The Challenge of the Future, eToro Class 1 of Peter Thiel’s “Last Course You Will Ever Take”

Peter Thiel

In one of my previous blog posts, I wrote about Peter Thiel‘s “Last Course You Will Ever Take”, after which I actually opened the course and had 40 people from eToro sign up. We began with 20 students, and we’re committed to begin the next course early next year. I opened a shared presentation and shared notes for the course, which people in eToro can access. I will soon open the files to public viewing. Anyone who wants access outside eToro may contact me.

We began the first class with a short introduction from each of the 20 participants. Programmers, IT guys, online marketers, sales people and developers from all around the company were really getting to know each other for the first time. We then went over the course notes. We talked about the happy Dot-com bubble days, and were surprised that some people in the room don’t even know what we were talking about: it’s been 12 years, and the youngest programmer in the room is 21 (he was 9 when the first bubble burst).

We continued with the first class notes by Blake Masters, titled “The Challenge of the Future”. We went over the main topics and shared our insights into each topic. We started with the History of Technology and mentioned great book – Yuval Noah Harari’s A Brief History of Humanity. Following that we covered The Case For Computer Science and, more generally, The Future for Progress, and why using computer science to progress virtually and abstractly allowed us to progress much faster. We discussed the great example of going from 0 to 1 as opposed to 1 to N, and how ‘real’ startups try to create 0 to 1 solutions: not simply scaling a known solution but finding a new one.

We gave several examples of how scaling traditional businesses might be good business, but not necessarily a true startup. The Problem of 0 to 1 is similar to the EXPONENTIAL VS the LINEAR (1 to N) problem. There is an Educational and Narrative Challenge when trying to solve 0 to 1 problems, since education and “planning” by definition are tailored to solve known problems.  The geeks and philosophers in the room understood the Determinism vs. Indeterminism similarity, and how solving indeterministic problems always include a heuristic or statistical model. In other words, to succeed as a start up you need statistics on your side, or just good luck.

While talking about exponential growth and 0 to 1 we mentioned the general theories of rapid growth, whether The Future of Intensive Growth will be convergence (which means growth will decline), cyclical theory (growth will decline and then quicken its pace again) or the beautiful Creative Destruction theory and Singularity.

We then tried to understand why startups usually start as small, for-profit companies, Why Companies drive progress instead of governments (not really Coase Theorem), and why Costs Matter and are lower when you are small. There is actually a simple answer to the question of Why Do a Startup? The only pure motive should be the desire to change the world, an internal fire that leads an entrepreneur to change something, as opposed to a way to make money.

In a wholly competitive society, a talented person will make more money doing 1 to N while working in certainty rather than uncertainty; it is actually harder to make money as an entrepreneur.

So Where to Start? Read the course notes (my short version or Blake’s) and think where YOU can add value as an eToro partner. 🙂

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