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互联网泡沫再现,如何生存?

Steve Blank 2011年03月24日

我们正身处第二次互联网泡沫。本文将告诉你如何在泡沫中生存下来。

    我们正身处第二次互联网泡沫。这一信号已经很明显:初期和晚期估值变得越来越反常,而且日益泡沫化。自上一次互联网泡沫以来,在硅谷聘请人才还从未像现在这么难。泡沫时期赚钱的法则和正常时期截然不同。这些法则到底是什么?不同之处又在哪?新创企业该如何利用它们?

    要理解互联网经济的未来,我们首先要知道它的历史:

    • 黄金时期(1970-1995):企业不断成长,连续盈利(至少5个季度后)适时上市。

    • 泡沫时期(1995-2000):公开市场在拼命招揽创意,“是个点子就行”。没人在意企业的历史状况和盈利记录,企业只需对未来的发展做出模糊的承诺,就能进行首次公开募股(IPO)。

    • 创业冷清/回复本原时期(2000-2010):没有首次公开募股,仅有少数风投还在砸钱。这是一个缺乏信心的时期,创业市场非常冷清,并购交易也寥寥无几。

    • 新的泡沫期(2011- 2014):泡沫再度来袭……

    过去十年,企业家精神取得了大的发展。在创业冷清/回复本原时期,大家都清楚了新创企业是一个临时组织,旨在寻找可重复、可扩展的商业模式。随着新创企业学会如何获取成功,敏捷+客户开发这一理念进入了词典。

    不过现在,创建公司的法则再次发生了改变。

    未来三年,新创企业的退出方式既包括首次公开募股,又包括并购。而且,和上次泡沫不同,在本次泡沫时期,掀起第一波公开发售潮的是那些展现了“真正”巨额收益、盈利,并拥有大量客户的公司(比如Facebook、Zynga、Twitter、LinkedIn、Groupon等。)。

    不过,和所有泡沫一样,过早的进行首次公开募股,将会吸引很多财务状况尚不够出色的公司。高质量的首次公开募股将会不断减少,泡沫也会随之破灭。与此同时,收购机会将大量出现。随着新兴互联网市场不断涌现,一些大公司将无法跟上创新的步伐,他们将采用收购新创企业的办法进行“创新”。最终,新的流动性将会出现,例如买卖非流动性资产的私募股权交易平台(例如SecondMarket、SharesPost等。)。

    如今的新创企业开发周期短,而且能迅速吸引到用户,所以他们能够充分利用退出机制。不过,他们应当牢记以下法则:

    交易次序:每一个市场的买家数量都有限,交易者的数量也有限,它们都希望填补特定的产品/市场空白。所以确定具体去找谁、和谁谈,这些都是可以预料的。对于某家特定的新创企业而言,这个名单上估计也就几百号人。

    广泛采用:能够在泡沫时期胜出的,将是那些产品被广泛采用(利用免费增值商业模式、病毒性增长、低成本等)和大量分发的公司(例如Facebook、Android/苹果应用程序商店)。他们将首先把重点放在获得大量用户上,然后再开始取得收益。

    曝光度:在创业冷清时期,大家的忠告是将注意力放到发展公司上,不要太招摇。不过现在的建议变了。就像每次泡沫一样,现在是僧多粥少。虽然为了产品,你仍然要极度专注于自己的客户,不过现在你和你的公司都需要到处上镜,让自己看起来不同凡响。出席各种会议并发表演讲;发表大量博客;利用社交网络宣传;打造品牌。在新泡沫时期,公共关系部门也许是你最需要的,所以在这方面投资吧。

经验教训:

    • 我们正身处新一轮新创企业投资潮中——这是另一次泡沫的开始。

    • 在泡沫时期,流动性规则对于新创企业和投资者而言是不一样的。

    • 请关注这些法则,并注意如何遵守它们。

    • 和上次泡沫不一样,这次的泡沫不是兜售“愿景”或概念。

    • 你必须要做出业绩。这就要求你采用敏捷+客户开发的理念打造公司。

    • 把握了速度、节奏和关键性运转周期的新创企业将取得成功。

    本文作者史蒂夫•布兰科是《四步的顿悟》(The Four Steps to the Epiphany)一书的作者。布兰科在书中详述了自己发掘客户的方法,它能帮助新创企业降低风险、提升成功几率。布兰科曾创立过多家新创企业,目前已退休。他在斯坦福大学、加州大学伯克利分校哈斯商学院(Haas School of Business)和哥伦比亚大学授课。他的著作以及本文更详尽的版本,请参阅www.steveblank网站。

