Daily Annotations: Peter Thiel’s Startups Notes

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Peter Thiel’s course CS183: Startup in Stanford for Spring 2012 has been annotated and curated by a student, Blake Masters. A very interesting course gathering notable personalities from the start-up world such as Paul Graham, Max Levchin, Reid Hoffman, Marc Andressen and Stephen Cohen with their thoughts added to the mix. While teaching courses including new venture creation here in Singapore, this set of lectures have allowed me to have different perspectives and insights for start-ups in today’s world. I have collected all the notes and make some annotations and thoughts for my own usage.

I have organized the notes here, and you can click to read them from Blake Masters’ site:

  • Class 1: The Challenge of the Future
  • Class 2: Party Like it’s 1999?
  • Class 3: Value Systems – This set of notes triggered an article by David Brooks entitled “The Creative Monopoly“, which puts an interesting spin on the confusion of capitalism with competition. In Brooks’ words, “We tend to think that whoever competes best comes out ahead. In the race to be more competitive, we sometimes confuse what is hard with what is valuable. The intensity of competition becomes a proxy for value.”
  • Class 4: The Last Mover Advantage
  • Class 5: The Mechanics of Mafia with Stephen Cohen, co-founder and Executive VP of Palantir Technologies, and Max Levchin of PayPal and Slide.
  • Class 6: Thiel’s LawA startup messed up at its foundation cannot be fixed.
  • Class 7: Follow The Money with Roelof Botha, partner at Sequoia Capital and former CFO of PayPal, and Paul Graham, partner and co-founder of Y Combinator.
  • Class 8: The Pitch
  • Class 9: If You Build It, Will They Come?
  • Class 10: After Web 2.0 with Marc Andressen
  • Class 11: Secrets
  • Class 12: War and Peace with Reid Hoffman (co-founder, LinkedIn & partner, Greylock Ventures).
  • Class 13: You Are Not A Lottery Ticket
  • Class 14: Seeing Green
  • Class 15: Back to the Future with (a) Danielle Fong, Co-founder and Chief Scientist of LightSail Energy; (b) Jon Hollander, Business Development at RoboteX; (c) Greg Smirin, COO of The Climate Corporation; and (d) Scott Nolan, Principal at Founders Fund.
  • Class 16: Decoding Ourselves with (a) Brian Slingerland. Co-Founder, President & COO at Stem CentRx; (b) Balaji S. Srinivasan, CTO of Counsyl; and (c) Brian Frezza, Co-founder, Emerald Therapeutics.
  • Class 17: Deep Thought with (a) D. Scott Brown, co-founder of Vicarious Systems, (b) Eric Jonas, CEO of Prior Knowledge and (c) Bob McGrew, Director of Engineering at Palantir.
  • Class 18: Founder as Victim, Founder as God.
  • Class 19: Stagnation or Singularity? with (a) Sonia Arrison, tech analyst, author of 100 Plus: How the Coming Age of Longevity will Change Everything, and Associate Founder of Singularity University; (b) Michael Vassar, futurist and President of the Singularity Institute for the study of Artificial Intelligence (SIAI) and (c) Dr. Aubrey de Grey, gerontology expert and Chief Science Officer at the SENS Foundation. Also closing notes of the lecture by Peter Thiel



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Peter Thiel’s interview on PandoDaily

From time to time, I will update some interesting annotations and ideas arising from the notes itself. The way how the notes are presented utilized abstract principles from philosophy and pragmatic ideas from economics. For the layman, it might be best to read it a couple of times to distill what it is being said, for example, the ideas on competition and capitalism being challenged in class 3. It’s similar to other well-known lecture series like the Richard Feynman’s lectures of Physics, Thiel’s notes are very similar that it might be preached for the layman or undergraduates but it may be more insightful for people who are practitioners or have taught the craft to students as well.

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Bernard Leong

A Pragmatic Idealist