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Book Review: ZERO to ONE by Peter Thiel

Have you ever read an article or book that defined something that you’ve abstractly believed for years? When you read it you let out an affirmative mental “aha!”.

Have you ever read an article or book that defined something that you’ve abstractly believed for years? When you read it you let out an affirmative mental “aha!”. I had one of these moments recently when I read Zero to One by Peter Thiel. This book helped shape and better define my investment strategy.

Far too often I see a microcap company’s investor presentation start off with some enormous addressable market ($20 billion, $100 billion, etc) and what follows is “If we just capture 2%….”. This has always annoyed me because in many ways the worst thing an undercapitalized public microcap can do is try to attack a huge highly competitive market.

In Zero to One, Peter Thiel talks about how small emerging companies/and investors need to take the opposite approach. In simple terms, aim for monopoly, competition is for losers. Monopolies have far greater profits, pricing power, and ability to think long-term. For small companies like microcaps to be a monopoly they need to focus on dominating a small market that is expanding, and then further grow into other complimentary markets. “Capitalism is premised on the accumulation of capital, but under perfect competition all profits get competed away.” When a company dominates a market (large or small) it is much more profitable and valuable then one owning 1% of a large competitive market.

Peter Thiel’s lecture: Competition is for Losers:

When I look back at some of the best microcap performers they too had this characteristic of dominating a small market that is expanding rapidly. These companies normally have high organic growth rates, profitability, and pricing power. These powerhouse businesses can fund high rates of growth from internal cash flows. Their market leadership and profitability allows them to make longer-term strategic decisions that provide an even wider moat.

I highly recommend reading ZERO to ONE.

You will also enjoy: First…Dominate a Small Market 

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