专栏 - 从华尔街到硅谷


Dan Primack 2015年06月23日

Dan Primack专注于报道交易和交易撮合者,从美国金融业到风险投资业均有涉及。此前,Dan是汤森路透(Thomson Reuters)的自由编辑,推出了peHUB.com和peHUB Wire邮件服务。作为一名新闻工作者,Dan还曾在美国马萨诸塞州罗克斯伯里经营一份社区报纸。目前他居住在波士顿附近。



    现在的风投和私募不同。私募会不断卖掉一切不能囫囵吞下的东西;风投则是买下之后就死死抱在手里。今年初以来,有风投背景的科技公司上市的只有七家; 6月份首发的目前只有Fitbit一家。照这样的趋势来看,2015年有可能成为金融危机爆发以来有风投背景的科技公司IPO的最低谷。此外,风投支持的,完成战略性转让而且估值超过10亿美元的科技公司也只有两家(Lynda.com被LinkedIn收购,Virtustream被EMC所收购)。



    而对于科技公司并购案太少的问题,买卖双方似乎都难逃其咎。买家方面,企业发展经理表示很难说服董事会在进行非公开收购时支付溢价,因为大家普遍认为收购对象的价格已经高估(尽管许多董事会都握有大量现金,而且他们公司的股价也很高)。就卖家而言,他们仍相信富达国际投资或Vanguard Wellington等投资者愿意按更高的估值开出支票(他们都在想,我们可不能过早脱手,我们要当下一个Instagram)。





    I spent a good chunk of last week in Silicon Valley, speaking to venture capitalists who mostly wanted to regale me with tales of their portfolio prowess. Sunshine and unicorns all over Sand Hill Road.

    When will these folks start getting nervous? Not about rising valuations, per se, but about their inability to get liquidity?

    Unlike private equity peers who have been selling everything that isn’t bolted down, venture capital is in the midst of an overwhelming buy-and-hold paralysis. Only seven VC-backed tech companies have gone public so far this year, with just one more (Fitbit) currently on the pricing calendar for June. At this rate, 2015 could go down as the slowest year for VC-backed tech IPOs since the throes of the financial crisis. Moreover, there have been only two strategic sales of VC-backed tech companies valued at over $1 billion (Lynda.com to LinkedIn and Virtustream to EMC).

    What good is it to have a stable of unicorns if you don’t ever ride them?

    In terms of the lack of IPOs, one explanation is that the unicorn crowd includes a disproportionate number of founder-controlled companies, and such folks have little incentive to deal with public market headaches when big mutual fund and hedge fund managers will dip down into the private markets. A less charitable rationale is that too few of these companies have imposed the tough internal discipline — particularly in terms of burn rate — that public equity investors demand. Either way, limited partners in VC funds aren’t getting paid.

    As for the lack of tech M&A, it seems to be both a buy-side and sell-side problem. On the buy-side, corporate development managers say it is difficult to convince their boards to pay premiums to private round prices that, in general, are believed to be artificially inflated (even though many of those boards are sitting on massive cash hoards and their own high stock prices). On the sell-side, there’s again the belief that Fidelity or Wellington will be willing to write the next check at an ever-increasing valuation (i.e., we don’t want to sell too early and be thought of as the next Instagram).

    To be sure, all this could all just be a coincidental calendar blip that presages a post-Labor Day gold rush. But strong public market conditions+high-value portfolio companies should equal big exits. And it isn’t.

    If I’m a venture capitalist, it might be time to stop staring at the sun and take a peek at the darkening clouds.