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WeWork之后,私募投資者對初創企業的忠告:別把虧錢不當回事

Karen Yuan 2019年11月10日

近年來,在公開市場上,人們更重視增長,而忽視了盈利能力。這種現象造成了一些混亂局面。

在華盛頓特區舉行的2019年《財富》最具影響力的商界女性峰會上,與會者討論了私募市場的淘金熱。圖片來源:Photograph by Stuart Isett for Fortune
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現在的私募市場正在經歷淘金熱。

午饭福利视频合集40新基金和投資者正在以前所未有的方式向私募市場投入大筆資金。這個未知的領域為創業公司和投資者提供了新的機會和挑戰。《財富》最具影響力的商界女性峰會于今年10月21在華盛頓特區開幕,一個由私募市場投資專家組成的小組在本次會議上討論了資本洪流正在如何改變投資。

午饭福利视频合集40“10年或15年前,市場上可能有5家競爭者。現在差不多有50家了。”TPG Growth的合伙人希瑟·史密斯·索恩表示,“問題是這些企業都很年輕。”許多競爭者還沒有站穩腳跟。

NEA的風險合伙人希拉里·科洛-麥克亞當斯一開始就說:“有這么多資金投入是件好事。”然而,她接著說,問題是創業公司如何用好這些錢。“就像養孩子一樣,如果你不設限,就會面臨各種各樣的行為。由于獲得資本相對容易,所以投資者應當考慮,我應該和哪家公司合作?在為公司的增長戰略提供建議時,我們必須就如何使用資本問一下這個至關重要的問題:你們的經濟戰略是什么?她指出,這不是一個放之四海而皆準的問題,不同的商業模式下有不同的經濟模式。她認為,在特定的增長戰略下,有時投入大量資本是有必要的。

午饭福利视频合集40她接著說,很多初創公司想實現的都是她所說的“花生醬效應”,也就是說“每個人都能夠分到一點”新資本。這與致力于按照優先次序分配資金的策略背道而馳。

午饭福利视频合集40“我問他們如何按照職能投資于人,”科洛-麥克亞當斯說,“你如何衡量他們的成功?這個問題總是讓人們躊躇。”她說,情況往往是,人們會把不同角色的職能考慮在內,卻沒有考慮如何部署這些資源。這時,排定優先級至關重要。

每個人都十分關注的另一個重要問題是:盈利和增長之間的權衡。近年來,在公開市場上,人們更重視增長,而忽視了盈利能力。這種現象造成了一些混亂局面——最近最著名的例子是WeWork首次公開募股失敗。

午饭福利视频合集40“私募市場在很大程度上受到公開市場的影響。”Trinity Ventures的普通合伙人帕特里夏·納卡什表示。“私募市場總是像鐘擺一樣擺蕩。我們已經付出高昂代價,擺向了增長。但現在公開市場已經下場,并高調表示,這種做法太過頭了。我們需要為盈利掃清道路,需要重新校準。”納卡什稱這是從華爾街到早期的涓滴效應。她說,現在這種思潮已經逐漸進入后期階段。與此同時,她警告說:“私募市場如果矯枉過正,將犯下另一個錯誤。”

包括軟銀的莉迪亞·杰特在內的其他討論者也表示贊同。“我們一直在尋找平衡。”科洛-麥克亞當斯說,“如果不在增長模式內,真正的成本利潤率是多少?” 她認為,無論是私募市場還是公開市場,投資于增長的條件是仔細觀察增長利潤下潛在的杠桿,看看是否具有彈性或存在潛在風險。

“這不是賠不賠錢的問題。這是怎么賠錢的問題。”史密斯·索恩的玩笑話讓參會人員會心大笑,“所以要好好想想怎么賠。”(財富中文網)

It’s a gold rush out there.

New funds and investors are putting an unprecedented amount of capital into the private market. This uncharted landscape presents new opportunities—and new challenges—for startups and investors alike. A panel of private-market investing experts at Fortune’s Most Powerful Women Summit, which kicked off in Washington, D.C. Monday, discussed how the flood of capital is changing investing.

“Ten or fifteen years ago, there were like five competitors in the market. Now there's like fifty,” Heather Smith Thorne, partner at TPG Growth, said. “The problem is that these guys are young.” Many competitors haven’t found their footing yet.

“It’s great that there’s been a lot of capital,” Hilarie Koplow-McAdams, Venture Partner at NEA, began. However, she continued, the question was how startups used such proceeds. “Like raising children, if you have no limits you get a wide range of behaviors. Capital is relatively easy to come by, so they should think about, what firm do I partner with? For those advising them on growth strategies, we have to ask important questions on the use of proceeds: What do your unit economic strategies look like?” She noted that this was not a one-size-fits-all question—different business models have different economic models beneath them. She suggested that sometimes a lot of capital was necessary if taken into the context of a specific growth strategy.

A lot of startups, she continued, wanted what she called the “peanut buttering effect,” in which “everyone gets a little” of the fresh capital. That’s opposed to the hard work of prioritizing where best to deploy capital.

“I ask how they they invest in people by function,” Koplow-McAdams said. “How do you measure how they’re successful? That gives people pause.” She said oftentimes, people have thought about functions of roles, but they haven’t thought about how to deploy that resource. That’s where the prioritization exercises come in.

午饭福利视频合集40Another big issue on everyone’s radar: the trade-off between profitability and growth. In recent years in public markets, profitability has been overlooked for growth. That’s resulted in some snafus—the most lurid and late example being that of WeWork’s failed attempt at an IPO.

“Private markets are heavily influenced by what happens in public markets,” said Patricia Nakache, General Partner at Trinity Ventures. “There’s always a pendulum swing in private markets. We have swung way out towards growth at most costs. But now public markets have weighed in and resoundingly said, this has gone too far. We need to clear a path for profitability and we need to recalibrate.” Nakache spoke to a trickle-down effect from Wall Street to early stage. Now, she said, this ethos was trickling down to late stage. At the same time, she cautioned, “It’s a mistake in private markets to go from extreme to extreme.”

午饭福利视频合集40The other panelists, which included SoftBank’s Lydia Jett, agreed. “We’re always searching for equilibrium,” Koplow-McAdams said. “What are true cost margins if you weren’t in growth mode?” Private or public, she believes in investing for growth as long as a good look is given to underlying levers underneath growth margins to see whether there is elasticity or underlying risk.

午饭福利视频合集40“It’s not about losing money. It’s how you lose the money,” Smith Thorne joked to knowing laughter in the room. “So lose it thoughtfully.”

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