16 Sep 2014

Harvard Business School’s Rock Center for Entrepreneurship to Host Peter Thiel


BOSTON—The Harvard Business School’s Arthur Rock Center for Entrepreneurship (“the center of what’s next” at HBS) will present entrepreneur and venture capitalist extraordinaire Peter Thiel in conversation with HBS professor William Sahlman on Thursday, Sept. 18, at 4:30 p.m. in Burden Hall (auditorium). A cofounder of PayPal, which was sold to eBay in 2002 for $1.5 billion, Thiel has also invested in the likes of Facebook, LinkedIn, Spotify, and Yelp.

His conversation with Professor Sahlman (MBA 1975) will focus on Thiel’s new book, “Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future” (published today by Crown Business), which has already garnered considerable media attention, including the current cover story of Fortune magazine and a lengthy interview on National Public Radio’s “Morning Edition.”

According to Thiel, the secret sauce in the success of people like Henry Ford, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, and Mark Zuckerberg was their ability to challenge the conventional norms of the time, create something that didn’t exist previously, and make it available to the mass market.

“Doing what we already know how to do takes the world from one to n, adding more of something familiar,” Thiel explains. “But every time we create something new, we go from zero to one. The act of creation is singular, as is the moment of creation, and the result is something fresh and strange.”

“Peter Thiel has already had an extraordinary impact on the way people around the world go about their lives, whether they’re paying for a product or service, posting pictures for their friends, looking for a job, or listening to music,” says Professor Sahlman. “He is very much the model of a modern public intellectual – one who is not only thoughtful but steeped in successful practice. My colleagues and I in the Rock Center are delighted to welcome him back to Harvard Business School to share his perspectives and experiences, as we help our students seize the entrepreneurial spirit, whether in a startup, small company, or large organization.”

The Rock Center for Entrepreneurship was made possible by the generosity and vision of pioneering venture capitalist Arthur Rock (MBA 1951), who has helped launch, among many other enterprises, Apple Computer (now Apple) and Intel Corporation. In addition to housing the offices of some 35 HBS faculty members dedicated to research and course development in the field of entrepreneurial management, the Center offers a wide array of programs to encourage and support the pursuit of entrepreneurship by HBS students and alumni, including an annual New Venture Competition, an accelerator program to facilitate and financially support the development and execution of new ideas, a loan reduction program to help ease the burden of recent graduates starting their own businesses, and access to an array of Entrepreneurs-in-Residence who offer advice and counsel throughout the school year.

“Fifteen to twenty years after our MBAs graduate, half of them describe themselves as entrepreneurs,” says Rock Center director Meredith McPherron (MBA 1993). “Since its founding, the Center has played a major role in helping students and graduates move in that direction as they ‘create ventures that revolutionize’ the way the world works. I look forward to Peter Thiel’s conversation with Bill Sahlman on Thursday as he adds his voice to the many others our 1,800 MBA students will be able to listen to in the weeks and months ahead under the auspices of the Rock Center for Entrepreneurship.”


Jim Aisner

About Harvard Business School

Founded in 1908 as part of Harvard University, Harvard Business School is located on a 40-acre campus in Boston. Its faculty of more than 250 offers full-time programs leading to the MBA and PhD degrees, as well as more than 175 Executive Education programs, and Harvard Business School Online, the School’s digital learning platform. For more than a century, faculty have drawn on their research, their experience in working with organizations worldwide, and their passion for teaching, to educate leaders who make a difference in the world. The School and its curriculum attract the boldest thinkers and the most collaborative learners who will go on to shape the practice of business and entrepreneurship around the globe.