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科技公司的兴衰 The fall and rise of technology juggernauts

工夫:2016-01-08 09:49 阅读:

The San Francisco-based buyout firm Francisco Partners recently published a delicious analysis relevant to anyone wondering about what the future holds for technology stocks. It is a bulletin in which both pessimists and optimists can find hope and it offers a helpful perspective for those wondering about the current valuations of technology companies.

总部位于旧金山的收买团体Francisco Partners近来宣布了一份精炼的剖析,它关于任何推测科技股将来的人都很紧张。在这份剖析中,失望者和悲观者都能找到盼望,它为那些对科技公司以后估值感触疑惑的人提供了一个有协助的视角。

First, the bad news. The 15 technology companies with the largest market capitalisations in 2000 have been decimated — losing about $1.35tn, or roughly 60 per cent, of their combined market value. Only one, Microsoft, has a market capitalisation that is higher than in 2000. One extraordinary aspect of this meltdown is that it did not occur, as some might suspect, in the much ballyhooed dotcom wonder companies of yesteryear. Instead it was a blight that affected most of what were once considered blue-chip technology holdings. In 2000, Nortel sported a market value of $209bn that, like those of its classmates, had been bloated by the enthusiasm of the era; it has since gone bankrupt. While other members of this corporate bracket have avoided that ignominy, their long-term stock charts present bleak pictures. Cisco’s market value has faded from $403bn to $144bn; Intel’s from $288bn to $161bn; and EMC’s from $218bn to $51bn.


For the class of 2000, the sharpest property price declines have been in the deteriorating neighbourhoods of systems, hardware and semiconductors. This is because of the continuing decline in the cost of computing, the rise of open-source software, the move to the “cloud” and the emergence of huge datacentres where companies such as Amazon, Google and Facebook are designing their own approaches.


Now a word from sunnier climes. Fifteen companies that were together worth less than $10bn in 2000 are now among the world’s 50 top technology companies as measured by market capitalisation, with a combined worth of $2.1tn. (Had Amazon been included, rather than being classified as a retailer, this number would have swollen by another $250bn). Apple, which even in 2000 was viewed as little more than a curiosity, has risen in value from $6bn to $659bn. A few themes jump out of this listing: the power of novelty, the shift towards China, the benefits of patience and the virtues of capital efficiency.


Several of today’s most valuable technology companies did not even exist in 2000. Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter together have a collective corporate history of only 33 years. Even Google and Salesforce were barely smudges on the horizon in 2000. These companies now have a combined value of about $850bn. Beyond some of the customised systems they operate in their own datacentres, and in Google’s case, some sideline activities such as its Nexus phones and Chrome notebooks, none of these companies sully their hands with anything as taxing as hardware. They have thrived from the artful deployment of software, in particular the “cloud based” variant, and — for Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter (and Google’s YouTube service) — organising and collating the contributions of their users.

现在市值最高的几家科技公司在2000年乃至还未问世。Facebook、LinkedIn和Twitter三家公司的汗青加起来也就33年。2000年,就连谷歌和Salesforce也还只是地平线上的小点。这些公司如今的总市值约为8500亿美元。除了它们在各自的数据中央运转的一些定制零碎以及(就谷歌而言)像Nexus手机和Chrome条记本等副业以外,这些公司都没有费心介入顺手的硬件业务。它们的乐成来自于奇妙的软件摆设,特殊是“基于云”的软件,以及(就Facebook、 LinkedIn、Twitter以及谷歌的YouTube效劳而言)构造和整理用户天生的内容。

Perched in a clump as the fourth, fifth and sixth most valuable technology companies of the day are Alibaba, Tencent and Baidu. This threesome is now worth $409bn — testament not just to how much China has progressed in a decade and a half but a harbinger of the next several decades as the country places increasing emphasis on spawning its own technology. Woe betide the management of any western technology company that underestimates the challenge posed by the vast number of emerging Chinese competitors, fuelled by an ambition and work regimen that is hard to match in Europe and the US.


Finally, a note about two other themes that jump out of this listing: patience and profits.


Most investors in technology companies squander vast sums by reacting to short-term jitters or global jolts rather than concentrating on the staying power of those emerging enterprises on the right side of history.


And for the founders and chief executives of all of the current billion-dollar “unicorns” there is another abiding message. Almost all of today’s technology juggernauts formed before about 2008 required smallish amounts of capital. Google, for example, consumed only $8m before turning profitable. Maybe this means that sooner or later a new class of company will come into vogue — a rare species known as the profitable unicorn.