Listening To Peter Thiel On Innovation

I’ve been a fan of Tyler Cowen for quite some time now. Whether it’s the blog posts over on Marginal Revolution, his regular New York Times column or any one of his series of books, the man is consistently on point when it comes to business and the wider economy.

So when I heard he was planning a series of online audio interviews, I was naturally intrigued. When I found out the first one was to be with Peter Thiel, I really sat up and took notice.

Where to start with Peter Thiel? For a man still to hit fifty, he’s put together quite the CV. Co-founder of Paypal, co-founder of Palantir, first outside investor in Facebook, and heavily involved in a series of hedge funds and venture capital outfits – this is a man with his finger very much on the pulse. When you get the opportunity to hear him interviewed on a broad range of topics by an expert like Tyler, it’s worth taking.

The whole interview is filled with actionable takeways and it’s worth listening to repeatedly. A couple of points really leapt out for me though that I wanted to highlight:

  • Long/short geographical trades: This one really hit home. At one point, after being asked if he thinks New York is overrated, Thiel raises the concept of being long or short on individual states. He’s long on California and Texas and short on New York and Virginia. Sitting here in New York listening to them, the reasons why were worryingly convincing.
  • Globalization in decline: This is not a point of view you hear argued all that often but I suspect Thiel is on to something with it. The coming decades may be much more regional in focus than many of us thought and having all your eggs in the globalization basket might not be a smart move. Food for thought in terms of your own company’s exposure or wider investments.

I’ll be waiting with interest to see who Tyler gets on next. If he manages to snag time with more A-listers like Thiel then we’re all in for a treat!

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