最有看点的互联网金融门户

最有看点的互联网金融门户
互联网经济国际资讯

红杉资本的这位主席真的了解中国创企吗?

互联网经济国际资讯

红杉资本的这位主席真的了解中国创企吗?

Sequoia Capital是中国2017年第四季度第二活跃的风投基金,其在中国的团队名望颇高且极具慧眼。 上个月为《金融时报》撰写的一篇特稿中,红杉资本主席Mile Mortiz说中国企业家精神要比硅谷更出色,硅谷应该向中国学习。这一言论令人惊讶并引发不少争议,多数人认为硅谷的工作生活平衡更好,并不满Moritz批评硅谷员工奖金。作为一名自05年就断断续续在中国工作和生活的人,我认为Moritz在比较中国和硅谷时还有许多重大错误。

1 中国和美国处于不同道路上

美国应该毫无保留紧跟中国步伐,这个论点完全忽略了两国创企生态环境不同的事实。中国发展至今有其独特因素,以下是几个重要方面:

中国40年来一直是增长神话,国内总体呈乐观倾向并且相信现代化是有益的。在中国,关于自动驾驶汽车风险的争论没那么多,而且中国政府提供资金发展机器人技术以促进工厂现代化,而不是(像美国那样)试图保护制造业工作。同时中国有着14亿人口是个超级大市场,美国仅有3.2亿人;中国智能手机用户达6.6亿,美国2.2亿;中国人才储备也更大,每年大学毕业人数是美国的两倍(800万 vs 400万),理工科人数是后者8倍。

中国科技生态系统,包括线上线下基础设施一直落后于美国。因此目前中国的机会比美国大得多,吸引了许多创企和投资者。这就是常说的发展中市场的优势:它们不仅追平差距,而且大跨越前进。

投资银行家转企业家Song Li博士(之前将创立的企业卖给新浪和Monster.com,后创立了中国最大婚恋公司珍爱网,后者由Match.com投资)说:"中国每一个有雄心的男男女女都感到中国的时机已到,都热切期望参与他们所见的'中国世纪'。"

因此,竞争十分激烈,速度决定一切。跑在第一并不够,你必须比他人执行更好。

但快速增长的经济也带来了问题:高通胀高房价,许多中国人财政压力大,而且源自超前的同伴的"地位焦虑"严重。他们同时还肩负责任,几十年的独生子女政策让父母基本位于孩子责任之下。对中国创业者来说,创立企业不是与科技玩乐也不是什么"改变世界"的伟大计划,而是实打实在将来某个时候能赚钱的东西。

而努力以超前的时机就是现在,一些创业者因他们这种火急火燎、努力工作和焦虑付出了最终的代价--中国社会并不习惯关注精神健康问题。

所有这些中国特有的因素定义了该国创企的思维模式。敦促有着完全不同经验、期待和动力的硅谷创业家向中国学习完全没有道理。这两个生态系统完全处于不同的轨道上。

但不得不说这两条轨道有时确实交叉,接下来会细说这一点。

2 中国有几处优势,其中多数美国无法复制

Moritz在特稿中说,中国企业家十分节省,一个茶袋反复泡几次。这个做法如果硅谷愿意完全可以照做。但中国一些最大的优势很难在美国复制,比如中国一些区域得益于监管少。香港一个自动驾驶汽车发明人无法在当地测试,因此就将车带到了深圳测试。Sinovation Ventures 合伙人Chris Evdemon和我说:"美国对于自动驾驶汽车和所有与AI相关东西的抗拒与中国热烈欢迎的态度形成鲜明对比。中国Crisper上最近的文章也是个例子。"

Sinovation的Evdemon总结道,中国政府从上至下推动创新意味了创企会面临的许多障碍都移除了。比如,中国目前正投资21亿美元建造一个AI研究园。他们同样还有大量更直接可使用的数据以及"尖锐的商业和社会问题需要这些科技来解决。再加上追逐这些的资本,整个行业呈爆发增长。"Evdemon还指出"中国现在可能顶尖人才仍不足(最好的人还在美国),但未来5-10年这一差距也会消除。"

