订阅

多平台阅读

微信订阅

杂志

申请纸刊赠阅

订阅每日电邮

移动应用

商业

WeWork之后,私募投资者对初创企业的忠告:别把亏钱不当回事

Karen Yuan 2019年11月10日

近年来,在公开市场上,人们更重视增长,而忽视了盈利能力。这种现象造成了一些混乱局面。

在华盛顿特区举行的2019年《钜富》最具影响力的商界女性峰会上,与会者讨论了私募市场的淘金热。图片来源:Photograph by Stuart Isett for Fortune
 

现在的私募市场正在经历淘金热。

新基金和投资者正在以前所未有的方式向私募市场投入大笔资金。这个未知的领域为创业公司和投资者提供了新的机会和挑战。《钜富》最具影响力的商界女性峰会于今年10月21在华盛顿特区开幕,一个由私募市场投资专家组成的小组在本次会议上讨论了资本洪流正在如何改变投资。

“10年或15年前,市场上可能有5家竞争者。现在差不多有50家了。”TPG Growth的合伙人希瑟·史密斯·索恩表示,“问题是这些企业都很年轻。”许多竞争者还没有站稳脚跟。

NEA的风险合伙人希拉里·科洛-麦克亚当斯一开始就说:“有这么多资金投入是件好事。”然而,她接着说,问题是创业公司如何用好这些钱。“就像养孩子一样,如果你不设限,就会面临各种各样的行为。由于获得资本相对容易,所以投资者应当考虑,我应该和哪家公司合作?在为公司的增长战略提供建议时,我们必须就如何使用资本问一下这个至关重要的问题:你们的经济战略是什么?她指出,这不是一个放之四海而皆准的问题,不同的商业模式下有不同的经济模式。她认为,在特定的增长战略下,有时投入大量资本是有必要的。

她接着说,很多初创公司想实现的都是她所说的“花生酱效应”,也就是说“每个人都能够分到一点”新资本。这与致力于按照优先次序分配资金的策略背道而驰。

“我问他们如何按照职能投资于人,”科洛-麦克亚当斯说,“你如何衡量他们的成功?这个问题总是让人们踌躇。”她说,情况往往是,人们会把不同角色的职能考虑在内,却没有考虑如何部署这些资源。这时,排定优先级至关重要。

每个人都十分关注的另一个重要问题是:盈利和增长之间的权衡。近年来,在公开市场上,人们更重视增长,而忽视了盈利能力。这种现象造成了一些混乱局面——最近最著名的例子是WeWork首次公开募股失败。

“私募市场在很大程度上受到公开市场的影响。”Trinity Ventures的普通合伙人帕特里夏·纳卡什表示。“私募市场总是像钟摆一样摆荡。我们已经付出高昂代价,摆向了增长。但现在公开市场已经下场,并高调表示,这种做法太过头了。我们需要为盈利扫清道路,需要重新校准。”纳卡什称这是从华尔街到早期的涓滴效应。她说,现在这种思潮已经逐渐进入后期阶段。与此同时,她警告说:“私募市场如果矫枉过正,将犯下另一个错误。”

包括软银的莉迪亚·杰特在内的其他讨论者也表示赞同。“我们一直在寻找平衡。”科洛-麦克亚当斯说,“如果不在增长模式内,真正的成本利润率是多少?” 她认为,无论是私募市场还是公开市场,投资于增长的条件是仔细观察增长利润下潜在的杠杆,看看是否具有弹性或存在潜在风险。

“这不是赔不赔钱的问题。这是怎么赔钱的问题。”史密斯·索恩的玩笑话让参会人员会心大笑,“所以要好好想想怎么赔。”(钜富中国网)

It’s a gold rush out there.

New funds and investors are putting an unprecedented amount of capital into the private market. This uncharted landscape presents new opportunities—and new challenges—for startups and investors alike. A panel of private-market investing experts at Fortune’s Most Powerful Women Summit, which kicked off in Washington, D.C. Monday, discussed how the flood of capital is changing investing.

“Ten or fifteen years ago, there were like five competitors in the market. Now there's like fifty,” Heather Smith Thorne, partner at TPG Growth, said. “The problem is that these guys are young.” Many competitors haven’t found their footing yet.

“It’s great that there’s been a lot of capital,” Hilarie Koplow-McAdams, Venture Partner at NEA, began. However, she continued, the question was how startups used such proceeds. “Like raising children, if you have no limits you get a wide range of behaviors. Capital is relatively easy to come by, so they should think about, what firm do I partner with? For those advising them on growth strategies, we have to ask important questions on the use of proceeds: What do your unit economic strategies look like?” She noted that this was not a one-size-fits-all question—different business models have different economic models beneath them. She suggested that sometimes a lot of capital was necessary if taken into the context of a specific growth strategy.

A lot of startups, she continued, wanted what she called the “peanut buttering effect,” in which “everyone gets a little” of the fresh capital. That’s opposed to the hard work of prioritizing where best to deploy capital.

“I ask how they they invest in people by function,” Koplow-McAdams said. “How do you measure how they’re successful? That gives people pause.” She said oftentimes, people have thought about functions of roles, but they haven’t thought about how to deploy that resource. That’s where the prioritization exercises come in.

Another big issue on everyone’s radar: the trade-off between profitability and growth. In recent years in public markets, profitability has been overlooked for growth. That’s resulted in some snafus—the most lurid and late example being that of WeWork’s failed attempt at an IPO.

“Private markets are heavily influenced by what happens in public markets,” said Patricia Nakache, General Partner at Trinity Ventures. “There’s always a pendulum swing in private markets. We have swung way out towards growth at most costs. But now public markets have weighed in and resoundingly said, this has gone too far. We need to clear a path for profitability and we need to recalibrate.” Nakache spoke to a trickle-down effect from Wall Street to early stage. Now, she said, this ethos was trickling down to late stage. At the same time, she cautioned, “It’s a mistake in private markets to go from extreme to extreme.”

The other panelists, which included SoftBank’s Lydia Jett, agreed. “We’re always searching for equilibrium,” Koplow-McAdams said. “What are true cost margins if you weren’t in growth mode?” Private or public, she believes in investing for growth as long as a good look is given to underlying levers underneath growth margins to see whether there is elasticity or underlying risk.

“It’s not about losing money. It’s how you lose the money,” Smith Thorne joked to knowing laughter in the room. “So lose it thoughtfully.”