The difference between Steve Jobs and Peter Thiel
More than vision, it is perhaps politics
This isn’t a newsletter that compares Apple and PayPal or Palantir. This isn’t even about who mattered more or created more wealth. Fundamentally the difference between Steve Jobs and Peter Thiel is the difference between politics and the larger vision towards the world at large.
To explore, we need to get back to 2005 when Steve Jobs delivered the iconic commencement address at Stanford. We are sure you have watched it but if not, this is the link.
Jobs never graduated from college. He dropped out of Reed College in the 1970s and started Apple which went on to become the most important brand of the century. In his speech, Jobs talked about his mortality and how the brush with pancreatic cancer (impending death) turned out to be the “single best invention of life.
“Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to make the big choices in life,” Jobs said.
“Because almost everything - all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure - these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important….”You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.”
Thiel met Jobs in 2006 at a wedding. Jobs ignored him just like he did to many other people. Thiel, however, remembered every word of Jobs’ speech at Stanford and decided to riff on it when he delivered a commencement at Hamilton, a private liberal arts college with alumni like Ezra Pound who moved the world with his powerful poetry but enjoyed notoriety as a fascist collaborator during World War 2.