Peter Thiel’s Stanford Course on Startups: Read the Lecture Notes Free Online

peter thiel

Peter Thiel has many claims to fame in Silicon Valley. He co-founded PayPal in 1998, before selling it to eBay for $1.5 billion in 2002. He later launched various hedge funds, and made early investments in Facebook. He's an unabashed libertarian, a proponent of Seasteading and Singularity, a critic of the American university system, and the creator of the annual Thiel Fellowship, which pays promising college-age students to “stop out” of school for two years and launch business ventures instead.

Finally, Thiel is also now the bestselling author of Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the FuturePublished in mid-September, the book received a pretty rave review in The Atlantic, where Derek Johnson calls it "a lucid treatise on capitalism and entrepreneurship" and perhaps "the best business book I've read."

The book itself is actually a distillation of thoughts Thiel presented in a course he taught at Stanford in 2012. And it just so happens that the notes from that course -- CS138 Startups -- are freely available online. They come courtesy of Blake Masters, a student in Thiel's class, who later helped the entrepreneur write Zero to One.

Below, you can find the lecture notes for 19 classes, which, when originally published on Masters' site, became pretty popular in the tech community.  Links to these lectures will be permanently housed in our collections of Free Online Business Courses and Free Online Computer Science Courses. Other Stanford courses on entrepreneurship can be found here: Start Your Startup with Free Stanford Courses and Lectures.

Lectures Notes: CS138 Startups

Class 1: The Challenge of the Future

Class 2: Party Like it’s 1999?

Class 3: Value Systems

Class 4: The Last Mover Advantage

Class 5: The Mechanics of Mafia

Class 6: Thiel’s Law

Class 7: Follow The Money

Class 8: The Pitch

Class 9: If You Build It, Will They Come?

Class 10: After Web 2.0

Class 11: Secrets

Class 12: War and Peace

Class 13: You Are Not A Lottery Ticket

Class 14: Seeing Green

Class 15: Back to the Future

Class 16: Decoding Ourselves

Class 17: Deep Thought

Class 18: Founder as Victim, Founder as God

Class 19: Stagnation or Singularity?

For a huge collection of free courses, please see our large and ever-expanding collection: 1,300 Free Online Courses from Top Universities.

178,000 Images Documenting the History of the Car Now Available on a New Stanford Web Site


The Revs Program at Stanford, dedicated to producing scholarship about the past, present and future of the automobile, recently advanced its cause by launching a new website featuring 178,000 images of cars. Divided into 12 collections, the Revs Digital Library features lots of race cars, and then some more race cars. But there are some more everyday models too -- like the Beetle, Citroën, Corvette, Mini and even the Gremlin. You won't find, however, any trace of the much-maligned Edsel.


The images came to Stanford as a gift from the Revs Institute for Automotive Research, located in Naples, Florida. If you'd like a quick primer on finding and gathering information about vintage cars in the archive, watch the introductory video below. It'll teach you how to sift through the digital library in rapid fashion.

The images above come from the Revs Digital Library.

via Stanford News/Coudal

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Highlights from the First Ever Stanford Code Poetry Slam

I was lucky enough to be living in Chicago when Marc Smith's Poetry Slam movement became a thing. What fun it was to hit the Green Mill on Sunday nights to hear such innovators as Lisa Buscani or Patricia Smith tearing into their latest entries in front of packed-to-capacity crowds. Those early slam poets inspired a lot of other wordsmiths to brave the mic, a glorious revolution whose gleam was inevitably tarnished for me once it caught on for real.

I remember thinking something like, "If I never hear another poem about someone's relationship troubles, it'll be too soon."

To further illustrate my waning enthusiasm, here's the above thought, rendered in Standard Spoken Word Venacular:


I never heeeear  

Another Po

Em About Someone's 


Troubles, it'll be



Some two-and-a-half decades further along, Leslie Wu, a doctoral student in Computer Science at Stanford University, has been crowned the winner of the inaugural Code Poetry Slam, and I'm mourning the loss of those long-ago relationship troubles.

To create her winning entry, "Say 23," Wu donned a Google Glass headset, as she recited and typed 16 lines of computer code, which were projected onto a screen. When Wu ran the script, three different computerized voices took over performance duties, sampling the 23rd Psalm along with an uncredited snippet of In the Hall of the Mountain King.

