Peter Thiel on the 'Last Mover Advantage'

By Trevor Gilbert , written on April 19, 2012

From The News Desk

Commonly in the technology world, there is a perception that the company that wins is the one that enters the market first, known as the "first mover advantage." However, as Peter Thiel is known to do, he is disagreeing here tonight at our PandoMonthly.

Most companies will respond to a competitor in an unoccupied market as a strategic threat and then enter the market only for the sake of capturing the initial mindshare. This is a perception that has persisted for years.

However, as Thiel notes, it is often the last mover that wins the market in the long-term, saying, "First mover isn't what's important — it's the last mover. Like Microsoft was the last operating system, and Google was the last search engine."

The trick however, is to enter the market late enough so as to not be crushed by future competitors, but not so late that the market is already closed off to new entries. A balancing act that is easier to perceive in retrospect, but is something that startups must keep in mind when considering what market to enter, and when to enter.

In summary: valuable technology companies aren't the ones claiming "first," they are the ones claiming "last."

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