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成功IPO必读

Patricia Sellers 2011年11月07日

市场的剧烈震荡是不可控的,但是精明的团队总是能够精心谋划,顺利实现上市。

    笔者最早认识里斯•拜尔是在第一轮互联网泡沫时的90年代末,当时她是瑞士信贷(Credit Suisse)炙手可热的科技分析师。自从2000年退出华尔街成为一名风险投资人后,拜尔淡出了公众视线——但她一直活跃于初创企业圈内。如今她管理下的咨询公司Class V Group专为拟上市公司提供咨询辅导。笔者曾经问过拜尔是否愿意在Postcards上分享她的宝贵经验。如今Groupon IPO上市在即,能够邀请到作为Class V Group创始合伙人的拜尔谈谈IPO成功要诀也算是一件应景的事儿。

    我在金融界第一线工作了二十年之久——历任华尔街分析师、机构投资者、上市公司董事以及谷歌(Google)上市时的高管——对IPO有深入了解:管理团队常常会为一些小小的失误付出高昂代价,并承受由此带来的长期不利影响。市场的剧烈震荡是不可控的,但是精明的团队总是能够精心谋划,顺利实现上市。我现在在Class V Group为拟上市公司提供咨询服务。下面是成功实现IPO的要诀,它们适用于任何市场:

    1. 不要太早上市。如果下一个季度的业绩并不明朗,说明你的公司还没有做好准备。如果开窗的结果是直接从四楼掉了下去的话,“打开上市窗口”不一定是好事。这事问问芯片制造商Sequans Communications、3D电影技术公司RealD、光子集成电路制造商NeoPhotonics或地理定位服务供应商TeleNav的人就知道了。这些公司上市伊始业绩便不如预期,股价惨淡。遭受损失的投资者发起怒来比地狱烈焰更可怕。

    2. 保证会计账目处于最佳状态。女子乐队至上组合(The Supremes)曾经唱过一首歌,叫做爱不能操之过急(You can't hurry love)。爱情需要和风细雨,但审计必须快马加鞭。想2012年上市吗?外聘的会计师事务所现在就可以忙活起来了。审计未完成是导致IPO计划延迟的头号因素。

    3. 不要急于展示最好的一面。太多即将上市的公司都竭力想在报备文件中放入缺乏可持续性的高利润率数据。投资者可不是傻瓜:他们买股票是看预期,而不是现在的业绩。如果上市前的业绩已经全力以赴,那么上市后公司的利润率和股价只能有一个走势。看看第1点。

    4. 聘请承销商要看投行家本人,而不是金字招牌。假设你正在考虑从几家口碑不错的投行中做选择,应该看重的是未来一起共事的银行家本人,而不是宣传资料里所说的该投行上年达成的热门交易。我常常看到摩根士丹利(Morgan Stanley)和瑞士信贷的宣传册中浓墨重彩地宣传谷歌IPO,但实际上,在高盛(Goldman Sachs)、花旗集团(Citigroup)、瑞银(UBS)等工作的大多数投行家们不过是些在高尔夫球场上浪费光阴的家伙。

    5. 上路前先检点一下自己的行为。投资者对于人的关注不亚于数字。而且,人们往往更热衷于打听前者。如果网上有一些关于你的八卦信息,他们会看到的。比如,目前在未平仓空仓额排行榜上位居前列的就有一家公司,其首席执行官喜欢将自己的打猎照片贴在网上。在这些照片中有一张他在一头鹿旁边开怀大笑的照片,后来被曝这个猎物是他非法侵入私人领地时射杀的。完了!如今背景调查只需轻轻一点鼠标即可。想上市?现在就要做好这方面的准备了。具体来说:

    • 更新个人网络账户的状态一栏时要谨慎。如果有一天你像谷歌的埃里克•施密特或星巴克(Starbucks)首席执行官霍华德•舒尔茨一样已经功成名就,那你大可随时利用名人效应宣扬你的政治主张。但在此之前,还是管住自己的嘴巴。为什么要赶走一半的潜在投资者呢?

