2023-12-09 00:11:04
本文摘要:Can a US consumer internet company ever make it big in China? That question, which has long dogged Silicon Valley, is starting to take on the urgency of a strategic imperative.美国的消费互联网公司能否在中国做到大?

Can a US consumer internet company ever make it big in China? That question, which has long dogged Silicon Valley, is starting to take on the urgency of a strategic imperative.美国的消费互联网公司能否在中国做到大?这个长年后遗症硅谷的问题于是以开始变为一项严峻的战略任务。It isn’t just that China is a juicy target in its own right. There is a risk to ceding ground to emerging Chinese rivals in their booming home market at a time when those companies are taking their first, tentative steps towards going global. US companies, themselves accustomed to using dominance of a massive domestic market as a launch pad to take on the world, should understand what’s at stake.中国市场本身并非一个诱人的目标。风险在于,美国公司的市场份额有可能被中国蓬勃发展的国内市场上的新兴本土竞争对手夺去,后者刚开始迈进南北全球的尝试性步伐。

美国公司本身习惯于利用极大国内市场的主导地位作为走向世界的跳板,他们不应解读其中的得失。Uber and Airbnb, the yin and yang of the sharing economy, are the latest to try their luck. The ride-hailing app that likes to batter down doors is in a pitched battle with a Chinese local competitor backed by two of those aspiring global players, Tencent and Alibaba. Airbnb, which prefers a less confrontational approach, this week lined upsome influential allies as it seeks its own way in.微信应用于优步(Uber)和空中食宿(Airbnb)是共享经济的“阴阳”两面,它们是近期两家想要碰碰运气的公司。

讨厌必要破门而入的Uber于是以与中国一家本土竞争对手较量,后者获得中国两家志向远大的全球竞争者腾讯(Tencent)和阿里巴巴(Alibaba)的反对。而讨厌使用对抗性不那么强劲的策略的Airbnb最近纳到一些极具影响力的盟友,期望用自己的方式进占中国。“Localisation” figures prominently in both companies’ game plans. Having the right management and local backers and supporters certainly helps. Knowing when to adapt a successful global formula will also be key. The failure in China of eBay, which was outflanked by Alibaba’s free listings for buyers and its introduction of a payment service to reduce fraud risks, is still a case study in how an adaptable local rival can come out on top.这两家公司的通盘计划都把“本地化”放到突出位置。


阿里巴巴让买家免费展出商品,并引进缴纳服务以减少欺诈风险,这些都比eBay高明一些。Uber and Airbnb at least have one advantage over companies like Google and Yahoo, which failed before them: they aren’t directly involved in the online media and communications businesses, making them less obviously targets of an authoritarian state.Uber和Airbnb最少不具备一个相对于谷歌(Google)和雅虎(Yahoo)等公司的优势,后两者已在中国折戟:Uber和Airbnb不必要投身于在线媒体和通信业务,这让它们不那么更容易沦为威权政府射击的目标。But any successful internet business is to some extent a challenge to the status quo. China’s latest gesture towards online control — to station police officers physically inside internet companies — is an indication of the outsized influence that the successful internet companies can have, whatever corner of the market they are in.然而,任何顺利的互联网公司在一定程度上都是对现状的挑战。中国掌控网络的近期姿态(警员入驻互联网公司办公地点)指出,顺利的互联网公司可能会不具备过大的影响力,无论它们正处于哪个市场缝隙。

One reason is the amount and range of the data they hold. Amassing a giant database about the movements of a nation’s citizens is a key asset. And that is likely to be only a starting point, as the winning platforms reach into more areas of online (and, increasingly, offline) life.一个原因是它们持有人的数据的规模和范围。有关一国公民活动的极大数据库是一项关键资产。随着各个落败的平台把触角伸进更加多在线(以及更加多的线下)生活领域,这有可能还只是一个开始。

Holding the data locally might give authorities greater confidence that they can tap into it when they need: Uber has data centres for its operations inside China. But there is still a question about whether a foreign company could ever be trusted to be as compliant as a local competitor.在本土交给这些数据,可能会让当局更加有信心指出,他们需要在必须时利用这些数据:Uber在华业务另设境内数据中心。但仍有一个问题:能否坚信一家外国公司像本土竞争对手那样依从?Another factor that weighs on foreign players is the way that competition tends to evolve in internet markets. Many turn into winner-takes-all affairs, with the companies that come out on top ending up as centres of power in their own right.另一个有利于外国公司的因素是互联网市场的竞争演进方式。

很多竞争做到最后出了“赢者通吃”,忽得头筹的公司变为实力中心。The immodest ambitions of a company like Uber highlight what is at stake. It aspires to become an essential part of the infrastructure of any big city, not only supplying personal transport but also handling logistics. Local governments in China may resist foreign control of something so essential, even if Uber promises to help solve some of the problems caused by swelling personal car ownership for China’s polluted and traffic-clogged cities.Uber这种抱有极大雄心的公司凸显了其中的风险。它渴求沦为所有大城市不可或缺的基础设施的一部分,不仅获取个人交通,还要染指物流。

中国地方政府有可能赞成外国公司掌控如此关键的基础设施,即便Uber允诺协助中国污染相当严重且交通拥堵的城市解决问题私人汽车保有量减少所带给的一些问题。A key question now will be how far the latest US aspirants are prepared to go to become truly “local” to overcome reservations like these. Uber’s funding arrangements for China are the most intriguing. It already has Chinese investors and is now trying to close a funding round for a separate Chinese unit, bringing outside investors directly into the business.现在的一个关键问题在于,近期一批有志进占中国市场的美国公司,打算在多大程度上显得确实“本地化”,以避免中国方面的顾虑。


An Uber spokesperson says the company is also contemplating a local initial public offering, some time in the future, for its Chinese arm, though there are no plans for a one at the moment.Uber发言人回应,该公司还在考虑到未来将其在华业务在中国国内上市,尽管目前还没这方面的计划。Given its huge need for capital and the particularly cut-throat nature of the Chinese taxi app wars, local investors will be useful. A structure like this would also give Uber more flexibility to adapt later — for instance by bringing in local partners or even, if forced, to reduce its stake in the Chinese venture.鉴于极大的资本市场需求以及中国微信应用于大战最为白热化,引进本土投资者将是有协助的。这种结构还将彰显Uber更大灵活性,便于以后调整,例如引进本土合作伙伴,或者甚至(在不得不的情况下)平安保险在华业务的股权。

But for any US internet company, staying in the driving seat will be a priority. Yahoo’s decision to fold its struggling Chinese business into Alibaba a decade ago turned into one of the most successful internet investments ever made. But now, as it gets ready to spin out what’s left of that minority stake, Yahoo’s diminished role is all too obvious. That is a fate its successors will be working hard to avoid.但对于任何一家美国互联网公司而言,维持控制权将是优先任务。雅虎10年前要求将其步履维艰的中国业务划归阿里巴巴,而那个要求结果沦为史上最顺利的互联网投资之一。但如今,在雅虎打算抢这部分少数股权的剩下股权之际,雅虎的地位上升表露无遗。