Peter Thiel座談會Day 2逐字稿和中文翻譯


Peter Thiel, the author of "Zero to One"

2015/2/17 @ Taipei Taiwan

Word-by-word transcript

Full Video

Part 1 - Speech content

I think one of the big challenges about teaching and writing about entrepreneurship is there isn’t a real formula, the next Mark Zuckerberg will not be starting a social networking company, the next Larry Page will not be starting a search engine, the next Bill Gates will not be starting an operating system. So if you copy these people, you're in some sense not learning from them. Science always starts with number 2, it starts with experiments you can repeat, things you can do over and over again, but there's something about business, where the history of technology, where everything important is singular, every moment happens only once, every discovery happens only once in history. So there's no scientific formula for describing how one builds a great company, or how one invents the next thing. So one of the challenges is if there's no formula, no science of entrepreneurship, what can one say it all, say we have something new or something different, this is the big challenge of teaching or writing about this topic. So I tried to approach it somewhat indirectly by asking a set of contrarian questions, to get people think, the business question is "what great company that nobody is starting?", the intellectual question, which is always a very good interview question to ask people is "tell me something that is true, but very few people agree with you on". This is always a shockingly hard question for people to answer, because they've been taught that all the things that are true are things everybody agrees on, everybody already knows to be true, so we think you got to be really brilliant to come up something new that no one has figured out, but it’s also difficult because of the social context of interview, where if you give the correct answer to the question in some sense is the answer that interviewer would not want to hear, you come up with some answer like "our political system doesn't work very well", or "the education system needs to be reformed", there are all conventional answers, answers that everyone understands to be true, but the really good answers are the ones people will not agree with you on. I think we're living in a world in which courage is much shorter-supplied than genius. So I want to offer a few of the answers that I come up with to this question, things I believed to be true that people do not agree with me on. I start with the general business answer, most people believed that capitalism and competition are somehow the same thing, they are synonymous, I believe the capitalism and competition are antonyms, a capitalist of someone who's in the business accumulating capital, a world of perfect competition is a world with profits are all competed away, so if you're starting a business, if you're investing a business, or being an early employee of a business, you want the company to be in monopoly, you want to be doing something so different and so much better than anybody else in the world, that is no competition at all. If you're in a business doing the same thing as everybody else, that's always a really bad idea, example of a bad sort of business is opening a restaurant, you want to compete like crazy, you don't want to make any money, you should just open a restaurant, the chances are you'll go out of business in a few years, even if you somehow survived, its going to be very marginal, because there are so many other people doing the exact same thing, and competing with you very closely. 
 
The example I gave in my book, of a successful monopoly company in technology, is company like Google, where on the search technology, they definitely distant themselves from Yahoo and Microsoft back in 2002, they have effectively almost no competition in the US and much of rest of the world for the last 13 years, so it’s been an enormously profitable business. This monopoly idea ends up been understood very poorly for a variety reasons, one I think the people who have monopolies don't talk about it, if you're running Google, you do not talk about search engine, where you have huge market share, and generating 98% of your income, and instead, talk about Google as a technology company, an incredibly broad space called "technology", and you're competing with Apple, Facebook, Amazon, you're building a self-driving car, competing with car companies in Detroit and elsewhere in the world, there's tech competition everywhere, and no, you're not the monopoly that government is looking for. So if you're a monopolist, you always understate this monopoly, you're doing this by exaggerating the size of the market you're in. On the other end of the spectrum, if you decide to leave today's talk and say I'm going to really open a restaurant, you'll quickly running into various problems, people wouldn't want to invest in, it’s not a very good business to start, then you'll try to fictionalize a story like to be the only Napoli restaurant in Taipei, so you give a unique fictional story where you describe in much narrower terms, but of course, it’s just a restaurant, and it will be incredibly competitive at the end of the day.
 
This monopoly-competition framework leads me to think about these approaches to businesses in very different ways, we're often told in business school or elsewhere that you want to go after for a very big market, but I think the critical thing you want to do is to get the large market share. In monopoly, doesn't necessarily to have a big market, but a large share, large percentage of a market, and so if you're starting a company, you often want to go after a small market, take over those markets, and expand from there. When Paypal started, we went after power sellers on eBay, which is about 20,000 power sellers, they needed a new payment solution, and we got from 0 to 35-40% of market share in the first 3 months, which is a very good auspicious start. Facebook, started with students of Harvard University, a market of 12,000 people, and it went from 0 to 60% market share in the first 10 days, again, very auspicious start, and it grew to concentric circles from there. The company that go after super big market typically encounter a lot of unexpected competition, I think a lot of things went wrong in the clean technology companies in the US in the last decade. One characteristic mistake they make was the market was simply too big, every PowerPoint presentation that one saw in clean-tech companies, it will start with the slide where they would say "we're in this market called energy, and the market measured in the size of hundreds of billions or trillion of dollars", and if you're going after a market that's trillion of dollars big, you're a minnow, small fish in a giant ocean, there's just going to be crazy competition everywhere, so you'll be competing with 10 film solar panel companies, you have to beat other 9 thin film solar panel companies, then you have to beat the next 90 solar panel companies, then you have to beat wind-power companies, then you have the fracking industry in the US came out from nowhere, cheap Chinese manufacturers came out of nowhere, so there's competition everywhere, and it's super difficult to get to sort of monopoly, a profit position.
 
But I think there's a second reason this monopoly idea is very poorly understood, its more psychological or sociological, I think we're often trained to compete, I have this line in my book, the opening sentence of Anna Karenina is "all happy families are alike, all unhappy families are unhappy in their own special way", and I suggest the opposite is true for businesses, "all happy companies are different, because they found something unique to do, all unhappy companies are alike, because they failed to escape the essential sameness, that is competition". When Wall Street Journal excerpted a chapter in my book, entitled "All happy companies are different", they re-titled the chapter name from "All happy companies are different" to "Competition is for losers", which has sort of very punchy feel to it, because we always think losers are people who are not good at competition, the losers are people whose grades are not good enough, who aren't quite strong enough to be on the athletic team, and somehow the losers are people not competing, we don't tend to think that maybe the people who're too addicted and too good at competition, that somehow in a trap where they end up losing in one way or another. The autobiographical part of this book, when I grow up in California and there's this incredibly competitive, incredibly tracked environment in one way of another, in my 8th grade of junior high school yearbook, one of my friends wrote in "I know you will get in Stanford university in 4 years", 4 years later I got into Stanford university, got good grades, and I went to Stanford law school, then I ended up at this prestigious big law firm in New York city, and it was super competitive, every time you won a competition, you got to the next level of the tournament you got to compete again, this law firm is one of these places where from outside, everybody wanted to get in, from the inside, everybody wanted to get out. When I left after 7 months and 3 days, one of the people down the hall from it said it was reassurance to see I left, because he has no idea that is possible to escape from alcatraz, the prison in California, of course, all you have to do is go out of the front door and not to come back, but psychologically, it was very very hard for people to do, because so much of our identities in the sense of self and self-work was wrapped up in all these competitions, that they have won over time. It’s very challenging and always very difficult, for every super intense competition, I think it’s often something we should be very careful of, very skeptical of. 
 
Henry Kissinger had this line describing his fellow professor at Harvard university where he said "the battle of academia are so ferocious, because the stakes were so small", people are fighting each other like crazy, but over nothing at all, on one level, it sounds like the definition of insanity, remember you should fight people crazy for something that matters, so it sound like very insane context, but it also describes the logic of situation where when you can't differentiate when things are somehow interchangeable all the same, you end up with extremely ferocious competition even though what's in stake are less and less, even if you win, there's someone just behind you, willing to replace you or substitute for you. We always tend to think of conflict arising because there are differences between people, but I think it’s always the opposite, I think conflict happens when two people want the same thing, if two people want totally different things, there's no problem, there's no conflict, when two people want the same job, the same promotion, want to work on the same project, want to get elected to the same political office, that's the formula for enormous conflict. If you're a crazy boss, and just want to get people working for you, to fight each other for no reason at all, the formula for doing this is to tell two of your employees do the exact same job, you tell them "your job is to design a website", "and that's your job as well", that's the formula for people to get into conflict, so I think one of the great challenges, if you want reduce conflicts in business, always make sure people's role were well-defined, well-differentiated, and the start-up, or at early stage company, the roles are very fluid, a lot changes, you have to be very careful to avoid getting people into conflicts in one way of another. At Paypal, the head of the product had this line he liked to use, where it said the "product is the single seamless hole", for everything company does is linked to the product, which on one level was somewhat true, but the other level the product team was the center of the conflict with everybody else in the company, so it has conflict with customer service, conflict with fraud, conflict with everybody, because when you say the product is everything, you end up by definition putting yourself in conflict with everybody else in an organization. 
 
