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本文节选自亿万富翁Peter Thiel的《从0到1》(Zero to One),此书是基于其斯坦福大学创业课程的授课笔记整理而来。Peter是极为成功的创业者(PayPal与Palantir)、投资人(Facebook)、政治活动家(Trump竞选早期在硅谷的重要支持者)、慈善家和作者。

Don’t Disrupt 


Silicon Valley has become obsessed with “disruption”. Originally, “disruption” was a term of art to describe how a firm can use new technology to introduce a low-end product at low prices, improve the product over time, and eventually overtake even the premium products offered by incumbent companies using older technology.


This is roughly what happened when the advent of PCs disrupted the market for mainframe computers: at first PCs seemed irrelevant, then they became dominant. Today mobile devices may be doing the same thing to PCs.


However, disruption has recently transmogrified into a self-congratulatory buzzword for anything posing as trendy and new. This seemingly trivial fad matters because it distorts an entrepreneur’s self-understanding in an inherently competitive way.


The concept was coined to describe threats to incumbent companies, so startups’ obsession with disruption means they see themselves through older firms’ eyes. If you think of yourself as an insurgent battling dark forces, it’s easy to become unduly fixated on the obstacles in your path. But if you truly want to make something new, the act of creation is far more important than the old industries that might not like what you create. Indeed, if your company can be summed up by its opposition to already existing firms, it can’t be completely new and it’s probably not going to become a monopoly.



Disruption also attracts attention: disruptors are people who look for trouble and find it. Disruptive kids get sent to the principal’s office. Disruptive companies often pick fights they can’t win.


Think of Napster: the name itself meant trouble. What kinds of things can one “nap”? Music … Kids … and perhaps not much else. Shawn Fanning and Sean Parker, Napster’s then-teenage founders, credibly threatened to disrupt the powerful music recording industry in 1999. The next year, they made the cover of Time magazine. A year and a half after that, they ended up in bankruptcy court.


注:Napster是一款通过P2P的方式共享音乐文件(比如mp3)的软件。该公司由于版权问题被国际五大唱片公司起诉,并于败诉后破产。Nap的原意是「打盹」,而-ster的后缀含义与-er类似,一般表示“做…的人”或“与…有关系的人” 。类似的构词还有trickster:骗子,gangster:匪徒,minister:小人物→佣人;部长、神父、佣人(大概公仆的意思就是这么来的吧…………)

PayPal could be seen as disruptive, but we didn’t try to directly challenge any large competitor. It’s true that we took some business away from Visa when we popularized internet payments: you might use PayPal to buy something online instead of using your Visa card to buy it in a store. But since we expanded the market for payments overall, we gave Visa far more business than we took. The overall dynamic was net positive, unlike Napster’s negative-sum struggle with the U.S. recording industry. As you craft a plan to expand to adjacent markets, don’t disrupt: avoid competition as much as possible.





You’ve probably heard about “first mover advantage”: if you’re the first entrant into a market, you can capture significant market share while competitors scramble to get started.


But moving first is a tactic, not a goal. What really matters is generating cash flows in the future, so being the first mover doesn’t do you any good if someone else comes along and unseats you.


It’s much better to be the last mover—that is, to make the last great development in a specific market and enjoy years or even decades of monopoly profits. The way to do that is to dominate a small niche and scale up from there, toward your ambitious long-term vision. In this one particular at least, business is like chess. Grandmaster José Raúl Capablanca put it well: to succeed, “you must study the endgame before everything else.”

成为最后那个下手的人更好——比方说,经过深思熟虑之后在市场中打赢一场重要的战役、获取某个特定的资源优势,并在之后几年甚至几十年内维持这种地位并获取某种意义上的「垄断利润」(monopoly profits)。要实现这个目标,就要先在一个垂直领域/利基市场占据优势地位,并以此为基础不断拓展自己的业务。从这个意义上来说,商业竞争和国际象棋颇为类似。正如13岁拿到古巴全国冠军的国际象棋大师何塞·卡帕布兰卡所说:要想赢,要以始为终,要有终局思维,要先从分析终局开始学起。

关于「后发而先至」的讨论,似乎草草收尾。实际上,今天分享的内容选自Zero to One第五章的最后两小节,而第五章的标题就是《后发优势》(Last Mover Advantage)。