您现在的位置: 纽约时报中英文网 >> 纽约时报中英文版 >> 科技 >> 正文

为什么我们不应该打造新硅谷

更新时间:2018-2-22 20:12:44 来源:纽约时报中文网 作者:佚名

Why we shouldn't try to replicate Silicon Valley
为什么我们不应该打造新硅谷

There’s a global popularity contest going on and I’m not talking about followers on Twitter.

全球目前正在上演一场人气竞争大赛,但我说的并不是推特粉丝人数的竞赛。

The leaders running the world’s biggest cities are competing to label their city the ‘next Silicon Valley’. From London to Beijing, Tel Aviv to Tallinn, there’s a race to create tech hubs that will lure the very best minds – and investors with the deepest pockets.

世界各大城市正在竞相标榜自己是"下一个硅谷"。从伦敦到北京,从特拉维夫到塔林(Tallinn),各大城市都在角逐科技中心的地位,以吸引顶尖人才和资金实力雄厚的投资家。

But is Silicon Valley and the culture that has evolved around it really what our cites should be striving to emulate and spend tax payers’ money on?

但是硅谷以及由此产生的硅谷文化是不是真的应该成为各大城市努力效仿的对象呢?是否应该花纳税人的钱打造下一个硅谷?

Over the past 60 years, the world has watched the original Silicon Valley morph from a small network of specialised technology manufacturers into the global nucleus of multi-billion-dollar technology. Home to Apple, Google, Facebook, Netflix and many of their cousins, together, these companies are now valued at trillions of dollars.

在过去的60年,世界见证了硅谷从专业化科技制造商组成的小型集群演变成由估值成百上千亿美元科技公司组成的全球科技中心。这里是苹果、谷歌、Facebook、Netflix等公司的总部所在地。这些公司的估值总和高达数万亿美元。

A data snapshot of the Valley shows a region of 1,854 square miles with just over three million people, 38% of whom were born abroad. Per-capita, Silicon Valley is easily one of the richest places on earth, wealthier than many countries. Its residents earn, on average, $125,580 annually and in 2015, it ranked behind only Zurich and Oslo in terms of per-capita gross domestic product (GDP).

硅谷的数据概要显示,在这个面积1854平方英里、人口仅为300万的地区中,38%的人生于海外。硅谷的人均收入轻松排到全球第一,比很多国家都富裕。硅谷居民年平均收入125,580美元。2015年,人均GDP排名仅次于苏黎世和奥斯陆。

So, it’s easy to understand why others want a piece of this success.

所以,很容易理解为什么其他城市也想要成为硅谷。

Is there a formula? One attribute that supposedly unites the Valley’s mega-firms is their nimble ability to innovate and grow. But is it really something that can be replicated elsewhere? And even if it can, should it? A melting pot of boom-and-bust start-ups has its downsides.

有没有成功秘诀?贯穿硅谷巨型公司的一个特点是灵活的创新和增长能力。但是,这一点真的可以照搬到其他地方吗?即使可以照搬,是否应该这样做?一时繁荣的创业公司所形成的大染缸也有它的弊病。

Someone who thinks the answer may be ‘no’ is innovation expert and consultant, Dan Breznitz, at the University of Toronto. “Think about Silicon Valley – you take a Stanford or MIT graduate, not your average Joe, shower them with money so they might create a company that is successful and become a billionaire,” he says, referring to the occasional success story among the many young start-ups that otherwise go on to fail. “It’s a complete casino.” Although the number of US start-ups that fail is often quoted as high as 90%, a figure nearer to 60% may be closer to the mark – still a high failure rate and risk to investment.

