Why compete when you can monopolise the market instead?

Search monopoly? Inside Google's North Carolina data centre.

When it comes to increasing your market share, take a page from Google's play book and make competition irrelevant.

You build business success by out-competing your rivals, or so goes the conventional wisdom.

Peter Thiel – PayPal’s co-founder, Facebook’s first investor, and a hugely successful venture capitalist – has a different view. In his recent book Zero to One (Crown Business) and an article in the Wall Street Journal, Thiel proclaims that competition is overrated. He argues that monopolies let companies do good things that companies battling rivals are simply incapable of doing.

“A monopoly like Google is different. Since it doesn’t have to worry about competing with anyone, it has wider latitude to care about its workers, its products and its impact on the wider world.”

“Google’s motto – ‘Don’t be evil’ – is in part a branding ploy, but it is also characteristic of a kind of business that is successful enough to take ethics seriously without jeopardizing its own existence.

"In business, money is either an important thing or it is everything. Monopolists can think about things other than making money; non-monopolists can’t … ”

While Thiel doesn’t believe monopolies are always desirable, he says they can be good in particular circumstances. Those circumstances include the typical start-up, which he argues should focus on avoiding competition.

Thiel himself made his first fortune in the deregulated finance industry and his second in the equally competitive field of investment, so he definitely understands the territory of competition and monopoly.  

This article is from the March 2015 issue of INTHEBLACK


March 2015
March 2015

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