大规模的国内市场在企业走出去时可以带来规模经济。中国的Ofo已经投放了2000多万辆自行车,摩拜、Ofo、oBike和Gobee都在远至巴黎的地方开展了服务。中国的和在外华侨是重要资产。前者将科技、技术和联系带回中国;后者是企业扩张时重要的资源,尤其是在发展中国家。中国移入移民可能很少,但以上两种人口帮助公司发展升级。

美国放宽技术移民可以帮助避免高等学校外国毕业生的人才流失,这些人的高额学费是美国经济重要增长来源;还可以避免纳税和填补技术工作岗位空缺的外国工作人员的流失。比如,上哪找美国需要的20万网络安全专家?

SOSV的William Bao Bean说,在基层管理层面"中国公司在没有中层管理的情况下组织良好,因为他们创新发明了一种分布式管理模式,和西方等级制不同。腾讯这样的公司并不是至上而下管理,他们是由几百个公司内的"小公司"组成,每一个"小公司"都有一个像CEO一样的产品经理。西方公司是一个巨大的金字塔型结构,中国公司则是许多小金字塔堆在一起组成一个大金字塔。"

金钱方面,中国投资者投资得又早又大--种子轮和晚期中间轮的规模是美国的2-3倍。为什么?因为快速壮大规模很重要,大型合并可以减少大规模风险。

3. 中国(尚)不准备参与美国市场竞争

Moriz没明说的就是担心中国式创业精神威胁美国创企。但你可能会惊讶地发现,大多数中国创企根本不关心美国市场。本土市场已足够大而且竞争十分激烈,需要一整个队伍的完全投入才能赢。

国门之外,中国创企竞争的区域是发展中国家,这些市场与中国的相似处是扩张的资产。西方数字文明(包括北美、西欧、澳大利亚、新西兰和新加坡、香港还有几个其他地方)很少直接与中国数字文明冲撞。

GGV Capital的Hans Tung说:"这不是文明之间的冲撞,而是文明战线内各自竞争,让人想起16世纪西班牙和葡萄牙两分天下。"

争夺主导权战争发生在东南亚、印度、非洲和拉美。(目前,俄罗斯主要自顾自)。

中国对一带一路倡议的重视让我们得以一窥哪些领域会壮大以及将来的创企会出现在哪些行业。我们可以看到倡议中的欧亚之路(这条路可能会让著名地缘政治家Zbigniew Brzezinski生气)并不包括美国。

这并不是说中国创企完全避开美国。

一些在中国已经达到发展临界点的公司通过分销、合伙、投资或兼并已经进入了美国市场。比如,大疆无人机是全球消费者无人机领头羊;百度在硅谷开设了第二家研究中心;滴滴投资了Lyft;Bytedance向全球进军;阿里巴巴和腾讯投资了超过240家创企,包括许多美国公司;收购也在增加(腾讯购买了英雄联盟和部落冲突,Ninebot购买了Segway。)最近,上海一家公司开发的主要用户位于海外的对口型唱歌软件Musical.ly十月被8亿美元收购。

中国投资者和买家在美国颇具规模,通常比美国同类价钱出得更高。为什么他们能出这么高价?因为他们这样可以打开额外市场,而且国内股市市盈率高。收购将增加他们公司股价,超出他们所付出的收购成本。你可以称之为"股市套利"。这也是为什么一些中国公司在美国退市然后再在国内重新上市。

因此,当中国公司着眼美国市场时,他们并不是要在那推出产品与美国公司正面交战,而是在美国投资、研发或秘密收购。

那些在美国推出产品的基本上推出的是完全原创服务,其中一些在本土市场已获巨大成功。

4. 美国对中国市场感兴趣,但进入困难

语言、生态系统差别以及监管都为外国企业家在中国创造了大量障碍。他们无法发挥出全部实力,即使有先发优势也无处伸展。如果中国分支不是完全自治(像一个新创企一样),汇报程序方面速度就会降低,这又增加了障碍。

除了极少的几家企业如去哪儿(百度收购的旅游搜索引擎)和北京的AppAnnie(移动分析全球领先者),很少有外国支持的创企在中国成功发展至一定规模。当然通常的例外就是苹果。

