It Was Not What You Expected (Minimum Wage, Thiel, and Secret)

Contrarian Questions

Eugene Leychenko


In Zero to One, Peter Thiel writes, “My own answer to the contrarian question is that most people think the future of the world will be defined by globalization, but the truth is that technology matters more. Without technological change, if China doubles its energy production over the next two decades, it will also double its air pollution. If every one of India’s hundreds of millions of households were to live the way Americans already do — using only today’s tools — the result would be environmentally catastrophic. Spreading old ways to create wealth around the world will result in devastation, not riches. In a world of scarce resources, globalization without new technology is unsustainable.”

What progress was supposed to look like, actually would be ending in disaster.

Minimum Wage

Washington DC has been trying to and successfully was able to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour. Without a question this is a noble cause. The supporters of this cause hoped that it would raise the standard of living of people working in minimum wage jobs, enable them to take better care of their family and provide overall better support.

What was not taken into consideration was any substitutes for these workers. Most of these workers are employed at for profit corporations which needs to answer to shareholders. Since the substitute for a $15 an hour worker cannot be a $12 an hour worker these corporations are forced to turn to machines. For example an order taking machine at McDonald’s is overall less expensive than a human order taker because humans are not scalable, humans need brakes, and machines don’t health insurance.


Anonymity is powerful. By reducing the friction of associating someone’s name to content comment increases likelihood of that person sharing it. They will no longer have to worry about any sort of backlash or negative feedback associated with them. The startup Secret saw this is an opportunity and created an anonymous network of people that can share secrets with each other. This ranged from internal copy leaks to fears to something that they were themselves struggling with but didn’t have anyone to talk to. Initially it sounded like a great idea. Anonymity can the dark side.

Anonymity is dangerous. When you have people sharing their most intimate secrets coupling that with anonymous feedback could be very dangerous. Trolls could gang up on the sharer. That is exactly what happened at Secret. As people would share news that was very intimate and personal internet trolls would Cyberbully these people. Although it was close to impossible to pinpoint who the person was in real life they share still felt absolutely terrible about returning back onto this nefarious platform.

The real world is an amazing simulator. How a person envisions an outcome can be different from the results in the real world. Both examples above were based on good intentions. However we live in a zero-sum world.

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Eugene Leychenko

Writing about business strategy and well executed development. Running (web & mobile development from NYC/LA)