Peter Thiel Is Wrong About Lean Startups

“The purpose of customer development is to inform your vision, so you’re not building blind. If nothing else, this makes you much more likely to build something people want. But instead of dissecting this concept, Thiel writes the whole process off as a ‘focus group.'”


Editor’s note: Dan Kaplan helps startups tell their stories. He’s done marketing for Twilio, Asana, and Salesforce, and is preparing to launch Dispatches From The Future, a podcast about the future of humanity.

In his book Zero To One, Peter Thiel has some harsh things to say about lean startups. He writes that lean is “code for unplanned” and equates the Lean methodology to “making small changes to things that already exist.”

He argues that, “would-be entrepreneurs are told that nothing can be known in advance.” He characterizes customer development as nothing more than “listening to what customers say they want,” and says that Lean tells founders to “Make nothing more than a minimum viable product and iterate [their] way to success.”

[tc_writerquote align=”left”]If he actually took the time to think through the context, Thiel could add a lot to the conversation. [/tc_writerquote]

It’s hard to read Thiel’s critiques…

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One comment

  1. Dave Harrison · ·

    Peter values $ development more than character development. As if business is only about IPO’s. Why else would a libertarian paternalist get chased out of Berkley? They just sense something is bogus on his floating island of creepy sovereignty. “Paypalintir mafia”.



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