中国目前最成功的科技公司就是软银和雅虎加阿里巴巴以及Naspers加腾讯。雅虎的Jerry Yang在GGV最近一期"996"播客中说,雅虎在中国失败了那么多年,这是它在阿里巴巴方面成功的原因。在中国边做边学习让他们能够发现独特的机会。(披露:我依然持有几年前购买的雅虎股票(代阿里巴巴),当时觉得它们被低估了。阿里巴巴证明我是对的。也许Uber退出中国市场后都会表现良好,因为它在滴滴有股份。

最近许多跨境风投基金都将赌注下在了下一波中国独角兽身上,现在世界276家独角兽中96家在中国,其中许多家已经合并或插上翅膀上市了。

任何人可以研究硅谷,但研究中国需要跨越语言障碍并且足够了解中国的生态系统。这需要许多年,跨境投资者和专家是个稀少宝贵的资源。无外乎脸书在Hugo Barra出现在小米后聘请了他,这直接带来了最近Oculus/小米交易。如果美国不像中国那样送足够人去往其他国家学习或工作,它应该调整移民政策来吸引和留住人才。这样可以帮助美国留住在美国接受培训的中国人,这些人现在觉得中国更有吸引力。

如今预计3-4亿中国人学习英语。2015年,奥巴马建议应有100万美国人学起中文,打造新一代了解中国的美国领袖。我们现在进展如何?一些硅谷精英已经开始聘请中国保姆或将孩子送去中文学校。时间会证明西方能否补上这一空缺。

Sequoia Capital was the second most active VC in China in Q4 2017. Its local team is well respected and has good insights. Yet, in an op-ed for the Financial Times last month, Sequoia Chairman Mike Moritz surprisingly argued that the Chinese entrepreneurial ethic is outshining Silicon Valley’s and that Silicon Valley would be wise to follow China’s lead. The story drew strong reactions, mostly defending the Silicon Valley work-life balance and employee perks that Moritz derided. But as someone who’s lived and worked in China on and off since 2005, I think there are many more important things Moritz gets wrong with his China/Silicon Valley comparison.

1. China and the U.S. are on different paths

The idea that the U.S. should blindly follow China’s lead completely misses the fact that the two startup ecosystems are on different paths. China is where it is due to specific circumstances. Let’s look at a few key examples:

China has been a growth story for 40 years. There is a general sense of optimism and belief that modernization is beneficial. There is much less debate in China about the risks of automation or self-driving cars, and ?the Chinese government is funding robots to modernize factories rather than trying to protect manufacturing jobs.

Also, China is a large market of close to 1.4 billion people (vs. 320 million in the U.S.), including about 660 million smartphone users (vs. 220 million in the U.S.), with widespread talent (China graduates twice as many students per year as the U.S. – 8 million, vs. 4 million – and eight times more STEM students).

China’s tech ecosystem — including its offline and online infrastructures — trailed behind the U.S. for a long time. As a result, the current opportunities in China are much larger than in the U.S. and attract many startups and investors. That’s the oft-touted benefit of emerging markets: They not only fill gaps but also leapfrog.

In the words of Dr. Song Li, an investment banker turned entrepreneur who sold his startups to Sina, Monster.com, and founded Zhenai, the largest online matchmaking company in China (invested by Match.com): “Every ambitious young man and woman in China feels that the nation’s time has come and is highly motivated to play a part in what they perceive to be ‘China’s Century’.”

As a result, competition is brutal, and speed is key. Being first is not enough, you also need to out-execute others.

But a fast-growing economy also creates problems: With high inflation and rising housing costs, many people in China feel the financial pressure and “status anxiety” from peers getting ahead. They also feel more responsible, as the decades-long one-child policy put children partly in charge for their parents. For Chinese founders, startups are not fun things where you play around with technology or loftily plan to “change the world.” They are pragmatic affairs that have to turn into hard cash at some point.

The time to work hard to get ahead is now, and some founders end up paying the ultimate price for this urgency, their hard work and anxiety, in a society that does not deal well with issues of mental health.

All of these elements, unique to China, define the country’s startup mindset. Urging Silicon Valley entrepreneurs, who deal with an entirely different landscape of experience, expectations, and motivations, just doesn’t make sense. The two ecosystems are on different trajectories.

