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亚洲风险投资者和美国有什么不同?

国际资讯投融资

亚洲风险投资者和美国有什么不同?

据TechCrunch报道,过去几年,随着亚洲投资者将更多资金投入初创企业,风险投资产业格局发生了根本性转变。《华尔街日报》最近发布的分析报告称,在去年全球1540亿美元的风险投资中,亚洲风投者占比增至40%,而美国投资者则占44%。

亚洲风投主要为国内企业提供资金,但它们的投资组合正在扩大,将美国企业纳入其中。对于那些需要现金来推动招聘、产品开发和增长的创业者来说,这些流入的资本堪比宝贵的生命线。然而,要想拿到这笔钱,创业者们通常需要具备跨文化敏感性和谈判技巧。美国初创企业的创始人常常惊讶地发现,亚洲投资者想要更多控制权来换取资本支持。

如果你受到亚洲投资者的追捧,你需要调整对风投的预期。当各方对管理风格和控制级别有不同的看法时,这可能是一项具有挑战性的任务。常常会出现不同的预期,因为管理投资、披露和融资条款的法律因国而异,而惯例也可能不同。潜在的外国投资者通常会质疑美国人对权利的执着,他们可能会认为某些风险投资术语是不必要的或无关紧要的。

例如,转换权或注册权似乎是可以协商的晦涩条款,但在美国风险投资支持的公司中,这些都是整体交易结构的必要组成部分,并被利益相关者所期待。当涉及到典型的亚洲交易条款时,美国创始人也有类似的知识鸿沟。美国创始人不习惯为了获得融资而将自己的资产置于风险之中,不过这在亚洲早期创业者中很常见。同样,美国企业家经常震惊地看到,亚洲的风投意向书要求创始人向投资者支付大笔交易相关费用,即使交易从未完成,这一条款也具有约束力。

如果不理解为什么亚洲投资者会包括这一条款,这种需求似乎就会被认为荒谬可笑。其目的是确保所有各方以专注和认真的态度进行谈判。有了大笔的资金,合理的投资意向,各方更有动力达成协议。这种现象在亚洲很常见,但在合同谈判期间,许多人经常把它从投资意向书中删除,因为这似乎违反了达成一项保持距离的协议的直觉。

请记住,亚洲风险投资市场虽然呈爆炸性增长,但仍处于起步阶段。《华尔街日报》报道称,中国牵头的风险投资自2013年以来增长了15倍。由于这个市场如此不成熟,投资者打算在投资意向书中加入能给他们带来优势的语言。通常情况下,投资意向书中会包括反稀释保护条款和最惠国条款。但它们的普遍存在并不意味着创业者必须始终遵守。

TechCrunch专栏作家马特·韦恩伯格(Matt Weinberg)鼓励潜在投资者通过回顾交易点研究来接受现实的预期,这些研究总结了近期交易的典型术语。大多数主要的律师事务所,都有自己的术语。如果一份融资意向书中包含了麻烦的、甚至是离谱的条款,不要太在意。让你的律师向外国潜在投资者解释为什么他们提供的投资意向书与典型的美国交易条款大相径庭。让你的顾问表达深深的失望,这样你的感觉就不会影响你与投资者的关系。

最近,韦恩伯格向多位来自中国的潜在战略投资者提供了这种反馈。当他们拿出一页一页不合理的条款时,韦恩伯格把他们引向了美国风险投资协会(NCVA)和Series Seed网站上的融资范本。这些中立来源的范本包括由许多投资者、企业家以及顾问拟定的典型条款和协议。它们需要针对不同的具体融资方案进行调整,但涵盖了所有的基础和更广泛的内容。

在这个例子中,中国投资者回顾了这些信息,并做了些额外的研究。然后,他们带着更温和的融资条件回来了,创始人最终接受了投资。如果你担心与外国投资者进行谈判会耗费时间,会分散你对商业目标的注意力,那就重新考虑一下。不过,避开亚洲资本可能最终会让你付出代价。

许多中国风投都有良好的人脉关系,并能与这些投资者建立相互尊重、富有成效的关系,这些可以帮助你向那些渴望为有前途的初创企业提供资金的富有投资者敞开大门。这些联系反过来又会把你引向更大的全球市场,否则你永远无法进入这些市场。

The VC landscape has been shifting radically in the past few years as Asian investors pump cash into startups. Last year, Asian VCs invested 40 percent of the $154 billion in global venture financing, compared to a 44 percent stake for U.S. investors, according to a recent Wall Street Journal analysis.

