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商业 - 科技

微博上市前途坎坷

Scott Cendrowski 2014年04月03日

微博正在申请在纳斯达克上市,但它上市后的前景并不光明。首先,微博的活跃度已经下降,而微博还在继续烧钱;其次,腾讯的微信异军突起,已经成为人们首选的社交平台,抢走了不少微博用户。微博上市后的走势面临太多不确定性。

    我们不知道这家公司的股票在首次公开发行之后会上涨还是下跌。有太多变数和情感因素会影响人们的判断。但根据我们对事情的一般性判断,中国版Twitter微博(Weibo)即将进行的首次公开发行恐怕不会太过乐观。

    微博原名新浪微博(Sina Weibo)。这家公司表示,即将在对科技公司友好的纳斯达克(Nasdaq)上市,股票代码为WB,计划募集5亿美元。中国科技公司往往利用美国炙手可热的IPO市场,而微博是其中最新的一家公司。随着市场对新浪微博的接纳,微博的母公司、中国门户网站新浪(Sina)正在将新浪微博拆分。规模更大的阿里巴巴集团(Alibaba Group)【业务与亚马逊(Amazon)类似】很快也将赴纽约上市,估值超过1,000亿美元;另外一家在线零售商京东(JD.com),预计将在今年晚些时候上市。

    对于微博,投资者应该担心的是,中国正在转变的风向。微博提供的Twitter式微博客热度正在减退(微博本身便来自微型博客一词)。事实上,2013年,微博总用户数量减少了9%,为2.81亿。但微博方面表示,截至2013年底,微博的每月用户基数增加到1.29亿,而2012年是9,700万。如今,用户有了新的选择,微博不再是首选的社交网络。这项桂冠属于腾讯(Tencent)的微信(WeChat)。

    与微博不同,微信是一个封闭的社交网络,类似于Facebook。人们希望与朋友、并且只能与朋友分享照片时,会使用微信。一位中国朋友告诉我,他通过微信转发了《华尔街日报》(Wall Street Journal )今天报道腐败的文章,而不是通过微博,因为微博已经对这篇报道进行了审查。另外一位朋友表示,她从去年就戒掉了微博;她只想使用微信。

    微信是微博强大的挑战者。微信的每月用户数量达到3亿,而且微信的支付系统使用户可以登录应用支付手机通讯费,购买电影票。政府已经开始打压微博上的批评声音和持不同政见的人,而目前,政府的审查不会轻易抵达微信,因此用户自然会转移到微信。

    对于IPO投资者们而言,微博的财务状况也不容忽视。微博仍然在继续烧钱。2013年,它的年度亏损达到3,800万美元,2012年为1.02亿美元,2011年为1.18亿美元。在快速增长的市场,公司为抢占市场份额而出现亏损是一回事。但当整个市场缩水,便只能面对现实。正因为如此,才有今天即将迎来上市的微博。(财富中文网)

    译者:刘进龙/汪皓

    It's impossible to know whether a company's stock will rise or crash after an IPO. Too many variables and emotions influence the spectacle. But you can take a general pulse of things, and for the upcoming IPO of China's Twitter-like microblog Weibo, it's not very encouraging.

    Formerly Sina Weibo, now just Weibo, the company said it plans to soon list on the tech-friendly Nasdaq exchange, use the ticker WB, and raise $500 million. It's the latest Chinese tech company taking advantage of America's red-hot IPO market. Weibo's parent, Sina (SINA), an Internet portal in China, is spinning off Weibo while the market is receptive. The far larger Alibaba Group, with businesses similar to Amazon, will likely soon IPO in New York at a valuation above $100 billion; another online retailer, JD.com, is expected to list later this year.

    What should have investors worried about Weibo are the shifting winds in China. The Twitter-type of microblogging that Weibo provides (weibo itself translates into microblog) is becoming less popular. In fact, the number of total users dropped 9% to 281 million in 2013. For Weibo's part, it says its monthly user base grew to 129 million at the end of 2013, from 97 million in 2012. But new preferences have been made, and Weibo is no longer the go-to social network. That crown belongs to Tencent's WeChat.

    Unlike Weibo, WeChat is a closed social network, similar to Facebook (FB). When you want to share a picture with your friends, and only your friends, you use WeChat. A Chinese friend told me that he exchanged messages about today's Wall Street Journal story about corruption via WeChat, not Weibo, because Weibo was already censoring the story. Another friend said she quit Weibo last year; she only wants to use WeChat.

    WeChat is a formidable challenger to Weibo. Its monthly user base measures 300 million, and a WeChat payments system keeps users logging into their app to pay phone bills and buy movie tickets. Users naturally migrated to WeChat, an online area where the government's censors couldn't so easily reach, after the government started cracking down on criticism and dissident on Weibo.

    For IPO investors, Weibo's finances are no small matter. Weibo continues to hemorrhage money, posting annual losses of $38 million in 2013, $102 million in 2012, and $118 million in 2011. Losses are one thing when a company is fighting for market share in a rapidly growing industry. But when the pie shrinks, reality sets in. That's where Weibo finds itself at the dawn of an IPO.

 

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