    • 清理照片链接。不要勾选Facebook的照片加标签选项。现在就行动。

    • 简化公众形象。你的年龄和薪水将会列入招股书,然而,还有一些信息,可能你并不想昭告天下,但却能在网上能免费获取。在外人知道你的净资产值之前,登陆Reputation.com网站,扫描个人隐私。如果你不想人人都知道你的孩子在哪所小学上学——或者你在朋友圈里是赌马高手——现在就聘请Reputation.com公司为你做好保密工作。

    如果要问我的最佳建议?不要分心于短期波动。应看重于长期,相信自己出色的判断力。

    I knew Lise Buyer when she was a hotshot technology analyst at Credit Suisse (CS) in the late 1990s, during the first Internet bubble. Since quitting Wall Street in 2000 to become a venture capitalist, Buyer has been low-profile--but she's active in the world of startups. She now runs Class V Group, guiding IPO-bound companies. I asked Buyer if she'd share her advice on Postcards. Today, the eve of Groupon's IPO, seems an ideal time to pass on the wisdom of Buyer, Founding Principal of Class V Group, on doing a successful IPO:

    Twenty years on the front lines of the finance world--as a Wall Street analyst, an institutional investor, public company board member and Google (GOOG) executive when it went public--led me to understand this about initial public offerings: Management teams frequently make small mistakes that have large, expensive, long-term consequences. Wild swings in the market can't be controlled, but a savvy team can orchestrate a launch that should lead to smooth sailing. Today, at Class V Group, I advise companies that are IPO-bound. Some tips for a successful debut, in any market:

    1. Don't go too soon.If next quarter's results aren't reasonably predictable, your company isn't ready. An "open window" is not beneficial if you step through and free-fall four stories. Just ask the folks at Sequans Communications (SQNS), RealD (RLD), NeoPhotonics (NPTN) or TeleNav (TNAV). Those companies, all publicly traded, have missed earnings expectations right out of the gate, and the stocks got clobbered. Hell hath no fury like an investor burned.

    2. Get your accounting in top shape.The Supremes sang, "You can't hurry love." But love is a breeze compared to accelerating an audit. Want to be public in 2012? Get your outside accountants going NOW. More IPO plans are delayed by incomplete audits than by any other cause.

    3. Don't wear your Sunday best on Tuesday.Too many soon-to-be-public companies strain to publish unsustainably robust margins in their filings. The investors you want are not fools: They buy stocks because of expectations, not current results. If you're pulling out all the P&L stops for deal day, your margins and your stock price can only go one direction. See point 1.

    4. Hire bankers, not logos.Assuming you are choosing from a list of well-regarded firms, pick bankers based on the individuals you'll be working with. Ignore the propaganda showcasing a bank's hot deals from yesteryear. I regularly see pitch books from Morgan Stanley (MS) and Credit Suisse highlighting the Google IPO--but most of the actual bankers now work at Goldman Sachs (GS), Citigroup (C), UBS (UBS), and elsewhere—or toil on the golf course.

    5. Clean up your act before you take it on the road.Investors care about people as well as numbers. And it's more fun to research the former. If there is available off-topic information about you online, they'll find it. For example, high on a current short-interest list is a company with a CEO prone to posting photos of his hunting exploits. In one of these glamour shots, Big Cheese grins over a deer that, as it turns out, he shot while trespassing. Oops! These days, background checks take a click or two. Want to be public later? Deal with this now. Specifically:

    • Review your status updates. Once you are as accomplished as Google's Eric Schmidt or Starbucks (SBUX) CEO Howard Schultz, feel free to use your celebrity to broadcast your political views. Until then, control your prosthelytizing. Why alienate half of your potential investors?

    • Clean up your photo links. And uncheck the Facebook photo-tagging option. Now.

    • Flatten your public profile. Your age and salary will be in the prospectus, but there are likely troves of freely available information that you may not want to share. Before outsiders know your net worth, run the free privacy scan at Reputation.com. If you don't want everyone to know that your kids, Flopsy and Mopsy, attend Local Elementary--or that you were your fraternity's most successful bookie--hire that firm to keep your secrets secret.

    My best advice? Don't get distracted by near-term volatility. Keep the long-term top of mind. And bank on your own good judgment.

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