Asian VCs largely fund companies close to home, but their portfolios are expanding to include U.S. businesses. That influx of capital can be a valuable lifeline for founders who need cash to fuel hiring, product development and growth.

Securing that money, however, demands cross-cultural sensitivities and negotiation skills more commonly exhibited by diplomats and ambassadors. American startup founders are often stunned to see how much control Asian investors demand in exchange for capital.

If you’re being courted by Asian investors — and it’s more likely than ever that you will be — you’ll need to adjust the VCs’ expectations. That can be a challenging task when the parties have different perspectives on appropriate management styles and levels of control.

Taking stock

Disparate expectations often arise because laws governing investments, disclosures and financing terms vary from country to country, and conventions can be different. Prospective foreign investors routinely question the need for rights that are customary in the U.S. and may dismiss specific venture capital lingo as unnecessary or irrelevant.

For example, conversion rights or registration rights appear to be arcane provisions that can be negotiated, but in the world of U.S. venture-backed companies, these are part of the overall deal structure and are expected by the stakeholders.

Doing deals

American founders have a similar knowledge gap when it comes to typical Asian deal terms. U.S. founders aren’t accustomed to putting their own assets on the line to secure financing, though this is common in Asia for early-stage founders. Similarly, American entrepreneurs are often shocked to see Asian VC term sheets that require founders to pay the investors a significant sum for deal-related expenses — a provision that is binding even if the deal is never completed.

Without an understanding of why Asian investors include this provision, this demand seems ludicrously overreaching. Its purpose is to ensure that all parties approach negotiations with focus and gravity. With a significant amount of money on the line, the reasoning goes, the parties are more motivated to reach accord. This stipulation is familiar in Asia, but I routinely delete it from term sheets during contract negotiations because it seems counterintuitive to reaching an arm’s-length agreement.

Shunning Asian capital may ultimately cost you down the line.

Remember that the Asian VC market, while explosive, is still in its infancy: Chinese-led venture funding has increased 15-fold since 2013, according to The Wall Street Journal. Because this market is so immature, investors aim to add language to term sheets that will give them an advantage.

It’s also typical to see term sheets that include full-ratchet anti-dilution protection and most-favored-nation clauses. But their ubiquity doesn’t mean founders must be stuck with them. I encourage would-be investors to embrace realistic expectations by reviewing deal point studies, which summarize the typical terms in recent deals. Most major law firms, including mine, produce their own.

Keeping your cool

If a financing term sheet contains troublesome or even outrageous terms, don’t take it personally. Task your lawyer with explaining to foreign prospective investors why the term sheet they provided is wildly different from typical U.S. deal terms. Leave the expression of deep disappointment to your counsel so your feelings won’t taint your relationship with the investors.

I recently provided this type of feedback to a group of would-be strategic investors from China. When they produced pages of unreasonable terms, I directed them to the model financing documents on the sites of the National Venture Capital Association (NCVA) and Series Seed. The forms from these neutral sources include typical terms and agreements drawn up by a group of investors, entrepreneurs, counsel and advisers. They need to be tweaked for each financing scenario, but they cover all the basics and beyond. In this instance, the Chinese investors reviewed this information and did some additional research. They then returned with far more conciliatory terms, which the founder ultimately accepted.

If you’re concerned that the need for negotiations and diplomacy with foreign investors will be time-consuming and distract you from your business goals, reconsider. Shunning Asian capital may ultimately cost you down the line.

Many Chinese VCs are well-connected, and a respectful, productive relationship with these investors can help you open doors to wealthy investor conglomerates eager to fund promising startups. Those connections can, in turn, lead you to larger, global markets that you could never have accessed otherwise.


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