蒂尔的新书

彼得·蒂尔(Peter Thiel)是硅谷知名的风险投资人,他曾与人共同创办了电子支付企业贝宝(Paypal),最终把它以15亿美元卖给了eBay。从贝宝走出了伊隆·马斯克(Elon Musk)、里德·霍夫曼(Reid Hoffman)等很多硅谷精英,创办了一系列更为人所熟知的科技公司,如特斯拉(Tesla)、SpaceX、领英(LinkedIn)、YouTube、Yelp。

最让蒂尔出名的投资,是他在2004年资助了一个名叫马克·扎克伯格(Mark Zuckerberg)的哈佛大二学生,买下Thefacebook公司(后来叫Facebook)的10.5%的股份。到目前为止,他已经至少从这笔投资套现了10亿美元,至今仍担任Facebook的董事。

他和苹果公司的蒂姆·库克一样,是个同性恋。

今年9月,蒂尔出版了新书《从0到1》(From Zero to One)。扎克伯格评论说:“这本书实际上是讲述为世界创造价值的哲学。”

在书中,蒂尔将进步分为两种,一种是渐进性的“水平”进步,即从1到n,另一种为革命性的“垂直”进步,即从0到1。他举例说:“如果给你 1台打字机,你又制造出100台,这是水平的进步; 如果给你1台打字机,你却开发出一款文字处理器,那么你就取得了垂直性的进步。”蒂尔认为,前者的代表是中国:“中国一直在直 接抄袭发达国家一切有用的东西:19世纪的铁路,20世纪的空调甚至整座城市。他们甚至在这一过程中跳过了几个步骤……他们一直在原封不动地抄袭。”而硅谷是后者的代表,中国的不断发展将加剧对环境的污染,需要后者开发出革命性的技术来解决这一问题。

这样的观点估计会引起争议。首先,到底有没有“从0到1”的变革存在?看了该书关于这部分内容的节选,你会发现蒂尔并没有拿出一个令人信服的实例。他打的比方在我看来也不甚恰当。打字机发明于19世纪初,200多年后才有了文字处理器。新技术得到广泛应用,需要一定的条件。美国人拿到一台打字机,他也只有先制造若干台打字机,直到相关硬件技术成熟,再加上客观上对 高效率的追求,才会有字处理器问世。

其次,蒂尔称中国只会原封不动地抄袭。这种说法恐怕争议更大。确实,作为后进国家,中国有很多功课要补,在一些领域,仍然处于模仿阶段。但这不意味着中国只会山寨。事实上,中国也在一些领域做到了青出于蓝。比如说高铁,最早是引进国外技术,但经过了消化吸收后,已经在国际上极具竞争力。不久前,北车就拿下了波士顿的高铁项目大单。此外,蒂尔似乎对中国不够了解,他称中国跨过固线电话,直接进入了手机时代,显然犯了张冠李戴的错误。

最后,还有一个问题,创新只属于硅谷吗?其实,创新不是基因,也不是文化,它是不断实践的产物。中国目前还处于赶超阶段,它的创新主要集中在突破制造领域的关键技术上,对大多数人来说,这些技术比较枯燥难懂。而像产品体验、网络应用这样的创新,是很容易吸引消费者的。所以,创新是不是只属于硅谷,取决你的关注点在哪里。

有意思的是,蒂尔本人的关注点已经从网络应用转移。他宣称:“在过去40年来的科技领域,我们在比特世界取得了巨大进步,但在原子世界并没有没有取得同样的进步。”因此,他主要投资于“硬科技”,比如从动物身上提供活组织,人工合成皮革或肌肉,不必屠宰它们,这个项目目前还在初级阶段。大约10年前,他还资助过一位名叫德·格雷(Aubrey de Grey)的科学狂人。此公自称发现了长寿的机理,能让人健康快乐地活上好几千年。可惜,10年过去了,还没有成果出来。

蒂尔最需要来一次“从 0到1”跨越。现在看来,能证明他的观点的,只有他自己。


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