new-depths/article548981. 130 “In our time, the great task”: Peter Thiel, “The Education of a Libertarian,” Cato Unbound, April 13, 2009, http://www.cato-unbound.org/2009/04/13/peter-thiel/the-education-of-a-libertarian. 130 “the critical question then becomes”: ibid. 130 “in the late 1990s, the founding vision”: ibid. 130 PayPal revised how it deals: Cyrus Farivar, “PayPal Sets Down Stricter Regulations for File-Sharing Sites,” Ars Technica, July 11, 2012, http://arstechnica.com/business/2012/07/paypal-sets-down-stricter-regulations-for-file-sharing-sites. 131 “when seen through the lens of technology”: Peter H.

The former are the technoescapists, who think that technology, exemplified by “the Internet,” can make politics obsolete; the latter are the technorationalists, who think that technology and “the Internet” can shrink what makes politics political and instead boost its technocratic dimension. Both are extremely dangerous. The best ambassador of the technoescapist camp is German-born investor Peter Thiel, who made his fortune with PayPal and was the first outside investor in Facebook. Thiel cuts a very odd figure: a self-proclaimed libertarian who bankrolled much of Ron Paul’s presidential campaign, he also chairs the board of Palantir, a leader in intelligence-gathering and data-mining solutions that mostly caters to the interests of America’s defense community—a community that devoted libertarians like Paul actually want to dismantle.


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The Unwinding: An Inner History of the New America by George Packer

Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Apple's 1984 Super Bowl advert, bank run, big-box store, citizen journalism, cleantech, collateralized debt obligation, collective bargaining, corporate raider, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, deindustrialization, diversified portfolio, East Village, El Camino Real, Elon Musk, family office, financial independence, financial innovation, fixed income, Flash crash, Henry Ford's grandson gave labor union leader Walter Reuther a tour of the company’s new, automated factory…, housing crisis, income inequality, informal economy, Jane Jacobs, life extension, Long Term Capital Management, low skilled workers, Marc Andreessen, margin call, Mark Zuckerberg, market bubble, market fundamentalism, Maui Hawaii, Menlo Park, Neil Kinnock, new economy, New Journalism, obamacare, Occupy movement, oil shock, paypal mafia, peak oil, Peter Thiel, Ponzi scheme, Richard Florida, Robert Bork, Ronald Reagan, Ronald Reagan: Tear down this wall, shareholder value, side project, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, single-payer health, smart grid, Steve Jobs, strikebreaker, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, the scientific method, too big to fail, union organizing, urban planning, We are the 99%, We wanted flying cars, instead we got 140 characters, white flight, white picket fence, zero-sum game

.: Work and Memory in Youngstown (Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2002). John Russo, “Integrated Production or Systematic Disinvestment: The Restructuring of Packard Electric” (unpublished paper, 1994). Sean Safford, Why the Garden Club Couldn’t Save Youngstown: The Transformation of the Rust Belt (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2009). PETER THIEL AND SILICON VALLEY Sonia Arrison, 100 Plus: How the Coming Age of Longevity Will Change Everything, from Careers and Relationships to Family and Faith, with a foreword by Peter Thiel (New York: Basic Books, 2011). Eric M. Jackson, The PayPal Wars: Battles with eBay, the Media, the Mafia and the Rest of Planet Earth (Los Angeles: World Ahead Publishing, 2010). David Kirkpatrick, The Facebook Effect: The Inside Story of the Company That Is Connecting the World (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2011).

To get things running, he looked around for a number two—someone who knew how to make his boss look good. His eye fell on Connaughton. Clinton had banned top officials who left the administration from contacting the federal government for five years. The rule applied to Quinn but not to Connaughton, who wasn’t senior enough. So, at the age of thirty-seven, he joined Arnold & Porter and launched a new career: as a lobbyist. SILICON VALLEY Peter Thiel was three years old when he found out that he was going to die. It was in 1971, and he was sitting on a rug in his family’s apartment in Cleveland. Peter asked his father, “Where did the rug come from?” “It came from a cow,” his father said. They were speaking German, Peter’s first language—the Thiels were from Germany, Peter had been born in Frankfurt. “What happened to the cow?” “The cow died.”

The best students went on to Berkeley, Davis, or UCLA (a few made it to Stanford or the Ivies), the average ones went to San Francisco State or Chico State, and the burnouts and heads could always get a two-year degree at Foothill or De Anza. The tax revolt—Proposition 13, a referendum that would limit property taxes in California to 1 percent of assessed value, sending the state’s public schools into a long decline—was still a year away. Peter Thiel moved to the Valley in the last year of its middle-class heyday. Everything was about to change, including the name. After Swakopmund, Foster City in the school year of Saturday Night Fever seemed riotous and decadent. A lot of the kids had divorced parents. In Peter’s fifth-grade classroom, the teacher was a long-term substitute who lost all control. Kids stood on their desks and yelled at one another and the teacher.


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A More Beautiful Question: The Power of Inquiry to Spark Breakthrough Ideas by Warren Berger

Airbnb, carbon footprint, Clayton Christensen, clean water, disruptive innovation, fear of failure, Google X / Alphabet X, Isaac Newton, Jeff Bezos, jimmy wales, Joi Ito, Kickstarter, late fees, Lean Startup, Mark Zuckerberg, minimum viable product, new economy, Paul Graham, Peter Thiel, Ray Kurzweil, self-driving car, sharing economy, side project, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Stanford marshmallow experiment, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Steven Levy, Thomas L Friedman, Toyota Production System, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, Y Combinator, Zipcar

.”); also, Douglas McGray, “How Carrots Became the New Junk Food,” Fast Company, March 22, 2011. 20 “What is your tennis ball? (and other entrepreneurial questions)” . . . Drew Houston’s comments excerpted from his commencement speech at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, June 7, 2013; Brian Spaly quote from “How Entrepreneurs Come Up With Great Ideas,” Wall Street Journal Reports, April 29, 2013; Peter Thiel question from Trevor Gilbert, “Peter Thiel’s Pointed Questions to Ask Startups,” PandoDaily, April 19, 2012, http://pandodaily.com/2012/04/19/peter-thiels-pointed-questions-to-ask-startups/; Dave Kashen, “The Values-Driven Startup,” Gigaom.com, December 17, 2011, http://gigaom.com/2011/12/17/kashen-values-driven-startup/. 21 Ries believes one of the most . . . Ries’s question also appeared in my previously cited Fast Company post “The 5 Questions Every Company Should Ask Itself.”

(and other entrepreneurial questions)20 Drew Houston, founder of the online storage service Dropbox, thinks all would-be entrepreneurs should try to answer the above question. “The most successful people are obsessed with solving an important problem, something that matters to them,” according to Houston. “They remind me of a dog chasing a tennis ball.” To enhance your prospects, “find your tennis ball—the thing that pulls you.” PayPal cofounder Peter Thiel believes entrepreneurs can find ideas to pursue by asking themselves, What is something I believe that nearly no one agrees with me on? If self-examination doesn’t work, try looking around: Brian Spaly, a serial entrepreneur in the apparel industry, advises, “Whenever you encounter a service or customer experience that frustrates you, ask, Is this a problem I could solve?” Lastly, don’t just focus on the mercenary question Will consumers pay for this?

, (Coca Cola’s “unbeautiful” question) What if I peel off the skin and cut them into perfect mini-carrots? What if we marketed baby carrots like junk food? Do we want to take a shortcut on this, or do it right? What are we against? What if we asked people not to buy from us? How can we make a better experiment?, (Eric Ries’ central question) What is your tennis ball?, (Dropbox’s Drew Houston) What is something I believe that nearly no one agrees with me on?, (Peter Thiel’s question for startups) Is this a problem I could solve? Will this make people’s lives meaningfully better? How do companies get better at experimenting? What will we learn? What is our Petri dish? Where in the company is it safe to ask radical questions? Where, within the company, can you explore heretical questions that could threaten the business as it is—without contaminating what you’re doing now?


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What Algorithms Want: Imagination in the Age of Computing by Ed Finn

Airbnb, Albert Einstein, algorithmic trading, Amazon Mechanical Turk, Amazon Web Services, bitcoin, blockchain, Chuck Templeton: OpenTable:, Claude Shannon: information theory, commoditize, Credit Default Swap, crowdsourcing, cryptocurrency, disruptive innovation, Donald Knuth, Douglas Engelbart, Douglas Engelbart, Elon Musk, factory automation, fiat currency, Filter Bubble, Flash crash, game design, Google Glasses, Google X / Alphabet X, High speed trading, hiring and firing, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, iterative process, Jaron Lanier, Jeff Bezos, job automation, John Conway, John Markoff, Just-in-time delivery, Kickstarter, late fees, lifelogging, Loebner Prize, Lyft, Mother of all demos, Nate Silver, natural language processing, Netflix Prize, new economy, Nicholas Carr, Norbert Wiener, PageRank, peer-to-peer, Peter Thiel, Ray Kurzweil, recommendation engine, Republic of Letters, ride hailing / ride sharing, Satoshi Nakamoto, self-driving car, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley ideology, Silicon Valley startup, social graph, software studies, speech recognition, statistical model, Steve Jobs, Steven Levy, Stewart Brand, supply-chain management, TaskRabbit, technological singularity, technoutopianism, The Coming Technological Singularity, the scientific method, The Signal and the Noise by Nate Silver, The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, transaction costs, traveling salesman, Turing machine, Turing test, Uber and Lyft, Uber for X, uber lyft, urban planning, Vannevar Bush, Vernor Vinge, wage slave

“Google Effects on Memory: Cognitive Consequences of Having Information at Our Fingertips.” Science 333 (6043) (August 5, 2011): 776–778. doi:10.1126/science.1207745. Spivack, Nova. “How Siri Works—Interview with Tom Gruber, CTO of SIRI.” Nova Spivack, January 6, 2010. http://www.novaspivack.com/technology/how-hisiri-works-interview-with-tom-gruber-cto-of-siri. Stelter, Brian. “Peter Thiel: Financing Lawsuits against Gawker Is About ‘Deterrence.’” CNN Money, May 26, 2016, http://money.cnn.com/2016/05/26/media/peter-thiel-hulk-hogan-gawker. Stein, Joel. “Baby, You Can Drive My Car, and Do My Errands, and Rent My Stuff…” Time 185 (4) (February 9, 2015): 32–40. Stephenson, Neal. In the Beginning ... Was the Command Line. 1st ed. New York: William Morrow, 1999. Stephenson, Neal. Snow Crash. New York: Bantam Dell, 1992. Sterling, Bruce. Schismatrix.

Meanwhile, editors at all of those places closely monitored Facebook (which, remember, is not a news organization) to see what news was getting traction with the digital public. News directors trying to decipher the Trending Topics algorithm were really peering into an editorial funhouse mirror.36 Later in 2016, yet another illustration of programmable culture and new ground rules for value erupted into the headlines when PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel drove Gawker Media into bankruptcy by supporting a third-party lawsuit. Thiel argued this was “less about revenge and more about specific deterrence”—and his correct interpretation that as an algorithmic billionaire he had the power to censor a news organization whose salacious coverage he despised.37 The sea change in what counts does not stop with Wall Street or the news. The stakes of cultural success are increasingly driven by algorithmic metrics.

In a rare moment of newsroom justice, the story was broken by the Gawker Media technology blog Gizmodo: Nunez, “Want to Know What Facebook Really Thinks of Journalists?”; for the instruction memo itself, see Thielman, “Facebook News Selection Is in Hands of Editors Not Algorithms, Documents Show.” 36. I borrow these lines from an editorial I wrote on the scandal: Finn, “Facebook Trending Story.” 37. Brian Stelter, “Peter Thiel.” 38. Habermas, The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere. 39. Thiel, “The Education of a Libertarian. 40. Miller, “I’m Maria Popova, and This Is How I Work.” 41. Bourdieu, The Field of Cultural Production. 42. Greenfeld, “Faking Cultural Literacy.” 43. This disparity has created its own arbitrage opportunities, like the Congress-Edits Twitterbot that announces each anonymous edit to Wikipedia made from IP addresses at the U.S.


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Facebook: The Inside Story by Steven Levy

active measures, Airbnb, Airbus A320, Amazon Mechanical Turk, Apple's 1984 Super Bowl advert, augmented reality, Ben Horowitz, blockchain, Burning Man, business intelligence, cloud computing, computer vision, crowdsourcing, cryptocurrency, don't be evil, Donald Trump, East Village, Edward Snowden, El Camino Real, Elon Musk, Firefox, Frank Gehry, glass ceiling, indoor plumbing, Jeff Bezos, John Markoff, Jony Ive, Kevin Kelly, Kickstarter, Lyft, Mahatma Gandhi, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, Menlo Park, Metcalfe’s law, MITM: man-in-the-middle, move fast and break things, move fast and break things, natural language processing, Network effects, Oculus Rift, PageRank, Paul Buchheit, paypal mafia, Peter Thiel, pets.com, post-work, Ray Kurzweil, recommendation engine, Robert Mercer, Robert Metcalfe, rolodex, Sam Altman, Sand Hill Road, self-driving car, sexual politics, Shoshana Zuboff, side project, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, slashdot, Snapchat, social graph, social software, South of Market, San Francisco, Startup school, Steve Ballmer, Steve Jobs, Steven Levy, Steven Pinker, Tim Cook: Apple, web application, WikiLeaks, women in the workforce, Y Combinator, Y2K

Pincus thought, albeit one where the guests weren’t old enough to drink yet. Hoffman was eager to meet Zuckerberg, too, but was sensitive to criticism he’d gotten after his Friendster investment. People were saying that it wasn’t seemly for him to be funding his potential competitors. So Hoffman decided maybe someone else might lead the investment round. He suggested that they all meet in the office of his former PayPal colleague Peter Thiel. Hoffman figured that Thiel might be sufficiently impressed to lead the round. If not, Hoffman figured, he’d step up himself. Criticism or not, he wasn’t going to pass on this opportunity. Thiel was head of the Founders Fund, an investment firm he started after leaving the company that made his own fortune, PayPal. (Besides Hoffman, other veterans of that payment company included Tesla founder Elon Musk and entrepreneur Max Levchin.

“We all just kind of sat around one day and were, like, ‘We’re not going back to school, are we? Nah.’” They found a rental house in Los Altos, not too far from the original Casa Facebook. The landlady took one look at Zuckerberg and asked how old he was. Twenty, he replied. “You think I’m going to rent you my million-dollar house?” she asked. “Yes,” said Zuckerberg. This time there was no zipline. Peter Thiel had instructed Zuckerberg to organize the shares for his co-founders and establish a schedule for their options to vest. Zuckerberg hadn’t even known what a vesting schedule was, but once he took on the tasks, he realized that Moskovitz should have a significant stake—and Eduardo Saverin was overrepresented. Moskovitz, the Ox, was becoming indispensable to keep the site open as it grew. “If Dustin had left, Facebook would have been in a very bad state,” says McCollum.

Parker wasn’t burned by Facebook like he was at Plaxo. He’d made sure of that during the negotiations with the VCs. His own deal specified that even if he left Facebook, he would retain his percentage in the company, a cut that would eventually provide him a reliable standing in the Forbes Billionaires list. But it was Mark Zuckerberg who kept control, with the biggest stake of all. “Whether it’s Peter Thiel or Sean Parker, these people thought they were manipulating Mark,” says one early Facebook employee. “But Mark saw Sean as a useful tool to do the job that sucks the most—fundraising. In hindsight, it was genius that Mark convinced Parker to raise all the money for him.” 6 The Book of Change ZUCKERBERG CARRIED A notebook. In 2006, the year that put Facebook on a course for greatness and infamy, you would have seen him in the Palo Alto office, head down, scrawling on an unruled journal in his crabbed, compact script, sketching out product ideas, diagramming coding approaches, and slipping in bits of his philosophy.


pages: 185 words: 43,609

Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future by Peter Thiel, Blake Masters

Airbnb, Albert Einstein, Andrew Wiles, Andy Kessler, Berlin Wall, cleantech, cloud computing, crony capitalism, discounted cash flows, diversified portfolio, don't be evil, Elon Musk, eurozone crisis, income inequality, Jeff Bezos, Lean Startup, life extension, lone genius, Long Term Capital Management, Lyft, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, minimum viable product, Nate Silver, Network effects, new economy, paypal mafia, Peter Thiel, pets.com, profit motive, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Ray Kurzweil, self-driving car, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Singularitarianism, software is eating the world, Steve Jobs, strong AI, Ted Kaczynski, Tesla Model S, uber lyft, Vilfredo Pareto, working poor

Copyright © 2014 by Peter Thiel All rights reserved. Published in the United States by Crown Business, an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group, a division of Random House LLC, a Penguin Random House Company, New York. www.crownpublishing.com CROWN BUSINESS is a trademark and CROWN and the Rising Sun colophon are registered trademarks of Random House LLC. Crown Business books are available at special discounts for bulk purchases for sales promotions or corporate use. Special editions, including personalized covers, excerpts of existing books, or books with corporate logos, can be created in large quantities for special needs. For more information, contact Premium Sales at (212) 572-2232 or e-mail specialmarkets@randomhouse.com. Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Thiel, Peter A.

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Thiel, Peter A. Zero to one: notes on startups, or how to build the future / Peter Thiel with Blake Masters. pages cm 1. New business enterprises. 2. New products. 3. Entrepreneurship. 4. Diffusion of innovations. I. Title. HD62.5.T525 2014 685.11—dc23 2014006653 Hardcover ISBN: 978-0-8041-3929-8 eBook ISBN: 978-0-8041-3930-4 Book design by Ralph Fowler / rlfdesign Graphics by Rodrigo Corral Design Illustrations by Matt Buck Cover design by Michael Nagin Additional credits appear on this page, which constitutes a continuation of this copyright page. v3.1 Contents Preface: Zero to One 1 The Challenge of the Future 2 Party Like It’s 1999 3 All Happy Companies Are Different 4 The Ideology of Competition 5 Last Mover Advantage 6 You Are Not a Lottery Ticket 7 Follow the Money 8 Secrets 9 Foundations 10 The Mechanics of Mafia 11 If You Build It, Will They Come?

Toyota Tumblr 27 Club Twitter, 5.1, 6.1 Uber Unabomber VCs, rules of “veil of ignorance” venture capital power law in venture fund, J-curve of successful, 7.1 vertical progress viral marketing Virgin Atlantic Airways Virgin Group Virgin Records Wagner Wall Street Journal Warby Parker Watson web browsers Western Union White, Phil Wiles, Andrew Wilson, Andrew Winehouse, Amy World Wide Web Xanadu X.com Yahoo!, 2.1, 3.1, 3.2, 5.1, 6.1 Yammer Yelp YouTube, 10.1, 12.1 ZocDoc Zuckerberg, Mark, prf.1, 5.1, 6.1, 14.1 Zynga About the Authors Peter Thiel is an entrepreneur and investor. He started PayPal in 1998, led it as CEO, and took it public in 2002, defining a new era of fast and secure online commerce. In 2004 he made the first outside investment in Facebook, where he serves as a director. The same year he launched Palantir Technologies, a software company that harnesses computers to empower human analysts in fields like national security and global finance.


pages: 357 words: 94,852

No Is Not Enough: Resisting Trump’s Shock Politics and Winning the World We Need by Naomi Klein

Airbnb, basic income, battle of ideas, Berlin Wall, Bernie Sanders, Brewster Kahle, Celebration, Florida, clean water, collective bargaining, Corrections Corporation of America, desegregation, Donald Trump, drone strike, Edward Snowden, Elon Musk, energy transition, financial deregulation, greed is good, high net worth, Howard Zinn, illegal immigration, income inequality, Internet Archive, Kickstarter, late capitalism, Mark Zuckerberg, market bubble, market fundamentalism, mass incarceration, Mikhail Gorbachev, moral panic, Naomi Klein, Nate Silver, new economy, Occupy movement, offshore financial centre, oil shale / tar sands, open borders, Peter Thiel, plutocrats, Plutocrats, private military company, profit motive, race to the bottom, Ralph Nader, Ronald Reagan, Saturday Night Live, sexual politics, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, too big to fail, trade liberalization, transatlantic slave trade, Triangle Shirtwaist Factory, trickle-down economics, Upton Sinclair, urban decay, women in the workforce, working poor

Evan Osnos: high-end survivalists are “hedging” against climate disruption Evan Osnos, “Doomsday Prep for the Super-Rich,” New Yorker, January 30, 2017, http://www.newyorker.com/​magazine/​2017/​01/​30/​doomsday-prep-for-the-super-rich. Seasteading: “vote with your boat” Seasteading Institute, “Vote with Your Boat,” Seasteading.org, December 13, 2012, https://www.seasteading.org/​2012/​12/​new-promotional-video-vote-with-your-boat/. Peter Thiel: “not quite feasible” Maureen Dowd, “Peter Thiel, Trump’s Tech Pal, Explains Himself,” New York Times, January 11, 2017, https://mobile.nytimes.com/​2017/​01/​11/​fashion/​peter-thiel-donald-trump-silicon-valley-technology-gawker.html. FEMA: “Foolishly Expecting Meaningful Aid” Evan Osnos, “Doomsday Prep for the Super-Rich,” New Yorker, January 30, 2017, http://www.newyorker.com/​magazine/​2017/​01/​30/​doomsday-prep-for-the-super-rich. In fire-prone states, insurance companies provide a “concierge” service to their high-end clients Kimi Yoshino, “Another Way the Rich Are Different: ‘Concierge-Level’ Fire Protection,” Los Angeles Times, October 26, 2007, http://www.latimes.com/​business/​la-fi-richfire26oct26-story.html.

If you think “combat training” is something armies used to do all on their own, you’d be right. One noticeable thing about Trump’s contractor appointees is how many of them come from firms that did not even exist before 9/11: L1 Identity Solutions (specializing in biometrics), the Chertoff Group (founded by Bush’s Homeland Security director Michael Chertoff), Palantir Technologies (a surveillance/big data firm cofounded by PayPal billionaire and Trump backer Peter Thiel), and many more. Security firms draw heavily on the military and intelligence wings of government for their staffing. Under Trump, a remarkable number of lobbyists and staffers from these firms are now migrating back to government, where they will very likely push for even more opportunities to monetize the hunt for people President Trump likes to call “bad hombres.” This creates a disastrous cocktail.

Evan Osnos recently reported in the New Yorker that, in Silicon Valley and on Wall Street, the more serious high-end survivalists are hedging against climate disruption and social collapse by buying space in custom-built underground bunkers in Kansas (protected by heavily armed mercenaries) and building escape homes on high ground in New Zealand. It goes without saying that you need your own private jet to get there—the ultimate Green Zone. At the ultra-extreme end of this trend is PayPal billionaire Peter Thiel, a major Trump donor and member of his transition team. Thiel underwrote an initiative called the Seasteading Institute, cofounded by Patri Friedman (grandson of Milton) in 2008. The goal of Seasteading is for wealthy people to eventually secede into fully independent nation-states, floating in the open ocean—protected from sea-level rise and fully self-sufficient. Anybody who doesn’t like being taxed or regulated will simply be able to, as the movement’s manifesto states, “vote with your boat.”


pages: 349 words: 98,868

Nervous States: Democracy and the Decline of Reason by William Davies

active measures, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Amazon Web Services, bank run, banking crisis, basic income, business cycle, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, citizen journalism, Climategate, Climatic Research Unit, Colonization of Mars, continuation of politics by other means, creative destruction, credit crunch, decarbonisation, deindustrialization, discovery of penicillin, Dominic Cummings, Donald Trump, drone strike, Elon Musk, failed state, Filter Bubble, first-past-the-post, Frank Gehry, gig economy, housing crisis, income inequality, Isaac Newton, Jeff Bezos, Johannes Kepler, Joseph Schumpeter, knowledge economy, loss aversion, low skilled workers, Mahatma Gandhi, Mark Zuckerberg, mass immigration, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Mont Pelerin Society, mutually assured destruction, Northern Rock, obamacare, Occupy movement, pattern recognition, Peace of Westphalia, Peter Thiel, Philip Mirowski, planetary scale, post-industrial society, quantitative easing, RAND corporation, Ray Kurzweil, Richard Florida, road to serfdom, Robert Mercer, Ronald Reagan, sentiment analysis, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, smart cities, statistical model, Steve Jobs, the scientific method, Turing machine, Uber for X, universal basic income, University of East Anglia, Valery Gerasimov, We are the 99%, WikiLeaks, women in the workforce, zero-sum game

The accusation is that they have in a sense “weaponized” their public status, so as to serve particular interests. In short, all of them are deemed guilty of hypocrisy. And, as Arendt observed, if there is one thing most likely to convert engagement into enragement—more even than injustice—it is hypocrisy.18 It is sometimes questioned why antipathy to “elites” rarely manifests itself in scapegoating of the very rich. How can men as wealthy as Beppe Grillo, Aaron Banks, Andrej Babis, or Peter Thiel claim to be leading a movement against elites? To which the answer is: unlike a journalist, a government statistician, a member of parliament, or a lawyer, the rich never claim to be speaking for anyone other than themselves. They make no claim to public status, and therefore they cannot be accused of hypocrisy. The perceived arrogance of the expert or professional politician is in claiming some disembodied, dispassionate perspective, not available to the ordinary businessman, consumer, Twitter-user or crowd-member.

The cult of Napoleonic leaders, trusting their “nose” and shaping the world around them, now surrounds entrepreneurs more than it does military figures. Driving this cult of entrepreneurship was one of the most influential intellectual movements of the twentieth century. 6 GUESSING GAMES Market sentiment and the price of knowledge As the founder of PayPal and an early investor in Facebook, Peter Thiel is one of the most renowned venture capitalists working in Silicon Valley, and was actively involved in seeking to build bridges between US tech companies and the Trump administration. He’s known for his outlandish ideas and futuristic schemes, including the notion that death may only be “optional,” once the body’s natural aging process can be properly understood and halted. To this end he’s expressed an interest in “parabiosis,” in which the blood of young people is harvested and used as a source of rejuvenation.

Granted this, it would be unreasonable to deny that a society is likely to get a better elite if ascent is not limited to one generation, if individuals are not deliberately made to start from the same level.27 In our new age of extreme personal wealth, billionaire owners of private companies such as the Koch brothers or Robert Mercer, the hedge-fund billionaire who has backed various populist and alt-right campaigns including Breitbart media, have huge political autonomy, without needing to be public about how they’re using it. Facebook and Google are now listed on the stock market, yet their founders retain majority shareholding rights. The family becomes the most important political and economic institution for these new oligarchs, and will ensure that extremes of inequality outlive them. If they cannot achieve actual immortality (of the sort that Peter Thiel is hoping for) then achieving a dynasty becomes the best way of leaving a financial and genetic legacy. To live in a Darwinian world is discomforting for everyone, including the winners. Even truths and great triumphs are temporary—as Napoleon discovered. The “founders” and oligarchs who now dominate our economies feel this as deeply as anyone. Why else would they strive so hard to keep their wealth away from the taxman, to stockpile it for their children, and their children’s children?


pages: 270 words: 79,180

The Middleman Economy: How Brokers, Agents, Dealers, and Everyday Matchmakers Create Value and Profit by Marina Krakovsky

Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Airbnb, Al Roth, Ben Horowitz, Black Swan, buy low sell high, Chuck Templeton: OpenTable:, Credit Default Swap, cross-subsidies, crowdsourcing, disintermediation, diversified portfolio, experimental economics, George Akerlof, Goldman Sachs: Vampire Squid, income inequality, index fund, information asymmetry, Jean Tirole, Joan Didion, Kenneth Arrow, Lean Startup, Lyft, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, market microstructure, Martin Wolf, McMansion, Menlo Park, Metcalfe’s law, moral hazard, multi-sided market, Network effects, patent troll, Paul Graham, Peter Thiel, pez dispenser, ride hailing / ride sharing, Robert Metcalfe, Sand Hill Road, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, social graph, supply-chain management, TaskRabbit, The Market for Lemons, too big to fail, trade route, transaction costs, two-sided market, Uber for X, uber lyft, ultimatum game, Y Combinator

Newman, “Power Laws, Pareto Distributions and Zipf’s Law,” Contemporary Physics 46 (2005): 323–51. 35.Patricia Cohen, “Richest 1% Likely to Control Half of Global by Wealth by 2016, Study Finds,” New York Times, January 19, 2015. 36.Taleb wrote that “In Extremistan, inequalities are such that one single observation can disproportionately impact the aggregate, or the total.” See Nassim Nicholas Taleb, The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable (New York: Random House, 2007), 33. 37.Peter Thiel, Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future (New York: Crown Business, 2014), 86. 38.Julianne Pepitone and Stacy Cowley, “Facebook’s First Big Investor, Peter Thiel, Cashes Out,” CNNMoney, August 20, 2012. 39.In the introduction to their book of interviews with 35 top VCs and angel investors (including Maples), Tarang Shah and Sheetal Shah observe that entrepreneurs who had founded successful companies “had a very strong intuition and access to asymmetric information” that enabled them to tap emerging opportunities.

