Creative Monopolies on the Mind

Last week I started reading Peter Thiel’s new book, Zero to One (as an aside, I’m good at starting books but bad at finishing them, inline with my Leadership Weaknesses). Peter does a great job offering up theories on a number of topics from capitalism to startups to the future. One idea that really resonated with me is that of creative monopolies.

Back in 2012 David Brooks wrote about The Creative Monopoly in his NY Times article on Peter Thiel. From the article:

In fact, Thiel argues, we often shouldn’t seek to be really good competitors. We should seek to be really good monopolists. Instead of being slightly better than everybody else in a crowded and established field, it’s often more valuable to create a new market and totally dominate it. The profit margins are much bigger, and the value to society is often bigger, too.

Entrepreneurs create successful businesses in competitive markets all the time. Entrepreneurs that create once-in-a-decade businesses build creative monopolies (think Google, Facebook, etc.). When evaluating the next business idea, ask yourself if it has the potential to be a creative monopoly.

What else? What are some more thoughts on the idea of creative monopolies?

6 thoughts on “Creative Monopolies on the Mind

  1. David, thanks for sharing.
    I have created a strategic monopoly, not just a creative one. However, like you, I’m good at starting books, but not finishing them. I have a half dozen books in my library right now in that category. Personally, I love audiobooks and will not only finish most of them, but I will listen to them many times. The list of unfinished audiobooks is shorter. 😉

    1. There is a great book I read a number of years ago that covers Theil’s concept in great detail. In fact there is a whole movement in that direction. Have you read Blue Ocean Strategy by W. Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne? If not, I highly recommend you do. It’s available at if you like audiobooks too. I promise this is one book you will want to finish – at least the audio version.


  2. Disagree with Thiel’s premise. The aforementioned examples of Google and Facebook, both had competitive predecessors in their market. These two came in and executed better.

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