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Peter Thiel Will Not Be Opening A South Indian Restaurant In Silicon Valley

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Or any other kind of food-service establishment. Because it’s been done, competition is "for losers," and he is an innovator Except for that time he opened that hedge fund, when he apparently forgot that other people had already invented hedge funds.

In 2001, my co-workers at PayPal and I would often get lunch on Castro Street in Mountain View, Calif. We had our pick of restaurants, starting with obvious categories like Indian, sushi and burgers. There were more options once we settled on a type: North Indian or South Indian, cheaper or fancier, and so on. In contrast to the competitive local restaurant market, PayPal was then the only email-based payments company in the world. We employed fewer people than the restaurants on Castro Street did, but our business was much more valuable than all those restaurants combined. Starting a new South Indian restaurant is a really hard way to make money. If you lose sight of competitive reality and focus on trivial differentiating factors—maybe you think your naan is superior because of your great-grandmother's recipe—your business is unlikely to survive….

The history of progress is a history of better monopoly businesses replacing incumbents. Monopolies drive progress because the promise of years or even decades of monopoly profits provides a powerful incentive to innovate.

Competition Is for Losers [WSJ]


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