那些伟大的构想 Those Big Ideas
Mike William: Hello. My guest today has made a great fortune creating and investing in some of the biggest names on the internet including the on-line payment system PayPal. He also lost fortune, too, 1)speculating against America's economic recovery. Still, he has enough money left to pursue his interests, among them making more money, saving Western civilization through technology, and helping people establish communities, real and virtual, that are beyond the reach of national governments. Peter Thiel, welcome to the interview.
Peter Thiel: Thank you for having me.
Mike: Let's talk about your activities, well, during your time at Stanford, but particularly afterwards; the creation of PayPal, this on-line payment company that you co-founded and led with a couple of other partners. You've said that it wasn't simply a business idea, that it had a…an 2)ideological foundation to it, to liberate commerce on the internet from the 3)state, to create a new world currency. Hand on heart, was that really a major factor or did you just want to make some big bucks?
Peter: Well, I…I think all successful companies have some sense of 4)transcendence, some sense of purpose that's beyond just making money, and I think…I think sort of Google's model was to, you know, organize the world's information. Facebook is to help people around the world share things with one another and help people connect with one another, and so I think there's always some sort of sense of transcendence like this that you have in…in great companies. And when you're starting a company, it can never be just about making money because there's no company, there's no money, there are no 5)revenues and certainly no profits. PayPal was started in December of 1998. We launched the first product in October '99. It grew pretty quickly, but there were…it was a massive money-losing operation for quite awhile: it burned through about a hundred eighty million dollars before getting to break even in September 2001. And certainly a lot of the people were motivated by trying to create a new form of money or something like that, so I think it was…I think you want to always have something like that. And when I look at businesses that people are starting, that I try to get involved with as a board member or investor these days, I always am looking for things where there is at least some…some big idea. You may not get to the big idea, but you're much more likely to get to at least a small idea if you start with a big one than if you start with a small one or none at all.
Mike: What appealed to you about the idea, the big idea that you say you look for in companies. What was the big idea behind Facebook?
Peter: Well, one of my friends from my undergraduate days at Stanford, Reid Hoffman, had been thinking about social networking for probably a decade. He ended up starting Linked-in, which was the business networking site, in 2003, so Reid and I had been looking at this social networking idea quite a bit. As a 6)Libertarian, I had some ideological 7)skepticism about it because I thought that, you know, it should all be about individuals, and then Reid's argument was always, “Well, it's all about society and people exist in society, not as individuals.” And I think Face…Facebook is somewhere, if you want to describe it ideologically, somewhere in between a Libertarian and a centralized view of the world, and so it's somehow very far outside the 8)paradigms of what you might have described as 20th Century political theory, where it was decentralized right versus centralized left.
皮特：我在斯坦福读本科时认识的一个朋友雷德·霍夫曼想建社交网站也大概想了十年，最后在2003年创建了商务交际网站Linked-in。雷德和我一直对社交网络的理念有点研究。作为一名自由主义者，我对社交网站的意识形态取向总有点保留，我觉得一切应该以个人为导向，但雷德却总是认为“应该以社区社会为导向，人们存在于社群里，并非单独的个体” 。 我想，论及意识形态取向，Facebook就介乎于自由主义和集权思想之间，远远不同于二十世纪政治理论里的一些范例，以前大家只会讲民主右派与专权左派的两极倾向。
Mike: You seem to enjoy technologies that help people 9)bypass traditional ways of doing things: shopping on line, meeting on line. Is that fair? You want them to do things in a different way?
Peter: Well, I…I believe technology is fundamentally about trying to improve things, make the world better. Things that are better I would say are things where you can do more with less.
Mike: Let's move on. You established a 10)hedge fund after you'd…after you'd sold PayPal. Why? Well to make money, of course, but anything else? What was the big idea?
Peter: Well, I continued to run both the hedge fund and a 11)venture capital fund, and what both have in common is thinking about the future of the world; what is, you know, happening both on the technology side and then on the larger scale economic side. I have found that these questions about the future are very important. They were critical in the 90s and earlier 2000s decade with the tech boom and 12)bust cycle, which was in, on the one hand a micro-story about technologies and on the other hand a 13)macro-story about economics. I think both of these things are…are very important to think about.
Mike: Peter Thiel, thanks for talking to us here on the interview.
Peter: Awesome being on. Thanks.