Still, those trajectories do intersect at times. More on that below.

2. China has several advantages, most of which the U.S. can’t copy

Moritz noted in his op-ed that Chinese entrepreneurs are so frugal, they will reuse their teabags multiple times. That’s certainly a practice Silicon Valley could adopt if it wanted to. But some of China’s biggest advantages would be hard to replicate in the U.S.

Some parts of China benefit from fewer regulations, for example. The inventors of a self-driving car in Hong Kong could not test it locally and so are taking it to Shenzhen. As Chris Evdemon, Partner at Sinovation Ventures, told me: “The resistance expected in the U.S. for self-driving trucks contrasts sharply with the red carpet attitude of the Chinese government in this sector, and for everything related to AI. Recent articles on Crispr in China are also an example.”

As Sinovation’s Evdemon summarized for me, China’s government-led top-down push for innovation means a lot of obstacles are removed for startups. For example, the country is currently investing $2.1 billion in an AI research park. The country also has huge, more readily available data sets and “acute business and social problems that need solutions with some of these technologies. Add the abundance of capital that now focuses on all this and you have an explosive mix.” Evdemon also points out that “China may be temporarily lacking in top tier talent (their best people are still in the U.S.), but that gap will also close in the next 5–10 years.”

The massive domestic market also brings economies of scale when going global?. China’s Ofo has already deployed over 20 millions bikes, and Mobike, Ofo, oBike and Gobee have all launched their service in places as far away as Paris.

Returnees and the Chinese diaspora are also important assets. The former brings back knowledge, skills and connections; the latter is a valuable resource when expanding overseas, particularly in emerging markets. China might have little immigration, but those two populations help companies level up.

Easing skilled immigration in the U.S. would avoid the brain exodus of foreign graduates – who already contributed large fees to the U.S. economy – and foreign workers who pay taxes and fill many skilled labor gaps. For example: Where to find the 200,000 cyber-security specialists the U.S. needs?

On the ground level of management, according to SOSV’s William Bao Bean, “China has performed well without middle management because they have innovated a distributed management model within a company as opposed to the hierarchical western model. Companies like Tencent aren’t run top-down: they are made of hundreds of ‘small companies’ within a large platform, each with its on product manager that acts as a CEO. Western companies are a giant pyramid while Chinese companies are many pyramids grouped together to make a larger one.”

On the money front, Chinese investors bet early and bet big – seed and late-stage median rounds in China are 2-3x larger. Why? Because scaling fast matters, and mega-mergers help mitigate risks at scale.

3. China isn’t interested in competing for the U.S. market (yet)

An unspoken concern in Moritz’s op-ed is that the Chinese brand of entrepreneurship is a threat to U.S. startups. It might surprise you, but most Chinese startups don’t care about the U.S. market. The opportunity in China is large enough and the competition harsh enough to require all of a team’s efforts to win.

Beyond domestic borders, battles are taking place in emerging markets where the similarity with China is an asset for expansion. The digital civilization of the West (which includes North America, Western Europe, Australia and New Zealand and sometimes places like Singapore, Hong Kong and a few others) rarely collides directly with the Chinese one.

“It is not a clash of civilizations, but rather an organizing along civilization lines, reminiscent of when Spain and Portugal split the world in half in the 16th century,” Hans Tung of GGV Capital told me.

The fight for domination takes place in South-East Asia, India, Africa, and Latin America. (So far, Russia seems to be mostly doing its own thing.)

China’s emphasis on the One Belt One Road initiative is a good guide for where we can expect to see expansion — and where we can expect future startups to grow. And guess what? This Eurasian road, which would surely irk famed geopolitician Zbigniew Brzezinski, does not involve the U.S.

That doesn’t mean Chinese startups are completely steering clear of America.

Some companies that have reached critical mass in China have entered the market already via distribution, partnerships, investments, or acquisitions. To name a few: DJI is the global leader in consumer drones; Baidu opened a second research center in Silicon Valley; Didi invested in Lyft; Bytedance is going global; Alibaba and Tencent have invested in over 240 startups, including many in the U.S., and acquisitions are multiplying (e.g. Tencent bought both League of Legends and Clash of Clans, and Ninebot bought Segway). Most recently, Shanghai-based lip-synching app Musical.ly had most of its users overseas, and was acquired in November for $800 million.

