"'Company culture' doesn’t exist apart from the company itself: no company has a culture; every company is a culture."
In Zero to One, Thiel frequently talks about company culture in the context of people - which is of-course as it should be. He talks about how critical recruiting is for any organisation ('Recruiting is a core competency for any company. It should never be outsourced.'), and the importance of hiring people who are not only talented, but who also enjoy working together and share the vision of the business. If that vision is opaque, you're in trouble:
'You’ll attract the employees you need if you can explain why your mission is compelling: not why it’s important in general, but why you’re doing something important that no one else is going to get done. That’s the only thing that can make its importance unique.'
I've always thought that if a company's mission was as clear as it should be, you'd be able to ask anyone in that company what that mission was and they'd be able to give you a good concise answer. My hunch is that if you did that in most organisations you'd either get a blank look or at best a muddled response. The way in which Thiel describes this bridge between people, mission and culture is that from the outside, everyone in your company should be different in the same way ('a tribe of like-minded people fiercely devoted to the company’s mission'), and on the inside, every individual should be sharply distinguished by their work:
'You probably can’t be the Google of 2014 in terms of compensation or perks, but you can be like the Google of 1999 if you already have good answers about your mission and team.'