One of the questions I get asked a lot, is about trends of technology, where is technology going, what are the kinds of things we should be working on, in the years ahead. I always dislike this question, because I think I'm not a prophet, I can't foretell what's going to happen, you're always tempted to give very silly answers, very benial answers like there'll be more cel phone used in 5 years, or something like that, which is not that interesting, but the general answer that I come up with, is I believe all trends are exaggerated, every trend that people said and talked about is something you should question, so in Silicon Valley, there's a lot buzz words, educational software, health care IT software, all these are somwhat overrated, even more so, Saas, software as a service, enterprise software, very overrated, if you hear the words "big data", "cloud computing", you should run away as fast as you can, and think those as fraud, of something like that is going on, the reason you should be always skeptical about the trends and buzzwords, is that the buzzwords are telling you that business aren't differentiated, it’s like the game of poker, it’s like a tick telling you're bluffing, when you use a buzzword, its telling people that the company is somehow not doing something unique, or differentiated, so you have a company that described in a whole litany of buzzwords, this is something you'll always be skeptical of, so if it’s like "we're building a mobile platform for Saas businesses in the cloud", the whole litany of buzzwords, in this pattern recognition, you know they're not differentiated, there's nothing new here, it’s just the same as everything else. So whenever a "Nth" company in a “category”, that's a bad sign, you don't want to be the 4th online pet food company, you don't want to be the 10th thin film solar panel company, you probably don't want to be the 1,000th restaurant in Taipei. The company that are correspondingly underrated, are the ones don't fit in the pre-existing categories, they're doing something that doesn't quite get easily explained. We're investors of Airbnb for example, which get sometimes labeled as sharing economy, it’s really this very unique company, its offering a cheaper way to travel, to stay at people houses, much less expensive than hotels, they are a new kind of service doing something different, one of a kind, and because it doesn't fit into any of our pre-existing categories, its somehow ends up being very underrated as a service. So I think you always want to be looking for things that have that sort of constellation, can sometimes be quite challenging, cause often company will just describe themselves in terms of exsting categories even when there's something they're doing is very new, so one of the challenge is always to figure out what is really going on. Google in the late 90s described themselve as a search engine, people would said its a bad idea, there were already so many search engines and and why do you need another one, but the real differentiation was it was the first company to figured out machine-powered search with the computers do the searching rather than human, the pagerank, the algorithm, things like that, was the real differentiator. If you label Google as just a search engine, you somewhat miss out on something very essential.
 
In a similar way when Facebook was labeled as a social networking site in 2004, it was certainly not the first company described as social networking, one of my good friend Reid Hoffman who started LinkedIn later, in the 90s, he started a company back in 1997, called "Social Net", he already had the name of social networking in the name of the company, as far back as 1997, his thoery was you have this strange world in cyberspace, you have totally different persona, maybe one person be a cat, somebody else be a dog, and you have to figure out how to interact with each other in cyberspace, and people weren't really that interested in that, so perhaps what's valuable was not the social networking in the abstract, or networking in the abstract, but its building the real relationship with real people, and the critical thing that Facebook solved was not social networking, but was real identity, how to get people to portray themselves as they really are on the internet, and that was very difficult problem to solve, Facebook was the first one to do that, and that turns out to be quite valuable, so it’s always this question of "what is unique", "what could we've done that's new and quite valuable".
 
Let me end with one thing I believed to be true, that's a little bigger picture about our world, I think if the 21st century is going to be a successful century, it will involve both globalization and technology, I always describe these two things as very different things, to draw globalization on the x-axis, it is copying things that work going from 1 to N, extensive horizontal growth, I think technology on the y-axis, doing new things, going from 0 to 1, vertical or intensive progress. If we think over the last few centuries, there have been periods of globalization, and periods of technology, they don't precisely overlap. In 19th century, 1815 to 1914, was a period of a lot globalization, a lot of technological progress, 1914 world war 1 starts, globalization goes to adverse, there's less trade, parts of the world become communists, sort of separated from the rest of the world, the world becomes far more fragmented, even though technological progress continues very rapidly for many decades, and since early 1970s, I would argue that we had globalizations come back, at the very fast rate over the last 40 years, but there's been somewhat less technological progress, there's been a lot in information technology, computers, internet, mobile internet, somewhat less in many other areas that people would've described technological of 50s and 60s, there's somewhat less progress in energy, transportation, space-travel, the green revolution, agricultures of 50s and 60s, it has decelerated some, biotech, medical devices, there's some progress, but its again, somewhat limited in the last 40 years, so the 19th century was both globalization and technology, the 20th century, the first part was technology but no globalization, and the second, that last 40-year period, we had a lot of globalization, but somewhat limited progress in technology, mostly centered on computers.
 
In cultural terms, I often say this but people don't always agree with me, I think we live in a world, a culture of the west, US, western Europe, which are extremely hostile to science and technology, the easiest way to see this is just look all the movies that get produced, the science fiction movies always show technology that does not work, it kills people, destroy the world, it doesn't function, it’s terrible one way or the other, and the future in science fiction is combination of all these terrible movies, Matrix, or Avatars, or Elysium, the Terminators movie were robots going around killing people, I watched the Gravity movie over a year ago, there's a space station where everything went wrong, and you'll never wanted to go to the outer space after watching that movie, you want to back on earth, on some muddy island somewhere, and I'm not blaming Hollywood for this, I think Hollywood just reflects a lot of fears that our society has about technology and innovation, but we're living in a world where pro-technology, pro-science side is a minority, is a very counter-culture minority, that somehow go against the dominance of strand in our culture. If you want to describe this in a geopolitical terms, in the 1950s and 1960s, people would divide the world into the "first world" and "third world", in the first world, we have an accelerating technological progress, the third world were permanently screwed up and broken one way or another, so it was pro-technology, more skeptical on globalization. Today, we divide the world into "developed" and "developing" world, where the developing countries are copying the developed world, so it’s a convergence of globalization for the world becoming more and more alike, and its converging, but it’s also a implicitly anti-technological description, because when we said we are living in a developed world, as in US, Western Europe, or Japan, or Taiwan, what we're implicitly saying is we live in that part of the world which is done, finished, where nothing new is going to happen, all the progress and discoveries belong to the past, where the younger generation should reduce the expectation for the future, I think this is the conception of our world that we should very powerfully resist, so I think we should always try to come back to ask the question, how can we go about developing on so called "developed world". 
 
Thank you very much. 
 
 
Part 2 - Q & A
 
Q1. How do I know my idea is valid for pursuing a start-up, not just a crazy thing?
 
Thiel: Well, that's a very broad question, obviously on some level, it’s like a trillion dollar question, if I can answer to that question correctly every time, it'll be worth infinite amount. I think it’s the combination you want to do, you want to do something that's valuable and other people are not doing, if you get that combination right, you'll have a very valuable business. Most common mistake is you either do things very similar with other people are doing, so somehow poorly differentiated, or no one else is doing it, but there's a good reason, because it’s just a bad idea? Sometimes you'll have technologically intensive things, where would be valuable but you can't build it, so it’s too complicated, or can't actually be done.
 
