百利天下出国考试 > 雅思 > 雅思资料 > 《经济学人》TE-2019-04-20科技独角兽的问题

[阅读资料] 《经济学人》TE-2019-04-20科技独角兽的问题

信息来源: 网络 发布时间:2019-04-23 直达下载地址
基本信息:

内容概要:

  本期封面速递:

  The trouble with tech unicorns

  科技独角兽的问题

  Out of the ashes of Notre Dame

  从巴黎圣母院的废墟中走出来

  Buttigieg: unpronounceable. Electable?

  布蒂吉格:拗口的.有候选资格的?

  What causes coups

  是什么导致了政变

  See the blight: crops and climate change

  枯萎病:作物与气候变化

内容结构:

  The trouble with tech unicorns

  Investors often describe the world of business in terms of animals, such as bears, bulls, hawks, doves and dogs. Right now, mere ponies are being presented as unicorns: privately held tech firms worth over $1bn that are supposedly strong and world-beating—miraculous almost. Next month Uber will raise some $10bn in what may turn out to be this year’s biggest initial public offering (IPO). It will be America’s third-biggest-ever tech IPO, after Alibaba and Facebook. Airbnb and WeWork could follow Lyft, which has already floated, and Pinterest, which was set to do so as The Economist went to press. In China, an IPO wave that began last year rumbles on. Thanks to fashionable products and armies of users, these firms have a total valuation in the hundreds of billions of dollars. They and their venture-capital (vc) backers are rushing to sell shares at high prices to mutual funds and pension schemes run for ordinary people. There is, however, a problem with the unicorns: their business models.

  As we report this week, a dozen unicorns that have listed, or are likely to, posted combined losses of $14bn last year. Their cumulative losses are $47bn (see Briefing). Their services, from ride-hailing to office rental, are often deeply discounted in order to supercharge revenue growth. The justification for this is the Silicon Valley doctrine of “blitzscaling” in order to conquer “winner-takes-all” markets—or in plain English, conducting a high-speed land grab in the hope of finding gold.

  Yet some unicorns lack the economies of scale and barriers to entry that their promoters proclaim. At the same time, tighter regulation will constrain their freedom to move fast and break things. Investors should demand lower prices in the IPOs, or stay away. Tech entrepreneurs and their backers need to rethink what has become an unsustainable approach to building firms and commercialising ideas.

  Today’s unicorn-breeding industry would not have been possible 25 years ago. In 1994 only $6bn flowed into vc funds, which doled out cheques in the single-digit millions. Before Amazon staged its IPO in 1997 it had raised a total of only $10m. Three things changed. Growing fast became easier thanks to cloud computing, smartphones and social media, which let startups spread rapidly around the world. Low interest rates left investors chasing returns. And a tiny elite of superstar firms, including Google, Facebook and China’s Alibaba and Tencent, proved that huge markets, high profits and natural monopolies, along with limited physical assets and light regulation, were the secret to untold riches. Suddenly tech became all about applying this magic formula to as many industries as possible, using piles of money to speed up the process.

  Make no mistake, the unicorns are more substantial than the turkeys of the 2000 tech bubble, such as Pets.com, which went bust ten months after its IPO. Ride apps are more convenient than taxis, food delivery is lightning quick, and streaming music is better than downloading files. Like Google and Alibaba, the unicorns have large user bases. Their core businesses can avoid owning physical assets by outsourcing their it to cloud providers. As IPO documents point out, their sales are growing fast.

  The big worry is that their losses reflect not temporary growing pains but markets which are contested and customers who are promiscuous. In the key digital monopolies, the network becomes more valuable to each user the more people use it—hence Facebook’s 67% market share in social networking. The unicorns’ dynamics are not as compelling. Despite subsidies, ride-sharing customers are not locked in to one firm. No wonder Lyft’s shares have fallen by over 20% below their IPO price. Anyone can lease an office and rent out desks, not just WeWork. Some unicorns have to fight other richly funded rivals and established firms. Spotify, which listed in 2018, has a 34% share of music streaming in America and is going head-to-head with Apple.