Andreessen and partner Ben Horowitz picked up much of their investment philosophy, probably including this idea, from investment advisor Andy Rachleff, a former partner at Benchmark Capital and founder of Wealthfront, a firm that uses technology to transform the investment advisory business.29 Rachleff, in turn, credits his “investment idol,” Howard Marks, with this framework.30 When the entrepreneur-turned-VC Peter Thiel asks, “What important truth do very few people agree with you on?” he is getting at the same sort of exceptionalism: the contrarian truth, something that is nonconsensus and right. Understanding that the biggest returns will come from nonconsensus ideas is only a first step, though, because it is very hard to figure out the “right” part. Consider Twitter, which Maples invested in before founding Floodgate.

For example, according to a study released today, the 80 wealthiest individuals in the world collectively own $1.9 trillion—a total about equal to the “wealth” of all the people in the poorer half of the world.35 In The Black Swan, Taleb coined a memorable word to refer to such highly skewed distributions: they occur in “Extremistan,” where a single event or data point has a disproportionate impact on the total.36 Venture capital lives in Extremistan in that only about 15 start-ups out of several thousand vying for VC funding each year are responsible for the vast majority of profits: just one of those megahits—the next Google or Facebook or Twitter—will make you a monumental winner even if all your other investments lose money. Peter Thiel calls this “the biggest secret in venture capital,” writing in Zero to One. “The best investment in a successful fund equals or outperforms the entire rest of the fund combined.”37 Thiel’s $500,000 angel investment in Facebook in 2004 (before he became a VC) came to be worth more than $1 billion when Facebook went public in 2012,38 making it easier for him to take the kind of radical bets that we associate with eccentric billionaires.


pages: 324 words: 80,217

The Decadent Society: How We Became the Victims of Our Own Success by Ross Douthat

Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, AI winter, Bernie Sanders, bitcoin, Burning Man, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, centre right, charter city, crack epidemic, crowdsourcing, David Graeber, Deng Xiaoping, Donald Trump, East Village, Elon Musk, Flynn Effect, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, Francisco Pizarro, ghettoisation, gig economy, Haight Ashbury, helicopter parent, hive mind, Hyperloop, immigration reform, informal economy, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Islamic Golden Age, Jeff Bezos, Joan Didion, Kevin Kelly, Kickstarter, knowledge worker, life extension, mass immigration, mass incarceration, means of production, megacity, move fast and break things, move fast and break things, multiplanetary species, New Journalism, Nicholas Carr, Norman Mailer, obamacare, Oculus Rift, open borders, out of africa, Panopticon Jeremy Bentham, Peter Thiel, plutocrats, Plutocrats, pre–internet, QAnon, quantitative easing, rent-seeking, Robert Bork, Robert Gordon, Ronald Reagan, secular stagnation, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley ideology, Snapchat, social web, Steve Jobs, Steven Pinker, technoutopianism, the built environment, The Rise and Fall of American Growth, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, wage slave, women in the workforce, Y2K

Since the 2008 financial crisis and the Great Recession exposed almost a decade’s worth of Western growth as an illusion, a diverse cast of economists and political scientists and other figures on both the left and the right have begun to talk about stagnation and repetition and complacency and sclerosis as defining features of this Western age: Tyler Cowen and Robert Gordon, Thomas Piketty and Francis Fukuyama, David Graeber and Peter Thiel, and many others. This book is, in part, an attempt to synthesize their various perspectives into a compelling account of our situation. But it also weaves the social sciences together with observations on our intellectual climate, our popular culture, our religious moment, our technological pastimes, in the hopes of painting a fuller portrait of our decadence than you can get just looking at political science papers on institutional decay or an economic analysis of the declining rate of growth.

Indeed, in Gordon’s view, it’s the most important thing that’s happened across the last fifty years, the source of our only major post-1960s productivity surge. (Theranos was a pleasant fiction, but the Amazon effect is real.) But that surge, and its effect on our everyday lives, is still a blip compared with the cascade of changes between 1870 and 1970, and a letdown compared with what we dreamed about not so very long ago. The Silicon Valley tycoon Peter Thiel, another prominent stagnationist, likes to snark that “we were promised flying cars. We got 140 characters.” And even the people who will explain to you, in high seriousness, that nobody would really want a flying car can’t get around the basic points that he and Graeber, Steyn and Gordon are making. Lots of inventions that were confidently expected fifty years ago are, indeed, now dismissed as fantasies or “Jetsons stuff.”

The decline in “the number and scale of controversial fringe sects” since the 1980s, historian of religion Philip Jenkins argued recently, is both “genuine and epochal,” and a bad sign for the vitality of the religious center—since such mad experiments on the fringes often indicate that more mainstream religions have a “a solid core of spiritual activism and inquiry.” And the religious torpor betokened by the decline of cults can be linked to intellectual torpor generally—the religious element in the culturewide feeling, to borrow from the pessimistic Peter Thiel, that there are fewer and fewer “secrets left to be discovered.” This torpor extends to skeptics and atheists as well. For all the excitement and debate in the mid-2000s around the so-called “new atheism,” their school was just about the least new thing under the sun, recycling arguments that were new and controversial in the eighteenth century, as though nothing had been written—including by atheists!


pages: 385 words: 128,358

Inside the House of Money: Top Hedge Fund Traders on Profiting in a Global Market by Steven Drobny

Albert Einstein, asset allocation, Berlin Wall, Bonfire of the Vanities, Bretton Woods, business cycle, buy and hold, buy low sell high, capital controls, central bank independence, commoditize, commodity trading advisor, corporate governance, correlation coefficient, Credit Default Swap, diversification, diversified portfolio, family office, fixed income, glass ceiling, high batting average, implied volatility, index fund, inflation targeting, interest rate derivative, inventory management, John Meriwether, Long Term Capital Management, margin call, market bubble, Maui Hawaii, Mexican peso crisis / tequila crisis, moral hazard, Myron Scholes, new economy, Nick Leeson, oil shale / tar sands, oil shock, out of africa, paper trading, Paul Samuelson, Peter Thiel, price anchoring, purchasing power parity, reserve currency, risk tolerance, risk-adjusted returns, risk/return, rolodex, Sharpe ratio, short selling, Silicon Valley, The Wisdom of Crowds, too big to fail, transaction costs, value at risk, yield curve, zero-coupon bond, zero-sum game

(See Figure 9.2.) 70 65 Dollars per Barrel 60 55 50 45 Long Oil Presentation 40 35 30 FIGURE 9.2 5 5 -0 -0 Oc t No v 5 5 -0 Se p 5 -0 l-0 Ju Au g 5 05 nJu 5 -0 ay M -0 5 Crude Oil Futures (WTI), 2004–2005 Source: Bloomberg. Ap r 05 -0 ar Fe b- M 04 05 nJa De c- 4 04 t-0 vNo Oc 4 4 -0 Se p 4 -0 Au g 04 l-0 n- Ju Ju 4 04 -0 ay - Ap r M 4 4 M ar -0 -0 -0 Ja n Fe b 4 25 190 INSIDE THE HOUSE OF MONEY DROBNY GLOBAL CONFERENCE REVIEW, APRIL 2004 Peter Thiel’s Favorite Trade: Long Long-Dated Oil Peter Thiel, of Clarium Capital Management, suggested buying shares in oil sand companies in Canada.The idea is to create a synthetic call option on long-term oil. The Canadian oil sand companies are high marginal cost oil producers whose valuation can be explosive if oil were to rise substantially over the next decade. Both the demand and supply curves for oil are very price inelastic.

The History of Global Macro Hedge Funds 5 3. The Future of Global Macro Hedge Funds 31 4. The Family Office Manager: Jim Leitner (Falcon Management) 35 5. The Prop Trader: Christian Siva-Jothy (SemperMacro) 71 6. The Researcher: Dr.Andres Drobny (Drobny Global Advisors) 103 7. The Treasurer: Dr. John Porter (Barclays Capital) 133 8. The Central Banker: Dr. Sushil Wadhwani (Wadhwani Asset Management) 161 9. The Dot-Commer: Peter Thiel (Clarium Capital) 181 10. The Floor Trader:Yra Harris (Praxis Trading) 199 11. The Pioneer: Jim Rogers 217 12. The Commodity Specialist: Dwight Anderson (Ospraie Management) 241 vii viii CONTENTS 13. The Stock Operator: Scott Bessent (Bessent Capital) 269 14. The Emerging Market Specialist: Marko Dimitrijević (Everest Capital) 289 15. The Fixed Income Specialists: David Gorton and Rob Standing (London Diversified Fund Management) 309 16.

In regard to how the world adjusts to China, I think the economic adjustment will be easier than perhaps some of the political issues.As they become more powerful, there are various potential flashpoints and a lot of potential for friction, especially as they become more and more self-assertive, which I think they will. In Japan, things have clearly looked up, but they have stored up such huge problems. Perhaps what you’re going to have is a lot of inflation in Japan, which may be the only way they’ll come out of this mess. CHAPTER 9 The Dot-Commer Peter Thiel Former CEO and Cofounder of PayPal Clarium Capital San Francisco eter Thiel is bit of an enigma in global macro.Whereas some managers earn distinction because they are successful and secretive, Thiel is unusually open about all things related to his business, Clarium Capital Management, a San Francisco–based global macro hedge fund. Since its launch in October 2002, initial investors have more than tripled their money and fund assets are now well over $1 billion.


pages: 417 words: 97,577

The Myth of Capitalism: Monopolies and the Death of Competition by Jonathan Tepper

Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, air freight, Airbnb, airline deregulation, bank run, barriers to entry, Berlin Wall, Bernie Sanders, big-box store, Bob Noyce, business cycle, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, citizen journalism, Clayton Christensen, collapse of Lehman Brothers, collective bargaining, computer age, corporate raider, creative destruction, Credit Default Swap, crony capitalism, diversification, don't be evil, Donald Trump, Double Irish / Dutch Sandwich, Edward Snowden, Elon Musk, en.wikipedia.org, eurozone crisis, Fall of the Berlin Wall, family office, financial innovation, full employment, German hyperinflation, gig economy, Gini coefficient, Goldman Sachs: Vampire Squid, Google bus, Google Chrome, Gordon Gekko, income inequality, index fund, Innovator's Dilemma, intangible asset, invisible hand, Jeff Bezos, John Nash: game theory, John von Neumann, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Rogoff, late capitalism, London Interbank Offered Rate, low skilled workers, Mark Zuckerberg, Martin Wolf, means of production, merger arbitrage, Metcalfe's law, multi-sided market, mutually assured destruction, Nash equilibrium, Network effects, new economy, Northern Rock, offshore financial centre, passive investing, patent troll, Peter Thiel, plutocrats, Plutocrats, prediction markets, prisoner's dilemma, race to the bottom, rent-seeking, road to serfdom, Robert Bork, Ronald Reagan, Sam Peltzman, secular stagnation, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, Skype, Snapchat, Social Responsibility of Business Is to Increase Its Profits, Steve Jobs, The Chicago School, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, too big to fail, undersea cable, Vanguard fund, very high income, wikimedia commons, William Shockley: the traitorous eight, zero-sum game

Roger Lowenstein, Buffett: The Making of an American Capitalist (Random House, 2008). 5. https://businessmanagement.news/2017/05/05/warren-buffet-would-rather-invest-in-your-idiot-nephew-than-with-mark-zuckerberg-or-jeff-bezos/. 6. https://www.ft.com/content/fd27245a-9790-11e7-a652-cde3f882dd7b. 7. https://www.wsj.com/articles/elon-musks-uncontested-3-pointers-1519595032. 8. http://gawker.com/322852/is-peter-thiel-silicon-valleys-godfather. 9. https://www.wsj.com/articles/peter-thiel-competition-is-for-losers-1410535536. 10. Joseph A. Schumpeter, Capitalism, Socialism, and Democracy, 2nd ed. (Dancing Unicorn Books, 2016). 11. http://consumerfed.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/Overcharged-and-Underserved.pdf. 12. https://www.freepress.net/blog/2017/04/25/net-neutrality-violations-brief-history. 13. https://www.cnet.com/news/fcc-formally-rules-comcasts-throttling-of-bittorrent-was-illegal/. 14.

Heinz Company, which two years later he merged with Kraft Foods to become Kraft Heinz. This gave them complete dominance in many areas of the supermarket shelf like ketchup. They tried to buy Unilever in 2017, which would have given them even more ownership of dominant brands, but Unilever turned them down. Alas, Kraft Heinz Unilever was not meant to be. If Warren Buffett is the embodiment of American capitalism, then billionaire Peter Thiel is Silicon Valley's Godfather.8 They could not be more different. Where Buffett is folksy and simple, Thiel is distant and philosophical. Buffett quotes the actress Mae West, while Thiel quotes French intellectuals like Jean-Jacques Servan-Schreiber. Buffett is a dyed-in-the-wool Democrat, and Thiel is a libertarian who has procured a New Zealand passport so he can flee when the peasants with pitchforks come for Silicon Valley monopolies.

Praising monopolies has a long tradition in the United States. Joseph Schumpeter, an Austrian-born economics professor at Harvard, is generally remembered for coining the phrase “gale of creative destruction,” in praise of competition. It is ironic that economists and consultants see him today as the champion of disruptive startups, when in Schumpeter's view, if you wanted to search for progress, it would lead you to the doors of monopolies. Much like Peter Thiel, Schumpeter thought that perfectly competitive firms were inferior in technological efficiency and were a waste. Monopolies were more robust because, “a perfectly competitive industry is much more apt to be routed—and to scatter the bacilli of depression—under the impact of progress or of external disturbance than is big business.”10 Buffett and Thiel love monopolies, because when you're a monopolist, you become what economists call a “price maker.”


pages: 332 words: 97,325

The Launch Pad: Inside Y Combinator, Silicon Valley's Most Exclusive School for Startups by Randall Stross

affirmative action, Airbnb, AltaVista, always be closing, Amazon Mechanical Turk, Amazon Web Services, barriers to entry, Ben Horowitz, Burning Man, business cycle, California gold rush, call centre, cloud computing, crowdsourcing, don't be evil, Elon Musk, high net worth, index fund, inventory management, John Markoff, Justin.tv, Lean Startup, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, medical residency, Menlo Park, Minecraft, minimum viable product, Paul Buchheit, Paul Graham, Peter Thiel, QR code, Richard Feynman, Richard Florida, ride hailing / ride sharing, Sam Altman, Sand Hill Road, side project, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Skype, social graph, software is eating the world, South of Market, San Francisco, speech recognition, Stanford marshmallow experiment, Startup school, stealth mode startup, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Steven Levy, TaskRabbit, transaction costs, Y Combinator

The year after the Thiel Fellowship was announced, he contacted Stanford to teach a course in Stanford’s computer science department. It was approved for the spring 2012 quarter after due notice was taken by the Stanford faculty of “what he’s said in the past about the value of a university education,” said a Stanford faculty member. “Peter Thiel to Teach Stanford Class on Startups,” Tech Chronicles blog, San Francisco Chronicle, March 12, 2012, http://blog.sfgate.com/techchron/2012/03/12/peter-thiel-to-teach-stanford-class-on-startups/. 2. Justin Kan, “Drop Out. Or Don’t,” A Really Bad Idea blog, February 27, 2011, http://areallybadidea.com/drop-out-or-dont. 3. Justin Kan, “Selling Kiko,” A Really Bad Idea blog, February 21, 2011, http://areallybadidea.com/selling-kiko. 4. Justin Kan, “Why Starting Justin.tv Was a Really Bad Idea, but I’m Glad We Did It Anyway,” TC, February 12, 2011, http://techcrunch.com/2011/02/12/starting-justin-tv/.

When Patrick Collison was asked what he thought about Graham’s point about the intimidating nature of a big problem, Collison politely dissented, arguing that what should be emphasized was that addressing a hard-to-solve problem is actually not as hard as everyone thinks: founders and employees alike are inspired to work harder than if they were taking on the mundane. Midsummer in 2010, the Collisons met with Peter Thiel, the cofounder of PayPal, who expressed some concern that Stripe was a “two-stage” rocket. “There’s all these fantastic things you can do at stage two, but it depends on a really good execution of stage one,” Collison recalled Thiel saying. Nonetheless, Thiel offered to invest. At the end of the summer, the Collisons completed a $2 million round raised from Thiel, Sequoia Capital, Andreessen Horowitz, SV Angel, Elon Musk—another PayPal founder—and a few others.

It has been another long workday and work evening for everyone, but this one has ended amid the companionship of peers, a break from the routine. As fatigue sets in, founders pack up and leave in twos and threes, headed home. 13 NEW IDEAS In the YC universe, business schools are deemed so useless that no one bothers to expend any energy in remarking upon their irrelevance to software startups. The only question relating to formal education that does draw attention is whether to finish or even go to college. In 2010, Peter Thiel, the billionaire cofounder of PayPal, announced the establishment of a new fellowship that would award twenty $100,000 grants to entrepreneurs under the age of twenty if they left college to pursue their ideas.1 As a debate spread across online forums about whether entrepreneurial young adults should bother with college, Justin Kan posted an essay on his personal blog in early 2011 about his own college experience at Yale.2 He tries his best to come up with an itemized list of knowledge and skills acquired at college that he is now using as a technology entrepreneur, but the list is pretty meager.


Woolly: The True Story of the Quest to Revive History's Most Iconic Extinct Creature by Ben Mezrich

butterfly effect, Danny Hillis, double helix, Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, Jeff Bezos, Kickstarter, life extension, Louis Pasteur, mass immigration, microbiome, personalized medicine, Peter Thiel, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley ideology, stem cell, Stewart Brand

A youthful man was sitting next to her: short brown hair, deep-set blue eyes, wearing a suit over a white button-down shirt, open at the collar. Over the next several minutes, half a dozen people came up to him to shake his hand and try to engage him. It was obvious he was someone important. But it wasn’t until he introduced himself that Luhan realized she was sitting next to one of the richest men in the world, Peter Thiel. Peter Thiel’s Founders Fund had organized this annual meeting at the Canadian’s resort, and the enigmatic billionaire had been a financial presence, both philanthropic and for profit, in genetics and medical science for quite some time. The gathered entrepreneurs and scientists represented just a handful of those whose work Thiel found intriguing. Thiel had first made his billions in PayPal and Facebook, then branched out, following his passions deep into scientific corners most investors didn’t even know about.

Up to the point at which Thiel had stepped in, Church had been funding much of the project from his discretionary monies, along with funding from Revive & Restore. Thiel’s deep pockets, and their aligned interests, could help them get to the next stage. Luhan felt an excitement growing inside her that had nothing to do with money. Without money, much of science was impossible. But money alone wouldn’t allow men like Peter Thiel to live forever. Nor would money alone bring the Woolly Mammoth back to life. Speaking to Thiel, Luhan had realized that she had solved her own problem. And the answer wasn’t money. It was nature. CHAPTER TWENTY-THREE Late Spring 2013 77 AVENUE LOUIS PASTEUR. At ten minutes past three in the morning, Bobby was still shaking sleep out of his eyes when Luhan burst into the lab, as usual moving like some sort of possessed sprite.


pages: 120 words: 33,892

The Acquirer's Multiple: How the Billionaire Contrarians of Deep Value Beat the Market by Tobias E. Carlisle

activist fund / activist shareholder / activist investor, business cycle, cognitive dissonance, corporate governance, corporate raider, Jeff Bezos, Paul Graham, Peter Thiel, Richard Thaler, shareholder value, Tim Cook: Apple

Buffett wrote in 1984, “It is extraordinary to me that the idea of buying dollar bills for 40 cents takes immediately to people or it doesn’t take at all”:1 A fellow…who had no formal education in business, understands immediately the value approach to investing and he’s applying it five minutes later. In the book, I set out the data and my reasoning. We’ll look at the details of actual stock picks by billionaire deep-value investors: •Warren Buffett •Carl Icahn •Daniel Loeb •David Einhorn We’ll see the strategies of Buffett and his teacher, Benjamin Graham, and other contrarians, including: •billionaire trader Paul Tudor-Jones •venture capitalist billionaire Peter Thiele •global macroinvestor billionaire Michael Steinhardt •billionaire tail-risk hedger Mark Spitznagel I wrote this book so you can read it in a couple of hours. It’s written for my kids, family, and friends, for people who are smart but not stock-market people. That means it’s written in plain English. Where I need to define a stock-market term, I’ve tried to do it as simply as possible. And this book is packed with charts and drawings explaining why it’s important to zig when the crowd zags.

Icahn zigs when the crowd zags. Billionaire trader Paul Tudor Jones is a well-known contrarian. In Jack D. Schwager’s Market Wizards (1989), he said: I learned that even though markets look their very best when they are setting new highs, that is often the best time to sell. To some extent, to be a good trader, you have to be a contrarian. Paul Tudor Jones zigs when the market zags. Billionaire investor Peter Thiele draws this diagram to describe the “sweet spot” for his chosen stocks: Sweet Spot: A Good Idea That Seems Like a Bad Idea Source: Paul Graham, “Black Swan Farming,” September 2012, Available at http://www.paulgraham.com/swan.html Thiele’s “sweet spot” is a good idea that seems like a bad idea to the crowd. But Thiele thinks it might be a good idea. Thiele’s zigging while the crowd zags.


pages: 484 words: 104,873

Rise of the Robots: Technology and the Threat of a Jobless Future by Martin Ford

"Robert Solow", 3D printing, additive manufacturing, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, AI winter, algorithmic trading, Amazon Mechanical Turk, artificial general intelligence, assortative mating, autonomous vehicles, banking crisis, basic income, Baxter: Rethink Robotics, Bernie Madoff, Bill Joy: nanobots, business cycle, call centre, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, Chris Urmson, Clayton Christensen, clean water, cloud computing, collateralized debt obligation, commoditize, computer age, creative destruction, debt deflation, deskilling, disruptive innovation, diversified portfolio, Erik Brynjolfsson, factory automation, financial innovation, Flash crash, Fractional reserve banking, Freestyle chess, full employment, Goldman Sachs: Vampire Squid, Gunnar Myrdal, High speed trading, income inequality, indoor plumbing, industrial robot, informal economy, iterative process, Jaron Lanier, job automation, John Markoff, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, John von Neumann, Kenneth Arrow, Khan Academy, knowledge worker, labor-force participation, liquidity trap, low skilled workers, low-wage service sector, Lyft, manufacturing employment, Marc Andreessen, McJob, moral hazard, Narrative Science, Network effects, new economy, Nicholas Carr, Norbert Wiener, obamacare, optical character recognition, passive income, Paul Samuelson, performance metric, Peter Thiel, plutocrats, Plutocrats, post scarcity, precision agriculture, price mechanism, Ray Kurzweil, rent control, rent-seeking, reshoring, RFID, Richard Feynman, Rodney Brooks, Sam Peltzman, secular stagnation, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, single-payer health, software is eating the world, sovereign wealth fund, speech recognition, Spread Networks laid a new fibre optics cable between New York and Chicago, stealth mode startup, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Steven Levy, Steven Pinker, strong AI, Stuxnet, technological singularity, telepresence, telepresence robot, The Bell Curve by Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray, The Coming Technological Singularity, The Future of Employment, Thomas L Friedman, too big to fail, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, uber lyft, union organizing, Vernor Vinge, very high income, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, women in the workforce

Erin Geiger Smith, “Shocking? Temp Attorneys Must Review 80 Documents Per Hour,” Business Insider, October 21, 2009, http://www.businessinsider.com/temp-attorney-told-to-review-80-documents-per-hour-2009–10. 58. Ian Ayres, Super Crunchers: Why Thinking in Numbers Is the New Way to Be Smart (New York: Bantam Books, 2007), p. 117. 59. “Peter Thiel’s Graph of the Year,” Washington Post (Wonkblog), December 30, 2013, http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2013/12/30/peter-thiels-graph-of-the-year/. 60. Paul Beaudry, David A. Green, and Benjamin M. Sand, “The Great Reversal in the Demand for Skill and Cognitive Tasks,” National Bureau of Economic Research, NBER Working Paper No. 18901, issued in March 2013, http://www.nber.org/papers/w18901. 61. Hal Salzman, Daniel Kuehn, and B. Lindsay Lowell, “Guestworkers in the High-Skill U.S.

Acceleration Versus Stagnation As information and communications technologies have advanced in their decades-long exponential march, innovation in other areas has been largely incremental. Examples include the basic design of cars, homes, aircraft, kitchen appliances, and our overall transportation and energy infrastructures, none of which, for the most part, have changed significantly since the middle of the twentieth century. PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel’s famous comment—“We were promised flying cars, and instead what we got was 140 characters”—captures the sentiment of a generation that expected the future to be way cooler than this. This lack of broad-based progress stands in stark contrast to what a person who lived through the final decades of the nineteenth century and the first half of the twentieth would have experienced. Indoor plumbing, automobiles, airplanes, electricity, home appliances, and public sanitation and utility systems all came into widespread use during this period.

Robert Geraci, a professor of religious studies at Manhattan College, wrote in an essay entitled “The Cult of Kurzweil” that if the movement achieves traction with the broader public, it “will present a serious challenge to traditional religious communities, whose own promises of salvation may appear weak in comparison.”7 Kurzweil, for his part, vociferously denies any religious connotation and argues that his predictions are based on a solid, scientific analysis of historical data. The whole concept might be easy to dismiss completely were it not for the fact that an entire pantheon of Silicon Valley billionaires have demonstrated a very strong interest in the Singularity. Both Larry Page and Sergey Brin of Google and PayPal co-founder (and Facebook investor) Peter Thiel have associated themselves with the subject. Bill Gates has likewise lauded Kurzweil’s ability to predict the future of artificial intelligence. In December 2012 Google hired Kurzweil to direct its efforts in advanced artificial intelligence research, and in 2013 Google spun off a new biotechnology venture named Calico. The new company’s stated objective is to conduct research focused on curing aging and extending the human lifespan.


pages: 416 words: 106,532

Cryptoassets: The Innovative Investor's Guide to Bitcoin and Beyond: The Innovative Investor's Guide to Bitcoin and Beyond by Chris Burniske, Jack Tatar

Airbnb, altcoin, asset allocation, asset-backed security, autonomous vehicles, bitcoin, blockchain, Blythe Masters, business cycle, business process, buy and hold, capital controls, Carmen Reinhart, Clayton Christensen, clean water, cloud computing, collateralized debt obligation, commoditize, correlation coefficient, creative destruction, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, cryptocurrency, disintermediation, distributed ledger, diversification, diversified portfolio, Donald Trump, Elon Musk, en.wikipedia.org, Ethereum, ethereum blockchain, fiat currency, financial innovation, fixed income, George Gilder, Google Hangouts, high net worth, Jeff Bezos, Kenneth Rogoff, Kickstarter, Leonard Kleinrock, litecoin, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, market bubble, money market fund, money: store of value / unit of account / medium of exchange, moral hazard, Network effects, packet switching, passive investing, peer-to-peer, peer-to-peer lending, Peter Thiel, pets.com, Ponzi scheme, prediction markets, quantitative easing, RAND corporation, random walk, Renaissance Technologies, risk tolerance, risk-adjusted returns, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ross Ulbricht, Satoshi Nakamoto, Sharpe ratio, Silicon Valley, Simon Singh, Skype, smart contracts, social web, South Sea Bubble, Steve Jobs, transaction costs, tulip mania, Turing complete, Uber for X, Vanguard fund, WikiLeaks, Y2K

While DigiCash failed to become a household name, some players will resurface in our story, such as Nick Szabo, the father of “smart contracts,” and Zooko Wilcox, the founder of Zcash, both of whom worked at DigiCash for a time.5 Other attempts were made at digital currencies, payment systems, or stores of value after ecash, like e-gold and Karma. The former ran into trouble with the FBI for serving a criminal element,6 while the latter never gained mainstream adoption.7 The pursuit of a new form of Internet money drew the attention of present day tech-titans such as Peter Thiel and Elon Musk, both of whom had a hand in founding PayPal. Except for Karma, the problem with all these attempts at digital money was that they weren’t purely decentralized—one way or another they relied on a centralized entity, and that presented the opportunity for corruption and weak points for attack. THE MIRACLE OF BITCOIN One of the most miraculous aspects of bitcoin is how it bootstrapped support in a decentralized manner.