I think the starting point is "is it valuable" and "nobody else is doing it", one important thing is try to be very honest with yourself assessing that, so most of the times, people starting a company often are very optimistic, they ignore certain problems, it's probably good to ignore some problems, you don't want to be talked out of things by people right away, but at the end of the day, you have to try to be as objective in assessing these things as possible, then you need to figure out these unique problems to solve. Paypal had this new idea of linking money with email, it didn't seem that complicated at the time we had it, it's something surprising no one has thought of, so we rolled out and it cooked extremely fast, because there's risk of people copying it, it turned out a lot more complicated than sounded, because there's a lot of fraud involved, people had warned us about the fraud early on. Summer of 99, few months before we launched the product, one of the former executive form Visa told me how would you deal with all the frauds, and I said Paypal is a such friendly name, only good people would use it, and there will be no fraud, sort of concluded that he's just been working for Visa too long, he's just a very negative person, but it turned the fraud problem was very big and we had to solve it. I think you can't always figure out everything in advance, but you want to try to understand all these dynamics as well as you possibly can. There's certain subset of technology companies where you can be very valuable but it only work if you do something that's better than anybody in the world,  in some sense, if you're semi-conductor company or disc drive manufacturer, the competition is global, so you have to be the best in the world at what you're doing. Its surely not good enough to be the best in Taipei, the best in Taiwan, the best in East Asia, you have to actually think about how to get to the best in the world, and that often is not easy to do.
 
Q2. Will it be better to have some working experience in some company before we do start-ups?
 
Thiel: I often got asked for this version of question like "I like to be an entrepreneur, but not right away, work for 5-7 years first in the company, I'll learn something, then I will start a business". Its true there are certain kind of things about management, or sales, or various other areas that you will learn in a business context, but the critical thing to start a new business is whatever you're doing is new, and that's something by definition that you will not learn. If you have a successful business, where often matters the far most is you have one really good idea, that you're executing on really well, even if you got all the other processes to be not that good, you can still be a successful company, whereas if you get every process to work perfectly, you know exactly how to hire people, how to manage people, timecards, everybody is there, many hours of week, but you don't know what you're doing, that's often much less good, so there are a lot of Silicon Valley startups are quite badly-managed as companies go, a lot of chaos, a lot of people who don't quite know what they are doing, they make a lot of mistakes, but the company still succeed at the end of the day, because they figured out something very unique one way or another. Example I often give, a company both quite bad as a corporation, but quite successful is Twitter, where its horribly mismanaged company, the whole thing is very chaotic, people don't work very much, all sort of things are badly wrong, but they had this one idea that just worked, so its a company worth 25 billion dollars, that's what matters a great deal. If you would've opened a restaurant, by contrast, you have to make sure everything is done really efficiently, you can’t spend too much money on the food, you have to make sure the food get delivered very quickly, the kitchen is efficient, everything super efficient, and if you don't run it really well, you're out of business, so I think there's that sort of contrast.
 
One thing I do noticed when people said they will start a business in 5 or 10 years, this rarely happens, because what happened in practice even though you have more experiences, maybe a little more of financial cushion, in practice people end up with more obligations, more ways they have to spend money, when I worked at the big law firm in New York, it was one of these places people made a lot of money, and they saved none of it. So it’s just more money people made, the more they spend, they were in this context where all these professional people around them, they were all spending almost as much as they were making, so in some strange way, theoretically people can save a lot of money than doing something else, but in practice, they were spending all, and sort of trapped, so I think there's no particular moment that's the exact right one to start a company, if you have a really good idea, you should do it sooner rather than later, on the other hand, if you have a really bad idea, waiting 5 years won't make the idea better, so there's not time that's really perfect.
 
Q3. Let's talk more about "Thiel Fellowship", why do they have to drop out of school?
 
Thiel: "Drop-out" is a very strong word, the term we always use is "stop-out", which you take 2 years off, all the universities in the US will always let you go back, because in practice, they are competitively evaluated by how many of the students graduated, so if you're not very happy with the program, but you already joined it,  you can always go back. The first class was the year of 2011 to 2012, 24 students, at least 5 or 6 ended up going back to college, but the other 18 or 19 ended up either starting successful companies, or somehow get involved with Silicon Valley ecosystem one way of another. I think the basic idea starting a successful business is a pretty full-time undertaking, its generally very hard to do it while you're a college student, so if you're studying in college and working 10-15 hours a week on the side, on some sort of company, that's generally not enough to get really started, even Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, started Microsoft, Facebook, they ended up…uhm you know, they didn't think they were dropping out, they thought they were stopping out of Harvard, even though they have not yet gone back, but they can still go back..
 
Host: For those of you who wanted to start up right now, how do you tell your parents you want to stop-out?
 
Thiel: That's always the biggest problem by far.
 
Q4. Is there certain qualities for entrepreneurs?
 
Thiel: It's always little bit hard to reduce too much, but I think there are a lot of qualities that almost contradictory, somehow it gets combined in just the right way, I think it’s very good to have people who are both quite stubborn, will not easily give up, and people who are also willing to listen from other people, so if you're very stubborn, you don't listen to anybody, you're likely to do something that's bad idea, then you'll go out of business, if you're too easily influenced, you're not stubborn at all, you'll be talked out of your company. So a very good combination is to be somewhat stubborn, but also quite open-minded, listening to people, getting good feedback as you go along.
 
I would say one dynamic that's very different from university context with the start-ups, is in university context, it’s always purely individualistic, it’s you against everybody else, you're just all by yourself, against everybody else, and in most start-ups, in most companies, are more than one person, so it’s actually more of a team, so one of the critical question is "how well do the people work together", you can have a lot of very talented, very creative, very brilliant, very hard-working people, but if they are not able to work well with one another, that's a very big problem. I think one of most common source of failure, is not external, someone ousts to beat your company, its internally, people don't get along, then things start to break down, so I often like to focus on the "team dynamics" in these companies, if there are a few people starting a company, I like to ask the prehistory questions, "what were you doing before you started the company", "how long you've known each other", a bad answer is something like "we met a week ago at networking event for entrepreneurs, we decided to team up and start a company, doesn't matter what, we just want to start a company", a good answer is "we've been friends for 3 or 4 years, one of us is on business side, one is on technical side, and we've been thinking about this for a long time", that's just maybe the relationship is stronger, and you do have lot of ups and downs when you do business, it’s a roller-coaster, you don't want things to blow up when you are at the low point.
 
Q5. How to pick the start-up team, what are the criteria to pick partners?
 
Thiel: Maybe based on extreme analogy, but It's like you getting married, how to get married to the right person, hopefully by no precise formula, it’s probably bad if you don't know the person at all, if you go to Las Vegas, you marry the first person you meet at slot machine, you might hit the jackpot, but the chances are that's a very bad idea, I think in a similar way, a lot of different teams, start-up co-founders, a lot of things can work, but I think it works the best if you've known the person for some time, if you have both somethings in common, and in some way you are complementary, that's always the goog thing, you agree on common vision, work company should do, there are complementary skills, so there's some natural division of labor between the two of you, or three of you, whatever the founding member there is.
 
Q6. You talked about higher education quite a lot, if you can, what would you do to change the higher education today?
 
Thiel: The US context is a little bit different from many other places, in the US, the cost of university education had steadily gone up at the rate much faster than inflation, since 1980, the college cost gone up by 400% after inflation, faster than anything else, faster than health care, energy, housing, so one of the reasons there's a lot of questions being asked about the values of the university system in the US, because it costs so much, students graduate from college with 100,000 dollars in debt, that raised a lot more questions, than when you graduate with no debt at all, as in the case 50 or 60 years ago. I said there's something like bubbles around education, housing bubbles, dot-com bubbles in 90, I think today we have something like an education bubble, where people believed, the parents believed, the younger generation believed, that education is the be-all and end-all, it’s what you absolutely need to succeed, it’s certainly in most cases you're better off getting a university degree than not getting one, there are a lot of cracks in our society that you don't want to fall through, but when people think that college degree is simply the answer to everything in your life, that’s sort of you are abdicating thinking about the future. People ask me if I had to think again, do I still go to Stanford, I'll probably would still go to Stanford, because I didn't have any strong idea of what else to do, but if I have to do something over, I would think a lot harder about what I wanted to do after Stanford. There was certain element that If you get into a very top university, and you think you're set for life, one of my friend got into Yale university, the Dean welcome him in coming to the class of sort of Ivy League school in the US, and the Dean said "Congratulations, you got into Yale, you're set for life." my friend thought I'm only 17 years old, it seems like little bit early to be set for life. So I think university can be a good thing, but it’s always very dangerous to think this is the be-all and end-all. One of the challenges in the US and much of the rest of the world, after 2008, after the financial crisis, there's a sense that tracks don't work as well, the works of all these formulas and all these automatic things that one can do for many decades, that worked quite will, and more and more of the sense that's not the right way to do things, and this is course the universityes are quite good at, they are good at putting you on a track, if we're in a society tracks work less well, people need to second guess that. I do not have an alternative system to replace the universities with, we have to actually move away from this idea that some single system that everyone should do, everybody should compete in, instead we should try to figure out how can people with different abilities, different interests, learn to do different kind of things, I think the future will be much more varied, far more and wider range of different kinds of things people will be doing.
 