  Because the unicorns’ markets are contested, margins have not consistently improved, despite fast-rising sales. Managers are terrified of cutting their vast marketing spending, for fear of losing customers. Many firms are scrambling to develop ancillary products to try to make money from their users. And without deep moats around their businesses a permanent question-mark hangs over the unicorns: if Uber really is worth $100bn, after investing only $15bn or so, why wouldn’t its rivals keep trying their luck, or an established tech giant be tempted in?

  External forces will make blitzscaling harder, too. The earlier generation of firms did not face many rules—few legislators had imagined the internet—so they could charge ahead first and beg forgiveness later. The unicorns followed suit: Airbnb sidestepped taxes on hotels and Uber drove through regulations on taxi-licensing. Today a reaction is in full swing, including over digital taxes and data and content laws. The unicorns’ investor circulars have pages dedicated to their legal dangers and gory regulatory risks.

  All this is good for consumers. Money is being thrown at them; the subsidy to the public from the dozen firms amounts to $20bn a year. Whereas the commanding heights of the tech industry, such as search and social media, have been monopolised, the unicorns are at least creating competition in other areas.

  Investors, meanwhile, need to hold their nerve. It is tempting to extrapolate the triumph of Google and Alibaba to an entire new group of firms. In fact, most unicorns face a long war of attrition and soggy margins. Eventually, struggling firms may be bought. And here another risk arises: most unicorns cap outside investors’ voting rights (Uber is an exception), and many have “poison pills” too, making takeovers hard and constraining investors’ ability to intervene if the firms do not eventually find a way to make enough profits to justify their IPO valuations.

  And what of Silicon Valley and China’s bustling tech hubs, where the unicorn idea was dreamed up? Billions of dollars are flowing to VCS, tech founders and employees. The familiar question is how many luxury homes, philanthropic vanity projects and personal space programmes they will pay for. The urgent question is how this capital will be recycled into new technology firms. The blitzscale philosophy of buying customers at any price is peaking. After the unicorns, a new and more convincing species of startup will have to be engineered.

点击即可下载
TE-2019-04-20-PDF版pdf

打开微信

搜索“百利天下留学”

关注并回复“ZL

获取免费留学资料

考试资料下载

  • 北京
  • 成都
  • 大连
  • 合肥
  • 西安
  • 武汉
  • 南京
  • 广州
  • 天津
010-5795-2000

北京总公司

全国统一咨询热线:010-5795-2000 工作时间:周一至周日(8:30-21:30) 地址:北京市海淀区中关村丹棱街3号 中国电子大厦B座15层

成都分公司

全国统一咨询热线:010-5795-2000 工作时间:周一至周日(8:30-21:30) 地址:四川省成都市锦江区红星路三段一号 IFS国际金融中心二号办公楼18层1811

大连分公司

全国统一咨询热线:010-5795-2000 工作时间:周一至周日(8:30-21:30) 地址:大连沙河口区黄河路620号现代服务业总部大厦19层 C2D1

合肥分公司

全国统一咨询热线:010-5795-2000 工作时间:周一至周日(8:30-21:30) 地址:安徽省合肥市蜀山区长江西路189号之心城写字楼环球中心A座17层1703

西安分公司

全国统一咨询热线:010-5795-2000 工作时间:周一至周日(8:30-21:30) 地址:陕西省西安市碑林区南关正街88号长安国际中心A座10层1001

武汉分公司

全国统一咨询热线:010-5795-2000 工作时间:周一至周日(8:30-21:30) 地址:武汉市洪山区珞瑜路10号群光二期写字楼34层01-10号
选址中
选址中
选址中

版权所有:北京环球百利教育科技有限公司

Copyright @ 2004- Bailitop Education. All Right Reserved 备案许可证号:京ICP备11003081号 | 京公网安备11010802010640