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移动应用

商业 - 科技

Facebook翻身的两个原因

Miguel Helft 2012年10月26日

移动设备的流行和广告收入的增长,正将Facebook从泥潭中拯救出来。目前,Facebook已经成为最大的移动平台之一,广告收入比去年同期增长了36%。公司第三季度的收入也在这两个积极因素的刺激下比去年同期增长了32%。

    Facebook是不是选择了一个最坏的时间上市?当然,就这个问题,首次公开募股的买方和卖方会给出不同的回答。不过毫无疑问的是,Facebook在其商业前景最不明了的情况下仓促选择了上市。

    科技领域的投资者大多认为Facebook的行情将会一路看涨。不过今年春天,Facebook的增长速度大幅下降。Facebook在5月18日上市之前的三个季度,收入的年增长率从超过100%降至不足40%。移动广告业务的收入已经消失殆尽。

    不过如今,Facebook似乎到了一个转折点。它的收入增长率虽然无法回到以前的高度——可能永远也回不到了——但是已经止住了之前的颓势。而移动广告业务的收入从一无所有重新回升到总收入的14%。在某些分析师看来,这简直是“辉煌的壮举”。

    的确,种种迹象表明Facebook已经开始重新焕发活力。这家公司本周二发布的财报显示,第三季度Facebook的收入为12.6亿美元,比去年同期增长了32%,增长率与上一季度持平。更令人振奋的是,Facebook的广告业务收入比去年同期增长了36%,如果刨除外币疲软造成的影响,广告收入同比将达到43%。表现确实不错。因此在盘后交易中,Facebook的股票上涨了13%。

    是什么造成了这些增长呢?显然,Facebook首次公开募股的惨败让他们幡然醒悟。扎克伯格曾自豪地向潜在的投资者声明,他们将用心做好产品,其后才会考虑收入多少,不过现在他改变了论调。他加班加点地工作,力图集结人马,加速货币化进程。经过一次显著的变革后,关注曾被忽视的广告体验已经变成了每个产品集团的主要职责。Facebook开发了全新的广告产品,推出了电子商务服务Facebook Gifts,让用户能够在Facebook平台上购买、并与好友们互送礼物。

    “很显然,Facebook的管理层把战略重点放在了股市上,”投资公司史蒂弗•尼古拉斯(StifelNicolaus)的分析师乔丹•罗翰说。“他们过去那些理想主义的观念现在都开始发生了改变。”

    这些改变开始带来更好的业绩。周二在与分析师的电话会议中,扎克伯格试图把握住这些增长所带来的机遇,他劝说投资者打消对投资移动业务的恐惧。他把“移动产品带来的机遇”称作Facebook的业务中“遭人误解最深的领域”之一。

    关于移动产品,扎克伯格说:“我们可以由此接触到更广泛的用户群体,用户们也可以更方便、更频繁地访问我们的网页。这种情况下,我认为我们的收入会更多。”他的头号助手、首席运营官谢莉•桑德伯格强调说:“我们在不到八个月的时间内已经一跃成为最大的移动广告平台之一。”

    移动广告业务的收入以每年6亿美元的速度增长。罗翰说:“Facebook在移动广告业务上的收入令人印象深刻。”

    当然,Facebook目前还没有脱离困境。即便该公司的股票在周二反弹,比起38美元的发行价,Facebook的股价依然下跌了40%。他们在11月和12月遭遇的压力还会更大,因为届时股票解禁,公司员工和早期的股东就可以抛售股票。一些分析师担心,Facebook侵略性地推行货币化会吓跑一批用户。还有许多广告商仍然质疑Facebook的广告效果。而Facebook最大的单项收入来源、社交游戏公司Zynga最近似乎表现不佳,尽管扎克伯格表示其他游戏公司的表现依然可圈可点。

    首次公开募股仅仅过去五个月,Facebook已经走过了一段漫长的道路。它的不败光环迅速褪去,扎克伯格和他的公司被迫从头开始。如今,Facebook正在认真考虑利用已取得重大成功的服务优势,开辟与之相配套的业务。这个想法很好。不过Facebook想要在华尔街和硅谷重放光彩,还需要长期稳步的提高和完善。

    译者:严匡正

    Did Facebook go public at the worst possible time? Buyers and sellers in the IPO will answer that question differently, of course. But there's little doubt that Facebook went public when uncertainty about its business prospects was near its peak.

    Tech investors typically bet on growth and this Spring, Facebook's (FB) growth rate was falling off a cliff. In just three-quarters leading to the May 18 offering, sales growth had dropped from more than 100% year over year, to less than 40%. Mobile revenue was virtually non-existent.

    Now Facebook seems to be turning a corner. Revenue growth is not back to where it was -- it likely never will be -- but it is no longer plummeting. And mobile revenue went from zero to a remarkable 14% of total, a feat that some analysts described as "extraordinary."

    Indeed, Facebook's vital signs suggest the patient has stabilized. On Tuesday, the company reported sales of $1.26 billion in the third quarter, up 32% from a year earlier. That's the same growth rate as in the previous quarter. More encouragingly, advertising revenue rose 36%, and excluding the impact of declining foreign currencies, it would have increased by 43%. Not bad. Shares were up 13% in after hours trading.

    So what happened? Facebook's disastrous IPO was obviously a wake up call. After proudly declaring to prospective investors that revenue would take a backseat to product, Zuckerberg appears to have changed his tune. He has worked overtime to rally his troops to the cause of monetization. In a notable change, the advertising experience, once an afterthought, was turned into a key responsibility for every product group. The company rolled out several new ad products, and pushed into e-commerce with Gifts, a service that allows user to buy items for each other on the Facebook platform.

    "It's clear that Facebook's management team views a strong stock as a strategic priority," says Jordan Rohan, an analyst with StifelNicolaus. "Many of the idealistic beliefs of yesteryear are changing."

    The changes are beginning to translate into better results, and on Tuesday, Zuckerberg sought to capitalize on those gains. During a conference call with analysts, he tried to persuade investors that their fears about the shift to mobileare misplaced. He called the "mobile opportunity" one of the "most misunderstood aspects" of Facebook's business.

    On mobile devices, Zuckerberg said, "we can reach more users, those users visit Facebook more often, and I think we will make more money." His top lieutenant, COO Sheryl Sandberg, hammered the point. "We have become one of the largest mobile advertising platforms in less than 8 months," she said.

    Mobile revenue is now coming in at an annualized rate of $600 million. Said Rohan: "Facebook's revenue from mobile is quite impressive."

    To be sure, Facebook is not out of the woods. Even with Tuesday's after market rally, shares remain more than 40% below their offering price of $38. They're likely to come under additional pressure in November and December as lockups that prevent some employees and early shareholders from selling expire. Some analysts worry that Facebook's push to monetize its service more aggressively could turn off some users. Many advertisers still question the effectiveness of Facebook. And Facebook's single biggest source of revenue, Zynga (ZYNGA), appears to be crumbling, though Zuckerberg said other gaming companies were doing just fine.

    In just five months since its IPO, Facebook has come a long way. Its aura of invincibility faded quickly, forcing Zuck& Co to go back to basics. Now the task of building a business to match the strength of Facebook's phenomenally successful service appears to be underway in earnest. That's all good. But Facebook will likely have to deliver many more quarters of steady improvement before it regains its luster on Wall Street and in Silicon Valley.

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