Satoshi’s announcement of Bitcoin, in contrast, had involved a quiet mailing of the white paper to a relatively unknown mailing list composed mainly of academics and hardcore cryptographers. The ensuing development of the Bitcoin software before launch mostly involved just two people, Satoshi and Hal Finney.13 Buterin also knew that while Ethereum could run on ether, the people who designed it couldn’t, and Ethereum was still over a year away from being ready for release. So he found funding through the prestigious Thiel Fellowship. Billionaire Peter Thiel, who cofounded PayPal and was Facebook’s first outside investor, created the Thiel Fellowship to reward talented individuals who leave the traditional path of college and pursue immediate ways to make an impact in the world. Winners might conduct scientific research, create a startup, or find other ways to improve society and the world. Thiel Fellowship’s carefully chosen visionaries receive $100,000 over the course of two years, and the award has been considered more competitive than gaining acceptance to the world’s best universities.

In the past, this world was open only to the wealthy, but with new trends such as crowdfunding, token launches, and innovative regulation via the JOBS Act, opportunities exist for innovative investors of all shapes and sizes to get involved. Chapter 16 The Wild World of ICOs During the early tech days, innovators such as Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, and Michael Dell became iconic figures who had turned ideas into multibillion-dollar businesses. Over the last decade, we’ve seen visionaries such as Elon Musk, Peter Thiel, and Mark Zuckerberg do the same. These innovators changed the world because people believed in their visions, and these early believers invested money to turn their ideas into reality. While these investments brought great benefit, they were not based on altruism; initial investors were looking to get a sizable return on their risky investments. Investing in early stage, private companies is most often referred to as venture capital.


pages: 339 words: 103,546

Blood and Oil: Mohammed Bin Salman's Ruthless Quest for Global Power by Bradley Hope, Justin Scheck

augmented reality, Ayatollah Khomeini, clean water, coronavirus, distributed generation, Donald Trump, Downton Abbey, Elon Musk, Exxon Valdez, Google Earth, high net worth, Jeff Bezos, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, MITM: man-in-the-middle, new economy, Peter Thiel, ride hailing / ride sharing, Sand Hill Road, Silicon Valley, South of Market, San Francisco, sovereign wealth fund, starchitect, Steve Jobs, Tim Cook: Apple, trade route, Travis Kalanick, Uber for X, urban planning, women in the workforce, young professional, zero day

Another explained that his firm already had Saudi money, irritating the prince’s entourage since this money manager apparently didn’t know the difference between money from some rich Saudi individual and the opportunity that Mohammed was offering to manage money for the Saudi state. The only VCs who seemed truly eager to meet the prince were those at the other end of the spectrum, the ambitious up-and-comers who also upset the prince’s entourage by boasting that they had an in with the Saudis. One was Joe Lonsdale, a cofounder of the data analytics firm Palantir who had worked with the successful VC Peter Thiel. Ahead of the visit, investors recall, Lonsdale told them he had Saudi investment, when in fact he had a modest sum from a son of the energy minister. It was far from a relationship with the kingdom’s government. Asked about the claim, Lonsdale said it was “not appropriate to share” the names of people whose money he managed and that he never boasted about having Saudi investment. Lonsdale says he ended up not pursuing investments from the region.

“It seems in those societies many make money by peddling connections, versus building things or applying intellectual rigor,” he later said. But the more established VCs’ attitudes seemed to change at a dinner at the Fairmont Hotel atop San Francisco’s Nob Hill. “I need a bridge between Saudi and Silicon Valley. I need you to help our reforms,” Mohammed told a group that included Marc Andreessen, Peter Thiel, John Doerr, and Michael Moritz, titans of venture capital with decades of experience backing start-ups that turned into multi-billion-dollar corporations. As the prince saw it, the venture capital model could be scaled indefinitely. If they made huge returns on relatively modest investments, imagine how much they could make if he boosted their capital tenfold. After the dinner, Doerr put his arm around the energy minister, Khalid al-Falih, and excitedly told him, “Together, we’re going to remake the energy industry.”

Grine, who preferred to operate on the fringes, was now in the center of an embarrassing uproar that brought lots of publicity and no money. Mohammed continued his visit, meeting executives like Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, and Apple’s Tim Cook. He ate dinner with Jeff Bezos and was photographed with Google founder Sergey Brin wearing his Silicon Valley best: a blazer, dress shoes, and a button-down shirt tucked into dark jeans belted across his broad belly. He sat with Oprah Winfrey, venture capitalist Peter Thiel, and the CEOs of Disney, Uber, and Lockheed. To Jeffrey Goldberg, the Atlantic editor whose interview with Barack Obama years earlier led Mohammed to believe that the former president was supporting Iran over Saudi Arabia, the prince made a surprising pronouncement: He asserted that Israel had the right to exist, a first for a senior Saudi royal, and a huge shift for a kingdom that, as recently as 2012, published middle school textbooks that called Jews apes.


pages: 611 words: 188,732

Valley of Genius: The Uncensored History of Silicon Valley (As Told by the Hackers, Founders, and Freaks Who Made It Boom) by Adam Fisher

Airbnb, Albert Einstein, AltaVista, Apple II, Apple's 1984 Super Bowl advert, augmented reality, autonomous vehicles, Bob Noyce, Brownian motion, Buckminster Fuller, Burning Man, Byte Shop, cognitive dissonance, disintermediation, don't be evil, Donald Trump, Douglas Engelbart, Dynabook, Elon Musk, frictionless, glass ceiling, Hacker Ethic, Howard Rheingold, HyperCard, hypertext link, index card, informal economy, information retrieval, Jaron Lanier, Jeff Bezos, Jeff Rulifson, John Markoff, Jony Ive, Kevin Kelly, Kickstarter, knowledge worker, life extension, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, Marshall McLuhan, Maui Hawaii, Menlo Park, Metcalfe’s law, Mother of all demos, move fast and break things, move fast and break things, Network effects, new economy, nuclear winter, PageRank, Paul Buchheit, paypal mafia, peer-to-peer, Peter Thiel, pets.com, pez dispenser, popular electronics, random walk, risk tolerance, Robert Metcalfe, rolodex, self-driving car, side project, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, skunkworks, Skype, social graph, social web, South of Market, San Francisco, Startup school, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Steven Levy, Stewart Brand, Ted Nelson, telerobotics, The Hackers Conference, the new new thing, Tim Cook: Apple, tulip mania, V2 rocket, Whole Earth Catalog, Whole Earth Review, Y Combinator

In 1992 there was one mention of Buck’s in InfoWorld: Bob Metcalfe said he was having “a power breakfast at Buck’s.” In ’93, there was a mention in the Economist that John Doerr, whoever that was, was having breakfast at Buck’s. Netscape had a lot of their early meetings at Buck’s. That was the most important thing that ever happened here, because it allowed all of us to go online seamlessly. Peter Thiel: So Netscape comes along in ’93 and things start to take off. Jamis MacNiven: In ’94, three TV crews came in. In ’95, 150 TV crews came in. Peter Thiel: It was Netscape’s IPO in August of 1995—over halfway through the decade!—that really made the larger public aware of the internet. It was an unusual IPO because Netscape wasn’t profitable at the time. They priced it at $14 a share. Then they doubled it. On the first day of trading the share price doubled again. Within five months, Netscape stock was trading at $160 a share—completely unprecedented growth for a nonprofitable company.

What’s interesting is how that information came out, because there wasn’t any social media at all. There was a nascent blogging world being built: just a handful of hand-rolled web-logs—this was before they were called blogs. Biz Stone: I was reading EvHead.com, and really impressed by the guy. Totally in sync philosophically with his thinking. I was completely sold on this idea that blogging was the true democratization of information. Peter Thiel: Launch parties became so important that someone put together an exclusive e-mail list that published rankings of the various parties going on that day. Patty Beron: So I had this website, SFgirl.com, and pretty much everybody in the tech community knew about it. We listed all the dot-coms, we had community forums where people involved in start-ups would come and discuss what was happening. I don’t know who decided to start having these launch parties, but that became a thing—going to dot-com parties.

Because they did something simpler and quicker and with less, and then I remember Sean got on the computer in my office, and he pulled up The Facebook, and he starts showing it to me, and I had never been able to be on it, because it’s college kids only, and it was amazing. People are putting up their phone numbers and home addresses and everything about themselves and I was like, I can’t believe it! But it was because they had all this trust. And then Sean put together an investment round quickly, and he had advised Zuck to, I think, take $500,000 from Peter Thiel, and then $38,000 each from me and Reid Hoffman. Because we were basically the only other people doing anything in social networking. It was a very, very small little club at the time. Ezra Callahan: By December it’s—I wouldn’t say it’s like a more professional atmosphere, but all the kids that Mark and Dustin were hanging out with are either back at school back East or back at Stanford, and work has gotten a little more serious for them.


pages: 267 words: 72,552

Reinventing Capitalism in the Age of Big Data by Viktor Mayer-Schönberger, Thomas Ramge

accounting loophole / creative accounting, Air France Flight 447, Airbnb, Alvin Roth, Atul Gawande, augmented reality, banking crisis, basic income, Bayesian statistics, bitcoin, blockchain, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, carbon footprint, Cass Sunstein, centralized clearinghouse, Checklist Manifesto, cloud computing, cognitive bias, conceptual framework, creative destruction, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, disruptive innovation, Donald Trump, double entry bookkeeping, Elon Musk, en.wikipedia.org, Erik Brynjolfsson, Ford paid five dollars a day, Frederick Winslow Taylor, fundamental attribution error, George Akerlof, gig economy, Google Glasses, information asymmetry, interchangeable parts, invention of the telegraph, inventory management, invisible hand, James Watt: steam engine, Jeff Bezos, job automation, job satisfaction, joint-stock company, Joseph Schumpeter, Kickstarter, knowledge worker, labor-force participation, land reform, lone genius, low cost airline, low cost carrier, Marc Andreessen, market bubble, market design, market fundamentalism, means of production, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Moneyball by Michael Lewis explains big data, multi-sided market, natural language processing, Network effects, Norbert Wiener, offshore financial centre, Parag Khanna, payday loans, peer-to-peer lending, Peter Thiel, Ponzi scheme, prediction markets, price anchoring, price mechanism, purchasing power parity, random walk, recommendation engine, Richard Thaler, ride hailing / ride sharing, Sam Altman, Second Machine Age, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, six sigma, smart grid, smart meter, Snapchat, statistical model, Steve Jobs, technoutopianism, The Future of Employment, The Market for Lemons, The Nature of the Firm, transaction costs, universal basic income, William Langewiesche, Y Combinator

support across the political spectrum: In addition to politicians such as Democratic Senator Ben Cardin (https://www.cardin.senate.gov/pct) and think tanks such as the conservative American Enterprise Institute (AEI), advocates include high-tech figures such as Bill Gates (Tim Worstall, “Bill Gates Points to the Best Tax System, the Progressive Consumption Tax,” Forbes, March 18, 2014, https://www.forbes.com/sites/timworstall/2014/03/18/bill-gates-points-to-the-best-tax-system-the-progressive-consumption-tax). to spot changes in skill demand: We are not alone suggesting this; see, e.g., World Economic Forum, The Future of Jobs Report (January 2016), 24 and 29, http://www3.weforum.org/docs/WEF_Future _of_Jobs.pdf. “look to build a monopoly”: Peter Thiel, “Competition Is for Losers,” Wall Street Journal, September 12, 2014, https://www.wsj.com/articles/peter-thiel-competition-is-for-losers-1410535536. choose the job they like: See also Van Parijs and Vanderborght, Basic Income, 165–169. CHAPTER 10: HUMAN CHOICE become “a CEO of a retail company”: Ryan Mac, “Stitch Fix: The $250 Million Startup Playing Fashionista Moneyball,” Forbes, June 1, 2016, www.forbes.com/sites/ryanmac/2016/06/01/fashionista-moneyball-stitch-fix-katrina-lake/#54e798e859a2.

These three policy measures—making the companies that capture the profits of the data age pay the ones getting uprooted as a result of it, ensuring that markets stay competitive and that society as whole benefits from data, and making human labor just a bit cheaper than machines—will safeguard that all can reap their share of the data dividend. These actions will help our society cope with the changes of data-driven adaptive automation. THIS APPROACH IS BASED ON THE BELIEF THAT COMPETITIVE markets are the key foundation of a healthy and prosperous society. This stands in stark contrast to assertions by people such as high-tech entrepreneur and investor Peter Thiel, who wrote in the Wall Street Journal that “competition is for losers” and that “if you want to create and capture lasting value, look to build a monopoly.” Thiel’s answer makes sense—from the vantage point of a passionate monopolist. But Thiel is completely wrong when it comes to appreciating the basic economic principles of data-rich markets and their consequences. His recipe for success would lead to astronomic profits for a small number of corporations, a slowdown in innovation, and gigantic inefficiencies that will cost consumers, workers, and investors dearly.


pages: 252 words: 73,131

The Inner Lives of Markets: How People Shape Them—And They Shape Us by Tim Sullivan

"Robert Solow", Airbnb, airport security, Al Roth, Alvin Roth, Andrei Shleifer, attribution theory, autonomous vehicles, barriers to entry, Brownian motion, business cycle, buy and hold, centralized clearinghouse, Chuck Templeton: OpenTable:, clean water, conceptual framework, constrained optimization, continuous double auction, creative destruction, deferred acceptance, Donald Trump, Edward Glaeser, experimental subject, first-price auction, framing effect, frictionless, fundamental attribution error, George Akerlof, Goldman Sachs: Vampire Squid, Gunnar Myrdal, helicopter parent, information asymmetry, Internet of things, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, iterative process, Jean Tirole, Jeff Bezos, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, John Nash: game theory, John von Neumann, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Arrow, late fees, linear programming, Lyft, market clearing, market design, market friction, medical residency, multi-sided market, mutually assured destruction, Nash equilibrium, Occupy movement, Pareto efficiency, Paul Samuelson, Peter Thiel, pets.com, pez dispenser, pre–internet, price mechanism, price stability, prisoner's dilemma, profit motive, proxy bid, RAND corporation, ride hailing / ride sharing, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Coase, school choice, school vouchers, sealed-bid auction, second-price auction, second-price sealed-bid, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, spectrum auction, Steve Jobs, Tacoma Narrows Bridge, technoutopianism, telemarketer, The Market for Lemons, The Wisdom of Crowds, Thomas Malthus, Thorstein Veblen, trade route, transaction costs, two-sided market, uber lyft, uranium enrichment, Vickrey auction, Vilfredo Pareto, winner-take-all economy

See, for example, “The Sharing Economy Is Not as Open as You Might Think,” The Guardian, November 12, 2014. A post titled “Can the Sharing Economy End Discrimination?” on the website of tech magazine Wired took the opposite view, albeit without providing any evidence in support of the argument. For a broader critique of the sharing economy, see Tom Slee, What’s Yours Is Mine (London: OR Books, 2015). 12. Peter Thiel, “Competition Is for Losers,” Wall Street Journal, September 12, 2014, http://www.wsj.com/articles/peter-thiel-competition-is-for-losers-1410535536. Chapter 9. How Markets Shape Us 1. Despite its fearsome reputation, Changi was among the better-run Japanese camps, with only 850 deaths among the 87,000 prisoners who passed through. 2. On Changi as heaven compared to other camps: Kevin Blackburn, “Commemorating and Commodifying the Prisoner of War Experience in South-east Asia: The Creation of Changi Prison Museum,” Journal of the Australian War Memorial 33 (2000), http://www.awm.gov.au/journal/j33/blackburn.asp. 3.

Although proponents of the sharing economy tout its ability to reduce market frictions, the only way they’re going to make the kinds of profits they (and their investors) want is to create new ones. That’s something they’re not interested in talking about to the public at large, or to their representatives in government. This leaves a bit of a paradox in the techno-utopian free-market narrative. A great entrepreneur will use technology to create a fantastic new market, then will use technology to set up market frictions to protect it. As entrepreneur and venture capitalist Peter Thiel wrote in the Wall Street Journal, “Competition Is for Losers.”12 Don’t get us wrong. We’re not faulting the market makers of Silicon Valley nor begrudging them for the profits they’ve generated and captured. But we are trying to point out some of the inconsistencies between the claims of pristine competition espoused by free-market zealots in general and the practicalities of making markets work.


pages: 319 words: 75,257

Trumpocalypse: Restoring American Democracy by David Frum

Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, anti-globalists, Bernie Sanders, centre right, coronavirus, currency manipulation / currency intervention, decarbonisation, Donald Trump, Edward Snowden, employer provided health coverage, illegal immigration, immigration reform, labor-force participation, manufacturing employment, mass immigration, Mikhail Gorbachev, Nate Silver, obamacare, offshore financial centre, Peter Thiel, plutocrats, Plutocrats, QAnon, rent-seeking, Ronald Reagan, Saturday Night Live, Silicon Valley

Joshua Caplan, “Glenn Beck: ‘We Are Officially at the End of the Country’ If Trump Loses 2020,” Breitbart, March 19, 2019, https://www.breitbart.com/the-media/2019/03/19/glenn-beck-we-are-officially-at-the-end-of-the-country-if-trump-loses-2020/ 9. Sarah Sanders, “Press Briefing by Press Secretary Sarah Sanders,” October 29, 2018, https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefings-statements/press-briefing-press-secretary-sarah-sanders-102918/. 10. Peter Thiel, “The Education of a Libertarian,” Cato Unbound, April 13, 2009, https://www.cato-unbound.org/2009/04/13/peter-thiel/education-libertarian. 11. Ari Berman, “The Courts Won’t End Gerrymandering. Eric Holder Has a Plan to Fix It Without Them,” Mother Jones, July/August 2019, https://www.motherjones.com/politics/2019/07/the-courts-wont-end-gerrymandering-eric-holder-has-a-plan-to-fix-it-without-them/. 12. Scott Walker (@ScottWalker), Twitter, June 27, 2019, 5:03 p.m., https://twitter.com/ScottWalker/status/1144350611506438144. 13.

More and more people emphatically do not belong—which is why Trump’s absurd claims about illegal voting resonated so powerfully. The Trump supporters who hear that claim may not have believed that literally millions of illegal aliens voted. But they could easily believe that millions of people voted who should never have been accepted as voters in the first place. One of President Trump’s few supporters in the technology world, venture capitalist Peter Thiel, wrote in 2009: “I no longer believe that freedom and democracy are compatible.” Thiel explained, Since 1920, the vast increase in welfare beneficiaries and the extension of the franchise to women—two constituencies that are notoriously tough for libertarians—have rendered the notion of “capitalist democracy” into an oxymoron.10 Thiel—a graduate of Stanford and Harvard Law School who now heads a hedge fund—would seem the epitome of all that a Trump voter might resent.


pages: 302 words: 74,350

I Hate the Internet: A Novel by Jarett Kobek

Anne Wojcicki, Burning Man, disruptive innovation, East Village, Edward Snowden, Golden Gate Park, Google bus, Google Glasses, Google X / Alphabet X, immigration reform, indoor plumbing, informal economy, Jeff Bezos, liberation theology, Mark Zuckerberg, MITM: man-in-the-middle, Norman Mailer, nuclear winter, packet switching, PageRank, Peter Thiel, quantitative easing, Ray Kurzweil, rent control, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, Steve Jobs, technological singularity, Triangle Shirtwaist Factory, union organizing, V2 rocket, Vernor Vinge, wage slave, Whole Earth Catalog

This location for this community meeting was an arts space called Million Fishes. Two years later, Million Fishes would be evicted. The building would be renovated. A tech startup called Bloodhound would move into the space. Bloodhound had received $3,000,000 in a round of venture capital funding led by Peter Thiel, who was a co-founder of PayPal, a billionaire weapons profiteer and an incompetent hedge fund manager. In addition to funding startups named after animals bred to hunt other animals, Peter Thiel wanted to build independent nation states on floating ocean platforms, where the citizens of these independent nation states would organize around the Objectivist principles of Ayn Rand. Million Fishes paid $5,000 a month in rent. The lease signed by Bloodhound would be for $31,667 a month. Plus $564 in fees.

Some of Ayn Rand’s better known followers included: Paul Ryan, the 2012 Republican candidate for Vice President of the United States of America. Vince Vaughn, a dough-faced actor who had starred in such hilarious comedies as The Watch, Couples Retreat, Four Christmases, The Internship, and Delivery Man. The Internship was a film about two adults who receive internships at Google’s headquarters in Silicon Valley. Peter Thiel, a co-founder of PayPal, a billionaire weapons profiteer and incompetent hedge fund manager who wanted to build independent nation states on floating ocean platforms. Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon.com, an unprofitable website dedicated to the destruction of the publishing industry. Ron Paul, a septuagenarian medical doctor and perennial Presidential protest candidate. Alan Greenspan, the Chairman of the Federal Reserve from 1986 to 2006.


pages: 421 words: 110,406

Platform Revolution: How Networked Markets Are Transforming the Economy--And How to Make Them Work for You by Sangeet Paul Choudary, Marshall W. van Alstyne, Geoffrey G. Parker

3D printing, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Airbnb, Alvin Roth, Amazon Mechanical Turk, Amazon Web Services, Andrei Shleifer, Apple's 1984 Super Bowl advert, autonomous vehicles, barriers to entry, big data - Walmart - Pop Tarts, bitcoin, blockchain, business cycle, business process, buy low sell high, chief data officer, Chuck Templeton: OpenTable:, clean water, cloud computing, connected car, corporate governance, crowdsourcing, data acquisition, data is the new oil, digital map, discounted cash flows, disintermediation, Edward Glaeser, Elon Musk, en.wikipedia.org, Erik Brynjolfsson, financial innovation, Haber-Bosch Process, High speed trading, information asymmetry, Internet of things, inventory management, invisible hand, Jean Tirole, Jeff Bezos, jimmy wales, John Markoff, Khan Academy, Kickstarter, Lean Startup, Lyft, Marc Andreessen, market design, Metcalfe’s law, multi-sided market, Network effects, new economy, payday loans, peer-to-peer lending, Peter Thiel, pets.com, pre–internet, price mechanism, recommendation engine, RFID, Richard Stallman, ride hailing / ride sharing, Robert Metcalfe, Ronald Coase, Satoshi Nakamoto, self-driving car, shareholder value, sharing economy, side project, Silicon Valley, Skype, smart contracts, smart grid, Snapchat, software is eating the world, Steve Jobs, TaskRabbit, The Chicago School, the payments system, Tim Cook: Apple, transaction costs, Travis Kalanick, two-sided market, Uber and Lyft, Uber for X, uber lyft, winner-take-all economy, zero-sum game, Zipcar

Barry Wacksman and Chris Stutzman, Connected by Design: Seven Principles for Business Transformation Through Functional Integration (New York: John Wiley and Sons, 2014). CHAPTER 5: LAUNCH 1. Eric M. Jackson, “How eBay’s purchase of PayPal changed Silicon Valley,” VentureBeat, October 27, 2012, http://venturebeat.com/2012/10/27/how-ebays-purchase-of-paypal-changed-silicon-valley/. 2. Blake Masters, “Peter Thiel’s CS183: Startup—Class 2 Notes Essay,” Blake Masters blog, April 6, 2012, http://blakemasters.com/post/20582845717/peter-thiels-cs183-startup-class-2-notes-essay. Copyright 2014 by David O. Sacks. Reprinted by permission. 3. Eric M. Jackson, The PayPal Wars: Battles with eBay, the Media, the Mafia, and the Rest of Planet Earth (Los Angeles: WND Books, 2012). 4. Andrei Hagiu and Thomas Eisenmann, “A Staged Solution to the Catch-22,” Harvard Business Review 85, no. 11 (2007): 25–26. 5.

Inspired by the early experiences of companies like AOL and Amazon, high-tech entrepreneurs and their cheerleaders in the media decided that the key to long-term success was growth at all costs—and many of them burned through millions of dollars in pursuit of that growth. Countless ambitious nerds in their twenties and early thirties were amassing giant fortunes—on paper, at least. In this tumultuous atmosphere, a pair of young entrepreneurs entered the exploding Internet arena. Thirty-one-year-old Peter Thiel was born in Germany and raised in California, where he became one of the country’s highest-ranked young chess players and went on to study philosophy and law at Stanford University. An avowed libertarian, Thiel helped found the Stanford Review, a conservative newspaper that challenged the university’s dominant liberal culture. Max Levchin, twenty-three years old, was born in Ukraine and granted political asylum when he moved to the U.S. with his family.

This simplicity was in stark contrast to previous online payment mechanisms, which demanded multiple rounds of verification before an account could be set up, thereby discouraging early users. PayPal’s user-friendly, almost frictionless system attracted a significant initial base of consumers—though not enough, in itself, to make the platform attractive to the universe of online sellers. In a lecture he later gave at Stanford, Peter Thiel explained what happened next: PayPal’s big challenge was to get new customers. They tried advertising. It was too expensive. They tried BD [business development] deals with big banks. Bureaucratic hilarity ensued. … the PayPal team reached an important conclusion: BD didn’t work. They needed organic, viral growth. They needed to give people money. So that’s what they did. New customers got $10 for signing up, and existing ones got $10 for referrals.


pages: 387 words: 112,868

Digital Gold: Bitcoin and the Inside Story of the Misfits and Millionaires Trying to Reinvent Money by Nathaniel Popper

4chan, Airbnb, Apple's 1984 Super Bowl advert, banking crisis, Ben Horowitz, bitcoin, blockchain, Burning Man, buy and hold, capital controls, Colonization of Mars, crowdsourcing, cryptocurrency, David Graeber, Edward Snowden, Elon Musk, Extropian, fiat currency, Fractional reserve banking, Jeff Bezos, Julian Assange, Kickstarter, life extension, litecoin, lone genius, M-Pesa, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, Occupy movement, peer-to-peer, peer-to-peer lending, Peter Thiel, Ponzi scheme, price stability, QR code, Ross Ulbricht, Satoshi Nakamoto, Silicon Valley, Simon Singh, Skype, slashdot, smart contracts, Startup school, stealth mode startup, the payments system, transaction costs, tulip mania, WikiLeaks

CHAPTER 16 167Some $1.2 million worth of Bitcoin: Nicolas Christin, “Traveling the Silk Road: A Measurement Analysis of a Large Anonymous Online Marketplace,” Working Paper, November 28, 2012. 167seventy thousand different topics on Silk Road’s forum: Eileen Ormsby, Silk Road (Sydney: Pan Macmillan Australia, 2014). 168His work on Silk Road was done at an Internet café around the corner: Sealed complaint against Ross Ulbricht filed by FBI Special Agent Christopher Tarbell, September 27, 2013. 168Over the summer, a Silk Road user had managed to follow a series of transactions: Ormsby. 169paying the attacker $25,000: RUTE GX 250. 169Ross explained that he was changing his writing style: Ormsby. 169In November, Ross flew to Dominica: RUTE GX 291. 169“put yourself in the shoes of a prosecutor”: RUTE GX 225B. 170Ross decided to help nob sell his kilogram: Superseding indictment against Ross Ulbricht filed by the Grand Jury for the District of Maryland, October 1, 2013. 171Ross had always been somewhat skeptical: RUTE GX240B. 171“beat up, then forced to send the Bitcoins he stole back”: Superseding indictment against Ross Ulbricht filed by the Grand Jury for the District of Maryland, October 1, 2013. Ross has not yet been tried on the charges in the Maryland indictment and has not been found guilty on any counts related to murder. CHAPTER 18 186“PayPal will give citizens worldwide more”: Eric Jackson, PayPal Wars (Washington, DC: WND Books, 2004). 187Thiel advocating for floating structures: “Peter Thiel Offers $100,000 in Matching Donations to TSI, Makes Grant of $250,000,” Sea-steading Institute, February 10, 2010, http://www.seasteading. org/2010/02/peter-thiel-offers-100000-matching-donations-tsi-makes-grant-250000/. 187aiming for the colonization of Mars: Adam Mann, “Elon Musk Wants to Build 80,000-Person Mars Colony,” Wired, November 26, 2012, http://www.wired.com/2012/11/elon-musk-mars-colony/. CHAPTER 19 190In June 2012 the founders announced: BFL (Butterfly Labs) to BTCF, June 16, 2012. 190a young Chinese immigrant in New York, Yifu Guo, announced: ngzhang to BTCF, September 17, 2012. 191that power doubled again in just one month after Yifu’s machines: Historical data on the hashing power available at https://blockchain.info/charts/hash-rate. 195“This is a dark day for Bitcoin”: “Breaking: The Blockchain Has Forked,” Bitcoin Trader, March 11, 2013, http://www.thebitcointrader .com/2013/03/breaking-blockchain-has-forked.html. 196“clarify the applicability of the regulations implementing”: The FinCen guidance is available at http://fincen.gov/statutes_regs/guidance/html/FIN-2013-G001.html.

