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商业 - 科技

Twitter上市不会重蹈Facebook覆辙

Joshua Morgan Brown 2013年10月09日

Twitter上市在即,业界一片沸腾,让人再次想起Facebook上市前的光景。不过,Facebook大热倒灶的IPO悲剧依然历历在目,没人愿意Twitter重蹈覆辙,而华尔街和媒体似乎也已经从Facebook的悲剧中汲取了教训,确保平稳开盘预计会成为Twitter上市的重中之重。

    1958年,当美国实业资本家费尔德成功铺设了第一条横跨大西洋的海底电缆时,如果当时就有了现代化的金融媒体,只怕我们看到的情形或许会是许多宣传报道都在哀嚎,称这个项目没法赚钱,而不是惊叹于它所带来的跨洲际即时通讯能力。而现在,对于Twitter近期IPO后的赢利能力,以及它已经确然为我们带来的便利之间,也存在着类似的失衡。

    我并不是要在这里预测Twitter上市后短期内的股票走势,不过我愿意向大家披露一下我个人在二级市场购买股票的计划。我给出的只是一些个人的浅见,以便打消一些顾虑,同时表达一些重要的观点。

    过去三年里,我一直在说,Twitter是一个出类拔萃的全球信息平台,在短期内不太可能被复制或挑战。它已经从文化和政治上挑战了这个世界,而至于Twitter可以在商业世界里可以有什么样的作为,Twitter的创始人甚至还没有进行过任何我们看得见的尝试。

    由于市场机制的作用,加上华尔街的短视可能影响到股票的估值,Twitter上市后股价略高或略低都是有可能的事情。但我决定忽略我听到的大多数流言,因为我看重的是将来,所以我愿意承担初始买入价可能过高的风险。

    顺便说一句,我并不推荐其他人也按这种方法来投资,因为这种投资策略非常大胆,不合常理。不过我的计划和大多数人不一样。

    我想说的重点是,去年五月份Facebook上市后的悲惨表现与Twitter上市后的表现并没有必然联系。散户投资者们可能很难看出这两次IPO间的区别,媒体也是一样,因为“某某某又来了”本身就是一个媒体人喜欢大书特书的题目。

    我相信媒体几乎一定会连篇累牍地对这两次IPO进行对比,可以说这基本上是无法避免的情况,但他们也正是错在这里。首先记者们有点击量的任务,其次,就算是一个潜在的坏消息也比一个温和的预测传播得更迅速。不过在我看来,Facebook的IPO虽然执行不力,但却并不会影响Twitter的IPO。首先是因为华尔街已经从前车之鉴中汲取了教训。其次要指出的是,Twitter为了把自己和Facebook区分开来也做了很多努力。另外我们也知道,各大交易所对可能出现的意外情况也越来越警惕了,不管上市的公司是谁。最后,媒体机器对待这次IPO也会比上一次更克制、客观。

    下面这三种情况在Twitter的IPO过程中绝对不会出现。

    股票砸在承销商手里

    摩根斯丹利(Morgan Stanley)不会领衔这次交易,不过它仍然会在这次IPO中扮演非常重要的角色。Twitter此次选择了高盛(Goldman)作为首席承销商,意味着这个承销商不必依赖大量的零售经纪人来完成任务。考虑到这笔交易的大概规模,零售经纪人们虽然也会获得一定的配额,但是他们不会遇到上次Facebook上市时把大量股票砸在手里的情况。

    随便问一个股票经纪,他都会告诉你,对于一支股票来说,如果你要多少股,人家便给你多少股,那就是现实版的“死神来了”。早年间在我自己也做股票经纪的时候,每次我代表客户要求要买X股的股票,对方说“好的,没问题”,那就明白无误地表示这笔交易要悲剧了。

    If the modern financial media had been around in 1858, while Cyrus West Field was laying the first transatlantic telegraph cable under the ocean, we'd have been treated to hundreds of screeching headlines about the project's lack of immediate profitability -- rather than marveling at the instantaneous connection being established between two continents. I think there is a similar disconnect between the skepticism with which Twitter will be viewed in the near term and the miraculous nature of what it has actually built.

    I'm not going to make a prediction about what the Twitter IPO will do in its first days of trading. I will, however, disclose my plan to buy shares for my own personal account in the secondary market, pretty much no matter where it opens up. I'm giving you my bias upfront so that we can dispense with any suspicion and make some important points here.

    I've said consistently for three years now that Twitter is a one-of-a-kind, global information utility that probably will not be replicated or challenged any time soon. It's changed the worldculturally and politically, and its creators have barely even scratched the surface in terms of what it might be capable of for business purposes.

    Twitter shares may trade lower or higher upon coming public as market mechanics and The Street's myopic perceptions manifest themselves in the stock's valuation. I plan to ignore most of what I hear because I want in for the future, and I'm willing to risk that my initial buy-in price is too high.

    By the way, I don't recommend that anyone else invest this way. It's pretty reckless and unconventional, but I have a different game plan than most.

    The key point I want to make here is that what happened with Facebook (FB) in May of 2012 has no bearing on what will or won't happen with Twitter. Retail investors will have difficulty seeing the difference between the two events. The media will also struggle to separate them because "Here we go again!" is a classic journalism trope that practically writes itself.

    I believe the press will mostly be wrong in relentlessly making this Facebook-Twitter comparison, as they inevitably will. Everyone's got a pageview quota to fill, and potential bad news travels faster than a moderate forecast. In my view, Facebook's poorly-executed IPO won't matter for Twitter's precisely because of the lengths The Street has gone in distancing itself from that embarrassment. I would point out that Twitter itself has gone to great pains to distinguish its coming offering as well. In addition, we know that the exchanges will also be exceedingly more vigilant and alert to potential hiccups, regardless of which the company chooses to list on. Finally, the media hype machine will be more subdued than last time -- and certainly more chaste.

    Below are three things that will absolutely not happen with Twitter's IPO ...

    Dumping stock on Mom and Pop

    Morgan Stanley (MS) won't lead the deal, although it will play a big part in the syndicate. Twitter's gone with Goldman (GS) -- which means the lead underwriter isn't attached to a massive retail brokerage salesforce. Given what will be the deal's likely size, retail brokers will get allocations, but they won't have stock dumped on them like they did with Facebook.

    Any broker will tell you that the kiss of death on a new issue is whenever you're actually being granted the size you had indicated for. In my prior life as a broker, any time I had submitted a request for X number of shares for clients and the answer came back, "Yes, okay," it was a sure sign that the deal was doomed.

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