Nigel's Blog

Zero to 1 and 1 to N

October 06, 2018

Guest post by Tim Adeney who you can find on twitter at @timadeney

In Peter Thiel’s Zero to One he distinguishes between two forms of progress. On the one hand, horizontal progress: taking an existing thing and multiplying it and spreading it far and wide. For example, phone manufacturers make lots of phones, and sell them in many markets. This is 1- n or globalization.

On the other hand, vertical progress: inventing something new - like a proper smart phone (Apple), an easier way to do payments on the internet (Stripe) or a new way of getting around in cities (Uber). This is 0 – 1 or technology.

Both forms of creating progress deliver incredible value; copying the best in the world and creating the new best. On first look, startups are about inventing something new, but one of the features of the modern world is that new invention can often be distributed across the globe. Some startups get to create the new best and then copy themselves into multiple markets. Hence 0-1 and 1-n.

Nigel Gordon

Hi. I'm Nigel Gordon and here are my musings on business, investing, startups and growth. Follow me on Twitter