Much of this skepticism had the same root as the excitement, and that was Silicon Valley’s defining, and cautionary, experience with financial technology: PayPal. PayPal, of course, still existed, owned by eBay and run by Wences’s friend David Marcus. But what made people wary was not the current incarnation of PayPal, but instead the company’s early days, when it had ambitions to be something much bigger. PayPal had been founded back in 1998 by Peter Thiel and Max Levchin, among others. Thiel was an avid libertarian, who had wanted to use Levchin’s cryptographic expertise to fulfill the Cypherpunks’ dream of sending money through encrypted channels, between private individuals and in particular between mobile devices like the PalmPilots of that time. In early staff meetings, Thiel gave speeches that could almost have come from the Cypherpunk mailing list.

This was a simple enough proposition, and the price of Bitcoin was rising fast enough that it attracted interest from venture capitalists who were still queasy about tying their firms to Bitcoin. Both of the founders of Andreessen Horowitz, Marc Andreessen and Ben Horowitz, signed up to put some of their own personal money into Balaji’s project, as did several of the original founders of PayPal, including Peter Thiel and David Sacks. Soon enough, Balaji was closing in on a $5 million fund-raising round. The Bitcoin arms race had begun. THE TYPE OF chip was not the only thing about Bitcoin mining that had changed since late 2010. Over the course of 2011 and 2012, more and more users were joining collectives that pooled their mining power. These mining pools allowed lots of people to combine their resources, with each person getting a proportional fraction of the total winnings, thus increasing the chances that everyone would get something every day.


pages: 252 words: 78,780

Lab Rats: How Silicon Valley Made Work Miserable for the Rest of Us by Dan Lyons

Airbnb, Amazon Web Services, Apple II, augmented reality, autonomous vehicles, basic income, bitcoin, blockchain, business process, call centre, Clayton Christensen, clean water, collective bargaining, corporate governance, corporate social responsibility, creative destruction, cryptocurrency, David Heinemeier Hansson, Donald Trump, Elon Musk, Ethereum, ethereum blockchain, full employment, future of work, gig economy, Gordon Gekko, greed is good, hiring and firing, housing crisis, income inequality, informal economy, Jeff Bezos, job automation, job satisfaction, job-hopping, John Gruber, Joseph Schumpeter, Kevin Kelly, knowledge worker, Lean Startup, loose coupling, Lyft, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, McMansion, Menlo Park, Milgram experiment, minimum viable product, Mitch Kapor, move fast and break things, move fast and break things, new economy, Panopticon Jeremy Bentham, Paul Graham, paypal mafia, Peter Thiel, plutocrats, Plutocrats, precariat, RAND corporation, remote working, RFID, ride hailing / ride sharing, Ronald Reagan, Rubik’s Cube, Ruby on Rails, Sam Altman, Sand Hill Road, self-driving car, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, six sigma, Skype, Social Responsibility of Business Is to Increase Its Profits, software is eating the world, Stanford prison experiment, stem cell, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Stewart Brand, TaskRabbit, telemarketer, Tesla Model S, Thomas Davenport, Tony Hsieh, Toyota Production System, traveling salesman, Travis Kalanick, tulip mania, Uber and Lyft, Uber for X, uber lyft, universal basic income, web application, Whole Earth Catalog, Y Combinator, young professional

Instead of geeky engineers, the industry draws hustlers, young guys who hope to get rich quick and who in a previous generation might have gone to work as bond traders on Wall Street. Previously, the kings of tech were the wizards who invented new products and built companies, like Hewlett and Packard, or Bill Gates at Microsoft, and Jobs and Wozniak at Apple. But now the power brokers include venture capitalists—like Marc Andreessen of Andreessen Horowitz, Peter Thiel of Clarium Capital and Founders Fund, and Reid Hoffman of Greylock Ventures. They don’t actually run tech companies. They’re just investors. Nevertheless, their profession is depicted as glamorous, and they rank among the biggest celebrities in Silicon Valley. Wired once lionized Andreessen on its cover, calling him “The Man Who Makes the Future.” Young guys moving west after college no longer hope to become the next Steve Jobs; they want to be the next Marc Andreessen.

One billionaire oligarch, Keith Rabois, a PayPal alum who now works as a venture capitalist, commands start-up founders who take his money to embrace an extreme version of workaholism—they’re not supposed to take vacations. Ever. Rabois claims he worked for eighteen years straight without a break, and that others should do the same. In the 1990s, as a law student at Stanford, Rabois became notorious for an incident in which he screamed out homophobic slurs (“Faggot! Faggot! Hope you die of AIDS! Can’t wait until you die, faggot!”). Rabois’s friends Peter Thiel and David Sacks, who also went to Stanford and also worked at PayPal, and also have gone on to become enormously wealthy and influential tech oligarchs, in 1995 co-authored a book, The Diversity Myth, in which they defended Rabois. Thiel and Sacks decried the rise of “political correctness” and multiculturalism on campus. They argued that women who claim to have been raped might actually have been experiencing “belated regret,” and fretted that “race relations have taken a turn for the worse,” because “multiculturalists charge whites with more evanescent and intangible forms of racism, such as ‘institutional racism’ and ‘unconscious racism.’”

But instead of trying to fix the situation, they are making plans to escape whatever calamity might arise from the forces Trump has unleashed—civil war, a proletariat uprising, a collapse of the power grid, an economic meltdown. According to a 2017 article in the New Yorker by Evan Osnos titled “Doomsday Prep for the Super Rich,” the loaded have taken to stockpiling guns and food, gold bars and Bitcoin. Others have been building “boltholes”—armed compounds in places like faraway New Zealand, where they can ride out a catastrophe. Tech oligarch Peter Thiel owns a hideaway there and has even obtained Kiwi citizenship. “Saying you’re ‘buying a house in New Zealand’ is kind of a wink, wink, say no more. Once you’ve done the Masonic handshake, they’ll be, like, ‘Oh, you know, I have a broker who sells old ICBM silos, and they’re nuclear-hardened, and they kind of look like they would be interesting to live in,” billionaire VC Reid Hoffman told Osnos.


pages: 283 words: 85,824

The People's Platform: Taking Back Power and Culture in the Digital Age by Astra Taylor

A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace, American Legislative Exchange Council, Andrew Keen, barriers to entry, Berlin Wall, big-box store, Brewster Kahle, citizen journalism, cloud computing, collateralized debt obligation, Community Supported Agriculture, conceptual framework, corporate social responsibility, creative destruction, cross-subsidies, crowdsourcing, David Brooks, digital Maoism, disintermediation, don't be evil, Donald Trump, Edward Snowden, Fall of the Berlin Wall, Filter Bubble, future of journalism, George Gilder, Google Chrome, Google Glasses, hive mind, income inequality, informal economy, Internet Archive, Internet of things, invisible hand, Jane Jacobs, Jaron Lanier, Jeff Bezos, job automation, John Markoff, Julian Assange, Kevin Kelly, Kickstarter, knowledge worker, Mark Zuckerberg, means of production, Metcalfe’s law, Naomi Klein, Narrative Science, Network effects, new economy, New Journalism, New Urbanism, Nicholas Carr, oil rush, peer-to-peer, Peter Thiel, plutocrats, Plutocrats, post-work, pre–internet, profit motive, recommendation engine, Richard Florida, Richard Stallman, self-driving car, shareholder value, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley ideology, slashdot, Slavoj Žižek, Snapchat, social graph, Steve Jobs, Stewart Brand, technoutopianism, trade route, Whole Earth Catalog, WikiLeaks, winner-take-all economy, Works Progress Administration, young professional

For the one-in-three-Internet-users figure, see Patrick Thibodeau, “Amazon Cloud Accessed Daily by a Third of All ’Net Users,” Computerworld.com, April 18, 2012, http://www.computerworld.com/s/article/9226349/Amazon_cloud_accessed_daily_by_a_third_of_all_Net_users. On Apple’s valuation see Susanna Kim, “Apple Is World’s Most Valuable Company Again,” ABCNews.com, January 25, 2012, http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/business/2012/01/apple-is-worlds-most-valuable-company-again/. 30. David Brooks, “The Creative Monopoly,” New York Times, April 24, 2012, A23; and Ryan Mac, “Ten Lessons from Peter Thiel’s Class on Startups,” Forbes.com, June 7, 2012, http://www.forbes.com/sites/ryanmac/2012/06/07/ten-lessons-from-peter-thiels-class-on-startups/. 31. Slavoj Zizek describes this issue succinctly in his essay “Corporate Rule of Cyberspace,” InsideHigherEd.com, May 2, 2011, http://www.insidehighered.com/views/2011/05/02/slavoj_zizek_essay_on_cloud_computing_and_privacy. 32. One predictable consequence of Amazon’s rapid expansion has been the further consolidation of the book business.

Monopolies, contrary to early expectations, prosper online, where winner-take-all markets emerge partly as a consequence of Metcalfe’s law, which says that the value of a network increases exponentially by the number of connections or users: the more people have telephones or have social media profiles or use a search engine, the more valuable those services become. (Counterintuitively, given his outspoken libertarian views, PayPal founder and first Facebook investor Peter Thiel has declared competition overrated and praised monopolies for improving margins.30) What’s more, many of the emerging info-monopolies now dabble in hardware, software, and content, building their businesses at every possible level, vertically integrating as in the analog era. This is the contradiction at the center of the new information system: the more customized and user friendly our computers and mobile devices are, the more connected we are to an extensive and opaque circuit of machines that coordinate and keep tabs on our activities; everything is accessible and individualized, but only through companies that control the network from the bottom up.31 Amazon strives to control both the bookshelf and the book and everything in between.


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The Four: How Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google Divided and Conquered the World by Scott Galloway

activist fund / activist shareholder / activist investor, additive manufacturing, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Airbnb, Amazon Web Services, Apple II, autonomous vehicles, barriers to entry, Ben Horowitz, Bernie Sanders, big-box store, Bob Noyce, Brewster Kahle, business intelligence, California gold rush, cloud computing, commoditize, cuban missile crisis, David Brooks, disintermediation, don't be evil, Donald Trump, Elon Musk, follow your passion, future of journalism, future of work, global supply chain, Google Earth, Google Glasses, Google X / Alphabet X, Internet Archive, invisible hand, Jeff Bezos, Jony Ive, Khan Academy, longitudinal study, Lyft, Mark Zuckerberg, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Network effects, new economy, obamacare, Oculus Rift, offshore financial centre, passive income, Peter Thiel, profit motive, race to the bottom, RAND corporation, ride hailing / ride sharing, risk tolerance, Robert Mercer, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, self-driving car, sentiment analysis, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, Snapchat, software is eating the world, speech recognition, Stephen Hawking, Steve Ballmer, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Stewart Brand, supercomputer in your pocket, Tesla Model S, Tim Cook: Apple, Travis Kalanick, Uber and Lyft, Uber for X, uber lyft, undersea cable, Whole Earth Catalog, winner-take-all economy, working poor, young professional

June 3, 2015. https://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/07/magazine/ubers-french-resistance.html?_r=0. 14. Diamandis, Peter. “Uber vs. the Law (My Money’s on Uber).” Forbes. September 8, 2014. http://www.forbes.com/sites/peterdiamandis/2014/09/08/uber-vs-the-law-my-moneys-on-uber/#50a69d201fd8. Chapter 7: Business and the Body 1. Satell, Greg. “Peter Thiel’s 4 Rules for Creating a Great Business.” Forbes. October 3, 2014. https://www.forbes.com/sites/gregsatell/2014/10/03/peter-thiels-4-rules-for-creating-a-great-business/#52f096f754df. 2. Wohl, Jessica. “Wal-mart U.S. sales start to perk up, as do shares.” Reuters. August 16, 2011. http://www.reuters.com/article/us-walmart-idUSTRE77F0KT20110816. 3. Wilson, Emily. “Want to live to be 100?” Guardian. June 7, 2001. https://www.theguardian.com/education/2001/jun/07/medicalscience.healthandwellbeing. 4.

This promise assuaged regulators’ concerns over privacy, and the acquisition was approved. Spoiler alert: Facebook figured out how data could jump silos . . . pretty fast. So, feeling lied to, the EU fined Facebook 110 million euros. This is tantamount to getting a $10 parking ticket for not feeding a meter that costs $100 every fifteen minutes. The smart choice: break the law. Chapter 7 Business and the Body IN THEIR BESTSELLING BOOKS, Ben Horowitz, Peter Thiel, Eric Schmidt, Salim Ismaiel, and others argue that extraordinary business success requires scaling at low cost, achieved by leveraging cloud computing, virtualization, and network effects to achieve a 10x productivity improvement over the competition.1 But that explanation ignores a deeper dimension that has nothing to do with technology. From the perspective of evolutionary psychology, all successful businesses appeal to one of three areas of the body—the brain, the heart, or the genitals.


pages: 510 words: 120,048

Who Owns the Future? by Jaron Lanier

3D printing, 4chan, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Airbnb, augmented reality, automated trading system, barriers to entry, bitcoin, book scanning, Burning Man, call centre, carbon footprint, cloud computing, commoditize, computer age, crowdsourcing, David Brooks, David Graeber, delayed gratification, digital Maoism, Douglas Engelbart, en.wikipedia.org, Everything should be made as simple as possible, facts on the ground, Filter Bubble, financial deregulation, Fractional reserve banking, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, George Akerlof, global supply chain, global village, Haight Ashbury, hive mind, if you build it, they will come, income inequality, informal economy, information asymmetry, invisible hand, Jaron Lanier, Jeff Bezos, job automation, John Markoff, Kevin Kelly, Khan Academy, Kickstarter, Kodak vs Instagram, life extension, Long Term Capital Management, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Metcalfe’s law, moral hazard, mutually assured destruction, Network effects, new economy, Norbert Wiener, obamacare, packet switching, Panopticon Jeremy Bentham, Peter Thiel, place-making, plutocrats, Plutocrats, Ponzi scheme, post-oil, pre–internet, race to the bottom, Ray Kurzweil, rent-seeking, reversible computing, Richard Feynman, Ronald Reagan, scientific worldview, self-driving car, side project, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley ideology, Silicon Valley startup, Skype, smart meter, stem cell, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Stewart Brand, Ted Nelson, The Market for Lemons, Thomas Malthus, too big to fail, trickle-down economics, Turing test, Vannevar Bush, WikiLeaks, zero-sum game

The responsibility for fixing problems enabled by the perfect investment lies with those sorry souls who are fated to act and take risks in the disadvantaged neighborhood that is reality. The perfect investment will quickly anneal into an impermeable and unchallengeable position, by nature a monopoly in its domain. Competition in a traditional sense might appear, but it will never achieve more than a token status. (I use the term monopoly here not in the legal sense, as in antitrust law, but in the vernacular Silicon Valley sense. For instance, Peter Thiel, founder of PayPal and a foundational investor in Facebook, taught students in his Stanford course on startups to find a way to create “monopolies.”) Candy The primary business of digital networking has come to be the creation of ultrasecret mega-dossiers about what others are doing, and using this information to concentrate money and power. It doesn’t matter whether the concentration is called a social network, an insurance company, a derivatives fund, a search engine, or an online store.

It means something to have a PhD from someplace like MIT. We love those places! There are legendary professors and we scramble to recruit their graduating students. But it’s also considered the height of hipness to eschew a traditional degree and unequivocally prove yourself through other means. The list of top company runners who dropped out of college is commanding: Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, and Mark Zuckerberg, for a start. Peter Thiel, of Facebook and PayPal fame, started a fund to pay top students to drop out of school, since the task of building high-tech startups should not be delayed. Mea culpa. I never earned a real degree (though I have received honorary ones). In my case poverty played a role, as it did for many others. But also, the very thought of slogging through someone else’s procedures to gain abstract approval seemed unacceptably retro and irrelevant.

This is the sort of fantasy that drives many—and I would actually guess most—successful young entrepreneurs and engineers in Silicon Valley these days. The idea is that the amazing lift you get from starting a ’net-based business that can become huge in just a few years is the fore-echo of something far more profound that you will be able to achieve almost as quickly. Soon technological prowess will make the cleverest hackers not only immortal but immortal superheroes. Earlier, I noted that Peter Thiel, founder of PayPal and an investor in Facebook, teaches a class at Stanford in which he advocates that students not think in terms of competing in a marketplace, but in terms of defining a position they can “monopolize.” This is precisely the idea of the Siren Server. It is a given that in Silicon Valley no one wants to suffer the indignity of sharing a market with competitors. It is the correlate that must be understood.


pages: 199 words: 43,653

Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products by Nir Eyal

Airbnb, AltaVista, Cass Sunstein, choice architecture, cognitive bias, cognitive dissonance, en.wikipedia.org, framing effect, game design, Google Glasses, IKEA effect, Inbox Zero, invention of the telephone, iterative process, Jeff Bezos, Lean Startup, Mahatma Gandhi, Mark Zuckerberg, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Oculus Rift, Paul Buchheit, Paul Graham, Peter Thiel, QWERTY keyboard, Richard Thaler, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Snapchat, TaskRabbit, telemarketer, the new new thing, Toyota Production System, Y Combinator

Somini Perlroth, Nicole Sengupta, and Jenna Wortham, “Instagram Founders Were Helped by Bay Area Connections,” New York Times (April 13, 2012), http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/14/technology/instagram-founders-were-helped-by-bay-area-connections.html. 3. “Twitter ‘Tried to Buy Instagram before Facebook.’” Telegraph (April 16, 2012), http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/twitter/9206312/Twitter-tried-to-buy-Instagram-before-Facebook.html. 4. Barry Schwartz, The Paradox of Choice (New York: Ecco, 2004). 5. Blake Masters, “Peter Thiel’s CS183: Startup—Class 2 Notes Essay,” Blake Masters (April 6, 2012), http://blakemasters.com/post/20582845717/peter-thiels-cs183-startup-class-2-notes-essay. 6. R. Kotikalapudi, S. Chellappan, F. Montgomery, D. Wunsch, and K. Lutzen, “Associating Internet Usage with Depressive Behavior Among College Students,” IEEE Technology and Society Magazine 31, no. 4 (2012): 73–80, doi:10.1109/MTS.2012.2225462. 7. Sriram Chellappan and Raghavendra Kotikalapudi, “How Depressed People Use the Internet,” New York Times (June 15, 2012), http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/17/opinion/sunday/how-depressed-people-use-the-internet.html. 8.


pages: 193 words: 47,808

The Flat White Economy by Douglas McWilliams

"Robert Solow", access to a mobile phone, banking crisis, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, bonus culture, Boris Johnson, Chuck Templeton: OpenTable:, cleantech, cloud computing, computer age, correlation coefficient, Edward Glaeser, en.wikipedia.org, Erik Brynjolfsson, eurozone crisis, George Gilder, hiring and firing, income inequality, informal economy, Kickstarter, knowledge economy, loadsamoney, low skilled workers, mass immigration, Metcalfe’s law, Network effects, new economy, offshore financial centre, Pareto efficiency, Peter Thiel, Productivity paradox, Robert Metcalfe, Silicon Valley, smart cities, special economic zone, Steve Jobs, working-age population, zero-sum game

According to the New Scientist “The annual KSI, or average number of cyclists killed or seriously injured, between 1994 and 1998 was 567, compared with 515 per year from 2008 to 2012. That’s a fall of nine per cent. At the same time, there has been a huge rise in the number of people getting on their bikes – 176 per cent more since 2000.”17 But the significant danger of at least serious injury must be a discouragement to many potential cyclists. Clothing According to Business Insider, Peter Thiel, founder of PayPal and one of Silicon Valley’s key venture capitalists, “hates suits”. While he cautions that there are “no absolute and timeless sartorial rules,” Thiel says that, “in Silicon Valley, wearing a suit in a pitch meeting makes you look like someone who is bad at sales and worse at tech.” Maybe that’s why he has a simple rule for investing: never bet on a CEO in a suit. Thiel says that this rule has helped him avoid making poor bets on slick business folk compensating for crap products with well-dressed charm.

This analysis was carried out by Cebr staff. 11. twowheelsgood-fourwheelsbad.blogspot.co.uk/2013/06/cycling-is-now-dominant-mode-of-travel.html 12. data.london.gov.uk/datastore/package/cycle-flows-tfl-road-network 13. www.ctc.org.uk/resources/ctc-cycling-statistics 14. www.bikebiz.com/news/read/cycling-isn-t-mainstream-enough-yet/016851 15. London has 29 inches of rainfall annually, Amsterdam has 31 www.skyscrapercity.com/showthread.php?t=349393 16. amsterdamize.com/2011/11/21/bicycle-cultures-are-man-made 17. www.newscientist.com/article/dn24636-despite-the-deaths-cycling-in-london-is-getting-safer.html#.VETGl_nF-So 18. www.businessinsider.com/peter-thiel-ama-2014–9#ixzz3GflCaosA 19. www.esquire.co.uk/culture/features/5720/the-silicon-roundabout 20. The article attributes the phrase Silicon Roundabout to a tweet from software developer Matt Biddulph working out of Moo.com in July 2007. 21. www.theguardian.com/technology/2013/nov/01/google-new-london-headquarters 22. Quote from The Guardian article above. 23. Ibid. 24. www.neighbourhood.statistics.gov.uk/HTMLDocs/dvc126/ 25. s3.amazonaws.com/bbpa-prod/attachments/documents/resources/22617/original/Oxford%20Economics%20for%20the%20BBPA%20Regional%20 Impacts%20Jan%202014.pdf?


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The People vs Tech: How the Internet Is Killing Democracy (And How We Save It) by Jamie Bartlett

Ada Lovelace, Airbnb, Amazon Mechanical Turk, Andrew Keen, autonomous vehicles, barriers to entry, basic income, Bernie Sanders, bitcoin, blockchain, Boris Johnson, central bank independence, Chelsea Manning, cloud computing, computer vision, creative destruction, cryptocurrency, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, Dominic Cummings, Donald Trump, Edward Snowden, Elon Musk, Filter Bubble, future of work, gig economy, global village, Google bus, hive mind, Howard Rheingold, information retrieval, Internet of things, Jeff Bezos, job automation, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, Julian Assange, manufacturing employment, Mark Zuckerberg, Marshall McLuhan, Menlo Park, meta analysis, meta-analysis, mittelstand, move fast and break things, move fast and break things, Network effects, Nicholas Carr, off grid, Panopticon Jeremy Bentham, payday loans, Peter Thiel, prediction markets, QR code, ransomware, Ray Kurzweil, recommendation engine, Renaissance Technologies, ride hailing / ride sharing, Robert Mercer, Ross Ulbricht, Sam Altman, Satoshi Nakamoto, Second Machine Age, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley ideology, Silicon Valley startup, smart cities, smart contracts, smart meter, Snapchat, Stanford prison experiment, Steve Jobs, Steven Levy, strong AI, TaskRabbit, technological singularity, technoutopianism, Ted Kaczynski, the medium is the message, the scientific method, The Spirit Level, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, The Wisdom of Crowds, theory of mind, too big to fail, ultimatum game, universal basic income, WikiLeaks, World Values Survey, Y Combinator

On iTunes, for example, 0.00001 per cent of tracks accounts for a sixth of all sales, while the bottom 94 per cent sell fewer than one hundred copies each.3 I suppose that’s technically a long tail, but it’s a very thin one.* Everyone in Silicon Valley knows all this, of course. They talk about the benefits of free markets, while at the same time betting the venture capital on monopolies. Peter Thiel – the founder of PayPal and probably the most influential of all the Silicon Valley tech investors – says he only puts money in companies that have monopoly potential. Some tech firms run at short-term loss, kept afloat by venture capital on a ‘growth before profit’ philosophy, as they chase market domination. Uber has been running billion-dollar losses for years: when there are no competitors left, their tempting prices may well be inflated.

Instead of gleaming glass buildings and tastefully exposed brick, his new arrangements include a tepee, a building plot, some guns and ammunition, a compost toilet, a generator, wires and solar panels. Antonio isn’t the only tech entrepreneur wondering if we’re clicking our way to dystopia. Reid Hoffman, co-founder of LinkedIn and an influential investor told the New Yorker in 2017 that around half of all Silicon Valley billionaires have some degree of what he called ‘apocalypse insurance’. PayPal co-founder and influential venture capitalist Peter Thiel recently bought a 477-acre bolthole in New Zealand and became a Kiwi national. Others discuss survivalism tactics in secret Facebook groups: helicopters, bomb-proofing, bitcoin, gold. It’s not all driven by fears about technology – terrorism, natural disasters and pandemics also feature – but much of it is. According to Antonio, many tech-entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley are just as pessimistic as he is about the future they’re building – they just don’t say it in public.


pages: 328 words: 96,141

Rocket Billionaires: Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, and the New Space Race by Tim Fernholz

Amazon Web Services, autonomous vehicles, business climate, Charles Lindbergh, Clayton Christensen, cloud computing, Colonization of Mars, corporate governance, corporate social responsibility, disruptive innovation, Donald Trump, Elon Musk, high net worth, Iridium satellite, Jeff Bezos, Kickstarter, low earth orbit, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, minimum viable product, multiplanetary species, mutually assured destruction, new economy, nuclear paranoia, paypal mafia, Peter H. Diamandis: Planetary Resources, Peter Thiel, pets.com, planetary scale, private space industry, profit maximization, RAND corporation, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman: Challenger O-ring, Ronald Reagan, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, skunkworks, sovereign wealth fund, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, trade route, undersea cable, We wanted flying cars, instead we got 140 characters, X Prize, Y2K

There could be a virtuous cycle: if the cost of space access fell enough to make new businesses possible in orbit, there would be more money to invest in lowering the cost to access space. It was an attitude he had developed as an entrepreneur in the early days of the internet boom. Not many had thought that a new way of paying for goods and services on the internet was necessary in 1999. But Musk and the other members of the so-called PayPal Mafia—many of whom, like the investors Peter Thiel and Luke Nosek, would also back SpaceX—were not deterred. Once they had built their simple tool for exchanging money safely over the emerging consumer web, other entrepreneurs found ways to use it. The ability to exchange money online became the basis for a whole new economy. When the auction site eBay paid $1.5 billion for PayPal in 2002, Musk’s share of the proceeds provided him with the fortune to find new markets—including in space.

Musk was silent for a few seconds. “We went through hell,” he said. “Of course.” The road to hell is paved with good intentions. In 2001, Musk was at loose ends. He had sold his advertising start-up, Zip2, to Compaq two years earlier, for more than $300 million, earning a $22 million payout. PayPal, the online payment company that emerged from a merger between Musk’s next venture—an “online bank” called X.com—and Peter Thiel’s financial start-up Confinity, was now a booming success. But Musk had been forced out as CEO of the combined company after just a year, following clashes with other executives. Whatever the conflict, he remained a PayPal adviser, and the company’s biggest investor. And then, at age thirty, he reset his life. He got married. He moved to Los Angeles from the San Francisco Bay Area, where he had begun his career.