I may be too hot-blooded to appreciate the artistry here.

Melissa Kagen, who organized the competition with fellow graduate student Kurt James Werner, stated on the university's website that in order "to really get into the intricacies you really need to know that language."

I guess that goes double for the competitors. According to Werner, Wu's poem wove together a number of different concepts, tools, and languages, including Japanese, English, and Ruby. Philistine that I am, I had always thought of the latter as an uncapitalized gemstone and nothing more.

Not that I'm aligning myself with those curmudgeons whose typical reaction to a Rothko or a Jackson Pollack is, "My two-year-old could do better." For one thing, I've got teenagers, and given their druthers, they'd eat their way through the contents of Werner Herzog's shoe closet before agreeing to learn so much as a single line of code.

What a wonderful world in which so many of us are free to pursue our individual passions to the point of poetry!

If you're the type to whom code poetry speaks---nay, sings---you should consider putting something together for the fast approaching second slam. Have a look at the work of the eight finalists, if you're in need of inspiration. Entries are being accepted through Feb. 12.

Find 74 free courses from Stanford in our collection: 825 Free Online Courses from Top Universities.

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Ayun Halliday is the Chief Primatologist of the East Village Inky, an award-winning, handwritten zine. Follow her @AyunHalliday

Developing iOS 7 Apps for iPhone and iPad: A Free Online Course by Stanford


FYI: Apple officially released iOS7,  the latest operating system for the iPhone and iPad, on September 18. Almost simultaneously, Stanford began offering a course teaching students how to design apps in the new environment. Although the course is still in progress, the initial video lectures are now available online, you guessed it, on iTunesU.

This course, along with other top-flight coding courses, appears in the Computer Science section of our big collection of 775 Free Online Courses, where you'll also find courses on PhilosophyHistoryPhysics and other topics.

Looking for tutorials on building apps in Android? Find them here.

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Leonard Susskind Teaches You “The Theoretical Minimum” for Understanding Modern Physics

susskind-g For the past decade, Leonard Susskind, one of America's pre-eminent physicists, has taught a series of six courses in Stanford's Continuing Studies program.  The series “explores the essential theoretical foundations of modern physics," helping lifelong learners (like you) attain the “theoretical minimum” for thinking intelligently about modern physics. Over the years, the Continuing Studies program (where, in full disclosure, I serve as the director) has taped the lectures and made them available to a global audience on YouTube and iTunes. We've even burned the lectures onto CDs and shipped them to remote locations in Afghanistan and Nepal where connectivity is still lacking. This week, Susskind's popular lectures found a new home of sorts with the launch of The Theoretical Minimum, a new web site that presents the six courses in a way that's neat, clean and easy to navigate. The site also offers a short text summary of each lecture, plus related reference materials. You can jump into the courses and get started on your own intellectual journey via this list:

Note: Susskind's courses, and many others, also appear in our collection of Free Online Physics Courses, part of our collection of 875 Free Online Courses.

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A Crash Course on Creativity and Other Stanford MOOCs to Launch in April: Enroll Today

Tina Seelig serves as the Executive Director of the Stanford Technology Ventures Program, a center that teaches students entrepreneurial skills needed to solve major world problems. She is also the author of the 2012 book, inGenius: A Crash Course on Creativity, that operates on the assumption that we're not born being creative and knowing how to solve difficult problems. It's something that we can cultivate and learn (as John Cleese has also told us before). If you're intrigued by this idea, and if you want to rev up your own "Innovation Engine," you can take Seelig's new course, also called A Crash Course on Creativity, starting on April 22. It's one of five Stanford MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) that will launch in April on the Venture Lab platform. Other courses now open for enrollment include:

Most Venture Lab courses grant a "Statement of Accomplishment" signed by instructors to any student who successfully completes a course.

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Sleight of Hand: Stanford Student Solves Rubik’s Cube While Juggling!

If you're applying to Stanford, this is what you're up against. Undergrads like Ravi Fernando (Class of 2014) who can solve a Rubik's Cube ... while juggling. You might want to have a safety school! 

via @palafo

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