Thiel says he's focused on startups because you can convince a small number of people to do something new. Innovation could be more driven by big companies and government. Government created the atom bomb in three and a half years, but today they'd lose the letter from Einstein.
As an investor, Thiel says he's very biased in favor of companies led by their founders rather than by politically-minded CEOs. When the founder isn't around, you need someone as much like that person as possible.
Berman says the market seems to favor stock buying-back technocrats, not charismatic leaders. Thiel says he needled Eric Schmidt a few years ago that Google had $50 billion in cash and must therefore be out of ideas.
Thiel says that companies he looks at as an investor aren't overvalued, generally. A surprising number of them are growing by a compound rate of 50 to 100 percent a year and can keep on doing so.
In the old days, Thiel says, the most important relationship a venture capitalist had was with other venture capitalists. Now it's with entrepreneurs.
Thiel: "If you hear big data or cloud computing, you should think fraud...it's too abstract" Great companies are monopolies.
Thiel says at the end of the day, Lyft and Uber will be on the right side of regulation, because they're doing far more good than bad.
Thiel says that if Uber or Lyft had been founded in Munich, European regulators would have a different attitude towards them.
Thiel has some guarded praise for Rand Paul for not being gung-ho about going to war. But on politics in general: "If I spent my time in D.C., I think I'd be endlessly depressed."
Thiel says it would be scary to have a robot who looked just like you and was as smart as you. But that's a long way off. Robots are complementary. "If you had a hundred clones of you, that would be disturbing."
Thiel says that the developed world needs to be innovative; developing nations like China and India don't necessarily need to be.
Thiel, who is an investor in Lyft, ends his session by saying that Uber is ethically challenged and almost, but not quite, at the point where the government should step in.
Next session features Ericsson CEO Hans Vestberg being introduced by the Journal's Rebecca Blumenstein. He's discussing Ericsson's decision to leave the consumer market. It had a touchscreen phone in the 90s, before apps, he says.
Ericsson is currently spending a lot of money on 5G technology. It might not start seeing revenue from it until 2022, Vestberg says.
Vestberg says three times as many people will have Internet access in the coming years. "We will see the Facebook of Nigeria."
Most of the world's population won't have gone from b&w TV to color TV to computer to feature phone to smartphone. They'll start with the smartphone, Vestberg says.
Blumenstein asks Vestberg what he thinks about Ericsson's reputation for being "ruthless" about protecting its parents. "I wouldn't agree," he says. Anyone can cross-license its patents, such as those for Bluetooth, which Ericsson invented.
Vestberg says he takes it hard when people say Europe isn't innovative. Sweden, at least, is doing its part, he says.
A billion people use the networks which run Ericsson equipment. Vestberg says that if the company was a carrier, it would be the biggest one.
Vestberg interview is over and we're going into a break.
Evelyn Rusli of the Journal is interviewing Michael Heyward of anonymous secret-sharing app Whisper, which has been under fire since the Guardian published a controversial story which said the app monitors some users in ways which may violate their privacy.
Heyward says that the Guardian (which was discussing a partnership with Whisper) wasn't up-front and has mischaracterized what Whisper does. Rusli asks if he's thinking of suing; Heyward won't say, but says "we have to do what's right for our company."
Heyward just described himself as "a 27-year-old kid." In tech, 27-year-olds aren't kids. Some of them are graybeards.
Rusli says that Whisper employees can see all the Whispers from one user with one click. Not so easy for Whisper users to do that.
He's explaining that the editorial team which dealt with the Guardian was put on leave so the company can look into the Guardian's charges.
We're now entering a section (they keep telling us it isn't a competition) in which global startups are pitching their ideas. First up: Airgo Design from Singapore, which has a redesigned economy-class airplane seat which it says is designed for real human shapes, and is cheaper and simpler and more reliable.
It's also stainproof, and has a retractable seatbelt.
The next startup is Next Glass, from Wilmington, North Carolina. It's using science to help make wine and beer recommendations.
China is now the biggest red wine market in the world, and descriptions of taste involving things like blackberries don't work there--people haven't eaten blackberries. Next Glass says that its technology is language and culture independent.
A company from Israel called Voiceitt is talking about a mobile app called Talkitt designed to listen to people who have unintelligible speech for medical reasons and translate it into something that's easily understood. Sounds amazing if it works.
Yondr of San Francisco has a disposable case which venues such as concert halls can use to prevent people from using their phones. Founder Graham Dugoni says that people will find they like phone-free zones. And it creates exclusivity, since there are no photos, etc. from the event.
When the event is done, people step outside, ditch the Yondr case, and get back online to talk about what they saw.
"Yondr is not only necessary, but ultimately inevitable," Dugoni says.
A panel of experts are commenting on the demos we saw. Even though this isn't a competition, we're going to pick the best startup using the WSJ.D app.
Voiceitt was the runaway winner, with 56 percent of the vote from attendees.
That's all my WSJ.D liveblogging for today! More to come tomorrow morning--see you then.
The final morning of WSJ.D sessions has started. The Wall Street Journal's Rebecca Blumenstein is interviewing Madame Chen Lifang of Chinese telecommunications company Huawei, the third largest wireless phone maker.
Chen says that unlike American companies founded in a garage, Huawei was founded in an apartment--they couldn't afford a garage.
She says that 4G is rolling out in China this year, so it's a great market. And Huawei is also doing well in Europe.
Huawei expects to grow revenue by $30 billion over the next three years, from #40 billion to $70 billion. By 2025, there will be 100 billion connections--not just people and their devices, but connected objects and smart sensors.
Chen says that 5G wireless will be a key technology breakthrough which will enable things like driverless cars, as well as reliable access for those 100 billion connections.
Blumenstein is noting that U.S. lawmakers discourage wireless carriers from buying Huawei equipment on security grounds. Chen says it's a serious question which must be taken seriously. 5G will bring convenience to people, but security is important. Huawei has a good track record, she says. Over past 26 years, its products are used in many countries by 3 billion people. In the future it will safeguard the network.