“The motivation question is always important,” Thiel said. “I think [with] the great companies there’s always this mission part where there’s always a sense that if you didn’t do it, no one else would. If you aren’t working on this, this will not get built. That was true of the original Paypal vision.” Thiel said that in most companies, people tend to learn the wrong lessons. For example, if you were in a startup that failed in the 1990s, the lesson was that it was impossible, and that you needed to set your sights on something smaller and easier to execute.
Conversely, if you were a part of a company where everything works perfectly well, like Google or Microsoft, the lesson was that it was too easy, which might contribute to why these companies haven’t produced the volume or caliber of companies that we have seen come from PayPal. Entrepreneurs coming from these types of companies underestimate how difficult it is to build a company. “At this point Silicon Valley has become this magnet for talent from all over the US and all over the world. New York had that position for a quarter of a century, from say 1982 to 2007 or 2008. So, there is a way in which I think Silicon Valley is replacing New York as the place where people try to achieve great things, and I actually think that’s a very healthy shift,” Thiel said.