This year, Venture Alpha West 2014, saw Paypal co-founder and entrepreneur-investor, Peter Thiel, speak briefly about his bestseller Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future while also offering a piece of his mind about what he thought was “thematic and overhyped” and how education and healthcare IT software, mobile computing, SaaS, the cloud, and big data were mere “buzzwords.”
Thiel is suspicious of everything that is not “sufficiently differentiated.” Citing instances of his early investment in Friendster and disappointment at finding pictures of the CEO adorning the walls of the “fairly dysfunctional place,” he pointed out how the social networking site never added up to much, reports Venture Beat.
Thiel believes in investing in technologies that are ‘real’ and cannot be overlooked or generalised. An initial investor in Facebook, he put in $500,000 in 2004 so that when Facebook went public, his shares were worth over $500 million. Presently, he’s tracking science and anti-aging technologies and is backing disruptive technologies, like Airbnb, which he believes is transformative and “fits the narrative” of companies he would invest in.
“I think the kinds of things that are underestimated are the companies that don’t fit into some straightforward narrative. A one-of-a-kind company is often one where it’s much harder to tell a narrative — one that is strange, and you don’t know what quite to make of it,” he said.
The 46 year old manages Founders Fund, Clarium Capital, a macro hedge fund; Mithril Capital Management; and Valar Ventures.
Read more here.
(Image source: Ken Yeung)
I’m 46 years old as well, and I started when I was age 8 on a Honeywell Mainframe. We went time share to mini to micro to pc to networked pc back to really ? Time share. I agree with Thiel on being careful with buzzwords. I recall B2B in year 2000 was the all of it. Then ‘web services’ – and now ? Amazon developers share that they prefer to call ‘the cloud’ … ‘web services’. I have heard nothing new can be under the sun, I will update it to ALL the damned stars. Buzzwords seem to have about a 7 year life span, MAYBE 10, and by the time people finally settle and realize they’ve been duped in thinking of ‘the cloud’ only to realize – it’s time share at data centers back to 1976? A NEW Buzzword comes in to replace the old one to keep everything running in panic – “I better get ‘the forest’ or whatever is next. Oh, I know, I bet ‘rain’ comes next following cloud. or ‘Thunder’. I can hear it now “Well, Thunder apps are fast, but not as fast as Lightning apps, Lightning apps don’t require the discreet virtualization blah blah blah” from some expert making $270,000 a year. This year I’ll make $10,000 TOPS probably, BUT I’ll have a very fun time producing some of my personal software pursuits.
Trends I DO see emerging though are micro currency markets – digital currencies- and a trend towards people seeking to use these off the shelf technology driven liquid intercommerce interchange mechanisms for their needs vs risky sovereign currencies that carry too much weight from too much debt from too much spending on too much hardware used on too many wars disguised as anything but rented mercenaries for failed energy solutions such as oil that completely disregard future generations all for profits today so a small handful of people can perpetuate monarchy and quite literally – like Tony Hayward of BP – live like a King, no, AS a King. The grand irony is? ARPAnet was created as a defense strategy for media transport / medium redundancy in case of a nuclear attack- the end game for territorial nationalism as an ideology. Go figure, humanity finds a way to shed itself of that dead end ideology? and a framework for an emerging global society to serve humanity is now a real, not an ideal. I think just as the internet helped humanity get out of the corner territorial nationalism painted itself in ? micro alternative currencies will take us truly away from the dead end no longer serving promises of nationalism. I actually started a service LIKE Paypal for crypto currencies, once I read CEO of Ebay say they would be taking crypto ? I abandoned it and figured Paypal will do it right. I HAVE since started a project that indexes all global participants for crypto currencies – and lets them send alt currencies using an alias not dissimilar to Twitter. Facebook was nothing new to me, it simply filled in the void after Myspace collapsed after Murdoch bought it and scared all the kids away. The NEXT BIGGEST thing post internet will be decentralization of currency authorities. J Rockefeller said if you want to control a nation, control it’s currency. “I” say- no currency? no nation. And I FURTHER that with – no nation ? no more need or USE for nuclear warheads and what child of future generations wouldn’t call THAT a win. Sure beats duck and cover and never ending psychological stressors completely unnecessary impressed on us for holding onto an ideology that no longer serves humanity. As with the Simpson’s when homer got has hand stuck trying to steal a candy bar from the vending machine – the candy bar IS territorial nationalism – final scene as they are about to saw his arm off (threat to humanity by nuclear warheads) “Homer, you’re not merely just holding on to the candy bar are you?” answer ? yes. Let GO of the damned candy bar – save the arm (humanity).
How do I know that you are real The LLAMACOIN? I don’t mean that in a disrespectful way but am struck by how NARRATIVE SCIENCE also talks about neurolinguistic bots who then make comments as if they were people. I do not have any real way of knowing this over the internet, which also is slightly troubling to me because I want to connect with humans and not BOTS. One of the thing that still surprises me or baffles me or confounds the sense of me is how racism and other forms of isms, given their historical persistence, will or will not happen in the future. The picture you see in my avatar is the picture of me, and yours for whatever reason is a LLAMA. Might I also assume, and you can confirm this or not, that you are a White male? Also that you are rich, thus the use of COIN. I just don’t know, and more importantly, how will I be able to know in the future if I am communicating with a BOT in the internet. I will remain Black in the future (phenotypically speaking and culturally), but perhaps I might too consider taking on different identities in hyperspace. I might feel more free but then allowing technology to completely erase my identity would be a form of really big pimping.