Q7. Do you think the flipped classroom or MOOCs will make the system better?
 
Thiel: I think definitely there are a series of technological innovations that are happening around education, the MOOCs had ran into a problem that's quite difficult to work with the universities, a lot of universities don't necessarily want to give cheaper degrees to other people, it ends up with very complicated how to reform the system from within, its set in certain way, but I think at margins, all these things will change, pricing, pressure, more need for alternatives, I think the main thing that's slowing down to reform is the lack of imagination, people cannot imagine anything else will work, that's why more and more pressure to do the exact same thing, getting into the same top universities, going on the same tracks, even as these things work less and less well. One of the analogies I used in the US, I think the universities are in a crisis similar to the Catholic church around 1500, where you have this priestly class, professorial class, it was charging people more and more, with these indulgences, universities are like atheistic church, you'll be saved if you get a diploma from college, if you do not get a diploma, you'll go to hell. "You go to Yale, or you go to jail". I think in future, I'm not trying to replace it with some alternate, single universal church, I think it'll be much more range of different things, like what happened in Christianity in 16th centuries, where people have to work out how to save themselves, not within institutions, but have to work on their own, which is very disturbing, we would like the institution to save us, but I don't think that will be the future.
 
Q8. We have many young entrepreneurs in Taiwan, but no ecosystem like in Silicon Valley, how do we connect to the more resourceful world?
 
Thiel: I think it’s always a quite challenge for entrepreneurs, even a very big challenge in Silicon Valley, there are many different things, you need to figure out a way to convince people to join your team, typically you have to get investors to invest in, provide you with capital, even in SIlicon Valley when we started Paypal, its incredibly hard to raise the initial money, we raised the first half million dollars in February 1999, we had a few more financing rounds, we had a much larger financing round in March of 2000, 13 months later, we raised 100 million, raising the first 500,000 was much harder than raising the 100 million 13 months later, you met with all these individuals, investors, I remember there was one in a Chinese restaurant, where investors said I have no idea whether to give you money, I just look at what fortune cookie says, the fortune cookie of course says something optimistic, but they still didn't give us any money, so it’s always incredibly hard to get things jump-started, this is a problem, in the US people think you have to go to Silicon Valley, and in Silicon Valley all these people trying do it, this is always one of the core challenges. Technology or innovation always involved with combination of the innovation of the technology and the communication of the technology, you have to somehow do both, this is why scientists won't go very long, because scientists believed the idea that science stands on its own, they've made some great discoveries, and the world would come rushing to their door, to give them money or something like this, it’s never quite that straightforward, you somehow have to find the right way to explain to people and communicate with what you're doing. I do think Silicon Valley has a little bit advantage, because you have this network effects, this sort of concentration of talents, capital, experiences that helped over the years, but I don't think Silicon Valley is the only place that one can start a company, and there are some disadvantages, it’s got to be very expensive, office space, rents are expensive, hiring people is very expensive, it’s easier to get capital, but cost a lot more to do things, this is the big challenge Silicon Valley has. I think the network effects that helped Silicon Valley can also become negative, when you have an ecosystem where everyone talking to everybody else all the time, this can also lead to hurt mentality, to bubble, where the thinking become too liming-like or too derivative, so there are some aspects in Silicon Valley that are very much like that as well. In the very beginning of these things, is both the time of maximum freedom, when you start a company, you have freedom to figure out who are you doing with, what you're doing, what market you're going after, you have enormous freedom when you start, but it’s also one of the most frightening times, because it’s so hard to convince people that is real. My friend Reid Hoffman often said "when you start a company, it’s something fictional, something that is not yet existed, and you have to convince a lot of people that is real, before it exists, if you are able to convince enough people, then it’s going to be real, then they will buy into it, then it becomes real". So it’s this somewhat mysterious bootstrapping process.
 
Q9. Any good points to convince you, what do you want to hear if somebody pitches to you?
 
Thiel: Well, that's a very dangerous question to answer, if you were to answer that, then you'll hear 20 pitches using those points, that ends up being quite counterproductive, I'm not certain you can process a good pitch in 30 seconds or 1 minute, where someone quickly tells you something, you can often tell its a bad idea, but if it's a good idea, much harder to tell. the thing I normally recommend, is I got recommendation from someone, you want to spend like half hour to an hour, try to at least understand what the business is about, what's going on, the 5-10 seconds elevator pitch is not really going to work at the end of the day. There are these various start-up television shows, there's one in US called "Shark Tank", we have all these contestants, you sort of get the sense that is all about coming out of some clever, dramatic pitch, I always want to stress substance over process, its true you have to communicate it, you have to explain it, but what really matters by the end of the day, it’s you have something substantive that matters. There are some ways typically can get that through, if you want a process to pitching me, find someone I trust, have them making introduction, and I'll listen to you.
 
Q10. Is there any entrepreneurs that you admire or respect?
 
Thiel: I certainly admire tremendously a lot of people I've worked with over the years, I think Mark Zuckerberg, I've known him since he was 19 years old, just started Facebook, he was already impressive at the time, he has this combination of very hard-working, very focused, thinks about Facebook company non-stop, you can have conversation with him on many different levels, on one level the details of product, questions about the market, the competition with other companies, how other countries are doing, the bigger picture question about how the future world looks like, in 10 or 20 years, so I think there's something about good entrepreneurs, have this interdisciplinary aspect where he's good at whole range of different things, everything from the product, engineering, management, marketing, to maybe even where the world is going in 10-15 years, you got some well-informed views you combine them in a good way. I'm very close to a lot of my former colleagues from Paypal, who went on to start a variety of companies. 
 
Elon Musk has certainly been very inspiring, starting both Tesla and Space X, there's an unusual businesses in that, they're not in the information technology areas, so which is very inspiring because he's sort of shown its possible to start some very new companies in these areas that people thought were fully established. Elon is very charismatic, very inspiring, I remember talking to him in 2008, for the Tesla business he just get started, working for few years but still years before they sell their first car. I asked him "when was the last successful car company started in United States?", and his answer was the "last successful car company was Jeep in 1941", so there have been no new car company in 67 years, as in 2008, and Elon's version was "it was about time for a new car company", even though most people would say wow for some reason its just impossible, you should never try to do that. I think there is a set of entrepreneurs who are very charismatic, who are able to convince you a future that looks very different from the present, that's often very powerful, you have to get a lots coordination, you have to get all these pieces in the right way, get people to work on it, get investors to invest on it, you have to get the public to buy it, and coordinating and getting all these pieces lined up, so this charismatic element, where you sort of paint a picture, tell a story what the future is going to look like, that's so compelling, then to motivate people to work on it, and it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. You can determine the future if you have a view on how to make it happen. It’s hard to predict the future in the abstract, but you may predict the future if you can tell people what you're going to succeed in doing.
 
Q11. Have you ever experienced any setback or failure, and how do you deal with that?
 