This willingness to bear risk in the long term was not normal in the aerospace sector, but it is the idea behind the venture capital approach Musk was taking to SpaceX. By 2008, however, despite the NASA contract, SpaceX still needed another injection of serious capital to get its rocket into the sky. No bucks, no Buck Rogers. Unlike Rocketplane Kistler, which had turned to Wall Street, Musk could look to friendly investors with far bigger appetites for risk. He turned to his former partner at PayPal, Peter Thiel. Thiel had parlayed his own newly minted wealth into new investments, including a bet against the US housing market. He also founded, with other veterans of PayPal’s start-up days, a start-up-backed venture called Founders Fund. It was run by high-level entrepreneurs, for high-level entrepreneurs, inspired by Thiel’s personal investment in a then-nascent social network called Facebook. Now Musk went to his former cofounders.


pages: 344 words: 96,020

Hacking Growth: How Today's Fastest-Growing Companies Drive Breakout Success by Sean Ellis, Morgan Brown

Airbnb, Amazon Web Services, barriers to entry, Ben Horowitz, bounce rate, business intelligence, business process, correlation does not imply causation, crowdsourcing, DevOps, disruptive innovation, Elon Musk, game design, Google Glasses, Internet of things, inventory management, iterative process, Jeff Bezos, Khan Academy, Kickstarter, Lean Startup, Lyft, Mark Zuckerberg, market design, minimum viable product, Network effects, Paul Graham, Peter Thiel, Ponzi scheme, recommendation engine, ride hailing / ride sharing, side project, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Skype, Snapchat, software as a service, Steve Jobs, subscription business, Travis Kalanick, Uber and Lyft, Uber for X, uber lyft, working poor, Y Combinator, young professional

Video of Febreze advertisement from 1999, viewed at: youtube.com/watch?v=ZTPNtruSIU0. 11. Molly Young, “Be Bossy: Sophia Amoruso Has Advice for Millennials and a Bone to Pick With Sheryl Sandberg,” New York magazine, The Cut (blog), May 26, 2014, nymag.com/thecut/2014/05/sophia-amoruso-nasty-gal-millennial-advice.xhtmll. 12. Blake Masters, “Peter Thiel’s CS183: Startup—Class 9 Notes Essay,” Blake Masters blog, May 4, 2012, blakemasters.com/post/22405055017/peter-thiels-cs183-startup-class-9-notes-essay. 13. Awan, “Lessons Learned from Growing LinkedIn.” 14. Brian Balfour, “5 Steps to Choose Your Customer Acquisition Channel,” Coelevate (blog), May 21, 2013, coelevate.com/essays/5-steps-to-choose-your-customer-acquisition-channel. 15. Ivan Kirigin, “[500DISTRO] Sharing Lab Notes: 27 Referral Program Hack-tics in 20 Minutes,” August 13, 2014, retrieved from: youtube.com/watch?

But this is not the right strategy when it comes to finding the channels for marketing and distributing your product (which in Web business are often one and the same). Marketers commonly make the mistake of believing that diversifying efforts across a wide variety of channels is best for growth. As a result, they spread resources too thin and don’t focus enough on optimizing one or a couple of the channels likely to be most effective. Most often it’s better, as Google founder and CEO Larry Page has said, to put “more wood behind fewer arrows.” Or as Peter Thiel, cofounder of PayPal, Palantir, and the first outside investor in Facebook, tells start-up founders, “It is very likely that one channel is optimal. Most businesses actually get zero distribution channels to work. Poor distribution—not product—is the number one cause of failure. If you can get even a single distribution channel to work, you have great business. If you try for several but don’t nail one, you’re finished.”12 At the same time, too many companies get caught in the trap of following the herd, using the same channels as everyone else, such as Google paid ads or Facebook advertising, and not experimenting with options that might be more effective for their specific product, and less expensive.


Mindf*ck: Cambridge Analytica and the Plot to Break America by Christopher Wylie

4chan, affirmative action, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, availability heuristic, Berlin Wall, Bernie Sanders, big-box store, Boris Johnson, British Empire, call centre, Chelsea Manning, chief data officer, cognitive bias, cognitive dissonance, colonial rule, computer vision, conceptual framework, cryptocurrency, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, desegregation, Dominic Cummings, Donald Trump, Downton Abbey, Edward Snowden, Elon Musk, Etonian, first-past-the-post, Google Earth, housing crisis, income inequality, indoor plumbing, information asymmetry, Internet of things, Julian Assange, Lyft, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, Menlo Park, move fast and break things, move fast and break things, Network effects, new economy, obamacare, Peter Thiel, Potemkin village, recommendation engine, Renaissance Technologies, Robert Mercer, Ronald Reagan, Rosa Parks, Sand Hill Road, Scientific racism, Shoshana Zuboff, side project, Silicon Valley, Skype, uber lyft, unpaid internship, Valery Gerasimov, web application, WikiLeaks, zero-sum game

On my very first day at SCL, Nix asked whether I’d heard of a company called Palantir. He’d learned about it from an unusually well-connected SCL intern named Sophie Schmidt—the daughter of Eric Schmidt, a billionaire and then executive chairman of Google. A few months earlier, as she was finishing up her internship, she’d introduced Alexander to some of the executives at Palantir. Co-founded by Peter Thiel, a well-known venture capitalist in Silicon Valley who was also an independent director of Facebook, Palantir was a massive venture-capital-funded company that undertook information operations for the CIA, the National Security Agency, whose mission is to analyze signals intelligence and data for national security purposes, and the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), the British counterpart to the NSA.

For Bannon, this was a full-on culture war. As a self-anointed prophet, Bannon wanted a tool to peer into the future of our societies. And with what Bannon called Facebook’s God’s-eye view of each and every citizen, he could work to find the dharma for every American. In this way our research became almost spiritual for him. Nix, Bannon, and Mercer were all fascinated with Palantir, Peter Thiel’s data-mining firm, whose name comes from the crystal ball, or all-seeing eye, from J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. At the time, it seemed to me that these men wanted to create their own private Palantir by investing in SCL. Imagine the possibilities for an investor like Mercer: Predict the future of what people will buy and not buy, in order to make more money. If you can see a crash coming, you have the all-seeing orb for society: You might make billions overnight.

In the Stalinist period of the Soviet Union, enemies of the state would not just disappear; all remnants of their existence—photos, letters, news references—would be erased and cleansed from the annals of official history. Throughout history, the powerful have used social memory and collective forgetting as a powerful weapon to crush dissent and correct their preferred histories to shape the realities of the present. And if we want to understand why these technology companies behave this way, we should listen to the words of those who built them. Peter Thiel, the venture capitalist behind Facebook, Palantir, and PayPal, spoke at length about how he no longer believes “that freedom and democracy are compatible.” And in elaborating his views on technology companies, he expounded on how CEOs are the new monarchs in a techno-feudal system of governance. We just don’t call them monarchies in public, he said, because “anything that’s not democracy makes people uncomfortable.”


pages: 184 words: 53,625

Future Perfect: The Case for Progress in a Networked Age by Steven Johnson

Airbus A320, airport security, algorithmic trading, banking crisis, barriers to entry, Bernie Sanders, call centre, Captain Sullenberger Hudson, Cass Sunstein, Charles Lindbergh, cognitive dissonance, credit crunch, crowdsourcing, dark matter, Dava Sobel, David Brooks, Donald Davies, future of journalism, hive mind, Howard Rheingold, HyperCard, Jane Jacobs, John Gruber, John Harrison: Longitude, Joi Ito, Kevin Kelly, Kickstarter, lone genius, Mark Zuckerberg, mega-rich, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Naomi Klein, Nate Silver, Occupy movement, packet switching, peer-to-peer, Peter Thiel, planetary scale, pre–internet, RAND corporation, risk tolerance, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, social graph, Steve Jobs, Steven Pinker, Stewart Brand, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, Tim Cook: Apple, urban planning, US Airways Flight 1549, WikiLeaks, William Langewiesche, working poor, X Prize, your tax dollars at work

You can always get bandwidth by declaring yourself a utopian; and you can always get bandwidth by mourning the downward trend lines for some pressing social issue—however modest the trend itself may be. But declaring that things are slightly better than they were a year ago, as they have been for most years since at least the dawn of industrialization, almost never makes the front page. Consider this observation from the entrepreneur and investor Peter Thiel, published in National Review: When tracked against the admittedly lofty hopes of the 1950s and 1960s, technological progress has fallen short in many domains. Consider the most literal instance of non-acceleration: We are no longer moving faster. The centuries-long acceleration of travel speeds—from ever-faster sailing ships in the 16th through 18th centuries, to the advent of ever-faster railroads in the 19th century, and ever-faster cars and airplanes in the 20th century—reversed with the decommissioning of the Concorde in 2003, to say nothing of the nightmarish delays caused by strikingly low-tech post-9/11 airport-security systems.

PROGRESS, ACTUALLY The article on airline safety, “Airlines Go Two Years with No Fatalities,” appeared in the January 12, 2009, edition of USA Today. My original post on air safety and subsequent coverage of the US Airways crash ran on the website BoingBoing; the first post can be found at http://boingboing.net/2009/01/14/for-once-news-about.html. William Langewiesche’s Fly by Wire: The Geese, the Glide, the Miracle on the Hudson gives a thorough account of the Airbus 320 design and its role in the Hudson landing. Peter Thiel’s “The End of the Future” appeared in the October 3, 2011, issue of National Review. High school dropout rates and college enrollment: Between 1988 and 2008, the high school dropout rate for the United States declined from 14.6 to 9.3. (Source: “Trends in High School Dropout and Completion Rates in the United States: 1972–2008”; http://nces.ed.gov/pubs2011/2011012.pdf.) During that same period, college enrollment increased from 30.3 to 39.6 percent.


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Team Human by Douglas Rushkoff

1960s counterculture, autonomous vehicles, basic income, Berlin Wall, big-box store, bitcoin, blockchain, Burning Man, carbon footprint, clean water, clockwork universe, cloud computing, collective bargaining, corporate personhood, disintermediation, Donald Trump, drone strike, European colonialism, Filter Bubble, full employment, future of work, game design, gig economy, Google bus, Gödel, Escher, Bach, Internet of things, invention of the printing press, invention of writing, invisible hand, iterative process, Kevin Kelly, knowledge economy, life extension, lifelogging, Mark Zuckerberg, Marshall McLuhan, means of production, new economy, patient HM, pattern recognition, peer-to-peer, Peter Thiel, Ray Kurzweil, recommendation engine, ride hailing / ride sharing, Ronald Reagan, Ronald Reagan: Tear down this wall, shareholder value, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, social intelligence, sovereign wealth fund, Steve Jobs, Steven Pinker, Stewart Brand, technoutopianism, theory of mind, trade route, Travis Kalanick, Turing test, universal basic income, Vannevar Bush, winner-take-all economy, zero-sum game

The Soviet–American citizen diplomacy program Jeffrey J. Kripal, Esalen: America and the Religion of No Religion (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2008). This vision still motivates the development of artificial intelligence Erik Davis, Techgnosis: Myth, Magic, and Mysticism in the Age of Information (Berkeley: North Atlantic, 2015). Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry, “Peter Thiel and the Cathedral,” Patheos.com, June 24, 2014, http://www.patheos.com/blogs/inebriateme/2014/06/peter-thiel-and-the-cathedral/ (accessed January 10, 2018). 71. One Bay Area startup harvests the blood of young people Maya Kosoff, “This Anti-aging Start-up Is Charging Thousands of Dollars for Teen Blood,” Vanity Fair, June 2017. Then, say the chief scientists at the world’s biggest internet companies Ray Kurzweil, The Singularity Is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology (London: Penguin, 2005).


pages: 527 words: 147,690

Terms of Service: Social Media and the Price of Constant Connection by Jacob Silverman

23andMe, 4chan, A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace, Airbnb, airport security, Amazon Mechanical Turk, augmented reality, basic income, Brian Krebs, California gold rush, call centre, cloud computing, cognitive dissonance, commoditize, correlation does not imply causation, Credit Default Swap, crowdsourcing, don't be evil, drone strike, Edward Snowden, feminist movement, Filter Bubble, Firefox, Flash crash, game design, global village, Google Chrome, Google Glasses, hive mind, income inequality, informal economy, information retrieval, Internet of things, Jaron Lanier, jimmy wales, Kevin Kelly, Kickstarter, knowledge economy, knowledge worker, late capitalism, license plate recognition, life extension, lifelogging, Lyft, Mark Zuckerberg, Mars Rover, Marshall McLuhan, mass incarceration, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Minecraft, move fast and break things, move fast and break things, national security letter, Network effects, new economy, Nicholas Carr, Occupy movement, optical character recognition, payday loans, Peter Thiel, postindustrial economy, prediction markets, pre–internet, price discrimination, price stability, profit motive, quantitative hedge fund, race to the bottom, Ray Kurzweil, recommendation engine, rent control, RFID, ride hailing / ride sharing, self-driving car, sentiment analysis, shareholder value, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley ideology, Snapchat, social graph, social intelligence, social web, sorting algorithm, Steve Ballmer, Steve Jobs, Steven Levy, TaskRabbit, technoutopianism, telemarketer, transportation-network company, Travis Kalanick, Turing test, Uber and Lyft, Uber for X, uber lyft, universal basic income, unpaid internship, women in the workforce, Y Combinator, Zipcar

Google, remember, is a company that plans to organize all of the world’s information; its ambitions could not be greater. It also employs Ray Kurzweil, the chief promoter of the Singularity, a belief that machines will soon become self-aware, or that we will somehow combine with them, or upgrade our brains to the cloud—something amazing, we just don’t know what yet. In short, this is an industry in which such far-fetched thinking is de rigueur. Some of these people actually believe they will live forever. Peter Thiel, a PayPal cofounder and major early investor in Facebook (and another Rand disciple), has derided the inevitability of death as an “ideology” while plowing millions into companies that might, as he said, “cure aging.” Google’s own forays into life-extension research, through a biotech subsidiary called Calico, reflects its belief that it can solve death—at least for a paying few. So how does social media fit into these dreams of emancipatory digital technology?

An important part of identity, as it’s long been understood, is that we act differently in different situations. We put on different roles, we code-switch. We might speak differently with our parents than we would with our children or a coworker or someone we’re flirting with at a bar. At the risk of slipping into something hazily postmodern, there is no single “self.” But don’t tell that to Peter Thiel. The Facebook investor has said that Myspace was “about being someone fake on the Internet; everyone could be a movie star.” With Myspace’s demise and Facebook’s subsequent ascension, Thiel told a reporter, “The real people have won out over the fake people.” Social-media companies have worked hard to equate authenticity with being “real,” and having a single identity, a single log-in associated with your real name and all of your social-media accounts, with being a safe and good citizen of the social web.

This mission is important because connectivity is, in Zuckerberg’s words, “a human right.” Former Facebook employee and venture capitalist Chamath Palihapitiya agrees, telling an interviewer: “Companies are transcending power now. We are becoming the eminent vehicles for change and influence, and capital structures that matter.” (Palihapitiya is also a supporter of FWD.us, Zuckerberg’s political lobbying organization.) Others, such as libertarian PayPal cofounder Peter Thiel, would like to do away with government entirely; he has donated nearly $2 million to the Seasteading Institute, which hopes to build floating cities unencumbered by the trappings of government. Balaji Srinivasan, an entrepreneur and founder of a genetic-testing start-up, has called for “Silicon Valley’s ultimate exit” from “the paper belt,” his term for traditional sovereign governments. A number of other tech leaders agree, with some even calling for the breakup of California into several smaller states.


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The Retreat of Western Liberalism by Edward Luce

"Robert Solow", 3D printing, affirmative action, Airbnb, basic income, Berlin Wall, Bernie Sanders, Boris Johnson, Branko Milanovic, Bretton Woods, business cycle, call centre, carried interest, centre right, Charles Lindbergh, cognitive dissonance, colonial exploitation, colonial rule, computer age, corporate raider, cuban missile crisis, currency manipulation / currency intervention, Dissolution of the Soviet Union, Doha Development Round, Donald Trump, double entry bookkeeping, Erik Brynjolfsson, European colonialism, everywhere but in the productivity statistics, Fall of the Berlin Wall, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, future of work, George Santayana, gig economy, Gini coefficient, global pandemic, global supply chain, illegal immigration, imperial preference, income inequality, informal economy, Internet of things, Jaron Lanier, knowledge economy, lateral thinking, liberal capitalism, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, Martin Wolf, mass immigration, means of production, Monroe Doctrine, moral panic, more computing power than Apollo, mutually assured destruction, new economy, New Urbanism, Norman Mailer, offshore financial centre, one-China policy, Peace of Westphalia, Peter Thiel, plutocrats, Plutocrats, precariat, purchasing power parity, reserve currency, reshoring, Richard Florida, Robert Gordon, Ronald Reagan, Second Machine Age, self-driving car, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Skype, Snapchat, software is eating the world, South China Sea, Steve Jobs, superstar cities, telepresence, The Rise and Fall of American Growth, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas L Friedman, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, universal basic income, unpaid internship, Washington Consensus, We are the 99%, We wanted flying cars, instead we got 140 characters, white flight, World Values Survey, Yogi Berra

But the growth vanished almost as quickly as it came. We are still awaiting the productivity gains we were assured would result from the digital economy. With the exception of most of the 1990s, productivity growth has never recaptured the rates it achieved in the post-war decades. ‘You can see the computer age everywhere but in the productivity statistics,’ said Robert Solow, the Nobel Prize-winning economist. Peter Thiel, the Silicon Valley billionaire, who has controversially backed Donald Trump, put it more vividly: ‘We wanted flying cars, instead we got 140 characters [Twitter].’ That may be about to change, with the acceleration of the robot revolution and the spread of artificial intelligence. But we should be careful what we wish for. The squeeze is already uncomfortable enough. I am nearing fifty. My generation – those born in the mid-to-late 1960s and the 1970s – straddled the transition from the golden years to the new normal, though we did not wake up to it until we were into our thirties.

It is ­possible to imagine we can pull together to ensure that everyone will have a stake in a hyper-automated future. But there are gaping holes in this pleasant reverie. The digital revolution is still in its infancy, yet we are already throwing our toys out of the pram. As political societies, we are further away from plausible solutions than when the digital revolution began. Unlike the Industrial Revolution, it is taking place in a hyper-democratic world. Peter Thiel was right, of course; Twitter cannot be compared to the invention of printing, or flying cars. Yet he was also wrong. We live in a world where everyone with a grievance wields more digital power in the palm of their hand than the computers that sent Apollo 14 into orbit. The Industrial Revolution was unleashed on undemocratic – or in the case of Britain and the US, semi-democratic – societies.


pages: 391 words: 105,382

Utopia Is Creepy: And Other Provocations by Nicholas Carr

Air France Flight 447, Airbnb, Airbus A320, AltaVista, Amazon Mechanical Turk, augmented reality, autonomous vehicles, Bernie Sanders, book scanning, Brewster Kahle, Buckminster Fuller, Burning Man, Captain Sullenberger Hudson, centralized clearinghouse, Charles Lindbergh, cloud computing, cognitive bias, collaborative consumption, computer age, corporate governance, crowdsourcing, Danny Hillis, deskilling, digital map, disruptive innovation, Donald Trump, Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, Elon Musk, factory automation, failed state, feminist movement, Frederick Winslow Taylor, friendly fire, game design, global village, Google bus, Google Glasses, Google X / Alphabet X, Googley, hive mind, impulse control, indoor plumbing, interchangeable parts, Internet Archive, invention of movable type, invention of the steam engine, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, Jeff Bezos, jimmy wales, Joan Didion, job automation, Kevin Kelly, lifelogging, low skilled workers, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, Marshall McLuhan, means of production, Menlo Park, mental accounting, natural language processing, Network effects, new economy, Nicholas Carr, Norman Mailer, off grid, oil shale / tar sands, Peter Thiel, plutocrats, Plutocrats, profit motive, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Ray Kurzweil, recommendation engine, Republic of Letters, robot derives from the Czech word robota Czech, meaning slave, Ronald Reagan, self-driving car, SETI@home, side project, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley ideology, Singularitarianism, Snapchat, social graph, social web, speech recognition, Startup school, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Steven Levy, technoutopianism, the medium is the message, theory of mind, Turing test, Whole Earth Catalog, Y Combinator

Fox has a lot of company. He points to science fiction writer Neal Stephenson, who worries that the internet, far from spurring a great burst of industrial creativity, may have put innovation “on hold for a generation.” Fox also cites economist Tyler Cowen, who has argued that, recent techno-enthusiasm aside, we’re living in a time of innovation stagnation. He might also have mentioned tech powerbroker Peter Thiel, who believes that large-scale innovation has gone dormant and that we’ve entered a technological “desert.” Thiel blames the hippies. “Men reached the moon in July 1969,” he wrote in “The End of the Future,” a 2011 National Review article, “and Woodstock began three weeks later. With the benefit of hindsight, we can see that this was when the hippies took over the country, and when the true cultural war over Progress was lost.”

I think as technologists we should have some safe places where we can try out some new things and figure out: What is the effect on society? What’s the effect on people? Without having to deploy it into the normal world. And people who like those kinds of things can go there and experience that. It’s not only Page. Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk dream of establishing Learyesque space colonies, celestial Burning Mans. Peter Thiel is slightly more down to earth. His Seasteading Institute hopes to set up floating technology incubation camps on the ocean, outside national boundaries. “If you can start a new business, why can you not start a new country?” he asks. In a speech last fall at the Y Combinator Startup School, venture capitalist Balaji Srinivasan channeled Leary when he called for “Silicon Valley’s Ultimate Exit”—the establishment of a new country beyond the reach of the U.S. government and other allegedly failed states.

It particularly suits the interests of those who have become extraordinarily wealthy through the labor-saving, profit-concentrating effects of automated systems and the computers that control them. It provides our new plutocrats with a heroic narrative in which they play starring roles: Recent job losses may be unfortunate, but they’re a necessary evil on the path to the human race’s eventual emancipation by the computerized slaves that our benevolent enterprises are creating. Peter Thiel, a successful entrepreneur and investor who has become one of Silicon Valley’s most prominent thinkers, grants that “a robotics revolution would basically have the effect of people losing their jobs.” But, he hastens to add, “it would have the benefit of freeing people up to do many other things.” Being freed up sounds a lot more pleasant than being fired. There’s a callousness to such grandiose futurism.


pages: 394 words: 112,770

Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House by Michael Wolff

Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, barriers to entry, Bernie Sanders, centre right, disintermediation, Donald Trump, drone strike, Edward Snowden, Elon Musk, forensic accounting, illegal immigration, impulse control, Jeff Bezos, Jeffrey Epstein, obamacare, Peter Thiel, Renaissance Technologies, ride hailing / ride sharing, Robert Mercer, Ronald Reagan, Saturday Night Live, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, single-payer health, Travis Kalanick, WikiLeaks, zero-sum game

His extreme self-satisfaction rubbed off. Life was sunny. Trump was an optimist—at least about himself. He was charming and full of flattery; he focused on you. He was funny—self-deprecating even. And incredibly energetic—Let’s do it whatever it is, let’s do it. He wasn’t a tough guy. He was “a big warm-hearted monkey,” said Bannon, with rather faint praise. PayPal cofounder and Facebook board member Peter Thiel—really the only significant Silicon Valley voice to support Trump—was warned by another billionaire and longtime Trump friend that Trump would, in an explosion of flattery, offer Thiel his undying friendship. Everybody says you’re great, you and I are going to have an amazing working relationship, anything you want, call me and we’ll get it done! Thiel was advised not to take Trump’s offer too seriously.

If Michael Flynn had recently become the most powerful man in Washington for what he might reveal about the president, now Mueller arguably assumed that position because he had the power to make Flynn, and all other assorted Trump cronies and flunkies, squeal. Rosenstein, of course, perhaps with some satisfaction, understood that he had delivered what could be a mortal blow to the Trump presidency. Bannon, shaking his head in wonder about Trump, commented drily: “He doesn’t necessarily see what’s coming.” 17 ABROAD AND AT HOME On May 12, Roger Ailes was scheduled to return to New York from Palm Beach to meet with Peter Thiel, an early and lonely Trump supporter in Silicon Valley who had become increasingly astonished by Trump’s unpredictability. Ailes and Thiel, both worried that Trump could bring Trumpism down, were set to discuss the funding and launch of a new cable news network. Thiel would pay for it and Ailes would bring O’Reilly, Hannity, himself, and maybe Bannon to it. But two days before the meeting, Ailes fell in his bathroom and hit his head.

“He’s not going to make it,” said Bannon at the Breitbart Embassy. “He’s lost his stuff.” Less volubly, Bannon was telling people something else: he, Steve Bannon, was going to run for president in 2020. The locution, “If I were president . . .” was turning into, “When I am president . . .” The top Trump donors from 2016 were in his camp, Bannon claimed: Sheldon Adelson, the Mercers, Bernie Marcus, and Peter Thiel. In short order, and as though he had been preparing for this move for some time, Bannon had left the White House and quickly thrown together a rump campaign organization. The heretofore behind-the-scenes Bannon was methodically meeting with every conservative leader in the country—doing his best, as he put it, to “kiss the ass and pay homage to all the gray-beards.” And he was keynoting a list of must-attend conservative events.


pages: 501 words: 114,888

The Future Is Faster Than You Think: How Converging Technologies Are Transforming Business, Industries, and Our Lives by Peter H. Diamandis, Steven Kotler

Ada Lovelace, additive manufacturing, Airbnb, Albert Einstein, Amazon Mechanical Turk, augmented reality, autonomous vehicles, barriers to entry, bitcoin, blockchain, blood diamonds, Burning Man, call centre, cashless society, Charles Lindbergh, Clayton Christensen, clean water, cloud computing, Colonization of Mars, computer vision, creative destruction, crowdsourcing, cryptocurrency, Dean Kamen, delayed gratification, dematerialisation, digital twin, disruptive innovation, Edward Glaeser, Edward Lloyd's coffeehouse, Elon Musk, en.wikipedia.org, epigenetics, Erik Brynjolfsson, Ethereum, ethereum blockchain, experimental economics, food miles, game design, Geoffrey West, Santa Fe Institute, gig economy, Google X / Alphabet X, gravity well, hive mind, housing crisis, Hyperloop, indoor plumbing, industrial robot, informal economy, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Internet of things, invention of the telegraph, Isaac Newton, Jaron Lanier, Jeff Bezos, job automation, Joseph Schumpeter, Kevin Kelly, Kickstarter, late fees, Law of Accelerating Returns, life extension, lifelogging, loss aversion, Lyft, M-Pesa, Mary Lou Jepsen, mass immigration, megacity, meta analysis, meta-analysis, microbiome, mobile money, multiplanetary species, Narrative Science, natural language processing, Network effects, new economy, New Urbanism, Oculus Rift, out of africa, packet switching, peer-to-peer lending, Peter H. Diamandis: Planetary Resources, Peter Thiel, QR code, RAND corporation, Ray Kurzweil, RFID, Richard Feynman, Richard Florida, ride hailing / ride sharing, risk tolerance, Satoshi Nakamoto, Second Machine Age, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, Skype, smart cities, smart contracts, smart grid, Snapchat, sovereign wealth fund, special economic zone, stealth mode startup, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Steven Pinker, Stewart Brand, supercomputer in your pocket, supply-chain management, technoutopianism, Tesla Model S, Tim Cook: Apple, transaction costs, Uber and Lyft, uber lyft, unbanked and underbanked, underbanked, urban planning, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, We wanted flying cars, instead we got 140 characters, X Prize

None have delivered on the promise of The Jetsons. In fact, our ire at this lack of delivery has become a meme unto itself. At the turn of the last century, in a now famous IBM commercial, comedian Avery Brooks asked: “It’s the year 2000, but where are the flying cars? I was promised flying cars. I don’t see any flying cars. Why? Why? Why?” In 2011, in his “What Happened to the Future?” manifesto, investor Peter Thiel echoed this concern, writing: “We wanted flying cars, instead we got 140 characters.” Yet, as should be clear by now, the wait is over. The Flying Cars Are Here. And the infrastructure’s coming fast. While we were sipping our lattes and checking our Instagram, science fiction became science fact. And this brings us back to our initial question: Why now? The answer, in a word: Convergence. Converging Technology If you want to understand convergence, it helps to start at the beginning.