多伦多大学的创新专家、顾问丹·布列兹尼兹(Dan Breznitz)认为答案可能是否定的。他说:"看看硅谷的模式:找一位斯坦福或麻省理工的毕业生,而不是平常人,然后对他们砸钱,他们就有可能创立一家公司,运作成功,然后成为亿万富豪。"他说这是很多年轻的创业公司中的成功例子,其它的则遭遇失败。"这完全就是一场赌博。"虽然据称美国创业公司的失败率高达90%,但是较为准确的数字可能比较接近60%。不过即使这个失败率仍然很高,投资风险很大。

Breznitz argues that, partly because of unique circumstances that created Silicon Valley in the first place - the Californian university research teams that launched early semiconductor firms - the tech hub is probably not a useful model to roll out for innovation centres of the future. As he points out, the Valley took decades to get to where it is now.

布列兹尼兹认为,分布在加州大学里的研究团队早期建立的半导体公司造就了硅谷独特的环境,而这正是硅谷不能成为各地效仿的创新中心样板的部分原因。他指出,硅谷花了数十年才取得今天的成就。

Setting up the educational and industrial ecosystem for an innovation hub like that overnight is a tall order. There’s a new mantra for our times: Silicon Valley wasn’t built in a day.

要在一夜间为硅谷那样的创新中心建立教育和产业生态系统是一项艰巨的任务。我们的时代有了一条新的口头禅:硅谷不是一天建成的。

Complimentary fields

互补领域

The analyst makes a sometimes overlooked point: other smart economies around the world have made money already, not by trying to cultivate their own Silicon Valley, but by diversifying and benefiting from the growth of the US one. Take Taiwan, for instance. It has excelled in chip manufacturing – an industry that has piggy-backed on the Valley’s success.

布列兹尼兹指出了一个有时会被忽视的观点:世界上其他聪明经济体已经从硅谷获利,其方法并不是建立自己的硅谷,而是通过多样化错位发展,从美国硅谷的增长中获利。以台湾为例,它拥有强大的芯片制造能力——该产业坐上了硅谷增长的顺风车。

“It is not that the Taiwanese just have fabrication facilities,” explains Breznitz. “They developed technologies around [those facilities] to allow the [hardware] designer to create things more efficiently.” The tech sector in the country is worth around $130 billion.  Although, even Taiwan has recently considered experimenting with the innovation-led Silicon Valley route in order to keep up with the pace of change and threat of competition from China.

布列兹尼兹解释道:"原因并不是台湾刚好有这些加工厂,而是台湾开发了能帮助硬件设计师提高效率的相关技术。"台湾的科技产业产值大约1300亿美元。不过,即使台湾最近也考虑试图通过创新驱动的硅谷路径来跟上时代变化的步伐和应对来自中国的竞争威胁。

Building up skills and investing in a specific sector is exactly what keeps German manufacturing dominant in Europe, too. It’s why a German company like Siemens is turning to developing smart manufacturing facilities in China – and not the other way round.

同样,培养技能和对特定产业的投资恰恰是德国保持在欧洲制造业主导地位的关键。因此,这也是类似西门子等德国企业正在转而来中国发展智能制造业——而不是反过来的原因。

Germany’s famous Fraunhofer Institutes come up with new ways of improving engineering at the country’s largest firms, ensuring they remain competitive.  Music hosting site SoundCloud is based in Berlin. And you might be surprised to learn that, for example, the MP3 compression algorithm was invented by Fraunhofer technicians – not Silicon Valley entrepreneurs.

德国著名的弗劳恩霍夫应用研究促进协会(Fraunhofer Institutes)为德国的大型公司开发改善工艺的新方法,确保它们保持强大的竞争力。音乐托管网站SoundCloud的总部就在柏林。再比如,你可能会惊讶的发现,MP3的压缩算法是弗劳恩霍夫的技师发明的——而不是硅谷的创业者。

Specialisation

术业有专攻

History has many examples of once powerful industrial hubs that were eventually outpaced by foreign rivals. For instance, the rise of Asian shipyards in the 1950s and 1960s, with their new manufacturing techniques and adaptable designs, spelled the end for the British ship-building industry.