Thiel: There are certainly many things that I succeed and failed at over the years, it’s always misleading to categorize as uniform success one way or another. It’s often hard to know exactly how to process with failure at the time. One of the most prestigious things you can do in law school in US, is to get clerkship from the US supreme court where you work for one year as intern, for the supreme court of United States, there were 9 justices, they each pick 4 people, they interviewed 8, I got interviews with 2 of the justices so I figured if they pick half the people then I have a good chance to get in, but I failed to get neither one, I was around 25 years old at the time, so I was just absolutely devastating, it’s the one last credential I need to completely set my legal career if I get it, and years later, about a decade later, one of my friends who coached me through this interviewing process, we haven't talked in long time, but we re-connected, Pauls' first question was not "how are you doing Peter" or "its great to talk to you", his first question was "so, Peter, aren't you glad you didn’t get that Supreme Court clerkship?" So the meaning of failure has completely changed, we both knew if I would've got in, I would have a successful but much conventional career, so I think failures are always a tricky thing, it’s always very devastating when it happens, but its often hard to know what it means. In the start-up or entrepreneurial context, I do think failures are very overrated, one of the commonplace thing people said in Silicon Valley "you're free to fail", "its ok to fail", its true on some level, if you fail, you start again, try again, but I think in practice, when people failed, it ends up with quite damaging, you end up being very discouraged, you're less optimistic about what you can do in the future, its often the case you don't learn that much from failures, when you fail something, it’s possible you fail for any one of many different reasons, maybe the idea was bad, maybe the people you worked with didn't get along, its often a combination of many different factors, so there's a lot to be said for really trying to avoid failures, I think there's a limited amount that one can learn from it, when you fail, when things go wrong, the important thing is not to dwell on failure, not to obsess about what you could done differently, if you can answer this interview question just a little bit differently, you would've got this position or something like that, I think one of the most important thing to do when you encounter failure is to not to give up, is to move on to do other things, not to obsess or dwell on it.
 
- The End -
 
 
中文翻譯
 
第1部分:演講內容
 
教導或撰寫創業最大的挑戰就是他毫無公式可循,下一個馬克祖克柏不會創辦下一個社群網站,下一個賴利佩吉不會創辦下一個搜尋引擎,下一個比爾蓋茲不會創辦下一個作業系統,如果你抄襲他們,你什麼也不會學到。在科學上,我們是從「第二」才開始,從那些可以重複的實驗開始,那些你可以一直重複做的事,但在商業上不同,在科技的歷史上,重要的事情都只會有一次,那些重大的時刻只會發生一次,每個重大發現只會在歷史上出現一次,所以建立偉大的公司,或發明下一件大事上,是沒有科學公式的。創業不是科學,沒有人能描述全部,所以對我來說,教導或撰寫創業是一大挑戰。我試著間接的提出一些反向問題讓大家思考:有什麼偉大的公司還沒被建立起來?另外一個常在面試問的問題:有什麼是你覺得正確,但很少人同意你的事?這問題非常的難,因為我們被教導正確的事,就是大家認為正確的事,如果你可以找出新的,但別人不知道的事,我想你應該很聰明。另外一個困難點,是面試官想聽的答案,可能是傳統正確的答案,但不一定是正確的、那些別人不一定認同你的答案。我認為我們身處在一個勇氣比天才少的世界,我提出一些我對此問題的答案,那些別人不一定認同我,商業上,多數人認為資本主義和競爭是一樣的,是同義字,我則認為資本主義和競爭是反義字,資本主義為了累積資源,在完全競爭下,所有的利潤都被競爭光了,所以若你剛創業、投資事業、或當早期員工,你想要的是公司的獨佔性,你做的事要非常不同,非常突出,比世界上任何人都好,沒人跟你競爭。如果你做的事跟別人一樣,那絕非是個好點子。爛生意的範例就是開一家餐廳,你想瘋狂競爭,你不想賺錢,那就去開一家餐廳,機率是你在幾年後就會倒閉,就算你活得下來,賺的錢也非常有限,因為太多人跟你做一樣的事,非常激烈的競爭。
 
我書中給的案例,一家成功獨佔市場的公司是Google,在搜尋科技上,從2002年開始就明顯拋開了Yahoo和微軟,過去13年來,他們在美國和全球幾乎沒有競爭,所以利潤相當龐大。獨佔性事業因很多原因被人不解,其一是因為獨佔事業並不會對外說,如果你經營Google,你不會常提到搜尋引擎,說你有巨大的市占率,98%的營收都由此而來,反而你會說Google是一家科技公司,拉到一個超寬廣的範疇叫做「科技」,你正在那跟蘋果、臉書、亞馬遜競爭,你還有無人駕駛的汽車,在跟底特律或全世界競爭,因為到處都在科技競爭,所以你絕不是政府關心的獨佔事業體,所以你若是獨佔性公司,你會少說獨佔的部分,同時誇大你身處市場的規模。在光譜的另一端,如果你決定今天聽完後,對外宣稱說要開一家餐廳,你會遇到很多問題,投資人不想投資,那不是一門好生意,然後你會嘗試形容成故事,說你是台北唯一的拿坡里餐廳,多好多特別,縮小你的範疇來說故事,但到了最後,你還是一家餐廳,要面對激烈的競爭。
 
這個獨佔-競爭的框架讓我對商業模式出現不同的見解,在商學院我們被教導要進攻大市場,但我覺得關鍵是較大的市占率,獨佔事業不一定發生在大市場,但一定是高市佔比。如果你要新創事業,應先從小市場開始,把市佔率先拿下,再從那設法擴張。Paypal剛開始時,我們先取得eBay上的2萬名強力賣家,他們需要一個新的金流方式,我們在3個月內就衝到35-40%市占率,算是非常好的開始。Facebook從哈佛大學開始,12000人的市場,在10天內就從0到60%的市占,也是非常好的開始,一路成長到大眾市場。那些一開始就追求大市場的公司,定會遇到很多意料之外的問題,就像那些潔淨能源科技公司,過去十年他們在美國及全球都有很多問題,其中最明顯的問題就是「市場太大」,這些公司的每份簡報都會說:我們身處一個叫做「能源」的市場,是億元或兆元的市場規模。但你只是一隻大海中的小魚,競爭無所不在,十家太陽能面板廠商競爭,你要先打敗其他九家,然後再擊敗下九十家,再擊敗風力發電商,然後不知從哪冒出來美國海岸鑽油技術產業,和廉價的中國製造商,到處都在競爭,想要獨佔賺錢實在太困難了。
 
第二個人們不解獨佔事業的原因,偏向心理或社會學,我認為我們已被訓練要競爭。我書中有句話,引用《安娜•卡列尼娜》小說的開場白:「幸福的家庭都是相似的,不幸的家庭各有各的不幸。」我認為商業上剛好相反:「幸福的企業都是不同的,因為他們各自找到獨特的事情去做,不幸的企業都是一樣的,因為他們無法逃離本質的相同,而開始競爭。」當華爾街日報摘錄我書中某章節,他們把「幸福的企業都是不同的」這章節重新命名為「輸家才要競爭」,其實正是這樣的感覺,因為我們常認為輸家都是不擅競爭的,學校成績不夠好,或身體不夠強壯進校隊,總之競爭力不強的就是輸家。但我們從不去想,也許那些沉迷競爭的人因為太會競爭,而掉進了一個陷阱,到了最後怎樣都輸。讓我舉個例子,我在加州長大,是個非常競爭、重視成績的環境,國中畢業紀念冊上,有同學寫給我「4年後你一定會進史丹福大學」,4年後我果然進了史丹福,好成績讓我又考上了史丹福法學院,最後我進了一家紐約知名的法務事務所,裡面超級競爭,每當你贏得了一次競爭,晉級下一關,就得再次競爭。這種公司從外面看,每個人都想進來,但從裡面看,每個人都想出去。7個月又3天後我終於離開,後來有個同事再次跟我確認,因為他不相信怎麼可能逃離惡魔島監獄,我跟他說,其實很簡單,你只要從開門走出去不再進來就好。心理上,這很難做到,因為我們的身份是由贏得競爭後的包裝而來,所以我們要對那些超級激烈的競爭保持謹慎和懷疑。
 
