PayPal's Peter Thiel Says He's Betting on Google to Beat Apple

Every entrepreneur wants to cash in on the next Facebook. Meet someone who did.

ByABC News
November 3, 2014, 10:08 AM

— -- Every entrepreneur has aspirations of creating and cashing in on the next Facebook, Google or maybe SpaceX. But only a handful -- like venture capitalist Peter Thiel,47, -- actually do.

In his new book, "Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future," Thiel says the secret to making it happen is simple: do something totally different.

The billionaire-investor is widely known as one of the most disruptive thinkers on the planet.

He co-founded PayPal, was the first investor in Facebook and is now seeding some of the most successful startups today: from LinkedIn to Airbnb and Yelp.

The most important skill a leader must master is to learn to “think for yourself,” Thiel writes. But understanding this is easier said than done.

He explains that from the time people are born, society trains them to follow the herd: from the language our parents teach us to speak, to peer pressure in junior high. Despite our cultural challenges, Thiel emphasizes, “Great companies are one-of-a-kind” and in his new book he includes exercises to encourage people to think about the world in different ways.

In an interview with Rebecca Jarvis, ABC News’ chief business and economics correspondent and host of the hit digital program "Real Biz," Thiel shared his advice on how to build a solid business. He explained it is wise to make sure the "structure" is right from the very beginning: who you are going to hire, "how you divvy up the initial pie and the basic rules you set."

Thiel also opened up about his own roller coaster ride and dealing with self-doubt while trying to start PayPal.

“You think you’re going to take over the world, you think you’re all going to die and sometimes you move back and forth several times a day,” Thiel said. “The lesson people learned inside PayPal, it was hard but possible to build a great company. And I think that’s a really important mindset to have when people set out.”

Speaking with Jarvis, Thiel addressed the tech battle on Wall Street between Apple and Google. Both companies are competing for a monopoly of the mobile device space. Whether it's the smartphone battles of Google's Android verse Apple's iPhone, the fight over how the world will pay for things with mobile devices or Apple Pay’s taking on Google's E-wallet, both companies are going neck-and-neck in the race to the top.

Wall Street analyst Colin Gillis of BGC Partners predicted in a research report that Google will surpass Apple to become the first company to reach a market capitalization of $1 trillion, despite Apple's current worth of more than $631 billion, nearly double Google’s $380.62 billion.

Gillis told ABC News while Apple's hardware business always faces the threat of copycat competition, "Google is a cash cow, their core business of search dominates the market, they are going to sell a billion androids this year and two of the top bestselling laptops on Amazon are Chrome."

Thiel agrees Google is positioned to outperform Apple.

“I’d always bet on Google because they have much more of a platform and there’s always a worry that Apple will at some point lose its advantages, other people copying the iPhone. But so far Apple has proven to be far more resilient because its brand is just so great,” Thiel explained.

Speaking of Amazon, when Jarvis asked about Amazon’s futuristic drones and how long before Elon Musk sends people to outer space, Thiel said Amazon's drones are a reality so long as the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) doesn’t outlaw them from “flying all over the place.”

Thiel also said his former colleague Elon Musk from PayPal is in the process of creating the future, and he gives it less than 20 years before humans can take trips to outer space.

“He’s building a future in which there will be electric cars and a manned mission to Mars,” he added. “There was nothing automatic about that that was destined to happen. It’s just he chose to build it.”