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人人网的IPO如何为Facebook上市铺平道路

人人网的IPO如何为Facebook上市铺平道路

Kevin Kelleher 2011年04月22日
对于一个年赢利仅为770万美元的公司来说,40亿美元的估值听起来未免有些可笑,不过人人的IPO很可能为其他一系列令人震惊的IPO铺平了道路。

Renren
图片来自维基百科

    几年以前,我认识的一位愤世嫉俗的编辑很喜欢挑战记者,他让他们把“性”、“iPhone”和“奥巴马”几个当时的热点词拼在一起,写出一篇可信且可以发表的头条新闻。不过据我所知,没有任何一个记者能完成这个任务。

    最近又有另外三个同样抓人眼球的热词火了起来——“IPO”、“中国”和“Facebook”。从上周五开始,随着人人网在纽交所(New York Stock Exchange)申请首次公开募股,诸如《中国的Facebook赴美申请IPO》之类的头条新闻开始见诸于报端。人人网是一家总部位于北京的社交网站,拥有1.17亿用户。

    但是人人网是否真的当得起“中国的Facebook”这个称号?更重要的是,虽然许多赚钱的社交媒体初创公司持续增长,而且这些公司的胃口也越来越大,但人人网真的是一个可行的IPO种子选手吗?在详细研读了人人网的招股书后,这两个问题的答案似乎都是肯定的。

    像Facebook一样,人人网最初也是一个鼓励人们实名登录的社交网站,后来为了外部业务而增加了社交游戏和电子商务功能。而且它的平台也面向第三方应用的开发者开放,这一点也和Facebook一样,而且人人网还提供了一个链接程序,允许用户分享来自600多个合作网站的内容。

    事实上,人人网在某些方面与Facebook极为类似,以至于在人人网招股书的风险因素部分中,都流露出了对可能遭到专利诉讼的忐忑。人人网的招股书先是指出Facebook拥有一些社交媒体专利,然后表示:“我们的技术、产品、业务方法或服务的某些方面,可能涉及到了其他公司的一些已经发布或暂未发布的专利。”

    Facebook已经被中国“墙”住了,只有少数网民通过虚拟局域网等手段“翻墙”建立了账户,中国的Facebook账户约在40万个左右。少了Facebook这个大敌,人人网的增长十分迅速。2009年人人网的营收翻了三倍多,而2010年,其营收又增长了64%,达到7650万美元。人人的增长应该还会持续一段时间。ComScore公司的数据指出,到2010年4月,中国有38%的网民访问社交网站,而这一比率在美国高达81%。

    人人网的用户非常活跃。今年三月,大概有3100万人注册人人网,当月平均每名用户在该网站上待了7个小时的时间。迄今为止,人人用户已经张贴了共计29亿张照片、2.49亿篇网络日志和208亿条评论。

    人人网还有一个与Facebook的不同之处也十分有趣:人人的收入只有42%来自广告,倒是有45%的收入来自在线游戏。从这点看来,比起Facebook,人人网倒更像社交游戏公司Zynga。不过不管怎么说,人人都是一家蒸蒸日上的社交网络公司。

    简而言之,好消息是人人网是Facebook的成功版本,未来几年内还会继续增长。下面说说坏消息。

    也正是因为这两个原因,人人网的市值会变得很高。假设人人的IPO价格为承销商给出的每股(确切的说是美国存托股份)9—11美元这一价格区间的中间价,那么经过此次IPO,人人的市值将达到40亿美元。人人网去年的营收入为7650万美元,营业利润为770万美元。也就是说这次IPO的股价营收比为52,而股价与营业利润比为519.(而相比之下,谷歌去年大多数时候的股价营收比都在5.5至6.5之间徘徊,同时谷歌2010年的市值与营业利润比为15.6)。

    而且人人可能会变得更加昂贵。人人IPO的承销商队伍包括摩根士丹利(Morgan Stanley)、德意志银行(Deutsche Bank)和瑞信(Credit Suisse)等投行。这些承销商拥有一项超额发行权,如果需求很高的话,他们有权额外销售800万股。此外如果需求真的很高,人人可以略微调高IPO的美国存托股票单价,而这种情况通常发生在最受追捧的IPO身上。无论超额销售也好,调高美国存托股票单价也好,一旦股份开始交易,这两种做法都会使人人的市值远远超过50亿美元。

    在其他市场上,IPO的股价与销售额之比达到50,一定会让业界笑掉大牙。但在美国市场上,人人的IPO却很可能让许多投资人心痒难搔。这是因为Facebook的股票只在二级市场上交易,因此这些无缘Facebook的投资人可能将目光转向人人网。在非上市股票交易平台SharesPost上,Facebook的交易市值已经接近800亿美元,是该公司报告的2010年营收入(20亿美元)的40倍。

