In Peter Thiel’s hot book, Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future, he makes many interesting observations (some I agree with, some I do not) but one in particular is particularly valuable. Thiel asserts that great companies are not great because they beat their competition, they are great because they do not have competition. Although he does not quote Blue Ocean Strategy, it is very consistent with their thesis and data that shows that companies that create new markets have much higher economic returns than those who come up with new strategies to defeat their competition.
Thiel’s point about the benefits of creating what he refers to as a monopoly, what I call a blue ocean opportunity, resonated with me as he use basic economics to prove the point. At its core, classical economics shows competition will drive out excess profits. That is why although Exxon makes a lot of money, they do not make a higher return on investment than another oil company. Whatever you are doing, somebody else will copy.
Thiel points out that, “Americans mythologize competition and credit it with saving us from socialist bread lines. Actually, capitalism and competition are opposites. Capitalism is premised on the accumulation of capital, but under perfect competition all profits get competed away. The lesson for entrepreneurs is clear: if you want to create and capture lasting value, don’t build an undifferentiated commodity business.“ Instead he advocates building a virtual monopoly, a company so good at what it does that no other firm can offer a close substitute. Continue reading “It is about creating a monopoly, not winning”