亨利•季辛吉曾對一位哈佛大學的同窗說:「學術上的競爭之所以慘烈,是因為報酬太少」,大家瘋狂拚得你死我活,但什麼也沒得到,某種程度上來說,這就是神經病的定義,記住你若要拚,是要為了有意義的事,雖然這聽起來很瘋狂,但這就是你無法分辨不同事物情形下的邏輯,就算報酬越來越少,但競爭還是越來越慘烈,就算你贏了,你的後面還有很多等著取代你的人。大家認為因為人格的不同才會有衝突,我認為剛好相反,衝突是發生在兩個人想要同樣的東西,如果兩人想要不同的東西,就不會有問題,不會有衝突,但當兩人想要同樣一份工作、同樣的升遷、同一個專案、或想被選上同一個職位,巨大的衝突就會浮現。如果你是一個瘋狂老闆,想要兩個員工拚的你死我活來為你工作,公式就是讓他們做一樣的事情,叫一位去設計網站,再跟另一人說同樣的工作,他倆就會產生衝突了。若你想要降低商業上的衝突,要確保每個員工的角色都定義明確、差異清楚,在新創公司的早期將有很多的變化,角色會變來變去,你得小心避免衝突的發生。當時Paypal的產品經理常說,產品是個無邊際的洞,公司做的所有事都和產品有關,一方面沒錯,但另一方面產品部門最容易和公司其他人引起衝突,包括客服或外部詐騙等人,所以若你說產品就是一切,定義上來說你就是公司最多衝突的那個人。
 
我常被問到一個問題,是關於科技的趨勢,科技會怎麼發展?未來幾年我們該做些什麼?我不喜歡這個問題,因為我不是預言家,無法告訴你未來會發生何事,卻常希望我講一些無聊或幼稚的答案,例如5年後會有更多人使用手機這種沒意義的答案,我會說所謂的趨勢都被誇大了,你聽到的一切都該被質疑,在矽谷我們有很多流行術語,像是軟體即服務、企業軟體,嚴重高估了,若你聽到大數據、雲端這些字,你應該離他們遠一點,把他們想成是詐騙那類的,原因是這些術語通常說明這些公司毫無差異性,你必須心存懷疑,就像是你玩撲克,那些明顯的小動作一樣,告訴你他們在吹牛,告訴你他們在做的事一點也不獨特,你一定得小心,有公司會把這些術語串在一起,例如「我們在打造一個行動平台,將軟體即服務放到雲端」,若你認得這些術語組合,你就知道他們毫無特色,了無新意,跟其他東西差不多,只要該公司是同類中的第N家,很可能就是個警訊,你不想當第四家線上寵物食品公司,也不想當第十家太陽能電板公司,更不願意當第一千家台北的餐廳。那些較難被歸類的公司,往往都被人低估,例如我們投資的Airbnb,模式不容易被解釋,所以他們常被錯貼標籤,被歸類到「共享經濟」,但其實並不適合,Airbnb提供的是更便宜的旅行方式,讓你能住到其他人的家,比飯店來的便宜許多,他們是一種新的生意模式,獨一無二,因為他們不符已存在的類別,最後就被大家低估,所以我認為應該多去注意類似的傑出事業,但這是一個挑戰,因為就算某些公司正在做出新的東西,也很容易把自己歸類,所以要去了解他們真正在做什麼。90年代後期,Google說他們是搜尋引擎,大家都覺得這點子很爛,搜尋引擎已經很多了,為什麼還要再來一個,但事實上,Google是第一家用機器支援的搜尋引擎,用電腦取代人工搜尋,網頁權重和演算法才是關鍵差異,若你只是把Google貼上搜尋引擎,就會錯失重點。
 
2004年Facebook被歸類為社群網站,他們並不是第一家社群網站,我朋友里德霍夫曼,LinkedIn創辦人,早在1997年就創辦了一家叫做Social Net的社群網站,他甚至把social這個字都當成網站名稱,當時那個奇怪的網路空間,你可以選擇完全不同的角色,一個人可能是狗,另一個是貓,你們自己要想如何互動,結果大家對此不感興趣,所以或許真正的價值並不是在社群概念上,而是建立在真人的社群關係上。Facebook解決的問題不是社交行為,而是人們的真實身份,如何讓他們願意在網路上扮演真實身份,他們解決的是這個難題,他們第一個做到,結果非常有價值,所以關鍵問題永遠都是,我有什麼獨特性,有什麼新的,有價值的事可以做?
 
最後以一件事來結尾,關於世界的整體概念,我認為若21世紀若要成功,必須結合將全球化結合科技,我常認為這是兩件不同的事,把全球化畫成X軸,複製可用之事從1到N,大規模的橫向成長,科技發展是Y軸,提出新事物,從0到1,直向或密集的發展。我們回顧前幾世紀,有全球化的時期,也有科技發展時期,但並不常重疊。在19世紀,1815到1914年有許多全球化和科技發展,但1914年第一次世界大戰後,全球化不再,貿易變少,有些國家成了共產國,和其他國家漸行漸遠,世界分成好幾塊,但在這期間,科技仍高速發展。1970年後,全球化開始回來,過去的40年更是高速成長,但反觀科技的進步卻變少了,主要發展都在資訊科技、電腦、網路、全球網路,已不再像50年代或60年代那樣的科技進步,在能源、交通、太空旅行、綠能革命、農業等,科技發展減速,只有在生物科技和醫學器材上一點點進步,過去40年來進步有限。所以19世紀全球化和科技都有進展,20世紀的第一部分有科技,但沒有全球化,第二部分,也就是近40年來,有很多全球化,但非常有限的科技進展,主要都集中在電腦。
 
也許大家不認同我,但以文化來說,我認識這世界是活在「西方文化」下,受到美國和西歐的文化頗大,但美國和西歐的文化都對科學和科技很不友善,最簡單的方式就是去看那些電影,裡面的科技都沒用,會殺人,毀滅世界,起不了作用,反正都很爛,然後科幻小說所描述的未來也都是這些爛電影的組合,像是《駭客任務》、《阿凡達》、《極樂世界》,《魔鬼終結者》裡的機器人到處殺人,我之前看了電影《地心引力》,裡面的太空站問題百出,看完以後你不會想去外太空,會想回到地球上某個小島,我不怪好萊塢製作這些電影,他們反映了這社會對科技的恐懼,因為親科技、親科學是這世界的少數族群,努力對抗主流的社會文化。以地理政治學來說,1950和1960年代,世界分為「第一世界」和「第三世界」,在第一世界,科技急速發展,第三世界則衰弱混亂,當時是親科技,質疑全球化,現在我們把世界分為「已開發」和「開發中」國家,那些開發中國家正在複製已開發國家,全球化的方向趨於會合,世界將變得越來越像,這同時也是反科技的一種描述,因為當我們說我們身處已開發世界,像是美國和西歐,或日本或台灣,我們暗示的是這些國家已經開發完了、結束了、不會出現新東西了,所有的發明都已成過去,年輕一代應該降低對未來的期望,我認為這是一個大家必須強力抗拒的一個概念,我們必須回去問自己一個問題:我們該如何在「已開發」的世界中繼續發展?
 
謝謝大家。
 
 
第2部分:Q & A
 
Q1. 我如何知道我的點子可行,值得創業,而不只是亂想?
 
