The Great American Trap: Competition
Paypal founder shows that US instead needs 'creative monopolists'
By Kevin Spak, Newser User
Posted Apr 24, 2012 12:01 PM CDT
Exterior view of PayPal/eBay offices in San Jose, Calif., Thursday, March 29, 2012.   (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma)

(Newser) – Peter Thiel spent most of his life competing. He competed to get into Stanford, and then Stanford Law, and then to become a clerk for a federal judge. But it was when he lost a competition—to become a Supreme Court clerk—that Thiel became a real success, founding PayPal instead. Now he teaches a class in which he argues that competition is overrated, and that we should strive instead to be monopolists. And he's convinced David Brooks of the New York Times.

Thiel "isn't talking about the illegal eliminate-your-rivals kind" of monopoly, Brooks clarifies. "He’s talking about doing something so creative that you establish a distinct market, niche, and identity." Too often people mistake competition for capitalism—we "confuse what is hard for what is valuable." Our system encourages this, pushing kids through competitive schooling, and status funneling them into the most competitive jobs. What's really valuable is the creativity to break new ground. "Everybody worries about American competitiveness," Brooks laments. "That may be the wrong problem." Click for Brooks' full column.

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Showing 3 of 13 comments
lvan
Apr 24, 2012 7:08 PM CDT
Competition is good for business but bad for relationships and society.
Rembrandt_Q_Einstein
Apr 24, 2012 1:19 PM CDT
That's great and all, but PayPal sucks.
wwwonderer
Apr 24, 2012 12:27 PM CDT
This is laughable now. Groupon was innovative. Now they have competition. Everything will attract competition, even if that competition is of very little threat to business. But the idea that you do something and no one else attempts to do the same thing is laughable. Motorola already had the Razr so no need for Apple to create an iPhone. There was already a MySpace no need to code Facebook.