    译者:项航

    We're now in the second Internet bubble. The signals are loud and clear: Seed and late-stage valuations are getting frothy and wacky, and hiring talent in Silicon Valley is the toughest it's been since the dotcom bubble. The rules for making money are different in a bubble than in normal times. What are they, how do they differ and what can startups do to take advantage of them?

    To understand where we're going, it's first important to know where we've been:

    • The Golden Age (1970-1995): Build a growing business with a consistently profitable track record (after at least 5 quarters,) and go public when it's time.

    • Dotcom Bubble (1995-2000): "Anything goes" as public markets clamor for ideas, vague promises of future growth and IPOs happen without regard for history or profitability.

    • Lean Startups/Back to Basics (2000-2010): No IPOs, limited VC cash and lack of confidence fuels "lean startup" era with limited M&A activity.

    • The New Bubble: (2011- 2014): Here we go again….

    Over the last decade, entrepreneurship has come a long way. In the Lean Startup/Back to Basic era it was understood that a startup is a temporary organization designed to search for a repeatable and scalable business model. The concepts of the Agile + Customer Development entered the lexicon as startups learned how to build for success.

    Now the rules for building a company are changing again.

    Startup exits in the next three years will include IPOs as well as acquisitions. And, unlike the last bubble, this bubble's first wave of public offerings will be companies showing "real" revenue, profits and customers in massive numbers (think Facebook, Zynga, Twitter, LinkedIn, Groupon, etc.).

    But, like with all bubbles, these early IPOs will attract companies with less stellar finances, the quality IPO pipeline will diminish rapidly and the bubble will pop. At the same time, acquisition opportunities will expand as large, existing companies, unable to keep up with the pace of innovation in these emerging Internet markets, will "innovate" by buying startups. Finally, new forms of liquidity will emerge such as private-market stock exchanges for buying and selling illiquid assets (e.g., SecondMarket, SharesPost, etc.).

    Today's startups have all the tools needed to take advantage of the exit window, due to their short development cycles and abilities to rapidly adopt customers. These are the rules they should keep in mind:

    Order of Battle:Each market has a finite number of acquirers, and a finite number of deal-makers, each looking to fill specific product/market holes. So determining who specifically to target and talk to is not an incalculable problem. For a specific startup this list is probably a few hundred names.

    Wide Adoption:Startups that win in the bubble will be those that get wide adoption (using freemium, viral growth, low costs, etc.) and massive distribution (i.e. Facebook, Android/Apple App store). They will focus on getting massive user bases first, and let the revenue follow later.

    Visibility:During the Lean Startup era, the advice was to focus on building the company and avoid hype. Now that advice has changed. Like every bubble, this is a game of musical chairs. While you still need irrational focus on customers for your product, you and your company now need to be everywhere and look larger than life. Show and talk at conferences, be on lots of blogs, use social networks and build a brand. PR may be your new best friend in the new bubble, so invest in it.

Lessons Learned

    • We're in a new wave of startup investing – it's the beginning of another bubble

    • Rules for liquidity for startups and investors are different in bubbles

    • Pay attention to what those rules are and how to play by them

    • Unlike the last bubble this one is not about selling "vision" or concepts

    • You have to deliver. That requires building a company using Agile and Customer Development

    • Startups that master speed, tempo and pivot cycle time will win

    Steve Blank is the author of "The Four Steps to the Epiphany," which details his customer development process for minimizing risk and optimizing chances for startup success. A retired serial entrepreneur, Steve teaches at Stanford University, U.C. Berkeley's Haas School of Business and Columbia. His book and a longer version of this story can be found at www.steveblank

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