在历史上,有很多盛极一时的工业中心最终被外国竞争对手赶超。例如二十世纪五、六十年代亚洲造船厂的崛起,以新的制造工艺和可适应设计,终结了英国的造船业。

Yet some of the pseudo-Silicon Valleys that have sprung up such as Shenzhen in China or Tel Aviv in Israel are making their mark by developing areas of specialisation, argues tech industry analyst Paul Triolo at Eurasia Group.

欧亚集团(Eurasia Group)的科技业分析师保罗·特里欧罗(Paul Triolo)认为,一些模仿硅谷的城市已经崛起,比如中国的深圳,还有以色利的特拉维夫。它们正在通过发展特定专业化的领域而崭露头角。

So while Shenzhen focuses on developing innovations in hardware, Tel Aviv is making a name for itself in cyber-security.

深圳把重点放在硬件开发创新领域,而特拉维夫则以网络安全闻名。

And take London’s so-called Silicon Roundabout with its focus on financial technology (thanks to the large financial sector presence in the city) and artificial intelligence, research very much associated with leading universities like the University of Central London and Imperial College.

以注重金融科技(归功于伦敦在金融领域的重要地位)以及人工智能的伦敦小硅谷(Silicon Roundabout)为例,其研究基本都与世界领先的本地大学密切相关,如伦敦大学(University of London)和帝国理工学院(Imperial College)。

“A lot of [the global tech hubs] are more niche whereas the Valley tends to be focused on some of the over-the-top stuff – social media for example,” says Triolo, referring to the large platforms like Facebook or Google that hope to position themselves at the heart of each customer’s digital life.

"很多全球科技中心正在向特定小众领域方向发展,而硅谷则关注一些顶尖的东西——比如社交媒体,"特里欧罗说。他提到,Facebook和谷歌这样的大型平台希望处于每位顾客数字化生活的核心地位。

Valley culture

硅谷文化

Tech firms that grow fast will often encounter a playbook of problems. These range from rushed management policies that cause friction among staff to a haphazard approach to protecting users’ personal data.

快速发展的科技公司常常会遇到一系列问题,包括匆忙制定的容易导致员工之间发生摩擦的管理政策,或者保护用户个人数据的方法存在隐患。

While the disruptive, rule-book-ripping culture of the Valley has long faced criticism, recent reports of sexual harassment and cover-ups of data breaches have severely damaged some of these firms’ reputations. And a failure to recognise the scale and seriousness of this damage was even recently termed “the other tech bubble” by Wired. Facebook, for instance, is no longer seen as a “merry band of hackers building cutesy tools”, writes Erin Griffith, but a “powerful and potentially sinister collector of personal data”.

硅谷的颠覆性、不循规守矩的文化长期以来饱受批评,近期有关性骚扰的报道和对数据泄露的隐瞒又严重影响了一些公司的声誉。对这次声誉破坏的规模以及严重程度的认识不足被美国《连线》杂志(Wired)称为又一次科技泡沫。比如Facebook已不再被视为设计有趣工具的黑客团队,而是一个强大的且可能用心险恶的个人数据收集者,埃林·格里菲思(Erin Griffith)写道。

Other firms have faced even greater censure. Ride-sharing firm Uber expanded at an astonishing pace on the back of huge investment mostly from venture capital firms but never managed to make a profit. Once a media darling, the firm has been beset by poor management decisions  and internal disagreements. Last year, its chief executive took an indefinite leave of absence, after saying he needed “leadership help”.

其他公司面临的指责更为严重。网约车公司优步(Uber)依靠来自风投资本的雄厚资金以惊人的速度扩张,但至今从未盈利。优步曾经是媒体的宠儿,现在则受困于糟糕的管理决策和内部分歧。去年,优步的首席执行官在宣称他需要领导力方面的帮助后,开始无限期休假。

Tech industry analyst Patrick Imbach at KPMG in London thinks self-regulation will still prove sufficient for the majority of companies and, for the bad apples, “the market will hopefully fix it”. In other words, companies will face action from shareholders, or an investment drought, if they don’t smarten up their act.

