When an investor and entrepreneur like PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel speaks people listen and when he spoke to Oxford University recently about the “rules” for business success he spoke about a number of things that many people might find unconventional.
Whether you’re a lawyer, businessman, entrepreneur or investor, the “Thiel Rules” make interesting reading because they tend to challenge conventional thinking on several levels.
Apart from being PayPal cofounder and an early Facebook investor Peter Thiel sold most of his 10% stake in the company following its 2012 IPO, though he still sits on the board. His largest holding is in Palantir, the CIA-backed big data company he cofounded and chairs. His venture capital firm Founders Fund’s stated goal is to invest in companies it says can affect dramatic technological change. Investments include peer-to-peer renter Airbnb, web-based electronic health records company Practice Fusion and online payment outfit Stripe
As Thiel says about business success:
The business version is about asking what great companies nobody is starting. The industrial version is asking what great investment does nobody like. The non-profit version is: what worthwhile but unpopular cause is not being funded.
And the intellectual version is: tell me something that’s true that nobody believes in. These are shockingly hard questions to be asking yourself, not because you require some incredible amount of genius to answer but because they’re very uncomfortable to answer and a good answer is not a conventional answer….The answers are ones that people are likely to powerfully disagree with. I think we live in a world in which courage is in much shorter supply than genius.”