Peter Thiel’s maxim of escaping the competition

Peter Thiel‘s maxim of escaping the competition, Network Effects and Mimetic Desire. (How your startup should be growing by standing on the shoulders of giants and not by outspending your competition on user acquisition)

Yesterday afternoon, I stumbled upon the mimetic theory and 1 hour after that, something big has changed in how I see the world. 

I need to get this off into the world and onto you, via Linkedin. 

Successful consumer internet Silicon Valley companies have already figured this out, which is why they always build free to play products(all successful products are essentially games in disguise, more on that here: TODO: add the link to twitter post) which leverage dopamine cycles together with value creation to deliver core product value. 

Mimetic theory states people want what other people already have, and if your product is competing with 9 other products which are very similar, 8 out of 9 of these products will have diminishing returns on customer acquisition, no matter which way you put it because 80% of customer will go to 20% of products. 

Do not fight this battle, instead “create” your own battle, a battle you will win. 

Sun Tzu in the art of war emphasizes this greatly by advising you to choose the conditions of the battle according to your strengths. 

In order to “create” a battle you will win, in words of Peter Thiel you must “escape the competition”, you must differentiate your product enough to create a micro monopoly so that…

The network effect born out of your users mimetic desire will become inert to all the other network effects competing for your users. 

Network effects are nothing more than clusters of mimetic desire. Your job is to create your own cluster of mimetic desire and own it. 

In high probability, this will require you to Pivot.

I hope the structure of this post will make sense to you as I’m still coming to terms with the implications of seeing the world in this new way. 

Perhaps the most important question in mimetic theory, “where does the original desire come from” and how it relates to leadership.

I think leadership is simply the act of enabling others achieve their mimetic desires.

Author: Usman Gondal

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