Known as senolytic therapies, these drugs destroy the inflammation-producing zombie cells believed to be one of the causes of aging. A half-dozen companies are now involved in this effort, producing about a dozen drugs that obliterate zombie cells, delaying or alleviating everything from frailty and osteoporosis to cardiological dysfunction and neurological disorder. Backed by investments from Jeff Bezos, the late Paul Allen, and Peter Thiel, Unity Biotechnology is one of the most interesting of these. They’ve developed a way to identify, then kill senolytic cells, or at least they’ve developed a way that works in mice. But it really works. Periodic treatments from midlife forward both extend lifespan by 35 percent and keep the mouse healthier along the way. Everything from lower energy levels to the development of cataracts and kidney dysfunction—all common symptoms of aging—are either avoided entirely or their onset is significantly delayed.

Harrison, “Rapamycin Fed Late in Life Extends Lifespan in Genetically Heterogeneous Mice,” Nature, July 8, 2019. Novartis to decide to test it in humans: J. B. Mannick, “mTOR Inhibition Improves Immune Function in the Elderly,” Science Translational Medicine, December 2014. drug called metformin: Nir Barzilai, “Metformin as a Tool to Target Aging,” Cell Metabolism, June 14, 2016. 23(6): pp. 1060-1065, See https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5943638/. Jeff Bezos, Paul Allen, and Peter Thiel, Unity Biotechnology: See: https://unitybiotechnology.com. extend lifespan by 35 percent: Jan M van Deursen, “Senolytic Therapies for Healthy Longevity,” Science 364, no. 6441 (May 2019): 636–637. Samumed: Osman Kibar, author interview, 2018. See also: https://www.samumed.com/default.aspx. Backed by a $12 billion valuation: Brian Gormley, “Drugmaker Samumed Closes $438 Million Round at $12 Billion Pre-Money Valuation,” Wall Street Journal Pro, August 6, 2018.


pages: 235 words: 62,862

Utopia for Realists: The Case for a Universal Basic Income, Open Borders, and a 15-Hour Workweek by Rutger Bregman

autonomous vehicles, banking crisis, Bartolomé de las Casas, basic income, Berlin Wall, Bertrand Russell: In Praise of Idleness, Branko Milanovic, cognitive dissonance, computer age, conceptual framework, credit crunch, David Graeber, Diane Coyle, Erik Brynjolfsson, everywhere but in the productivity statistics, Fall of the Berlin Wall, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, Frank Levy and Richard Murnane: The New Division of Labor, full employment, George Gilder, George Santayana, happiness index / gross national happiness, Henry Ford's grandson gave labor union leader Walter Reuther a tour of the company’s new, automated factory…, income inequality, invention of gunpowder, James Watt: steam engine, John Markoff, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, Kevin Kelly, Kickstarter, knowledge economy, knowledge worker, Kodak vs Instagram, low skilled workers, means of production, megacity, meta analysis, meta-analysis, microcredit, minimum wage unemployment, Mont Pelerin Society, Nathan Meyer Rothschild: antibiotics, Occupy movement, offshore financial centre, Paul Samuelson, Peter Thiel, post-industrial society, precariat, RAND corporation, randomized controlled trial, Ray Kurzweil, Ronald Reagan, Second Machine Age, Silicon Valley, Simon Kuznets, Skype, stem cell, Steven Pinker, telemarketer, The Future of Employment, The Spirit Level, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus, Thorstein Veblen, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, universal basic income, wage slave, War on Poverty, We wanted flying cars, instead we got 140 characters, wikimedia commons, women in the workforce, working poor, World Values Survey

Demand doesn’t exist in a vacuum, after all; it’s the product of a constant negotiation, determined by a country’s laws and institutions, and, of course, by the people who control the purse strings. Maybe this is also a clue as to why the innovations of the past 30 years – a time of spiraling inequality – haven’t quite lived up to our expectations. “We wanted flying cars, instead we got 140 characters,” mocks Peter Thiel, Silicon Valley’s resident intellectual.16 If the post-war era gave us fabulous inventions like the washing machine, the refrigerator, the space shuttle, and the pill, lately it’s been slightly improved iterations of the same phone we bought a couple years ago. In fact, it has become increasingly profitable not to innovate. Imagine just how much progress we’ve missed out on because thousands of bright minds have frittered away their time dreaming up hypercomplex financial products that are ultimately only destructive.

Alfred Kleinknecht, Ro Naastepad, and Servaas Storm, “Overdaad schaadt: meer management, minder productiviteitsgroei,” ESB (September 8, 2006). 14. See: Tony Schwartz and Christine Poratz, “Why You Hate Work,” The New York Times (May 30, 2014). http://www.nytimes.com/2014/06/01/opinion/sunday/why-you-hate-work.html?_r=1 15. Will Dahlgreen, “37% of British workers think their jobs are meaningless”, YouGov (August 12, 2015). https://yougov.co.uk/news/2015/08/12/british-jobs-meaningless 16. Peter Thiel, “What happened to the future?” Founders Fund, http://www.foundersfund.com/the-future 17. William Baumol, “Entrepreneurship: Productive, Unproductive, and Destructive,” Journal of Political Economy (1990), pp. 893-920. 18. Sam Ro, “Stock Market Investors Have Become Absurdly Impatient,” Business Insider (August 7, 2012). http://www.businessinsider.com/stock-investor-holding-period-2012-8 19.


pages: 281 words: 71,242

World Without Mind: The Existential Threat of Big Tech by Franklin Foer

artificial general intelligence, back-to-the-land, Berlin Wall, big data - Walmart - Pop Tarts, big-box store, Buckminster Fuller, citizen journalism, Colonization of Mars, computer age, creative destruction, crowdsourcing, data is the new oil, don't be evil, Donald Trump, Double Irish / Dutch Sandwich, Douglas Engelbart, Edward Snowden, Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, Elon Musk, Fall of the Berlin Wall, Filter Bubble, global village, Google Glasses, Haight Ashbury, hive mind, income inequality, intangible asset, Jeff Bezos, job automation, John Markoff, Kevin Kelly, knowledge economy, Law of Accelerating Returns, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, Marshall McLuhan, means of production, move fast and break things, move fast and break things, new economy, New Journalism, Norbert Wiener, offshore financial centre, PageRank, Peace of Westphalia, Peter Thiel, planetary scale, Ray Kurzweil, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, Singularitarianism, software is eating the world, Steve Jobs, Steven Levy, Stewart Brand, strong AI, supply-chain management, the medium is the message, the scientific method, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, The Wisdom of Crowds, Thomas L Friedman, Thorstein Veblen, Upton Sinclair, Vernor Vinge, Whole Earth Catalog, yellow journalism

Morgan himself sincerely believed this gospel. As the biographer Ron Chernow writes, “America’s most famous financier was a sworn foe of free markets.” Such arguments are increasingly familiar in Silicon Valley. It’s the premise of a whole shelf of books on strategy. (Sample title: Modern Monopolies: What It Takes to Dominate the 21st Century Economy.) The most important prophet of the new monopoly is an investor named Peter Thiel. He isn’t just any investor. His successes include PayPal, Facebook, Palantir, and SpaceX, an almost unrivaled record of sniffing out winners before they become chic, which suggests a deeper understanding of technology and its trajectory. Thiel can be a wildly idiosyncratic thinker, which has justly earned him opprobrium in recent years. During the 2016 presidential campaign, he supported Donald Trump.

“Hope in life comes from the interconnections”: Tim Berners-Lee, Weaving the Web (HarperCollins, 1999), 209. “Money is not the greatest of motivators”: Linus Torvalds, Just for Fun (HarperCollins, 2001), 227. “Competition means strife”: Tim Wu, The Master Switch (Alfred A. Knopf, 2010), 8. “America’s most famous financier”: Ron Chernow, The House of Morgan (Atlantic Monthly Press, 1990), 54. “We preach competition”: Peter Thiel, Zero to One (Crown Business, 2014), 35. “transcend the daily brute struggle”: Thiel, 32. “The big technology markets actually tend to be winner take all”: Alexia Tsotsis, “Marc Andreessen On The Future Of Enterprise,” TechCrunch, January 27, 2013. CHAPTER TWO: THE GOOGLE THEORY OF HISTORY at times, he struggled to breathe: Larry Page, University of Michigan commencement address, May 2, 2009.


pages: 504 words: 126,835

The Innovation Illusion: How So Little Is Created by So Many Working So Hard by Fredrik Erixon, Bjorn Weigel

"Robert Solow", Airbnb, Albert Einstein, American ideology, asset allocation, autonomous vehicles, barriers to entry, Basel III, Bernie Madoff, bitcoin, Black Swan, blockchain, BRICs, Burning Man, business cycle, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, Cass Sunstein, Clayton Christensen, Colonization of Mars, commoditize, corporate governance, corporate social responsibility, creative destruction, crony capitalism, dark matter, David Graeber, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, discounted cash flows, distributed ledger, Donald Trump, Elon Musk, Erik Brynjolfsson, fear of failure, first square of the chessboard / second half of the chessboard, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, George Gilder, global supply chain, global value chain, Google Glasses, Google X / Alphabet X, Gordon Gekko, high net worth, hiring and firing, Hyman Minsky, income inequality, income per capita, index fund, industrial robot, Internet of things, Jeff Bezos, job automation, job satisfaction, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, joint-stock company, Joseph Schumpeter, Just-in-time delivery, Kevin Kelly, knowledge economy, laissez-faire capitalism, Lyft, manufacturing employment, Mark Zuckerberg, market design, Martin Wolf, mass affluent, means of production, Mont Pelerin Society, Network effects, new economy, offshore financial centre, pensions crisis, Peter Thiel, Potemkin village, price mechanism, principal–agent problem, Productivity paradox, QWERTY keyboard, RAND corporation, Ray Kurzweil, rent-seeking, risk tolerance, risk/return, Robert Gordon, Ronald Coase, Ronald Reagan, savings glut, Second Machine Age, secular stagnation, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Skype, sovereign wealth fund, Steve Ballmer, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, technological singularity, telemarketer, The Chicago School, The Future of Employment, The Nature of the Firm, The Rise and Fall of American Growth, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, too big to fail, total factor productivity, transaction costs, transportation-network company, tulip mania, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, uber lyft, University of East Anglia, unpaid internship, Vanguard fund, Yogi Berra

There are several thinkers today that can be put in the same category. If you get bored by all those who just repeat the conventional wisdom about the economy and how it evolves, pick any work from these economic thinkers and you will immediately be reinvigorated: David Autor, Tyler Cowen, Deirdre McCloskey, Malcolm Gladwell, David Graeber, Deepak Lal, Joel Mokyr, Matt Ridley, Richard Sennett, Robert Solow, Lawrence Summers, Peter Thiel, and Martin Wolf. Their works have contributed to our thinking for this book. Likewise, there are many successful investors and entrepreneurs whose thinking about innovation and business creation have inspired us. Innovation happens through entrepreneurship and it is impossible to grasp innovation without understanding the business motivations behind it. In reality, books like ours cannot substitute for studies of successful entrepreneurs like Warren Buffett, Steve Jobs, Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk, and Sam Walton, and the business environment they and others created in their respective firms.

New Jersey, for instance, withdrew Tesla’s license for dealer-free car sales in 2014, forcing it to go through a franchise if it wanted to sell cars in the Garden State.19 Likewise Airbnb, the online platform for individuals to rent out their homes, has effectively been banned or repeatedly fined in cities like Santa Monica and Barcelona.20 Other city authorities, such as in Berlin and New York, impose regulations – old or new – that seriously constrain homeowners from renting out beds or their entire home on sites like Airbnb.21 All too often innovators need to err on the wrong side of regulation if they aim to contest markets. The time and money of regulation If regulatory resistance to innovation is strong in business sectors that are comparatively less regulated, such as car sales and online services, imagine then the effects of regulation in energy, pharmaceuticals, neuroscience, medical technology, and other sectors with more complicated regulations. Investor Peter Thiel has contrasted two different regulatory worlds and how the various regulatory approaches feed different innovative outcomes. In the “world of bits,” regulation has for some time had a “light touch,” while “the world of atoms” has been burdened by the heavy hand of regulation. The difference helps to explain why in the past decades there has been so much more innovation in software than in physical things.

And this is also what happened in the past decades as a consequence of market reforms. The broad wave of deregulation did not affect all sectors equally. The actual flow of the economy carried the hallmark of regulation rather than reflecting natural changes among consumers and producers. Reforms generally motivated companies to focus their energy on horizontal expansion and vertical specialization. Or, to use Peter Thiel’s mathematical imagery: companies were not incentivized to move from “zero to one” (to bring something new to the market) but to go “from 1 to n” (to expand volumes on the product and resource base they already possessed).43 Together with the shift in economic structure – from industry to services – product market reforms reoriented the way companies compete and how much importance they place on contestable innovation.


pages: 476 words: 125,219

Digital Disconnect: How Capitalism Is Turning the Internet Against Democracy by Robert W. McChesney

2013 Report for America's Infrastructure - American Society of Civil Engineers - 19 March 2013, access to a mobile phone, Albert Einstein, American Legislative Exchange Council, American Society of Civil Engineers: Report Card, Automated Insights, barriers to entry, Berlin Wall, business cycle, Cass Sunstein, citizen journalism, cloud computing, collaborative consumption, collective bargaining, creative destruction, crony capitalism, David Brooks, death of newspapers, declining real wages, Double Irish / Dutch Sandwich, Erik Brynjolfsson, failed state, Filter Bubble, full employment, future of journalism, George Gilder, Gini coefficient, Google Earth, income inequality, informal economy, intangible asset, invention of agriculture, invisible hand, Jaron Lanier, Jeff Bezos, jimmy wales, John Markoff, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, Joseph Schumpeter, Julian Assange, Kickstarter, Mark Zuckerberg, Marshall McLuhan, means of production, Metcalfe’s law, mutually assured destruction, national security letter, Nelson Mandela, Network effects, new economy, New Journalism, Nicholas Carr, Occupy movement, offshore financial centre, patent troll, Peter Thiel, plutocrats, Plutocrats, post scarcity, price mechanism, profit maximization, profit motive, QWERTY keyboard, Ralph Nader, Richard Stallman, road to serfdom, Robert Metcalfe, Saturday Night Live, sentiment analysis, Silicon Valley, single-payer health, Skype, spectrum auction, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Steven Levy, Steven Pinker, Stewart Brand, Telecommunications Act of 1996, the medium is the message, The Spirit Level, The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thorstein Veblen, too big to fail, transfer pricing, Upton Sinclair, WikiLeaks, winner-take-all economy, yellow journalism

People with vast fortunes, including high-tech impresarios, tend to acquire considerable hubris. Recent research indicates that upper-class people are less likely to feel compassion toward others and much more likely to feel that their greed is justified by their station in life.10 “Wealth gives rise to a me-first mentality,” as the psychologist Dacher Keltner puts it, and the greed it rationalizes “undermines moral behavior.”11 PayPal’s billionaire co-founder Peter Thiel, for example, gives significant amounts to nonprofit groups, but much of that money goes to push his pro-business right-wing political agenda.12 And when corporations enter the public sphere, even high-tech ones, it is to advance their commercial interests directly or indirectly. Our society looks the way it does in the United States to no small extent because this is how they wish it to. There may be good arguments that the Internet is altering capitalism and revitalizing democracy, but the existence of a new class of warm and fuzzy netrepreneurs is not one of them.

Indeed, there has hardly ever been a fortune created without a monopoly of some sort, or at least an oligopoly. This is the natural path of [capitalist] industrialization: invention, propagation, adoption, control. . . . Openness is a wonderful thing in the nonmonetary economy. . . . But eventually our tolerance for the delirious chaos of infinite competition finds its limits.”75 As PayPal founder and billionaire Peter Thiel now tells students attending his lectures at Stanford, the moral of the story is that it is time to grow up and accept the new monopoly system. Competition is overrated, even destructive, and capitalism works better with a handful of monopolists “doing something so creative that you establish a distinct market, niche and identity. You’ve established a creative monopoly and everybody has to come to you if they want that service.”

Google, in particular, was being pressed by the FTC over whether “Google has abused its dominance by manipulating its search results, making it less likely that competing companies or products will appear at the top of a results page.”80 In much economic theory, such monopolies should either be publicly owned or, at the very least, heavily regulated to prevent abuses, especially as they often tend to monopolize crucial public functions.81 If they can be effectively reformed into competitive industries, that route should be considered too, though—for the reasons mentioned above, and as Wired’s Chris Anderson and monopoly enthusiast Peter Thiel would agree—the monopolistic pressures in this sector makes that mostly unrealistic. The free-market option does not compute. André Schiffrin, founder of The New Press, suggests that the option of public ownership is a debate we should be having about Google.82 The World Wide Web has thrived in the public domain; why not Internet search? Yet corporate political power has basically eliminated the threat of public ownership, as well as credible regulation in the public interest.


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The Switch: How Solar, Storage and New Tech Means Cheap Power for All by Chris Goodall

3D printing, additive manufacturing, decarbonisation, demand response, Elon Musk, energy transition, first square of the chessboard / second half of the chessboard, Haber-Bosch Process, hydrogen economy, Internet of things, M-Pesa, Negawatt, off grid, Peter Thiel, smart meter, standardized shipping container, Tim Cook: Apple, wikimedia commons

On my calculations the energy produced – in the form of cubic metres of natural gas and barrels of oil – from this vast yearly investment is now less than the amount that would be generated by solar panels on which the same amount of money was spent. That is not a credible business plan. And indeed some of the oil chiefs are aware of it. In September 2015 Shell’s CEO said that solar would become the ‘dominant backbone’ of the energy system. If even Shell is saying this, the arguments for THE SWITCH are truly irrefutable. In a recent book, the founder of PayPal, Peter Thiel, wrote that ‘most peoples throughout history have been pessimists’. He might have added that pessimistic cultures such as ours find it difficult to deal with intractable problems, such as turning away from carbon-based energy. But now, I would argue, we can become optimists about our ability to address climate change at the same time as providing sufficient energy. And not just for the economies of the richer half of the world.

The value of this is that warming the air adds to its pressure, meaning the turbine will rotate faster and generate more power. In addition, this is a process that is economical with regards to energy; up to 90 per cent of the electricity going in is regained in the discharge phase, a figure close to the best batteries. The Lightsail approach is simple, efficient and extremely elegant. These characteristics will have been helpful in appealing to its roster of prestige investors including Bill Gates and Peter Thiel, the PayPal founder whose quote on the innate pessimism of most cultures ended the introduction to this book. In the spirit of Thiel’s comment about the importance of optimism, I’ll just say that the financial attractiveness of Lightsail’s approach remains still to be seen, but I can see that the underlying simplicity of its technology could mean a very low cost in future years. Importantly, its approach claims an energy density (in terms of megawatt hours of storage per cubic metre of space) that may match batteries.


pages: 252 words: 72,473

Weapons of Math Destruction: How Big Data Increases Inequality and Threatens Democracy by Cathy O'Neil

Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Bernie Madoff, big data - Walmart - Pop Tarts, call centre, carried interest, cloud computing, collateralized debt obligation, correlation does not imply causation, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, crowdsourcing, Emanuel Derman, housing crisis, I will remember that I didn’t make the world, and it doesn’t satisfy my equations, illegal immigration, Internet of things, late fees, mass incarceration, medical bankruptcy, Moneyball by Michael Lewis explains big data, new economy, obamacare, Occupy movement, offshore financial centre, payday loans, peer-to-peer lending, Peter Thiel, Ponzi scheme, prediction markets, price discrimination, quantitative hedge fund, Ralph Nader, RAND corporation, recommendation engine, Rubik’s Cube, Sharpe ratio, statistical model, Tim Cook: Apple, too big to fail, Unsafe at Any Speed, Upton Sinclair, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, working poor

Douglas Merrill’s idea: Steve Lohr, “Big Data Underwriting for Payday Loans,” New York Times, January 19, 2015, http://​bits.​blogs.​nytimes.​com/​2015/​01/​19/​big-​data-​underwriting-​for-​payday-​loans/. On the company web page: Website ZestFinance.​com, accessed January 9, 2016, www.​zestfinance.​com/. A typical $500 loan: Lohr, “Big Data Underwriting.” ten thousand data points: Michael Carney, “Flush with $20M from Peter Thiel, ZestFinance Is Measuring Credit Risk Through Non-traditional Big Data,” Pando, July 31, 2013, https://​pando.​com/​2013/​07/​31/​flush-​with-​20m-​from-​peter-​thiel-​zestfinance-​is-​measuring-​credit-​risk-​through-​non-​traditional-​big-​data/. one of the first peer-to-peer exchanges, Lending Club: Richard MacManus, “Facebook App, Lending Club, Passes Half a Million Dollars in Loans,” Readwrite, July 29, 2007, http://​readwrite.​com/​2007/​07/​29/​facebook_​app_​lending_​club_​passes_​half_​a_​million_​in_​loans.


pages: 286 words: 79,305

99%: Mass Impoverishment and How We Can End It by Mark Thomas

"Robert Solow", 2013 Report for America's Infrastructure - American Society of Civil Engineers - 19 March 2013, additive manufacturing, Albert Einstein, anti-communist, autonomous vehicles, bank run, banks create money, bitcoin, business cycle, call centre, central bank independence, complexity theory, conceptual framework, creative destruction, credit crunch, declining real wages, distributed ledger, Donald Trump, Erik Brynjolfsson, eurozone crisis, fiat currency, Filter Bubble, full employment, future of work, Gini coefficient, gravity well, income inequality, inflation targeting, Internet of things, invisible hand, Jeff Bezos, jimmy wales, job automation, Kickstarter, labour market flexibility, laissez-faire capitalism, light touch regulation, Mark Zuckerberg, market clearing, market fundamentalism, Martin Wolf, money: store of value / unit of account / medium of exchange, Nelson Mandela, North Sea oil, Occupy movement, offshore financial centre, Own Your Own Home, Peter Thiel, Piper Alpha, plutocrats, Plutocrats, profit maximization, quantitative easing, rent-seeking, Ronald Reagan, Second Machine Age, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, smart cities, Steve Jobs, The Great Moderation, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, wealth creators, working-age population

When the hope of aid for those falling behind is based primarily upon appeals to private individuals and charitable bodies, it will be more important than it has been in the twentieth century that the recipients of charity appear to be morally deserving to those voluntarily dispensing the charity. The only barrier to making this happen is that the law would have to change, and both the UK and the US are democracies, at least for now. Market fundamentalists view democracy as tyranny Peter Thiel, the billionaire co-founder of PayPal, stated in 2009: ‘I no longer believe that freedom and democracy are compatible.’12 He explained his reasons: The higher one’s IQ, the more pessimistic one became [after leaving college] about free-market politics – capitalism simply is not that popular with the crowd… For those of us who are libertarian in 2009, our education culminates with the knowledge that the broader education of the body politic has become a fool’s errand.

Distinguished followers of these writers include some of the wealthiest and most powerful people on the planet:20 Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon; Alan Greenspan, former Chairman of the US Federal Reserve; Steve Jobs, former CEO of Apple; the Koch brothers, one the chairman and the other the EVP of Koch Industries, the second largest privately owned company in the US21; Rupert Murdoch, executive chairman of News Corp; Politicians Donald Trump,22 Rex Tillerson, Ron and Rand Paul, and Paul Ryan in the US, and Daniel Hannan and Sajid Javid in the UK; Pay-Pal co-founder, Peter Thiel and Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales. These are serious people. And they wield untold influence. Politicians respond to this influence. It is easy for a politician to attack people on benefits; it is very risky for them to attack wealthy tax-avoiders. It is easy to propose cuts in public spending; it requires enormous courage to propose an increase. It is easy to privatize a public-sector activity; nationalizing a private-sector business, even a failing monopoly, is described as communism.


pages: 268 words: 76,702

The System: Who Owns the Internet, and How It Owns Us by James Ball

Bill Duvall, bitcoin, blockchain, Chelsea Manning, cryptocurrency, don't be evil, Donald Trump, Douglas Engelbart, Edward Snowden, en.wikipedia.org, Firefox, Frank Gehry, Internet of things, invention of movable type, Jeff Bezos, jimmy wales, Julian Assange, Kickstarter, Leonard Kleinrock, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, Menlo Park, Minecraft, Mother of all demos, move fast and break things, move fast and break things, Network effects, Oculus Rift, packet switching, patent troll, Peter Thiel, pre–internet, ransomware, RFC: Request For Comment, risk tolerance, Ronald Reagan, Rubik’s Cube, self-driving car, Shoshana Zuboff, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Skype, Snapchat, Steve Crocker, Stuxnet, The Chicago School, undersea cable, uranium enrichment, WikiLeaks, yield management, zero day

There is a twist worth noting at this stage, though, which is that VCs aren’t quite as much of a bubble as they can seem. It’s easy to think of VC as its own world with its own (arguably toxic) culture, and in many ways it is: most of the top VCs are the internet entrepreneurs of the last generation. Marc Andreessen was a co-founder of Netscape, then became a top VC funding Facebook, Skype, Twitter, and more. Peter Thiel co-founded PayPal, then became Facebook’s first outside investor, and now funds much more. There are many others we could name. But they are not only investing their own money – they might well be investing yours, as Brian O’Kelley, an advertising tech executive and investor (who speaks at length next chapter), notes. It’s ‘limited partners’ – investment funds, university endowments, pension funds and more – that are putting the money into VC firms, and they’re the ones demanding big returns to keep their funds in the black.

And it’s the same for journalism.’ Given the well-advertised working conditions for their employees – lots of autonomy, huge salaries, great perks – even internal dissent is rare. The senior staff and the boards that the top CEOs surround themselves with, Bell concludes, are a lot like them. And it shows, she says, citing Mark Zuckerberg again as an example. ‘He has a governance panel on his board which is Peter Thiel [PayPal co-founder and VC], Marc Andreessen [Opera co-founder and VC] and Reid Hoffman [LinkedIn co-founder and VC],’ she says. ‘You have three extremely rich white men, who’ve all made their money from similar areas and all of them have an incredibly narrow view of the world, who are Facebook’s governance.’ TOM WHEELER, WHO’S now a visiting fellow at the Brookings Institute, the Washington DC think tank, has been trying to place the internet revolution in its proper place in the long view.


Buy Then Build: How Acquisition Entrepreneurs Outsmart the Startup Game by Walker Deibel

barriers to entry, Clayton Christensen, commoditize, deliberate practice, discounted cash flows, diversification, Elon Musk, family office, financial independence, high net worth, intangible asset, inventory management, Jeff Bezos, knowledge worker, Lean Startup, Mark Zuckerberg, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Network effects, new economy, Peter Thiel, risk tolerance, risk/return, rolodex, software as a service, Steve Jobs, supply-chain management, Y Combinator

The businesses weren’t glamorous—metal fabricating shops, car dealerships, local newspapers—but they looked fun, and I could see the value they provided to our town. As I grew older, I learned to appreciate the distinction between launching a startup and running a small business. They both have their appeal, but lately people seem to be over-hyping the former and deeply underappreciating the latter. A CONTRARIAN PERSPECTIVE Billionaire investor Peter Thiel is fond of asking people, “What important truth do very few people agree with you on?” Walker shares a fantastic answer in Buy Then Build: ambitious entrepreneurs should buy an existing company and use it as a platform to build value, rather than start a business from scratch. There are three primary reasons: 1. Startups have a little flaw: they mostly fail. 2. Existing companies have the established infrastructure that many startups are trying to build in the first place. 3.