這是一個很大的問題,某種程度來說,這可能是價值兆元的問題,若我可以每次都正確答對,價值就是無限大。我認為是對的組合,做有價值的事,而且沒有別人做,如果這組合對了,你的事業就會有價值。若你做和別人類似的事,沒什麼不同,或你做的沒有別人在做,因為可能是真的點子太爛,另外也許這事有價值,但需要密集科技的事業,或是太複雜,或是根本不可能做得出來。
 
所以起點是「是否有價值」和「沒有別人做」,你必須誠實地去評估,多數時候,創業者一開始都很樂觀,忽略很多問題,也許忽略某些問題是好的,別讓閒言閒語干擾你,但到了最後,你還是得盡可能客觀去評估,有哪些特別的問題待解決。當時Paypal的把email連結錢的新點子在一開始似乎並不複雜,我們一推出就快速成長,然後有人開始抄襲,結果比想像中複雜許多,因為有很多詐騙行為,早期有人警告我們會有詐騙,在99年夏天推出時,某Visa前主管問我如何處理詐騙,我說Paypal這名字這麼友善,會用的都是好人,不會有詐騙,我還認為他在Visa工作太久了,加上他本身是個負面的人,不過後來詐騙問題真的很多,我們必須認真解決。我想說的是你無法事先知道會有什麼問題,你只能盡可能的去了解一些變數。有些科技公司必須先做到世界第一才能產生價值,像是半導體或硬碟製造商,是全球性的競爭,做到台北、台灣、東亞第一都不夠,必須持續思考以達世界第一,但那非常不容易。
 
Q2. 創業前若有職場經驗,是否對創業有幫助?
 
我常被問到的一種版本是:我想成為創業家,但不是現在,先在公司工作5-7年,然後再自行創業。沒錯,上班的確可以學到管理、業務、或其他不同的領域,但創業的關鍵之一是做出新的東西,定義上來說是你之前學不到的,一個成功的事業,最重要的是一個絕佳的好點子,你把他漂亮的執行出來,就算其他面向的事都不那麼好,你還是有可能成功。另一方面,你所有的流程都完美,知道如何雇人、管理員工、打卡、每個人都出現、工作很多時數,但你不知道你在做什麼,那反而更不好。在矽谷有很多管理很爛的公司,亂七八糟,有些人不知道在幹嘛,或做錯很多事,但到最後他們還是成功了,只因他們有個獨特的點子,我常舉的例子就是Twitter,管理超爛的公司,一切都雜亂無章,有些人不知在幹嘛,各式各樣的錯誤百出,但他們擁有一個可行的點子,所以價值高達25億美元,而這才是最重要。比較之下,如果你開一家餐廳,你必須確保一切正確,要有效率,控制食材成本,上菜快速、廚房有效率,所有的一切都要高效率,因為若你不擅管理,很快你就會倒閉,我想這就是兩者的差異。
 
另外我常聽說有人5到10年後就要創業,但實際上很少發生,雖然你已較有經驗,有點財務基礎,但你的責任更多,該花的錢也越多。當我在紐約律師事務所工作時,那裡的人都賺很多錢,但完全沒存錢,賺越多錢,花越多錢,在專業人士環繞的環境中工作,花的錢和賺的錢一樣多。說來奇怪,理論上他們應可以存到錢,但實際上卻花的精光,像是被困住般的,所以我認為創業沒有什麼特定的正確時間點,如果你有個好點子,早做比晚做好,從另一個角度來看,若你的點子很爛,等個五年也不會變好,所以沒什麼完美的時間點。
 
Q3. 談談「提爾獎學金」,為何申請者要輟學?
 
「輟學」聽起來太嚴重,我們都說是「休學」,因為在美國,你可以隨時回去念大學,學校都用畢業人數在評估競爭力,如果你不喜歡這個計畫,你可以隨時回去。2011-2012是第一屆,共24個學生,最後有5-6個回去念書,有18-19個後來自行創業或多少參與了矽谷生態圈。我認為創業是必須全職投入的事,在職學生很難做到一邊上學,一邊還要在某間公司每周工作15-16小時,我認為就無法真正開始,連比爾蓋茲或馬克祖克柏,創辦微軟和臉書,最後也都…他們並不覺得是輟學,只是暫時休學,雖然最後都沒回去。但他們還是可以回去。
 
主持人:那些正打算創業的人,你們會如何跟父母說我們要休學?
 
Thiel:這一直是目前最大的問題。
 
Q4. 創業家具備哪些特質?
 
很難把他們簡化,但我想有很多幾乎矛盾的特質,剛好正確的組合起來。我認為是有點固執,不輕言放棄,但也願意聽別人的意見。若你很固執,但從不聽別人說的,若你的點子很爛,則很快就會失敗,若你耳根子太軟,也很容易被別人說倒,所以好的組合是稍微偏執,但心態開放,願意傾聽,一邊創業一邊收集好意見。
 
我再說一個在學校和創業時會遇到的不同,在學校裡,你完全是個人主義,靠你自己對抗其他人,但在新創公司不只你一人,所以比較偏重團隊,一個關鍵問題是「大家一起能做得多好」,可能很有才華、很有創意、很聰明、很賣力,但如果他們無法互相共事,那會是很大的問題。一個最常見的失敗原因,不是來自外部,被競爭者擊敗,而是來自內部,同事相處不來,然後開始崩壞,因此我非常重視公司的「團隊因素」,若有些人要創業,我會先問他們的歷史,例如創業之前你們在做什麼?你們認識多久了?爛的答案是:我們上週在某創業家的社交場合認識,決定合作來創業,做什麼不重要,我們只想創業。較好的答案是:我們當朋友3-4年了,我偏向商業,他偏向技術,這點子在我們心中想了很久。這類的關係比較牢固,因為創業定有起伏,像雲霄飛車一樣,你不希望在低點時就炸了。
 
Q5. 如何挑選創業成員,挑選夥伴有哪些條件?
 
也許是極端的比喻,創業像結婚一樣,要如何才能嫁對人,希望沒有精準的公式,但若你完全不認識這人肯定不會好,就像你去拉斯維加斯,跟吃角子老虎機前第一個遇到的人結婚一樣,雖然有可能中頭彩,但絕不是什麼好主意。創業很相似,雖然有些新創公司,共同創辦人可以一同工作,但我認為最好還是要認識一段時間,有些共同點,某些地方能互補,都認同遠景,對公司該做的事有共識,有互補的技能,創業夥伴間就會自然去分配工作。
 
Q6. 你常評論高等教育,如果你可以,你會如何改善今日的高等教育?
 
我以美國的情形來說,在美國,大學教育的成本穩定上漲,比物價膨脹的速度還快很多,從1980年開始,大學費用上升400%,比任何事都快,快過健保、能源、房屋成本,對於大學體系的價值出現很多質疑的聲音,因為實在太貴了,學生帶著10萬美金的學貸畢業,引起更多質疑,回想50-60年前,畢業時沒有任何負債,所以我說教育將會泡沫化,房貸泡沫、90年的網路泡沫,我認為今日的教育也可能泡沫,因為大家相信、父母相信、年輕世代相信,教育就是最重要的事,絕對是成功必要之事,當然大多時候,有大學學歷總比沒有好,你不會掉進社會上的很多陷阱,但若你認為大學文憑就是你人生的答案,那就有點像是你放棄了對未來的思考。有人問我說若可以重來,我會不會去念史丹福,我也許還是會去,因為我當時不知道還有什麼別的事可做,但若可以重來,我會更用力思考,史丹福畢業後我要做什麼。有些人進了頂尖大學,就感覺人生被安排好了,我有個朋友進了耶魯,校長歡迎他的時候說:恭喜你進了耶魯,你的人生已定。我朋友想說我才17歲,人生會不會太早就定下來了。我認為文憑也許是好事,但若把它當成最重要的事就會很危險,2008年財務風暴後,長年來我們重視的成績制度感覺越來越不受用,大學很擅長把你放在成績制度上,但要是這件事越來越沒用,我們是否該重新思考一下。我並沒有大學教育的替代方案,但我們應該避免單一系統,並找出更多的選項,讓不同技能、不同興趣的人去追求不同的事,我認為未來會變得更多元,活在更寬廣的領域。
 
Q7. 你認為翻轉教室或MOOC能否讓教育更好?
 
