An excerpt from Peter Thiel’s Zero To One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future:

1. The Engineering Question — Can you create breakthrough technology instead of incremental improvements?

2. The Timing Question — Is now the right time to start your particular business?

3. The Monopoly Question — Are you starting with a big share of a small market?

4. The People Question — Do you have the right team?

5. The Distribution Question — Do you have a way to not just create but deliver your product?

6. The Durability Question — Will your market position be defensible 10 and 20 years into the future?

7. The Secret Question — Have you identified a unique opportunity that others don’t see?

Whatever your industry, any great business plan must address every one of them. If you don’t have good answers to these questions, you’ll run into lots of “bad luck” and your business will fail. If you nail all seven, you’ll master fortune and succeed. Even getting five or six correct might work.

Thiel, Peter; Masters, Blake (2014-09-16). Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future (pp. 153-154). Crown Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.


Just to prove that no technology is immune from disruption one of the oldest technologies in the book is being disrupted: the act of reading. (Pun intended).  Reading is so old and so fundamental it’s awkward to think of reading as a form of technology.  Perhaps there’s a better term for it?  I digress.

Not many people will tell you that reading is a waste of time but the folks at Spritz might.  According to the company, “when reading, only around 20% of your time is spent processing content. The remaining 80% is spent physically moving your eyes from word to word”.  Spritz has found a way to avoid all that wasted time.

Spritz’s technology streams words at a customizable rate ranging from 250 to 1,000 words per minute.  Instead of reading, you’re “spritzing”.  Take a look at the example below – it’s streaming 500 words per minute.


I’m pretty sure this is the last stop before they can just mainline knowledge right to your brain (a la Matrix).

More information available at

Found via FastCompany

Normally articles about big oil spending tons of money wouldn’t surprise me but this stat jumped off the page:

WSJ: Chevron, Exxon Mobil, and Royal Dutch Shell spent more than $120 billion in 2013 to boost their oil and gas output—about the same cost in today’s dollars as putting a man on the moon.  (emphasis mine)



“Here’s a tricky one that I worry about. Everybody wants to live longer and I don’t know what that means, to live longer. Suppose you could live 10,000 years. Then, what’s your urge to get out of bed the next morning. There’s no time pressure on you to achieve, to accomplish, to love. When you give flowers to a loved one on a special occasion, are they made of plastic so they live forever? No, they are made of flower petals. There’s a pistil, there’s a stamen, there’s a stalk, and that will all die. And it’s the fact that it dies that empowers our emotions to appreciate it that much more. So, the finiteness of life forces me to appreciate every sunrise that I wake up every day. And if I live forever, I don’t know that I would have those emotions or those feelings or the sense that the day awaits my energy.”

– Neil deGrasse Tyson

Found via Business Insider

A fascinating approach to the hierarchy of innovation based on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.  Go check out the full post at Rough Type.

hierarchy of innovation“The focus, or emphasis, of innovation moves up through five stages, propelled by shifts in the needs we seek to fulfill. In the beginning come Technologies of Survival (think fire), then Technologies of Social Organization (think cathedral), then Technologies of Prosperity (think steam engine), then technologies of leisure (think TV), and finally Technologies of the Self (think Facebook, or Prozac).”


“One of the consequences is that, as we move to the top level of the innovation hierarchy, the inventions have less visible, less transformative effects. We’re no longer changing the shape of the physical world or even of society, as it manifests itself in the physical world. We’re altering internal states, transforming the invisible self. Not surprisingly, when you step back and take a broad view, it looks like stagnation – it looks like nothing is changing very much.”

Source: Rough Type

Found via The Big Picture


Below is a chart of the 50 biggest companies that spent the most on R&D – courtesy of the The 2013 EU Industrial R&D Scoreboard.

I was a little surprised to see Volkswagen at the top.  I was also surprised to see Apple come in at #46.  I suppose it is more expensive to make advancements on large durable goods like cars than consumer hardware & software (but Microsoft is #3…).  It’s also worth noting that this only shows how much was spent – not how much was gained or returned on that investment.  For many this could be a case of “all thrust and not vector”.the 2013 eu industrial r&d investment scoreboard


Found via Business Insider


An interesting article on TechCrunch, written by the folks at Cowboy Ventures – they put together a in-depth profile of startups that are now valued at $1B or more, referring to these mythical creatures as “Unicorns”.

Below are some highlights I found interesting.  Be sure to check out the rest of the article here.

Fun Unicorn Facts:

  • There are currently 39 Unicorns
  • Only 0.7% of venture backed companies (from ’03-’10) have grown up to be Unicorns
  • On average four Unicorns were born per year from 2003 -2010
  • It has taken seven plus years on average for these Unicorns to reach a liquidity event and a third of Unicorns are still private
  • There are more consumer oriented Unicorns than enterprise oriented Unicorns
  • BUT enterprise Unicorns have delivered more value per private dollar invested (26x total capital raised vs. 11x for consumer)
  • Average age of a Unicorn founder is 34 and there were on average three co-founders at each Unicorn
  • 90% of founding teams either worked together previously or went to school together
  • 80% of Unicorns had at least one co-founder who had previously founded a company
  • Few companies are the result of a successful pivot; ~90% of companies are still working on their original product vision