A platform company could have any kind of profile. It could be an eternally profitable, high growth, or turnaround. More likely, it’s somewhere in the middle. A nice, “good” company with some aspects of stability and some of risk, but the goal is to define an acquisition target by the growth opportunity it provides. It’s a little understood fact that Elon Musk bought PayPal when his own similar startup X.com, well, failed. Peter Thiel came with the acquisition and later ran PayPal as CEO. Tesla, as well. Although he is now considered a founder, the company was started by two others and grown very effectively by Musk. Gary Vaynerchuk took over his parents’ liquor store. Seeing an opportunity to sell wine online took revenues from $3 million to $60 million by applying his online marketing skillset to the unique opportunity offered to him by the platform that was available.


pages: 370 words: 129,096

Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future by Ashlee Vance

addicted to oil, Burning Man, cleantech, digital map, El Camino Real, Elon Musk, global supply chain, Hyperloop, industrial robot, Jeff Bezos, Kickstarter, low earth orbit, Mark Zuckerberg, Maui Hawaii, Menlo Park, Mercator projection, money market fund, multiplanetary species, optical character recognition, orbital mechanics / astrodynamics, paypal mafia, performance metric, Peter Thiel, pre–internet, risk tolerance, Ronald Reagan, Sand Hill Road, self-driving car, side project, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Steve Jobs, technoutopianism, Tesla Model S, transaction costs, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, We wanted flying cars, instead we got 140 characters, X Prize

He also used data to prove that the number of patents filed per person had declined over time. “I think the probability of us discovering another top-one-hundred-type invention gets smaller and smaller,” Huebner told me in an interview. “Innovation is a finite resource.” Huebner predicted that it would take people about five years to catch on to his thinking, and this forecast proved almost exactly right. Around 2010, Peter Thiel, the PayPal cofounder and early Facebook investor, began promoting the idea that the technology industry had let people down. “We wanted flying cars, instead we got 140 characters” became the tagline of his venture capital firm Founders Fund. In an essay called “What Happened to the Future,” Thiel and his cohorts described how Twitter, its 140-character messages, and similar inventions have let the public down.

The whole idea was to shift away from slow-moving banks with their mainframes taking days to process payments and to create a kind of agile bank account where you could move money around with a couple of clicks on a mouse or an e-mail. This was revolutionary stuff, and more than 200,000 people bought into it and signed up for X.com within the first couple of months of operation. Soon enough, X.com had a major competitor. A couple of brainy kids named Max Levchin and Peter Thiel had been working on a payment system of their own at their start-up called Confinity. The duo actually rented their office space—a glorified broom closet—from X.com and were trying to make it possible for owners of Palm Pilot handhelds to swap money via the infrared ports on the devices. Between X.com and Confinity, the small office on University Avenue had turned into the frenzied epicenter of the Internet finance revolution.

From new kinds of energy storage systems to electric cars and solar panels, the technology never quite lived up to its billing and required too much government funding and too many incentives to create a viable market. Much of this criticism was fair. It’s just that there was this Elon Musk guy hanging around who seemed to have figured something out that everyone else had missed. “We had a blanket rule against investing in clean-tech companies for about a decade,” said Peter Thiel, the PayPal cofounder and venture capitalist at Founders Fund. “On the macro level, we were right because clean tech as a sector was quite bad. But on the micro level, it looks like Elon has the two most successful clean-tech companies in the U.S. We would rather explain his success as being a fluke. There’s the whole Iron Man thing in which he’s presented as a cartoonish businessman—this very unusual animal at the zoo.


pages: 462 words: 129,022

People, Power, and Profits: Progressive Capitalism for an Age of Discontent by Joseph E. Stiglitz

"Robert Solow", affirmative action, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, barriers to entry, basic income, battle of ideas, Berlin Wall, Bernie Madoff, Bernie Sanders, business cycle, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, carried interest, central bank independence, clean water, collective bargaining, corporate governance, corporate social responsibility, creative destruction, Credit Default Swap, crony capitalism, deglobalization, deindustrialization, disintermediation, diversified portfolio, Donald Trump, Edward Snowden, Elon Musk, Erik Brynjolfsson, Fall of the Berlin Wall, financial deregulation, financial innovation, financial intermediation, Firefox, Fractional reserve banking, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, full employment, George Akerlof, gig economy, global supply chain, greed is good, income inequality, information asymmetry, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, Jean Tirole, Jeff Bezos, job automation, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, John von Neumann, Joseph Schumpeter, labor-force participation, late fees, low skilled workers, Mark Zuckerberg, market fundamentalism, mass incarceration, meta analysis, meta-analysis, minimum wage unemployment, moral hazard, new economy, New Urbanism, obamacare, patent troll, Paul Samuelson, pension reform, Peter Thiel, postindustrial economy, price discrimination, principal–agent problem, profit maximization, purchasing power parity, race to the bottom, Ralph Nader, rent-seeking, Richard Thaler, Robert Bork, Robert Gordon, Robert Mercer, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Reagan, secular stagnation, self-driving car, shareholder value, Shoshana Zuboff, Silicon Valley, Simon Kuznets, South China Sea, sovereign wealth fund, speech recognition, Steve Jobs, The Chicago School, The Future of Employment, The Great Moderation, the market place, The Rise and Fall of American Growth, the scientific method, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, too big to fail, trade liberalization, transaction costs, trickle-down economics, two-sided market, universal basic income, Unsafe at Any Speed, Upton Sinclair, uranium enrichment, War on Poverty, working-age population

Over the past four decades, economic theory and evidence have laid waste to claims that most markets are by and large competitive and the belief that some variant of the “competitive model” provides a good, or even adequate, description of our economy.1 Perhaps long ago, the picture of innovative, if ruthless, competition, of myriad firms struggling to better serve consumers at lower costs, provided a good description of the American economy. But today we live in an economy where a few firms can rake in massive amounts of profits for themselves and persist unchecked in their dominant position for years and years. Our new tech leaders have ceased even paying lip service to competition—Peter Thiel, for a short while one of Trump’s advisers and one of the great Silicon Valley entrepreneurs, put it bluntly: “competition is for losers.”2 Warren Buffet, one of the country’s wealthiest men and smartest investors, also understood this well. In 2011 he told the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission3: The single most important decision in evaluating a business is pricing power. If you’ve got the power to raise prices without losing business to a competitor, you’ve got a very good business.

MOST IMPORTANTLY, our economic system can’t work if there is no trust, and this is especially important for banks. We trust them to get us back our money when we want it and we trust them not to cheat us when we buy complex financial products from them. Again and again, our bankers have shown that they are not trustworthy, thereby undermining the functioning of the entire economy. The bankers’ shortsightedness led them to abandon any pretense of “reputation.” But just as Peter Thiel had declared that competition is for losers, so Lloyd Blankfein, the head of Goldman Sachs, made it clear that the reputation for honesty and trustworthiness—what had traditionally been viewed as a bank’s most important assets—was a quaint relic of the past. Goldman Sachs had created a security that was designed to fail. As they sold the product to others, they actually took bets that it would do so (called “selling short”); but of course, didn’t tell their customers that it was designed to fail and that they were using this knowledge to bet against it.

Even small market power in multiple industries can add up to having large effects. Information economics, game theory, and behavioral economics have all had profound effects on how we think about the economy. The irony was that the critique of standard competitive model was in full force just as the model’s influence expanded in the eras of Carter, Reagan, and succeeding presidents, showing the importance of lags in knowledge—and perhaps of ideology and interests. 2.Peter Thiel, “Competition Is for Losers,” Wall Street Journal, Sept. 14, 2014. 3.A commission established by Congress to investigate the causes of the 2008 financial crisis. 4.Interview with the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission, May 26, 2010. Buffett was a major shareholder in Moody’s, one of the three dominant credit rating agencies. Reported by David Dayen, “America’s Favorite Monopolist: The Shameful Truth behind Warren Buffett’s Billions,” The Nation, Mar. 12, 2018, p. 16.


pages: 270 words: 79,992

The End of Big: How the Internet Makes David the New Goliath by Nicco Mele

4chan, A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace, Airbnb, Amazon Web Services, Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, Apple's 1984 Super Bowl advert, barriers to entry, Berlin Wall, big-box store, bitcoin, business climate, call centre, Cass Sunstein, centralized clearinghouse, Chelsea Manning, citizen journalism, cloud computing, collaborative consumption, collaborative editing, commoditize, creative destruction, crony capitalism, cross-subsidies, crowdsourcing, David Brooks, death of newspapers, disruptive innovation, Donald Trump, Douglas Engelbart, Douglas Engelbart, en.wikipedia.org, Exxon Valdez, Fall of the Berlin Wall, Filter Bubble, Firefox, global supply chain, Google Chrome, Gordon Gekko, Hacker Ethic, Jaron Lanier, Jeff Bezos, jimmy wales, John Markoff, Julian Assange, Kevin Kelly, Khan Academy, Kickstarter, Lean Startup, Mark Zuckerberg, minimum viable product, Mitch Kapor, Mohammed Bouazizi, Mother of all demos, Narrative Science, new economy, Occupy movement, old-boy network, peer-to-peer, period drama, Peter Thiel, pirate software, publication bias, Robert Metcalfe, Ronald Reagan, Ronald Reagan: Tear down this wall, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Skype, social web, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Stewart Brand, Stuxnet, Ted Nelson, Telecommunications Act of 1996, telemarketer, The Wisdom of Crowds, transaction costs, uranium enrichment, Whole Earth Catalog, WikiLeaks, Zipcar

A 2011 Pew study finds the broad American public increasingly wary of the cost of college and the value of higher education.10 Parents still expect their kids to go to college, but they’re sure it’s overpriced and not certain their children will get a good education. In a particularly stunning finding, only 19% of college and university presidents think that the American college system is the best in the world.11 Our college and university presidents don’t think our system is exceptional, and many of them think it is getting worse. One prominent tech entrepreneur, Peter Thiel, finds higher education so much of a dead-end that he has offered to pay promising smart high school kids not to attend college. Thiel cofounded the online payment juggernaut PayPal and was an early investor and mentor for two Silicon Valley heavyweights, Facebook and Palantir. Each year, he picks twenty people under twenty years old and gives them $100,000 to stay out of school for two years and focus on building their start-ups.

Harry Lewis, Excellence Without a Soul: How a Great University Forgot Education (New York: PublicAffairs, 2006), 8. 5. http://www.usnews.com/opinion/articles/2011/03/18/a-harvard-education-isnt-as-advertised 6. http://www.demos.org/publication/great-cost-shift-how-higher-education-cuts-undermine-future-middle-class 7. http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/when-it-comes-to-e-mailed-political-rumors-conservatives-beat-liberals/2011/11/17/gIQAyycZWN_story.html 8. http://www.csmonitor.com/The-Culture/Family/2012/0617/Bachelor-s-degree-Has-it-lost-its-edge-and-its-value 9. http://chronicle.com/blogs/innovations/why-did-17-million-students-go-to-college/27634 10. http://pewresearch.org/pubs/1993/survey-is-college-degree-worth-cost-debt-college-presidents-higher-education-system 11. http://pewresearch.org/pubs/1993/survey-is-college-degree-worth-cost-debt-college-presidents-higher-education-system 12. http://www.businessweek.com/technology/content/may2011/tc20110524_317819.htm 13. http://techcrunch.com/2011/04/10/peter-thiel-were-in-a-bubble-and-its-not-the-internet-its-higher-education/ 14. http://ocw.mit.edu/about/newsletter/archive/2011-10/ 15. http://techcrunch.com/2011/10/19/khan-academy-triples-unique-users-to-3-5-million/ 16. http://blogs.reuters.com/felix-salmon/2012/01/31/udacitys-model/ 17. http://www.britannica.com/blogs/2008/04/the-great-unbundling-newspapers-the-net/ 18. http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2012/01/the-great-unbundling-of-the-university/251831/ 19. http://www.centerforcollegeaffordability.org/uploads/ForProfit_HigherEd.pdf 20. http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-10-19/apollo-fourth-quarter-profit-sales-top-analysts-estimates-1-.html 21. http://nber.org/papers/w18201 22. http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2012/07/why-the-internet-isnt-going-to-end-college-as-we-know-it/259378/ 23. http://toolserver.org/~daniel/WikiSense/Contributors.php?


pages: 337 words: 86,320

Everybody Lies: Big Data, New Data, and What the Internet Can Tell Us About Who We Really Are by Seth Stephens-Davidowitz

affirmative action, AltaVista, Amazon Mechanical Turk, Asian financial crisis, Bernie Sanders, big data - Walmart - Pop Tarts, Cass Sunstein, computer vision, correlation does not imply causation, crowdsourcing, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, desegregation, Donald Trump, Edward Glaeser, Filter Bubble, game design, happiness index / gross national happiness, income inequality, Jeff Bezos, John Snow's cholera map, longitudinal study, Mark Zuckerberg, Nate Silver, peer-to-peer lending, Peter Thiel, price discrimination, quantitative hedge fund, Ronald Reagan, Rosa Parks, sentiment analysis, Silicon Valley, statistical model, Steve Jobs, Steven Levy, Steven Pinker, TaskRabbit, The Signal and the Noise by Nate Silver, working poor

The group was able to grow so rapidly precisely because so many people had heard that their friends had joined—and they learned this through their News Feed. In other words, while people were joining in a big public uproar over how unhappy they were about seeing all the details of their friends’ lives on Facebook, they were coming back to Facebook to see all the details of their friends’ lives. News Feed stayed. Facebook now has more than one billion daily active users. In his book Zero to One, Peter Thiel, an early investor in Facebook, says that great businesses are built on secrets, either secrets about nature or secrets about people. Jeff Seder, as discussed in Chapter 3, found the natural secret that left ventricle size predicted horse performance. Google found the natural secret of how powerful the information in links can be. Thiel defines “secrets about people” as “things that people don’t know about themselves or things they hide because they don’t want others to know.”

According to SimilarWeb, as of September 4, 2016, the most popular porn site was XVideos, and this was the 17th-most-popular website. The top ten, according to Alexa, are Google, YouTube, Facebook, Baidu, Yahoo!, Amazon, Wikipedia, Tencent QQ, Google India, and Twitter. 153 In the early morning of September 5, 2006: This story is from David Kirkpatrick, The Facebook Effect: The Inside Story of the Company That Is Connecting the World (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2010). 155 great businesses are built on secrets: Peter Thiel and Blake Masters, Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future (New York: The Crown Publishing Group, 2014). 157 says Xavier Amatriain: I interviewed Xavier Amatriain by phone on May 5, 2015. 159 top questions Americans had during Obama’s 2014: Author’s analysis of Google Trends data. 162 this time at a mosque: “The President Speaks at the Islamic Society of Baltimore,” YouTube video, posted February 3, 2016, https://www.youtube.com/watch?


pages: 294 words: 81,292

Our Final Invention: Artificial Intelligence and the End of the Human Era by James Barrat

AI winter, AltaVista, Amazon Web Services, artificial general intelligence, Asilomar, Automated Insights, Bayesian statistics, Bernie Madoff, Bill Joy: nanobots, brain emulation, cellular automata, Chuck Templeton: OpenTable:, cloud computing, cognitive bias, commoditize, computer vision, cuban missile crisis, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, Danny Hillis, data acquisition, don't be evil, drone strike, Extropian, finite state, Flash crash, friendly AI, friendly fire, Google Glasses, Google X / Alphabet X, Isaac Newton, Jaron Lanier, John Markoff, John von Neumann, Kevin Kelly, Law of Accelerating Returns, life extension, Loebner Prize, lone genius, mutually assured destruction, natural language processing, Nicholas Carr, optical character recognition, PageRank, pattern recognition, Peter Thiel, prisoner's dilemma, Ray Kurzweil, Rodney Brooks, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, self-driving car, semantic web, Silicon Valley, Singularitarianism, Skype, smart grid, speech recognition, statistical model, stealth mode startup, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, strong AI, Stuxnet, superintelligent machines, technological singularity, The Coming Technological Singularity, Thomas Bayes, traveling salesman, Turing machine, Turing test, Vernor Vinge, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, zero day

I’d heard about so-called stealth companies that are privately held, hire secretly, never issue press releases or otherwise reveal what they’re up to. In AI, the only reason for a company to be stealthy is if they’ve had some powerful insight, and they don’t want to reward competitors with information about what that their breakthrough is. By definition, stealth companies are hard to discover, though rumors abound. PayPal founder Peter Thiel funds three stealth companies devoted to AI. Companies in “stealth mode” however, are different and more common. These companies seek funding and even publicity, but don’t reveal their plans. Peter Voss, an AI innovator known for developing voice-recognition technology, pursues AGI with his company, Adaptive AI, Inc. He has gone on record saying AGI can be achieved within ten years. But he won’t say how

—Vernor Vinge, author, professor, computer scientist Each year since 2005, the Machine Intelligence Research Institute, formerly the Singularity Institute for Artificial Intelligence, has held a Singularity Summit. Over two days, a roster of speakers preach to about a thousand members of the choir about the Singularity big picture—its impact on jobs and the economy, health and longevity, and its ethical implications. Speakers at the 2011 summit in New York City included science legends, like Mathematica’s Stephen Wolfram, Peter Thiel, a dot-com billionaire who pays tech-savvy teens to skip college and start companies, and IBM’s David Ferrucci, principal investigator for the DeepQA/Watson Project. Eliezer Yudkowsky always speaks, and there’s usually an ethicist or two as well as spokespeople for the extropian and transhuman communities. Extropians explore technologies and therapies that will permit humans to live forever. Transhumans think about hardware and cosmetic ways for increasing human capability, beauty, and … opportunities to live forever.


pages: 287 words: 82,576

The Complacent Class: The Self-Defeating Quest for the American Dream by Tyler Cowen

affirmative action, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Airbnb, Alvin Roth, assortative mating, Bernie Sanders, Black Swan, business climate, business cycle, circulation of elites, clean water, David Graeber, declining real wages, deindustrialization, desegregation, Donald Trump, drone strike, East Village, Elon Musk, Ferguson, Missouri, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, gig economy, Google Glasses, Hyman Minsky, Hyperloop, income inequality, intangible asset, Internet of things, inventory management, knowledge worker, labor-force participation, low skilled workers, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, medical residency, meta analysis, meta-analysis, obamacare, offshore financial centre, Paul Samuelson, Peter Thiel, purchasing power parity, Richard Florida, security theater, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley ideology, Skype, South China Sea, Steven Pinker, Stuxnet, The Great Moderation, The Rise and Fall of American Growth, total factor productivity, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, upwardly mobile, Vilfredo Pareto, working-age population, World Values Survey

To the rebel in each of us ACKNOWLEDGMENTS For useful comments, edits, and discussion, the author would like to thank most of all Tim Bartlett and Michael Rosenwald and Teresa Hartnett, but also Bryan Caplan, Yana Chernyak, Carrie Conko, Natasha Cowen, Michelle Dawson, Veronique de Rugy, Jason Fichtner, David Gordon, Kevin and Robin Grier, Robin Hanson, Garett Jones, Daniel Klein, Randall Kroszner, Edward Luce, Megan McArdle, Stephen Morrow, John Nye, Jim Olds, Hollis Robbins, Daniel Rothschild, Reihan Salam, Alex Tabarrok, Peter Thiel, and surely some number of others whom I have neglected or forgotten unjustly. 1. THE COMPLACENT CLASS AND ITS DANGERS Disruption has been the buzzword of the decade. And it’s true that there have been some significant changes afoot, from the wiring of the whole world to the coming of unprecedented levels of multiculturalism and tolerance. But as important and yet neglected is a story that’s happening alongside and to some degree in reaction to all of that change.

Slow, inefficient travel has made Americans less likely to travel, with the knock-on effect of removing political pressure to improve transportation systems. If I think of my own life, I’ve simply stopped taking most local car trips between 4 and 7 p.m., mostly because of pressures from traffic. I end up staying at home and clicking on Amazon and waiting for the packages to arrive. One final way of thinking about progress, sometimes stressed by Silicon Valley venture capitalist Peter Thiel, is to ask whether the era of grand projects is mostly over. In the twentieth century, American grand projects included the Manhattan Project, which was highly successful, and cemented an era of Pax Americana. Two other grand projects were winning World War II and, starting in the 1950s, construction of the interstate highway system, both examples of thinking big and changing the world permanently on a large scale.


pages: 245 words: 83,272

Artificial Unintelligence: How Computers Misunderstand the World by Meredith Broussard

1960s counterculture, A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace, Ada Lovelace, AI winter, Airbnb, Amazon Web Services, autonomous vehicles, availability heuristic, barriers to entry, Bernie Sanders, bitcoin, Buckminster Fuller, Chris Urmson, Clayton Christensen, cloud computing, cognitive bias, complexity theory, computer vision, crowdsourcing, Danny Hillis, DARPA: Urban Challenge, digital map, disruptive innovation, Donald Trump, Douglas Engelbart, easy for humans, difficult for computers, Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, Elon Musk, Firefox, gig economy, global supply chain, Google Glasses, Google X / Alphabet X, Hacker Ethic, Jaron Lanier, Jeff Bezos, John von Neumann, Joi Ito, Joseph-Marie Jacquard, life extension, Lyft, Mark Zuckerberg, mass incarceration, Minecraft, minimum viable product, Mother of all demos, move fast and break things, move fast and break things, Nate Silver, natural language processing, PageRank, payday loans, paypal mafia, performance metric, Peter Thiel, price discrimination, Ray Kurzweil, ride hailing / ride sharing, Ross Ulbricht, Saturday Night Live, school choice, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, speech recognition, statistical model, Steve Jobs, Steven Levy, Stewart Brand, Tesla Model S, the High Line, The Signal and the Noise by Nate Silver, theory of mind, Travis Kalanick, Turing test, Uber for X, uber lyft, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, Whole Earth Catalog, women in the workforce

“Governments of the Industrial World, you weary giants of flesh and steel, I come from Cyberspace, the new home of Mind,” Barlow writes. “On behalf of the future, I ask you of the past to leave us alone … You have no sovereignty where we gather. We have no elected government, nor are we likely to have one.”21 Barlow started the libertarian Electronic Frontier Foundation, which today defends hackers, because of debates he had on the WELL. Then came Peter Thiel. Thiel, another libertarian Stanford grad—who founded PayPal, was an early investor in Facebook, and founded the CIA-backed big data firm Palantir—is frank about his hostility toward gender equality and government. In a 2009 Cato Unbound essay, Thiel writes, “Since 1920, the vast increase in welfare beneficiaries and the extension of the franchise to women—two constituencies that are notoriously tough for libertarians—have rendered the notion of ‘capitalist democracy’ into an oxymoron.”

Terwiesch, Christian, and Yi Xu. “Innovation Contests, Open Innovation, and Multiagent Problem Solving.” Management Science 54, no. 9 (September 2008): 1529–1543. doi:10.1287/mnsc.1080.0884. Tesla, Inc. “A Tragic Loss,” June 30, 2016. https://www.tesla.com/blog/tragic-loss. Thiel, Peter. “The Education of a Libertarian.” Cato Unbound (blog), April 13, 2009. https://www.cato-unbound.org/2009/04/13/peter-thiel/education-libertarian. Thrun, S. “Winning the DARPA Grand Challenge: A Robot Race through the Mojave Desert,” 11. IEEE, 2006. https://doi.org/10.1109/ASE.2006.74. Thrun, Sebastian. “Making Cars Drive Themselves,” 1–86. IEEE, 2008. https://doi.org/10.1109/HOTCHIPS.2008.7476533. Tufte, Edward R. 2001. The Visual Display of Quantitative Information. 2nd ed. Cheshire, CT: Graphics Press. Turban, Stephen, Laura Freeman, and Ben Waber.


pages: 585 words: 151,239

Capitalism in America: A History by Adrian Wooldridge, Alan Greenspan

"Robert Solow", 2013 Report for America's Infrastructure - American Society of Civil Engineers - 19 March 2013, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, agricultural Revolution, air freight, Airbnb, airline deregulation, American Society of Civil Engineers: Report Card, Asian financial crisis, bank run, barriers to entry, Berlin Wall, Bonfire of the Vanities, Bretton Woods, British Empire, business climate, business cycle, business process, California gold rush, Charles Lindbergh, cloud computing, collateralized debt obligation, collective bargaining, Corn Laws, corporate governance, corporate raider, creative destruction, credit crunch, debt deflation, Deng Xiaoping, disruptive innovation, Donald Trump, edge city, Elon Musk, equal pay for equal work, Everybody Ought to Be Rich, Fall of the Berlin Wall, fiat currency, financial deregulation, financial innovation, fixed income, full employment, George Gilder, germ theory of disease, global supply chain, hiring and firing, income per capita, indoor plumbing, informal economy, interchangeable parts, invention of the telegraph, invention of the telephone, Isaac Newton, Jeff Bezos, jimmy wales, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Rogoff, Kitchen Debate, knowledge economy, knowledge worker, labor-force participation, Louis Pasteur, low skilled workers, manufacturing employment, market bubble, Mason jar, mass immigration, means of production, Menlo Park, Mexican peso crisis / tequila crisis, minimum wage unemployment, mortgage debt, Myron Scholes, Network effects, new economy, New Urbanism, Northern Rock, oil rush, oil shale / tar sands, oil shock, Peter Thiel, plutocrats, Plutocrats, popular capitalism, post-industrial society, postindustrial economy, price stability, Productivity paradox, purchasing power parity, Ralph Nader, Ralph Waldo Emerson, RAND corporation, refrigerator car, reserve currency, rising living standards, road to serfdom, Robert Gordon, Ronald Reagan, Sand Hill Road, savings glut, secular stagnation, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Simon Kuznets, Social Responsibility of Business Is to Increase Its Profits, South Sea Bubble, sovereign wealth fund, stem cell, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, strikebreaker, supply-chain management, The Great Moderation, The Rise and Fall of American Growth, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus, Thorstein Veblen, too big to fail, total factor productivity, trade route, transcontinental railway, tulip mania, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, union organizing, Unsafe at Any Speed, Upton Sinclair, urban sprawl, Vannevar Bush, War on Poverty, washing machines reduced drudgery, Washington Consensus, white flight, wikimedia commons, William Shockley: the traitorous eight, women in the workforce, Works Progress Administration, Yom Kippur War, young professional

Great companies can succeed only by delivering big benefits to consumers—by slashing prices as Ford did, increasing choice as General Motors did, or reinventing basic products, as Tesla is doing today. At the same time, companies also succeed by riding roughshod over their competitors. They use economies of scale to drive smaller and less efficient companies out of business. They use efficiencies of production to reduce their demand for labor. They happily exploit political connections to expand more quickly than their rivals and to resist competition. “All failed companies are the same,” Peter Thiel, the founder of PayPal, explains in Zero to One (2014), “they failed to escape competition.”6 Creative destruction cannot operate without generating unease: the fiercer the gale, the greater the unease. Settled patterns of life are uprooted. Old industries are destroyed. Hostility to creative destruction is usually loudest on the left. You can see it in protests against Walmart opening stores, factory owners closing factories, bioengineers engineering new products.

Mark Twain and Charles Dudley Warner’s contention that “in America nearly every man has his dream, his pet scheme, whereby he is to advance himself socially or pecuniarily” remains as true now as when they wrote it in the preface to The Gilded Age (1873). America’s current generation of entrepreneurs is refashioning civilization just as fundamentally as the robber barons did. They are gripped by the same “madness of great men” that gripped the robber barons. Sergey Brin wants to grow meat from stem cells. Elon Musk wants to “reinvent” railways by shooting passengers down hermetically sealed tubes. Peter Thiel of PayPal proclaims that “the great unfinished task of the modern world is to turn death from a fact of life to a problem to be solved.” These great revolutions may well lay the foundations of improved prosperity just as the steel and petroleum revolutions did in the nineteenth century. Fracking is putting a downward pressure on oil and gas prices for both consumers and business. The IT revolution’s impact is spreading to ever-wider areas of the economy—from information narrowly conceived to services in general and from the virtual world to the physical world.