我想一連串科技的發展,一定會對教育帶來影響,MOOC目前遭遇的問題是很難跟大學合作,很多大學不願意提供外人較便宜的文憑,要從內部改革變得非常複雜,我想一段時間後,很多事情都會變化,包括學費、壓力、或更多選項的需求,我認為改革速度緩慢最大的原因是缺乏想像力,這些人無法想像能有其他可行性,所以按照既有方式的壓力越來越大,大家還是想擠進頂尖大學,走同樣的路線,縱使這些東西已越來越沒效。在美國我常用一種比喻,我認為現在的教育危機很像1500年的羅馬天主教會,當時有所謂的神父課程,向教徒收錢給予罪的特赦,現在的大學就像無神的教會,有了文憑就得救,如果沒有文憑,你就得下地獄。有句話說「去耶魯,或去監獄」。我認為在未來,我們不應該只有單一的取代性教會,而是更多元的選項,像是16世紀的基督教會那樣,我們必須靠自己努力拯救自己,不是任何機構,而是靠自己,雖然有點令人不安,我們喜歡讓機構來幫忙,但我不認為那會是未來。
 
Q8. 在台灣有很多年輕創業家,但我們沒有矽谷的生態圈,我們該如何和世界連結?
 
創業永遠充滿挑戰,矽谷更是,你需要找人才、找資金,我們當時創辦Paypal時,最初的資金也非常難找,1999年我們終於募到5千萬,後來再兩輪,13個月後我們募到1億,最初的5千萬比之後的1億難的多,見了很多個人或創投,我記得有一次約在中國餐廳,對方不確定是否要給我錢,看看幸運餅乾怎麼說好了,你知道幸運餅乾都是一些正面的話,但後來他還是沒給我們錢,所以起頭總是最難的。科技創新是「創新」和「溝通」的組合,兩樣你都要做,這就是為什麼科學家都不太行,因為他們總覺得科學本身只要夠好,只要有重大發現,大家就會捧著錢上門,但事實從沒那麼簡單,你還是得花時間跟他們正確解釋你在做的事。我想矽谷是有點優勢,這麼多年來的人際網、密集人才、資本、和經驗,但矽谷絕不是唯一適合創業的地方,有些缺點像是高房價、高租金、高薪資,雖然較易取得資金,但成本也高出許多。我認為矽谷的社群效應也有可能是負面的,這裡的生態圈讓大家無話不談,有可能產生泡沫的心態,或大家做的都很類似。在一開始,你有最大的自由,可選擇跟誰共事,進入什麼市場,但也是最恐怖的一段時間,因為要說服人相信你是很難的事。我朋友Reid Hoffman常說:「創業一開始都是虛幻的,尚未存在的,如果你可以說服人相信那會成真,他們也信了,然後才會成真。」所以這是一段步步為營的神祕過程。
 
Q9. 如果有人向你提案,有哪些點會打動你?
 
這是個危險的問題,我若回答了,可能馬上就有二十個用同樣的點來找我,最後反而沒用了,首先我不認為你可用30秒或1分鐘提案,除非是爛點子,好點子比較難解釋,我喜歡有人推薦,我會花至少花半小時來了解這事業,如何運作,所謂的5-10秒電梯提案一定不可行。美國有個電視節目叫《創智贏家》,每個參賽者的都很聰明、很戲劇化,但我永遠看重事情的本質大於過程,很會表達很重要沒錯,但到了最後,你事業的本質才是關鍵。如果你希望向我提案,作法是透過一個我信賴的人,請他引薦你。
 
Q10. 你有沒有欣賞哪個創業家?
 
很多曾與我共事過的人我都很欣賞,還有馬克祖克柏,19歲創立Facebook,非常努力、專注、不停地思考這家公司,可和他進行不同程度的對話,產品細節、市場問題、同業競爭、其他國家的狀況,或是10到20年後的世界會長怎樣,我發現一個好的創業家,在各方面的知識都懂很多,從產品、工程、管理、行銷、甚至10-15的世界走向,能把這些知識正確的組合起來,就很像我們之前Paypal裡的很多同事,後來大家都各自創立不同的公司。
 
伊隆馬斯克也是一個極具啟發性的人,創辦了Tesla和Space X這類不尋常的公司,並不算是完全的科技公司,有啟發是因為這些領域大家覺得已完全發展了,但他重燃了一些可能性。他是一個很有魅力、很有啟發性的人,我記得在2008年,他剛創辦Tesla,我問他:「最後一家成功的美國汽車公司是何時?」他回答說:「最後一家成功的美國汽車公司是1941年的Jeep」,所以已經67年沒有新公司了,「也該是時候有新的汽車公司了」,雖然有很多人還是覺得哇,怎麼可能有人去嘗試。我覺得有一群創業家他們非常有魅力,可以跟你描述一個跟現在非常不同的未來,這通常是商業上很有力的一個特質,你要懂得協調,把所有事物成功拼湊在一起,讓大家為你工作,投資人也進來,公眾也相信你,把這些全部都搞定,所以擁有這種魅力,你可以描繪出一個畫面,說未來會怎樣的故事,因為很迷人,所以可以激勵大家,然後成為自我實現的預言。如果你對未來有清楚的畫面,也許就可以決定未來,因為我們很難抽象的去預測未來,但你可以說明並預測你成功後的未來。
 
Q11. 您有沒有經歷過挫折或失敗,您是如何面對的?
 
多年來我有成功有失敗,但我認為失敗常令人誤解,因為失敗跟成功往往是一體的,重點是你當下如何處理他。我在法律學校時,有個必須程序是要去美國最高法院當職員實習一年,9個法官每人選4人,最後面試了8位,我和兩位法官面試,我想只要有一半的法官選我就上了,結果一個都沒有,那時約25歲,當下我真的崩潰了,那是我法律生涯需要的最後一張證書,只要進了就一切定了。十年後,一個好久不見的朋友打電話給我,開頭第一句不是問候,而是說:「Peter,你應該很高興當時沒面試上吧」,所以失敗的意義完全改變了,我們都知道若當時進了,也許算成功,但就變得非常傳統,所以我認為失敗是很微妙的,在當下你可能覺得會崩潰,卻很難了解他真正的意義。以創業來說,失敗永遠被高估,矽谷有個老生常談:「失敗不算什麼」,某種程度來說是對的,失敗了就再開始、再試一次,但實際上我覺得當人們失敗後,會帶來傷害性的結果,沮喪,對未來不再樂觀,並沒從失敗中學到什麼。一件事情的失敗,很可能是來自不同原因,可能是點子不好,可能是同事相處不來,很多原因都會造成創業失敗,要嘗試避免失敗實在有太多可說,但我想最重要的一件事,就是失敗後不要老掛念著它,別去想若我有不同作法,用不同方式回面試問題就可贏到工作之類的,當你遇到挫折時,最重要的事是別放棄,繼續進行其他的事,不要老想著它。
 
- 完 - 
 
註1:英文逐字稿花我很多時間,但有一個地方還是聽不清楚,若有人的母語是英文(那你看得懂這段嗎),歡迎挑錯將本篇優化
註2:若您看的懂英文,我強烈建議您看英文的部分,因為我實在不是一個什麼好的翻譯,若您是個專業的翻譯,也歡迎您幫助我重新編譯,將中文的部分優化
 

若您還沒看過《從0到1》,這是購書網址

 

   

請登入留言
  • 李健豪2015-02-26 19:13
    謝謝分享!很棒!我最受用的心得是:
    沒有足夠的差異化或創意,才會落入紅海的競爭。你們這行競爭很激烈嗎?那是因為你太沒有競爭力了。
    「輸家才要競爭」
    • 于為暢2015-02-27 02:10
      To 李健豪:
      因為台灣是「已開發」國家 呵呵
  • Cray Kao2015-03-03 19:19
    謝謝
  • 蕭文沛2016-07-20 09:14
    寡占市場是一種贏家讓後面的人看不到車尾燈的概念,所以營造出沒有競爭的氛圍
  • Elvis Liou2016-12-05 20:43
    謝謝,剛剛把整篇看完,謝謝您願意花如此多精神與精力完成這兩篇文章,這不是簡單的事情。
    • 于為暢2016-12-06 14:21
      To Elvis Liou:
      因為他是我的偶像,他的觀念非常值得細細品嘗,我認為花兩天的時間來翻譯他的觀念,對台灣的網路及所有人來說都是好的,算是我對台灣網路的一些貢獻。感謝您特地留言欣賞