    人人网正在利用此次IPO在美国股市上大肆散发其股份,另一方面,华尔街却似乎把人人的IPO看成了一个试验气球。与潘朵拉(Pandora)或LinkedIn的上市相比,人人的IPO更像是为明年的市场定调的一次网络公司IPO。它甚至可以看成Facebook挂牌上市的预演。

    如果投资人真的排队购买人人网的股票,并且人人网的市值的确节节高升,那么这将给极为有利可图的Facebook IPO铺平道路。而且现在许多承销商都紧盯着主打社交网络牌的初创公司,人人IPO的成功也会让承销商坚信这些公司的确有盈利前景。不过一次好的IPO需要的不仅是增长和赢利能力,它还需要一个符合常理的价格。

    译者:朴成奎

    A few years ago, a cynical editor I knew was fond of challenging reporters to write a credible and printable headline combining the words "sex," "iPhone" and "Obama" - three of the sweetest pieces of linkbait at the time. As far as I know, no one ever followed through.

    Recently, we've seen another trifecta of key words that is almost as alluring: "IPO," "China" and "Facebook." As in, "The Facebook of China files for an IPO." Such headlines started appearing last Friday, when RenRen, a Beijing-based social network with 117 million users, filed for an initial public offering on the New York Stock Exchange.

    But can RenRen credibly be called the Facebook of China? And more importantly, given the growing and seemingly insatiable appetite for profitable social-media startups, is RenRen a viable IPO candidate? After a read through the company's prospectus, the initial answer to both question seems to be, Yes.

    Like Facebook, RenRen started out a social network that encouraged people to use their real identities, then added social games and e-commerce features for outside businesses. And like Facebook, its platform is open to developers creating third-party apps and it offers a Connect program letting users share content from more than 600 partner sites.

    In fact, in some ways RenRen resembles Facebook so much that it frets in the risk-factors section of its prospectus about patent litigation. After noting that Facebook has a number of social networking patents, RenRen said that "there may be patents issued or pending that are held by others that relate to certain aspects of our technologies, products, business methods or services."

    Facebook has been blocked in China, except for the 400,000 or so accounts set up through end runs like virtual private networks. So RenRen's growth has been rapid. In 2010, its revenue rose 64% to $76.5 million after more than tripling in 2009. Growth should continue for some time: According to comScore, 38% of China's internet users visited social network sites in April 2010, versus 81% in the U.S.

    RenRen's users are active. In March, some 31 million people logged in, spending an average of seven hours on the site during the month. To date, they have posted an aggregate 2.9 billion photos, 249 million blogs and 20.8 billion comments or reviews.

    Another interesting difference from Facebook, only 42% of RenRen's revenue is coming from ads. An even larger portion, 45%, come from online games, so in that sense RenRen is more Zynga than Facebook. But either way, it's a thriving social networking company.

    In short, the good news is RenRen is a successful version of Facebook, one poised for years of growth. Now for the bad news.

    For both of those reasons, RenRen is going to be expensive. The company's IPO is valuing the company at $4 billion, assuming it debuts in the middle of the $9-$11 per share (ADS to be accurate) range underwriters have given the company. RenRen had $76.5 million in revenue last year and an operating profit of $7.7 million. So the IPO will have a price-to-revenue ratio of 52 and a price-to-operating profit ratio of 519. (For comparison, Google's price-to-revenue ratio has been hovering around 5.5-6.5 for most of the last year and its market-cap-to-operating-profit-ratio using data for 2010 is 15.6.)

    And RenRen could get even pricier. Underwriters – led by Morgan Stanley, Deutsche Bank and Credit Suisse – have a greenshoe option to sell another 8 million shares if demand is high. And, if demand is really high, it can ratchet up the price per ADS of the IPO, which often happens with the most sought-after offerings. Both moves could leave RenRen's market value well north of $5 billion by the time the shares start trading.

    In a different market, a price-sales ratio of 50 would be laughed out of the IPO pipeline. But in this one, it could be so much catnip to investors who have been shut out of Facebook shares traded on private secondary markets. Facebook shares on SharesPost have been trading close to a $80 billion valuation, or 40 times its reported $2 billion revenue in 2010.

    Even as RenRen is using this IPO to float its shares into the U.S. market, Wall Street seems to be using it to float a trial balloon. More so than Pandora or LinkedIn, RenRen could be the web IPO that sets the market's tone for the next year. It could come to be seen as a kind of test run for Facebook itself.

    If investors line up for RenRen's shares, high valuations and all, it could pave the way for an obscenely lucrative Facebook offering. And it would offer evidence to underwriters of a deep hunger for any social-network-themed startup with a promise of profits. But a good IPO needs more than growth and profitability, it needs a price in sync with common sense.

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