., “Labor,” in Work and Welfare, vol. 2 of Historical Statistics of the United States: Millennial Edition, 10. 3. Michael Haines, ed., “Vital Statistics,” in Population, vol. 1 of Historical Statistics of the United States: Millennial Edition, 388. 4. Richard S. Tedlow, Giants of Enterprise: Seven Business Innovators and the Empires They Built (New York: HarperBusiness, 2001), 427. 5. Ibid., 200. 6. Peter Thiel, Zero to One: Notes on Start-ups, or How to Build the Future (New York: Crown Business, 2014), 34. 7. Ibid., 387. 8. Robert J. Gordon, The Rise and Fall of American Growth: The U.S. Standard of Living Since the Civil War (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2016), 270–71. 9. Stanley Lebergott, Pursuing Happiness: American Consumers in the Twentieth Century (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1993), 82. 10.


pages: 479 words: 144,453

Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow by Yuval Noah Harari

23andMe, agricultural Revolution, algorithmic trading, Anne Wojcicki, anti-communist, Anton Chekhov, autonomous vehicles, Berlin Wall, call centre, Chris Urmson, cognitive dissonance, Columbian Exchange, computer age, Deng Xiaoping, don't be evil, drone strike, European colonialism, experimental subject, falling living standards, Flash crash, Frank Levy and Richard Murnane: The New Division of Labor, glass ceiling, global village, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), invention of writing, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, job automation, John Markoff, Kevin Kelly, lifelogging, means of production, Mikhail Gorbachev, Minecraft, Moneyball by Michael Lewis explains big data, Monkeys Reject Unequal Pay, mutually assured destruction, new economy, pattern recognition, Peter Thiel, placebo effect, Ray Kurzweil, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley ideology, stem cell, Steven Pinker, telemarketer, The Future of Employment, too big to fail, trade route, Turing machine, Turing test, ultimatum game, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, zero-sum game

Arion McNicoll, ‘How Google’s Calico Aims to Fight Aging and “Solve Death”’, CNN, 3 October 2013, accessed 19 December 2014, http://edition.cnn.com/2013/10/03/tech/innovation/google-calico-aging-death/. 27. Katrina Brooker, ‘Google Ventures and the Search for Immortality’, Bloomberg, 9 March 2015, accessed 15 April 2015, http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-03-09/google-ventures-bill-maris-investing-in-idea-of-living-to-500. 28. Mick Brown, ‘Peter Thiel: The Billionaire Tech Entrepreneur on a Mission to Cheat Death’, Telegraph, 19 September 2014, accessed 19 December 2014, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/11098971/Peter-Thiel-the-billionaire-tech-entrepreneur-on-a-mission-to-cheat-death.html. 29. Kim Hill et al., ‘Mortality Rates among Wild Chimpanzees’, Journal of Human Evolution 40:5 (2001), 437–50; James G. Herndon, ‘Brain Weight Throughout the Life Span of the Chimpanzee’, Journal of Comparative Neurology 409 (1999), 567–72. 30.

Google Ventures is investing 36 per cent of its $2 billion portfolio in life sciences start-ups, including several ambitious life-extending projects. Using an American football analogy, Maris explained that in the fight against death, ‘We aren’t trying to gain a few yards. We are trying to win the game.’ Why? Because, says Maris, ‘it is better to live than to die’.27 Such dreams are shared by other Silicon Valley luminaries. PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel has recently confessed that he aims to live for ever. ‘I think there are probably three main modes of approaching [death],’ he explained. ‘You can accept it, you can deny it or you can fight it. I think our society is dominated by people who are into denial or acceptance, and I prefer to fight it.’ Many people are likely to dismiss such statements as teenage fantasies. Yet Thiel is somebody to be taken very seriously.


pages: 307 words: 90,634

Insane Mode: How Elon Musk's Tesla Sparked an Electric Revolution to End the Age of Oil by Hamish McKenzie

Airbnb, Albert Einstein, augmented reality, autonomous vehicles, barriers to entry, basic income, Bay Area Rapid Transit, Ben Horowitz, business climate, car-free, carbon footprint, Chris Urmson, Clayton Christensen, cleantech, Colonization of Mars, connected car, crony capitalism, Deng Xiaoping, disruptive innovation, Donald Trump, Elon Musk, Google Glasses, Hyperloop, Internet of things, Jeff Bezos, John Markoff, low earth orbit, Lyft, Marc Andreessen, margin call, Mark Zuckerberg, megacity, Menlo Park, Nikolai Kondratiev, oil shale / tar sands, paypal mafia, Peter Thiel, ride hailing / ride sharing, Ronald Reagan, self-driving car, Shenzhen was a fishing village, short selling, side project, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Snapchat, South China Sea, special economic zone, stealth mode startup, Steve Jobs, Tesla Model S, Tim Cook: Apple, Uber and Lyft, uber lyft, universal basic income, urban planning, urban sprawl, Zipcar

In 2000, after X.com got into a bidding war with rival Confinity to win customer market share on the online auction site eBay, the two start-ups decided to merge and become the market leader for e-mail-based payments. The resulting company was PayPal. Musk’s tenure as CEO of the merged entity was short-lived. After ten months in the job, he took a two-week trip to meet prospective investors and have a vacation in Sydney, Australia, with Justine, whom he had married in January 2000. While he was away, Confinity’s founders, Peter Thiel and Max Levchin, staged a coup and convinced the board to remove Musk from the position. Officially, the falling-out centered on a disagreement about which software to use as the technology platform, but personality differences also came into play. Musk could be difficult to work with, Levchin said. “He’s one of those guys who can be larger than the room.” Thiel, who had left when X.com and Confinity merged, returned and assumed the CEO role.

Part of the value of an innovation cluster like Silicon Valley lies in the dispersal of intellectual labor from one node to the next. For instance, PayPal is well known in the Valley for producing a number of high performers who left the company to start, join, or invest in others. The so-called PayPal Mafia includes Reid Hoffman, who founded LinkedIn; Max Levchin, whose most recent of several start-ups is the financial services company Affirm; Peter Thiel, a Facebook board member and President Trump–supporting venture capitalist who cofounded “big data” company Palantir; Jeremy Stoppelman, who started reviews site Yelp; Keith Rabois, who was chief operating officer at Square and then joined Khosla Ventures; David Sacks, who sold Yammer to Microsoft for $1.2 billion and later became CEO at Zenefits; Jawed Karim, who cofounded YouTube; and one Elon Musk.


pages: 345 words: 92,849

Equal Is Unfair: America's Misguided Fight Against Income Inequality by Don Watkins, Yaron Brook

3D printing, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Apple II, barriers to entry, Berlin Wall, Bernie Madoff, blue-collar work, business process, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, Cass Sunstein, collective bargaining, colonial exploitation, corporate governance, correlation does not imply causation, creative destruction, Credit Default Swap, crony capitalism, David Brooks, deskilling, Edward Glaeser, Elon Musk, en.wikipedia.org, financial deregulation, immigration reform, income inequality, indoor plumbing, inventory management, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, Jeff Bezos, Jony Ive, laissez-faire capitalism, Louis Pasteur, low skilled workers, means of production, minimum wage unemployment, Naomi Klein, new economy, obamacare, Peter Singer: altruism, Peter Thiel, profit motive, rent control, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, Skype, statistical model, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, The Spirit Level, too big to fail, trickle-down economics, Uber for X, urban renewal, War on Poverty, wealth creators, women in the workforce, working poor, zero-sum game

If opportunity refers to conditions that are favorable to the achievement of success and happiness, then America has always supplied those conditions in spades: the freedom to think, choose, and produce—and the chance to live among other producers, whose ever-growing sum of knowledge, wealth, and achievements magnifies what we can achieve. In America, we have the opportunity to work with entrepreneurs like Bill Gates and Mark Cuban—or to become one of them. We have the opportunity to use new technologies pioneered by innovators like Steve Jobs and Peter Thiel—and to create our own. We have the opportunity to gain access to capital from banks, venture capitalists, and other investors—and to become a capitalist. We have the opportunity to take advantage of the services of first-rate doctors, electricians, home builders, and chefs—and to become first-rate in whatever field we choose. We have the opportunity to buy an increasingly wide array of goods, of increasingly good quality, at an ever-declining cost.

If you are motivated in Silicon Valley, [then] you can make it, period.”35 What matters in the Valley is not where you were born or where (or even whether) you went to college. What matters is your ability. Talent is the currency of Silicon Valley, and individuals there use their talent to move us forward, pioneering revolutionary achievements in social media, big data, personalized health care, biotechnology, smartphones, mobile commerce, cloud technology, and 3D printing, to name just a few. Silicon Valley is the place creators like Elon Musk, Steve Jobs, and Peter Thiel go to make a fortune by inventing the future. What made it all possible? No doubt there are many forces at work, but one enormous factor is the extent to which the government has kept its hands off the Valley. Perry Piscione points out the benefits of “the lack of heavy government regulation that would typically favor the interests of established banks, companies, and labor unions” over young upstarts.36 People are free to act on their ideas and compete on ability, without having to wade through a minefield of government permissions before launching their ventures.


pages: 366 words: 94,209

Throwing Rocks at the Google Bus: How Growth Became the Enemy of Prosperity by Douglas Rushkoff

activist fund / activist shareholder / activist investor, Airbnb, algorithmic trading, Amazon Mechanical Turk, Andrew Keen, bank run, banking crisis, barriers to entry, bitcoin, blockchain, Burning Man, business process, buy and hold, buy low sell high, California gold rush, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, carbon footprint, centralized clearinghouse, citizen journalism, clean water, cloud computing, collaborative economy, collective bargaining, colonial exploitation, Community Supported Agriculture, corporate personhood, corporate raider, creative destruction, crowdsourcing, cryptocurrency, disintermediation, diversified portfolio, Elon Musk, Erik Brynjolfsson, Ethereum, ethereum blockchain, fiat currency, Firefox, Flash crash, full employment, future of work, gig economy, Gini coefficient, global supply chain, global village, Google bus, Howard Rheingold, IBM and the Holocaust, impulse control, income inequality, index fund, iterative process, Jaron Lanier, Jeff Bezos, jimmy wales, job automation, Joseph Schumpeter, Kickstarter, loss aversion, Lyft, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, market bubble, market fundamentalism, Marshall McLuhan, means of production, medical bankruptcy, minimum viable product, Mitch Kapor, Naomi Klein, Network effects, new economy, Norbert Wiener, Oculus Rift, passive investing, payday loans, peer-to-peer lending, Peter Thiel, post-industrial society, profit motive, quantitative easing, race to the bottom, recommendation engine, reserve currency, RFID, Richard Stallman, ride hailing / ride sharing, Ronald Reagan, Satoshi Nakamoto, Second Machine Age, shareholder value, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Snapchat, social graph, software patent, Steve Jobs, TaskRabbit, The Future of Employment, trade route, transportation-network company, Turing test, Uber and Lyft, Uber for X, uber lyft, unpaid internship, Y Combinator, young professional, zero-sum game, Zipcar

Vicarious claims to have succeeded, and its first Turing test demonstrations appear to back up its claim.76 How would such a technology be deployed or monetized? Vicarious doesn’t need to worry about that just yet. As a flexible purpose corporation, Vicarious can work with the long-term, big picture, experimental approach required to innovate in a still-emerging field such as AI. Although investors including Mark Zuckerberg and Peter Thiel have invested $56 million in the company, the flexible purpose structure prevents them from exerting the sort of pressure to get to market that venture capitalists typically put on their investments. The company can’t be forced to sell out or to abandon scientific curiosity for commercial viability. Vicarious has freed itself from the pressures of the market without having retreated to a research university, where funding comes with strings of its own.

That’s all they have really accomplished with whatever digital fad they’ve foisted onto the market or sold to yesterday’s tech winners. They thought they were engineering a new technology, when they were actually engineering a reallocation of capital. That’s why digital entrepreneurs who do win often end up becoming the next generation of venture capitalists. Everyone from Marc Andreessen (Netscape) to Sean Parker (Napster) to Peter Thiel (PayPal) to Jack Dorsey (Twitter) now runs venture funds of his own. Facebook and Google, once startups themselves, now acquire more businesses than they incubate internally. With each new generation, firms and investors leverage the startup economy more deliberately, or even cynically. After all, a win is a win. Take OMGPop, a gaming Web site startup that won a spot in the Y Combinator incubator to build social games.


pages: 327 words: 88,121

The Vanishing Neighbor: The Transformation of American Community by Marc J. Dunkelman

Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Albert Einstein, assortative mating, Berlin Wall, big-box store, blue-collar work, Bretton Woods, Broken windows theory, business cycle, call centre, clean water, cuban missile crisis, dark matter, David Brooks, delayed gratification, different worldview, double helix, Downton Abbey, Fall of the Berlin Wall, Filter Bubble, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, George Santayana, Gini coefficient, glass ceiling, global supply chain, global village, helicopter parent, if you build it, they will come, impulse control, income inequality, invention of movable type, Jane Jacobs, Khyber Pass, Louis Pasteur, Marshall McLuhan, McMansion, Nate Silver, obamacare, Occupy movement, Peter Thiel, post-industrial society, Richard Florida, rolodex, Saturday Night Live, Silicon Valley, Skype, social intelligence, Stanford marshmallow experiment, Steve Jobs, telemarketer, The Chicago School, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, the medium is the message, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, urban decay, urban planning, Walter Mischel, War on Poverty, women in the workforce, World Values Survey, zero-sum game

By several estimates, American innovation has slowed of late, as massive investments in fields like green energy and pharmaceuticals have failed to produce the return that investments in information technology generated just a few decades ago.29 (Some of that analysis, we should note, predates the new development of “fracking.”) George Mason University economist Tyler Cowen recently argued that innovation in the United States has actually stagnated, noting that we’ve picked the low-hanging fruit of technologies produced by previous generations and are burning through the competitive advantages those breakthroughs bestowed on today’s economy.30 Peter Thiel, a cofounder of PayPal and a powerful figure in the world of venture capital, has sounded a similar alarm, arguing that whatever advances Silicon Valley has spurred of late have been cancelled out by America’s failure to make progress on other technological and scientific fronts.31 No fair assessment can blame the stagnation of American innovation entirely on the structure of American community.

.: Harvard University Press, 2009), 15–16. 26Safford, Why the Garden Club Couldn’t Save Youngstown, 22, 31–32, 63–68. 27Safford, Why the Garden Club Couldn’t Save Youngstown, 83, 92–95. 28Locke, Remaking the Italian Economy, 134. 29Michael Mandel, “The Failed Promise of Innovation in the U.S.,” Bloomberg Businessweek, June 3, 2009. 30Tyler Cowen, The Great Stagnation (New York: Dutton, 2011). 31http://news.cnet.com/8301-31921_3-20096067-281/peter-thiel-thinks-tech-innovation-has-stalled/. 32Edward Glaeser, Triumph of the City: How Our Greatest Invention Makes Us Richer, Smarter, Greener, Healthier, and Happier (New York: Penguin Press, 2011). 33Richard Florida, The Rise of the Creative Class: And How It’s Transforming Work, Leisure, Community and Everyday Life (New York: Basic Books, 2002). 34Elsa Brenner, “In Westchester County, the Platinum Mile Is Reinvented, Again,” New York Times, January 3, 2012. 35Charles V.


pages: 561 words: 163,916

The History of the Future: Oculus, Facebook, and the Revolution That Swept Virtual Reality by Blake J. Harris

4chan, airport security, Anne Wojcicki, Asian financial crisis, augmented reality, barriers to entry, Bernie Sanders, bitcoin, call centre, computer vision, cryptocurrency, disruptive innovation, Donald Trump, drone strike, Elon Musk, financial independence, game design, Grace Hopper, illegal immigration, invisible hand, Jaron Lanier, Jony Ive, Kickstarter, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, Menlo Park, Minecraft, move fast and break things, move fast and break things, Network effects, Oculus Rift, Peter Thiel, QR code, sensor fusion, side project, Silicon Valley, skunkworks, Skype, slashdot, Snapchat, software patent, stealth mode startup, Steve Jobs, unpaid internship, white picket fence

“ARE YOU PRO-TRUMP?” IRIBE ASKED LUCKEY IN JUNE VIA FACEBOOK MESSENGER. “More anti-Hillary,” Luckey replied. “But yes. Why?” “Come on . . . you’re brilliant.” “I don’t take the choice lightly. It has a lot of thought in it.” “I’ll stay out of it,” Iribe said, “but Trump is bad news.” “He could be,” Luckey conceded. “I just think Hillary would be worse. And there are quite a few people who agree. Including Peter Thiel. Happy to discuss in person . . .” About twenty minutes later, Mitchell came by in person to ask Luckey if he really was planning to vote for Trump. “Yes,” Luckey told him. “Dude,” Mitchell replied. “I thought you were smarter than that.” Chapter 42 Nimble August 2016 “THIS CAN WORK,” LUCKEY TOLD JASON RUBIN DURING ONE OF SEVERAL POWWOWS the two had in August. “If we’re able to move fast, then this can definitely work.”

Xoxo As with Nimble America’s original announcement earlier that day, Yiannopoulos’s post was largely met with anger and annoyance, ranging from comments like “Fuck off with the money grab” to “Love you Milo but you’re hardly ever here except when it helps you and nobody else.” The NimbleRichMan post, however, was better received, inspiring many members of the community to speculate on his identity (and whether or not he really existed). Several theories were thrown out—Peter Thiel, being the most popular, but Elon Musk and Carl Icahn were also in the mix. Ultimately, however, community members seemed less interested in who this individual was than why, if he really were a member of the 0.001 percent, he felt compelled to hide his identity. That seemed cowardly. Why wouldn’t he proudly step forward as a Trump supporter? [–]NimbleRichMan I can only answer your question with a question: Where are all the wealthy, powerful, and publicly identifiable Trump supports?

“Palmer Luckey: The Facebook Near-Billionaire Secretly Funding Trump’s Meme Machine.” The Daily Beast, September 22, 2016. 4.Dash, Anil (@anildash). “One reason every political hashtag on Twitter is filled with racist trolls? The founder of Oculus is funding them.” Twitter. September 22, 2016, 6:15 PM PST. 5.Dash, Anil (@anildash). “This guy, @PalmerLuckey, put some of his billion FB dollars toward explicitly funding white supremacy. Peter Thiel approved the acquisition.” Twitter. September 22, 2016, 6:18 PM PST. 6.Pyle, Hunter. “Can I Be Fired for My Political Beliefs or Activities in California?” Hunter Pyle Law. August 30, 2018. 7.Menegus, Bryan. “Palmer Luckey, Millionaire Founder of Oculus Rift, Loves Donald Trump and Dates a Gamergater.” Gizmodo, September 23, 2016. 8.Cutler, Kim-Mai (@kimmaicutler). “@PalmerLuckey’s girlfriend.”


pages: 359 words: 96,019

How to Turn Down a Billion Dollars: The Snapchat Story by Billy Gallagher

Airbnb, Albert Einstein, Amazon Web Services, Apple's 1984 Super Bowl advert, augmented reality, Bernie Sanders, Black Swan, citizen journalism, Clayton Christensen, computer vision, disruptive innovation, Donald Trump, El Camino Real, Elon Musk, Frank Gehry, Google Glasses, Hyperloop, information asymmetry, Jeff Bezos, Justin.tv, Lean Startup, Long Term Capital Management, Mark Zuckerberg, Menlo Park, minimum viable product, Nelson Mandela, Oculus Rift, paypal mafia, Peter Thiel, QR code, Sand Hill Road, Saturday Night Live, side project, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Snapchat, social graph, sorting algorithm, speech recognition, stealth mode startup, Steve Jobs, too big to fail, Y Combinator, young professional

So he planned to start at college campuses, insular communities in which the Clinkle team could get every business signed up before launch. So, like Facebook before it, Clinkle would launch college by college and dominate these campus networks before opening up to the broader world. In the spring of 2012, Clinkle design chief Rob Ryan was a teaching assistant for a class on campus called CS 183: Startup. Peter Thiel, perhaps the crucial member of the PayPal Mafia as the company’s cofounder, taught students “how to build the future.” The course was so popular that Thiel and one of his students, Blake Masters, eventually published a book, Zero to One, based on the class and Masters’ notes.1 Thiel told the teaching assistants that they each had one golden ticket: an opportunity to pitch him their startup idea for venture capital funding.

For example, take Sequoia Capital, Silicon Valley’s premier venture capital firm, founded in 1972 far before VC became sexy, with investments in Apple, Google, Oracle, PayPal, and a litany of others. In 2011, Sequoia invested $8 million in the messaging app WhatsApp. Over the next three years, Sequoia led two more rounds of funding in WhatsApp, investing $60 million in the company. When WhatsApp sold to Facebook in February 2014 for $19 billion, Sequoia earned roughly $3 billion. With Peter Thiel on board, Lucas Duplan set out to lure other investors. He succeeded wildly; his investors would include Accel Partners, Andreessen Horowitz, Intel, Intuit, Qualcomm cofounder Andrew Viterbi, and Salesforce founder and CEO Mark Benioff. VMWare cofounder Diane Green and her husband and fellow VMWare cofounder Mendel Rosenblum invested in Clinkle after teaching Lucas at Stanford. Stanford University president John Hennessy, a successful entrepreneur himself and a member of Google’s and Cisco’s boards of directors, was Lucas’s computer science advisor and became an advisor to Clinkle.


pages: 305 words: 101,743

Trick Mirror: Reflections on Self-Delusion by Jia Tolentino

4chan, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Airbnb, Alexander Shulgin, big-box store, cloud computing, crowdsourcing, Donald Trump, financial independence, game design, Jeff Bezos, Kickstarter, knowledge worker, late capitalism, Lyft, Mark Zuckerberg, Mason jar, Norman Mailer, obamacare, pattern recognition, Peter Thiel, Ponzi scheme, QR code, rent control, Saturday Night Live, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI), Silicon Valley, Snapchat, Steve Jobs, uber lyft, upwardly mobile, wage slave, white picket fence

Born in 1991, to parents who were real estate developers, he spent nine months at Bucknell before getting accepted to a startup accelerator and then dropping out to found a nonsense company called Spling. (Crunchbase describes it as a “tech-driven ad platform helping brands increase media engagement and marketing revenue by optimizing their content presentation.” This was 2011, when it was still possible to say that sort of thing straight-faced; it was the year that Peter Thiel, the libertarian venture capitalist and Facebook founding board member who once wrote that women’s suffrage had compromised democracy, started offering $100,000 fellowships to dropout entrepreneurs.) In 2013, McFarland founded Magnises, a company that charged upwardly mobile millennials a suspiciously modest $250 a year for VIP event tickets and access to a clubhouse. Magnises gave members a “signature” black card, which duplicated the magnetic strip of an existing credit card but held no other advantages: like the company itself, the card was just for show.

I’ve been working multiple jobs simultaneously since I was sixteen, and I have had an exceptionally lucky professional life, and, like a lot of Americans, I still think of employer-sponsored health insurance as a luxury: a near-divine perk that, at thirty, I have had for only two years in my career—the two years that I was working at Gawker, which was sued into the ground by the dropout-loving, suffrage-hating, Trump-supporting billionaire Peter Thiel. In the current economy, for most students, colleges couldn’t possibly deliver on providing hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of anything. Wages aren’t budging, even though corporate profits have soared. The average CEO now makes 271 times the salary of the average American worker, whereas in 1965, the ratio was twenty-to-one. Healthcare costs are staggering—per capita health spending has increased twenty-nine times over the past four decades—and childcare costs are rising like college tuition, even as the frontline workers in both healthcare and childcare often receive poverty wages.


pages: 349 words: 102,827

The Infinite Machine: How an Army of Crypto-Hackers Is Building the Next Internet With Ethereum by Camila Russo

4chan, Airbnb, algorithmic trading, altcoin, always be closing, Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, Asian financial crisis, bitcoin, blockchain, Burning Man, crowdsourcing, cryptocurrency, distributed ledger, diversification, Donald Trump, East Village, Ethereum, ethereum blockchain, Flash crash, Google Glasses, Google Hangouts, hacker house, Internet of things, Mark Zuckerberg, Maui Hawaii, mobile money, new economy, peer-to-peer, Peter Thiel, pets.com, Ponzi scheme, prediction markets, QR code, reserve currency, RFC: Request For Comment, Richard Stallman, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Sand Hill Road, Satoshi Nakamoto, semantic web, sharing economy, side project, Silicon Valley, Skype, slashdot, smart contracts, South of Market, San Francisco, the payments system, too big to fail, tulip mania, Turing complete, Uber for X

he thought. Even Joe Lubin’s son Kieren was there. This was supposed to be a cofounders’ meeting. If he had known all these people would be there, he would have brought his crew from Toronto. The last couple of days had been a roller coaster for Vitalik. Just two days before, it was announced that he, at the age of twenty, was one of the winners of PayPal cofounder and billionaire investor Peter Thiel’s fellowship. That meant he’d get a grant of $100,000 to work on Ethereum. The award was the final push for him to decide what he already had been thinking—he wouldn’t go back to college. But now he was feeling betrayed and confused, with different factions of the group lobbying him to take their side. He asked everyone to sit around the long work table. It was a sunny spring day outside. Closed laptops and sheets of paper with scribbled notes lay in front of them.

Galia and her brother Guy grew up in Silicon Valley, listening to their father, an engineer who immigrated from Israel, talk about tech and business. After college, they wanted to try their own hand at running a company, and between 2005 and 2011 they, together with other cofounders, built two startups geared toward smartphone games, Mytopia and Particle Code, and sold them both. After that, Galia worked as an entrepreneur in residence at Trinity Ventures, one of the oldest VC firms in Sand Hill Road, and became a venture partner at Peter Thiel’s Founders Fund. In 2012 Galia moved to Tel Aviv to be a bridge for Founders Fund and the technology that was coming out of Israel. There she discovered Bitcoin and how developers were starting to think about building different layers and applications on top of it. That journey led her to the works of Bernard Lietaer, an economist who championed alternative currencies before Bitcoin was even invented and advocated for the idea that communities can benefit from creating their own parallel, local currency.


pages: 393 words: 91,257

The Coming of Neo-Feudalism: A Warning to the Global Middle Class by Joel Kotkin

Admiral Zheng, Andy Kessler, autonomous vehicles, basic income, Bernie Sanders, call centre, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, carbon footprint, Cass Sunstein, clean water, creative destruction, deindustrialization, demographic transition, don't be evil, Donald Trump, edge city, Elon Musk, European colonialism, financial independence, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, gig economy, Gini coefficient, Google bus, guest worker program, Hans Rosling, housing crisis, income inequality, informal economy, Jane Jacobs, Jaron Lanier, Jeff Bezos, job automation, job satisfaction, Joseph Schumpeter, land reform, liberal capitalism, life extension, low skilled workers, Lyft, Mark Zuckerberg, market fundamentalism, Martin Wolf, mass immigration, megacity, Nate Silver, new economy, New Urbanism, Occupy movement, Parag Khanna, Peter Thiel, plutocrats, Plutocrats, post-industrial society, post-work, postindustrial economy, postnationalism / post nation state, precariat, profit motive, RAND corporation, Ray Kurzweil, rent control, Richard Florida, road to serfdom, Robert Gordon, Sam Altman, Satyajit Das, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, smart cities, Steve Jobs, Stewart Brand, superstar cities, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, The Future of Employment, The Rise and Fall of American Growth, Thomas L Friedman, too big to fail, trade route, Travis Kalanick, Uber and Lyft, uber lyft, universal basic income, unpaid internship, upwardly mobile, We are the 99%, Wolfgang Streeck, women in the workforce, working-age population, Y Combinator

Controllers like those at Facebook and Twitter seek to “curate” content on their sites, or even eliminate views they find objectionable, which tend to be conservative views, according to former employees.35 Algorithms intended to screen out “hate groups” often spread a wider net, notes one observer, since the programmers have trouble distinguishing between “hate groups” and those who might simply express views that conflict with the dominant culture of Silicon Valley.36 That managers of social media platforms aim to control content is not merely the perception of conservatives. Over 70 percent of Americans believe that social media platforms “censor political views,” according to a recent Pew study.37 With their quasi-monopoly status, Facebook and Google don’t have to worry about competing with anyone, as the tech entrepreneur Peter Thiel observes, so they can indulge their own prejudices to a greater extent than the businesses that might be concerned about alienating customers.38 With their tightening control over media content, the tech elite are now situated to exert a cultural predominance that is unprecedented in the modern era.39 It recalls the cultural influence of the Catholic Church in the Middle Ages, but with more advanced technology.

“The rise to power of net-based monopolies coincides with a new sort of religion based on becoming immortal,” writes Jaron Lanier.30 Potentially the most radical and far-reaching of the emerging creeds, transhumanism is a distinctly secular approach to achieving the long-cherished religious goal of immortality.31 The new tech religion treats mortality not as something to be transcended through moral actions, but as a “bug” to be corrected by technology.32 Although it sounds a bit like a wacky cult, transhumanism has long exercised a strong fascination for the elites of Silicon Valley. Devotees range from Sergei Brin, Larry Page, and Ray Kurzweil (of Google) to Peter Thiel and Sam Altman (Y Combinator). Kurzweil celebrates new technologies that allow for close monitoring of brain activity.33 Y Combinator is developing a technology for uploading one’s brain and preserving it digitally.34 The aim is to “develop and promote the realization of a Godhead based on Artificial Intelligence.”35 In some ways, transhumanism seems natural for those who hold technology above all ot