Chinese investors and buyers have become a force in the U.S. and often pay more than their U.S. counterparts. How can they afford it? Because they can help unlock an additional market and often benefit from the high P/E ratios of domestic stock exchanges. This means an acquisition can improve their stock price by much more than they paid for it. You can call it “stock exchange arbitrage.” It is also one reason some Chinese companies de-list from U.S. exchanges to re-list at home.

So what we’re seeing is that, when Chinese companies do make a move on the U.S. market, they’re not launching products there in an effort to compete directly with U.S. companies but rather are making investments, doing research and development, or making discreet acquisitions in the U.S.

The ones that do launch in the U.S. generally do so with entirely original services, some of which are already massive successes back home.

4. The U.S. *is* interested in the Chinese market, but it’s having trouble getting in

Language, ecosystem differences, and regulations all put foreign entrepreneurs at a big disadvantage in China. They can’t operate at full capacity, which makes a first mover advantage insufficient. The speed often lost with reporting lines if the China branch is not fully autonomous (like a new startup) adds to the handicap.

Aside from rare companies like Qunar (a travel search engine acquired by Baidu) or Beijing-born AppAnnie (the world leader in mobile analytics), very few foreign-led startups have succeeded at scale in China. The classic exception, as often, is Apple.

The most successful tech companies in China so far have been Softbank and Yahoo with Alibaba and Naspers with Tencent. As Yahoo’s Jerry Yang said in the recent “996” podcast interview by GGV, Yahoo failed for years in China, and that’s why it succeeded with Alibaba. Learning by doing in China helped them identify a unique opportunity (Disclosure: I still own the Yahoo shares I bought years ago as a proxy to Alibaba, after finding them undervalued. Altaba proved me right). Maybe even Uber will eventually do well after its retreat from China thanks to its shares in Didi.

More recently, many cross-border VCs have bets on the next wave of Chinese unicorns, which now represent 96 of the world’s 276 total, and many have already either merged or gotten wings to IPO (becoming … ‘“alicorns”?).

Anyone can study Silicon Valley, while studying China requires overcoming the language barrier and building enough understanding of the ecosystem. It can take years, and makes cross-border investors and experts a rare and valuable resource. No wonder Facebook hired Hugo Barra after his experience at Xiaomi … which directly lead to the recent Oculus/Xiaomi deal.

If the U.S. is not sending enough people to study or work in other countries compared to China, it could adjust its immigration policies to attract and retain talent. Such a change might help the U.S. hold onto the many U.S.-trained Chinese who are finding China more attractive today.

Today, an estimated 300 to 400 million Chinese learn English. In 2015, Obama suggested that one million Americans learn Mandarin to prepare a new generation of China-savvy U.S. leaders. Where are we today? Some of Silicon Valley’s elite are already hiring Chinese nannies or putting their kids through Chinese school. Time will tell if the West be able to bridge the gap.


用微信扫描可以分享至好友和朋友圈

扫描二维码或搜索微信号“iweiyangx”
关注未央网官方微信公众号,获取互联网金融领域前沿资讯。

发表评论

发表评论

您的评论提交后会进行审核,审核通过的留言会展示在下方留言区域,请耐心等待。

评论

您的个人信息不会被公开,请放心填写! 标记为的是必填项

取消

潘, 妍媛未央编辑团队

146
总文章数

TA还没写个人介绍。。。

中美贸易争端的冲击与中国长期发展路径

清华金融评论 07-08

星展银行CEO:中新两国银行巨头的金融科技战

耿颖 05-18

2018全球加密货币监管概览-亚太篇

耿颖 05-15

红杉诉币安曝传统VC失区块链掌控力,币交易所江湖酿血雨腥风

季倩 | 猎云财经(... 05-09

专利申请总数激增,突显中国区块链产业热度

Echo Huang 05-07

版权所有 © 清华大学五道口金融学院互联网金融实验室 | 京ICP备17044750号-1