A few gems:
Some sense of competition seems appropriate. Competition can make for better learning and education. Sometimes credentials do reflect significant degrees of accomplishment. But the worry is that people make a habit of chasing them. Too often, we seem to forget that it’s genuine accomplishment we’re after, and we just train people to compete forever.
See the endless battle for class rank, prestigious scholarships, internships, etc.
On the recipe for creating a valuable business:
There are three steps to creating a truly valuable tech company. First, you want to find, create, or discover a new market. Second, you monopolize that market. Then you figure out how to expand that monopoly over time.
In other words:
Find a small target market, become the best in the world at serving it, take over immediately adjacent markets, widen the aperture of what you’re doing, and capture more and more. Once the operation is quite large, some combination of network effects, technology, scale advantages, or even brand should make it very hard for others to follow.
See Apple, Amazon, and to a smaller extent, eBay. Thiel also points to Twitter as a good example of starting in a small, niche market, though he admits that the question of Twitter’s profitability has yet to be answered.
Finally, on the importance of timing:
The tech frontier is temporal, not geographical. It’s when things are happening.
Consider the automotive industry. Trying to build a car company in the 19th century was a bad idea. It was too early. But it’s far too late to build a traditional car company today. Car companies—some 300 of them, a few of which are still around—were built in 20th century. The time to build a car company was the time when car technology was being created—not before, and not after.
Lots of great ideas and viewpoints in here; a long read, but worth it.