Peter Thiel is the founder of PayPal and the first angel investor in something called ‘The Facebook’ - needless to say he’s done pretty well in the financial world. Thiel is staunchly libertarian and preaches against conformity, believing firmly that no two great ideas are alike. On radio this morning, the author of the new book 'Zero to One' spoke with Glenn about trouble on Apple's horizon and why he doesn't have a problem with monopolies.
"It had an enormous run of innovation under Jobs for decades and decades. But it's hard to maintain innovation when you get that big when you're making $150 billion a year from selling i Phones. It's hard to come up with any new vertical to compete with it. It has the same problem any of these large companies have. Companies get bureaucratic. They get stagnant," Thiel said.
"Tim Cook is doing as good a job as he can filling impossibly large shoes, but often, the innovation is driven by the founders. The founders are important. They set the tone of these companies, and once they leave, it's often hard for that to persevere. It's sort of an analogy I draw, and maybe it's overdone, with the founders of companies and the founders of our country. When you found something, you have tremendous freedom. You can sort of set up all the parameters, and then often the people who come afterwards have much less ability to change things or you're sort of caught up in these structures," he added.
"There's always a degree to which if you're too doctrinaire, you've lost something. Of course, if you've forgotten about it, you've lost something too. So you always have to be somewhere in between," he said.
Thiel also said that he has no problem with monopolies, as companies should have unique and innovative ideas.
"You have to always distinguish -- two different versions of this. One as advice to someone who is an entrepreneur or a founder, someone who is starting something, and there's always the question about society. That, if you're starting a business, you want to have a monopoly. You want to be doing something where it's one of a kind. You don't want to have the fourth online pet food company. You don't want to have the tenth thin-film solar panel company. You don't want to be opening the 1,000th restaurant here in Dallas. You want to be doing something that if you were not doing it, nobody would," Thiel said.
" I think it's bad if these monopolies are static like in the Parker Brothers board game where they become toll collectors like a troll on a bridge. And I think they become static in fact when they are regulated. When the government gets involved, it often ends up backing the monopolies in one way or another. So the Post Office is a bad monopoly. Comcast has problems."
"But I think in technology, the monopolies are not permanent. They last for a few decades. You have a great run. That's the reward you get for coming up with something new."