在伦敦毕马威(KPMG)的科技行业分析师帕特里克·因巴赫(Patrick Imbach)认为自律对大多数公司仍然可以起到作用,但是对那些恶公司而言,市场将有望解决这一问题。"换句话说,股东会对企业采取行动,如果企业不能作出明智之举,那么其投资来源就会枯竭。

Corporate social responsibility (CSR), for one thing is moving up the agenda, it was recently cited as highly important by the world’s biggest investment fund manager, BlackRock. And if the money men are paying attention to CSR then the tech firms need to listen.

比如,企业社会责任正在被提上议事日程。最近,全球最大的投资基金公司黑石(BlackRock)将企业社会责任列为非常重要的事项。如果投资者开始关注企业社会责任,那么科技公司就需要洗耳恭听。

One thing Imbach believes we’ll see in 2018, in direct response to the recent scandals, is greater diversity in Silicon Valley boardrooms. That’s one of the “lessons” of recent times, he says: having a board with a more diverse range of views, for example on gender and race issues, is increasingly seen as a valuable asset.

毕马威的因巴赫认为, 在去年一些列丑闻后,2018年我们将会见到硅谷董事会的多样性将增强。这是最近他们吸取的教训之一。他说:董事会上,如果看法的多样性更多,比如性别问题和种族问题,将日益被视为公司的重要资产。

The Chinese model

中国模式

Perhaps the greatest challenge to the US in the future will come from China, which already has several cities brimming with start-ups, says investor Hans Tung at venture capital firm GGV Capital, pointing to Beijing, Shanghai, Hangzhou and Shenzhen. And the country has its own suite of tech giants, including Alibaba, Tencent and Baidu.

可能未来美国面临的最大挑战将会来自中国。纪源资本(GGV Capital)的投资家童士豪称,中国的多个城市已经涌现出大量创业公司,包括北京、上海、杭州和深圳。中国还有了一批科技巨头,包括阿里巴巴、腾讯和百度。

Those Chinese cities are now “rivalling” Silicon Valley,  says Tung who believes that in choosing to prioritise start-ups, a society must make some hard choices about its working culture. For example, China’s working culture of long hours, which demands a great deal of employees, has been intensified further as firms have been showered with investment.

童士豪说,中国的这些城市正在成为硅谷的竞争对手。他认为在选择优先发展创业公司的时候,社会必须面对有关工作文化的艰难选择。比如,中国的加班文化对员工的要求非常高。在创业企业接受投资增长情况下,加班的情况已经变本加厉。

And in spite of the hard work, many of these new firms don’t profit – because if there’s one thing that always goes hand-in-hand with a start-up hub, it’s a high proportion of failed ventures. Chinese start-ups certainly appear to fare no better than their counterparts elsewhere in the world. One recent report suggested that 90% of new Chinese virtual reality businesses had declared bankruptcy. It has also become very clear that US businesses launching start-ups in China also often fail to find success. For example, consumer deals site Groupon’s attempt to launch a Chinese subsidiary.

尽管员工努力工作,很多新公司并不盈利——因为跟创业中心相伴而生的很高比例的倒闭率。在这方面,中国的创业公司也并不比世界其他地方的创业公司做得更好。最近的一份报告称,中国90%的虚拟现实初创公司都已经宣布倒闭。显然,美国企业在中国建立的创业公司也经常遭遇失败。比如,团购网站Groupon曾试图在中国建立分公司。

Bubble, bubble?

泡沫?

Many large economies and investors are relaxed about this proliferation of start-up culture and investment in it, a booming tech sector is healthy, they say. But one investment fund manager who does raise some concerns is Robert Naess at Nordea Bank.