Any nation that harbors nuclear weapons is a nation that supports and promotes terrorism. Turn your back on your nation, yeah – maybe a traitor- but UPSTREAM FISHING here ? turn you back on your SPECIES ? that’s BEYOND taboo.
Humanity will be here 10,000 years out, 50,000, 1,000, even 200. Territorial nationalism ? My god, let’s face it – territories are on MOVING TECTONIC PLATES – ha- yeah – right – static territories on MOVING tectonic plates, Pangea Ultima in 95 million years shows all continents will be in one place again. No, I’m not holding out for Pangea Ultima, but like buzzwords such as ‘cloud’ and ‘big data’ – are equals to buzzwords of ‘big nations’ ‘territorial nationalism’. Decentralization of authority works – the internet wouldn’t function if it didn’t. And here comes decentralized currency models- I’m sure one nation or another will call out it’s red flag ‘threat to national security’ excuse sooner or later. I’d rather say nationalism is a THREAT TO HUMANITY if you factor in the useless weapons we have that can render life unlivable for 10 generations out, biological, chemical, nuclear and for what ? to protect territories taken BY force, that are on MOVING TECTONIC plates – as IF – as Chief Seattle said – or Black Elk – AS IF one could OWN the Sky.
I think there are MANY more ‘buzzwords’ we should be wary of. A nation should be a supportive mechanism for humanity, not a means in and of to itself. Aristotle said the MOST IMPORTANT THING is educating the next generation. The internet has emerged as a vast resource of media – sorting it – indexing it becomes key – in order to derive meaning. Alas, search indexing sites for media documents are invaluable. I don’t see Facebook as really doing anything to organize the 4+ BILLION smart phone users on the planet, I foresee serious opportunities for humanity to connect people through ‘smart phones’ – I see political revolutions often harnessing ‘smart phones’ – immediate connectivity. New networks that are emerging that do not require TCP/IP are precious- untapped- completely decentralized models that will surpass the internet as we know it – I will not spam the companies doing this – it’s here – and it’s wonderful. The decentralization of currencies will probably be the final beckon and call of nation states to realize- the model no longer serves humanity, it only divides it- as physicist David Bohm points out nationalism derives from the same word as to ‘fragment’. Leaders like Martin Luther King, shouldn’t have to be the EXCEPTION, it is BECAUSE we have gone off course, that they stand out as exception, they should be the NORM.
I think online education services and tools are more valuable than anything else one can spend time on.
In respect to Thiel here ?
Who I hand’t encountered until I saw this article on cloud and big data buzzword warning ?
Strange I’m the same age- I can relate on aggregate count of revolutions around the Sun alone ! JUST KIDDING.
But no, I’m REAL happy to see someone stand up and call it as they see it – AND help clear up debris left by the masses who gathered for the worship services of ‘the Cloud’ Landrew !
Having spent 10 years in macro assembly language- I STILL sometimes break out my reductionist instruction set and say – at the end of the day- it’s ALLLLLLLLLLLL just bit pushing.
But as Marshal Machluhan says regarding large data sets- IBM turns to pattern recognition. And Thiel correctly points out the IDEAL is LESS is more – the IDEA isn’t to collect collect and collect some more (Andie McDowell voice from scene in Groundhog Day when they are all singing Christmas carols in the town square- COME ON Phil- join in “They’re HICKS Rita”)… I do wonder though, being 46 ? in a University town ? I talk with students who are in early 20’s and I dare day- kids born AFTER the era of Google ? ARE immersed in such LARGE data fields it’s HARD to sort out what is real – from what is not. It seems as if the kids these days just abstract from all of it and grab on to just a few anchors they KNOW are real – unfortunately they are grabbing onto more mediums than media it seems.
Somewhere we got confused and mistook the computer and networking to be as if not more valuable than the media we can access through them.
In some ways ? use of ‘the cloud’ has really confused people. They think about it as if it’s about media when it’s really a medium – yadda yadda Macluhan might disagree with me there. Oh, I see- never mind, Cloud as to medium and Big Data as to media. Either way- heh- I will complement Macluhan on saying he’s against any innovation in technology, but let’s remember, technology roots from Techknos (yeah, ch AND k) in Greek, to mean ‘skill’ – so – let’s just keep in mind – what’s it all about Charlie Brown ? I mean technology isn’t like territorial nationalism and models of sovereignty – a means in to in and of itself – at the end of the day – the chimp is devising a means to use a rock to crack open that nut – not to advance technologies involving nut cracking, it does so because there is a nut inside. I ask – for western and merging eastern civilization(s), what is OUR nut we are after. Eh, I don’t think it ever WAS that complicated. Everything I’ve come up with at age 46 is ? it’s ALL about education ? and agriculture. What ELSE can you ask for ? but a clear view of the night sky – jaws wide open in awe…
Now ? The car isn’t about where you GO – the car is about THE CAR – Look – it has a table tennis unit in the back, microwave oven in the front, 3 FM stereo radios – 3 CD players, a sauna in the trunk, AND it will TALK TO YOU while you drive telling you where to turn ! But don’t get TOO attached, because NEXT YEARS MODELS WILL BE OUT SOON!
In some ways- The Cloud is simply a Next Years model of a car – REALLY now – what HAS changed ? At BEST I call it as we’ve gone full circle back to time share in 1976. Sure a data center is centralized, but we’ll market it as anything BUT.