很多大经济体和投资家对创业文化和投资的激增并不紧张。他们认为科技行业的蓬勃发展是健康的。不过,北欧银行(Nordea Bank)的投资基金经理罗伯特·奈斯(Robert Naess)提出了一些担忧。

Naess explains that in the US, venture capitalists, and other “backers”, are now waiting exceptionally long periods to receive a decent return on their investments in some large tech firms. This means the market is sinking huge amounts in to these ventures succeeding – and continuing to succeed. “It’s very tempting to call it a bubble,” Naess adds.

奈斯解释道,美国的风投资本家和其他支持者现在必须等待很长时间才能从他们对一些大型科技公司的投资中获得丰厚的回报。这意味着市场正在投入大量资金,期待这些公司取得成功并保持成功。"这不禁让人要称之为泡沫,"奈斯补充说。

And there are some further signs of slow-down too, for instance, in once reliable areas like consumer electronics, which helped to drive the growth of companies like Google and Apple. Simon Bryant, an analyst at Futuresource points out that, for all the enthusiasm around new smart home and Internet of Things devices, there aren’t many signs yet that consumers really have much appetite to buy them.

还有一些发展放缓的迹象。例如像消费电子这样的曾经非常可靠的一些领域出现增长迟缓, 消费电子曾是谷歌和苹果等公司增长的驱动力。咨询公司Futuresource的分析师西蒙·布赖恩特(Simon Bryant)指出,虽然企业对新的智能家居和物联网设备很有热情,但是没有很多迹象表明消费者真的非常有购买欲望。

Comparing today’s market to the Dotcom crash era of 18 years ago is not necessarily helpful though, most analysts feel it really was a different era. Dan Breznitz describes the dotcom bubble as a necessary precursor to today. In fact, it laid the physical foundations on which today’s tech giants built their empires, he says. It required a huge amount of investment and enthusiasm to put that fibre optic cabling infrastructure in place – exactly the sort of enthusiasm you get in a bubble, he adds. “Almost everyone who put the fibre in lost their money – the people who bought the fibre cheaply, like Google, made a lot of money.” Paul Triolo agrees. “All that dark fibre ended up being used by big data analytics and The Cloud,” he adds.

将今天的市场比作18年前的互联网泡沫破裂并不一定有帮助。很多分析师认为现在这个时代很不一样。丹·布列兹尼兹把互联网泡沫称为为当今时代的必要准备。事实上,它为如今的科技巨头建立庞大帝国奠定了物质基础。光纤基础设施的准备需要大量投资和热情——这恰恰是泡沫所提供的那种热情,他补充说。"光纤的投资者几乎都亏损了——而谷歌这样以低廉价格购买光纤的公司赚的盆满钵满。"保罗·特里欧罗表示同意。"所有这些暗光纤最终都被大数据分析和云服务用上了,"他补充说到。

In the end, some feel all that hype and disappointment of the first bubble was just a learning curve that created a very lucrative Valley. The chaos was a necessary evil, they suggest. It certainly made a small number of people very rich – eventually.

最终,一些人觉得第一次互联网泡沫的起落只是一条学习曲线,它为我们创造了繁荣的硅谷。他们认为,有时候混乱和泡沫是一种有必要的邪恶。最后,它确实让一小部分人变的非常有钱。

So from Shenzhen to Dublin, any would-be centre of innovation looking to grab even a tiny slice of this success perhaps remains tempted: let’s make the big sacrifices, take the big risks – even if it’s not always the most responsible way forward. Apparently, we’re all high-rollers now.

所以,不论是深圳,还是都柏林,任何有望成为创新中心的地方都在寻求从互联网的成功中分一杯羹:让我们作出巨大的牺牲,冒巨大的风险——即使这不是最负责任的前行方式。显然,我们都是冒险家。

So, who’s really afraid of another bubble?

所以,谁会真的在担心再发生一次泡沫?

“全文请访问纽约时报中文网,本文发表于纽约时报中文网(http://cn.nytimes.com),版权归纽约时报公司所有。任何单位及个人未经许可,不得擅自转载或翻译。订阅纽约时报中文网新闻电邮:http://nytcn.me/subscription/”

相关文章列表