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在硅谷,一亿美元融资已不再是稀罕事

更新时间:2018-8-20 20:18:32 来源:纽约时报中文网 作者:佚名

$100 Million Was Once Big Money for a Start-Up. Now, It’s Common.
在硅谷,一亿美元融资已不再是稀罕事

In late April, when Mike Massaro set out to get $40 million to $75 million in funding for his payments startup, Flywire, he contacted a small group of investors he already knew. But word quickly got around, and other investors flooded his inbox with $200 million of investment offers, half of which he turned down.

4月下旬,迈克·马萨洛(Mike Massaro)开始为他的支付创业公司Flywire筹集4000万至7500万美元的资金,当时他联系了他认识的一小部分投资者。但是消息很快传播开来,他的收件箱塞满了其他投资者的邮件,要提供2亿美元的投资,其中一半被他拒绝了。

Gusto, a payroll and benefits software company, raised $140 million in July, but could have done five times that, according to Joshua Reeves, its chief executive and founder.

根据其首席执行官兼创始人约书亚·里夫斯(Joshua Reeves)的说法,工资和福利软件公司Gusto在7月筹集了1.4亿美元,但它本可得到的资金是其五倍。

Convene, a real estate services startup, recently obtained $152 million and turned away more than $100 million of additional investment. Soon after, another wave of hopeful investors called, asking if the company would be looking for more financing, according to Ryan Simonetti, Convene’s chief executive.

Convene是一家房地产服务初创公司,最近获得了1.52亿美元投资,并拒绝了超过一亿美元的额外投资。Convene公司首席执行官瑞恩·西蒙内蒂(Ryan Simonetti)表示,此后不久,另一波有意向的投资者前来询问该公司是否在寻求更多融资。

Startups raising $100 million or more from investors — known as a mega-round in Silicon Valley — used to be a rarity. But now, they are practically routine, producing a frenzy around tech companies with enough scale and momentum to absorb a large check.

从投资者那里筹集到1亿美元或更多资金——在硅谷称为“过亿轮”(mega-round)——曾经是稀罕事,但现在实际上已经是司空见惯,这在那些具有足够的规模和动力来吸收大支票的科技公司周围制造了一种狂热。

The jump in oversize investments is led by relatively new investors, including the Japanese conglomerate SoftBank, Chinese companies and sovereign wealth funds. They see a chance to capitalize on tech’s incursion into just about every industry, and want to put their money down before the young companies go public.

超大型投资的高速增长主要来自相对较新的投资者,包括日本企业软银集团(SoftBank)、中国公司、以及主权财富基金。他们认为有机会利用科技对几乎所有行业的入侵,并希望在年轻公司上市之前投入资金。

By entering the tech market, they have all but eliminated talk in Silicon Valley about an investment bubble — a leading concern a couple of years ago — because the money now seems almost limitless.

通过进入科技市场,他们几乎已经消除了硅谷关于投资泡沫的讨论——这是几年前的一个主要问题——因为现在的资金似乎接近于无限。

For the startups, the pots of money are changing the normal way of building a tech company. They must move even faster, expand their ambitions and collect more investment money than ever — even if they might not be ready. They risk becoming too reliant on funding and never finding a path to profit.

对于初创公司而言,这些大笔资金正在改变创办科技公司的正常方式。它们必须走得更快,想得更大,并且募集比以往更多的资金——即使他们可能还没准备好。他们有可能过于依赖资金,并且始终无法找到获利途径。

“If your competitor is going to raise $150 million and you want to be conservative and only raise $20 million, you’re going to get run over,” said Bill Gurley, a managing partner at Benchmark Capital.

基准资本(Benchmark Capital)负责管理的合伙人比尔·格利(Bill Gurley)说:“如果你的竞争对手要筹集1.5亿美元,而且你想要保守行事,只筹集2000万美元,你就会遭到碾压。”

Investors participated in a record 273 mega-rounds last year, according to the data provider Crunchbase. This year is on pace to easily eclipse that, with 268 completed in the first seven months of the year. In July, startups reached more than 50 financing deals worth a combined $15 billion, a new monthly high.

根据数据提供商Crunchbase的数据,去年投资者参与了创纪录的273个“过亿轮”投资。今年,这个纪录被轻松打破,前七个月就完成了268个。7月份,初创公司达成了50多项融资交易,总价值达150亿美元,创下月度新高。

In the last 10 days, Letgo, an online classifieds ads company, raised $500 million. Actifio, a data storage company, took in $100 million. MyDreamPlus, a coworking space startup, secured $120 million. And Klook, a travel activity booking site, got $200 million.

在过去的10天里,在线分类广告公司Letgo筹集了5亿美元。数据存储公司Actifio融到1亿美元。MyDreamPlus是一家共享办公空间初创公司,获得了1.2亿美元投资。旅游活动预订网站Klook获得2亿美元。

These mega-rounds have become so common that CB Insights, which tracks startup investments, has even debated lifting its definition of a mega-round to $200 million or more, according to Anand Sanwal, the firm’s chief executive.

这些过亿轮已经变得如此普遍,以至于跟踪初创公司投资的CB Insights甚至在讨论要不要把“过亿轮”的定义提升至2亿美元以上,公司首席执行官阿南德·桑瓦尔(Anand Sanwal)说。

Many of the new investors, including SoftBank’s $93 billion Vision Fund, manage funds so large they dwarf the entire traditional venture capital market in the United States. These giant funds are looking for startups that can take large sums of money with one shot. Writing lots of small checks is too time-consuming, and the returns from small bets will not make a difference for a such a big fund. So investors are competing to back any startup that shows promise and the ability to put $100 million or more to use.

许多新投资者,包括软银公司旗下掌管930亿美元的愿景基金(Vision Fund),管理的资金如此庞大,使整个美国传统风险投资市场相形见绌。这些巨额基金正在寻找可以一次性拿走大笔资金的初创公司。写很多小支票太费时间了,小赌注的回报对于这么大的基金来说也不会带来任何不同。因此,投资者正在竞相支持任何有能力、有意愿接受1亿美元或更多资金的创业公司。

“As soon as they feel like they have a winner, they will really put a lot of resources behind it,” said Sanwal of CB Insights.

“他们一旦觉得有了一个赢家,马上就会真正投入大量资源,”CB Insights的桑瓦尔说。

SoftBank’s deal-making has affected every part of the venture capital market. The arrival of its Vision Fund, which has a minimum investment size of $100 million, has prompted a number of traditional venture capital firms, including Sequoia Capital, to build larger pools of money to compete. Funds from seven different firms are raising capital, according to the data provider Pitchbook.

软银的交易影响了风险资本市场的每个部分。其最低投资规模为1亿美元的愿景基金的到来,促使包括红杉资本(Sequoia Capital)在内的许多传统风险投资公司建立更大的资金池以进行竞争。根据数据提供商Pitchbook的数据,七家不同公司的基金正在筹集资金。

But the Vision Fund is not even the most active mega-round investor. In the first seven months of 2018, Tencent Holdings participated in 31 rounds of funding of $100 million or more, compared with 18 for SoftBank, according to CB Insights. GIC and Temasek Holdings, investment funds associated with the government of Singapore, as well as Alibaba and Sequoia Capital China, have also been among the most active mega-round investors this year.

但愿景基金甚至不是最活跃的大型投资者。根据CB Insights的数据,在2018年的前七个月,腾讯控股参与了31个1亿美元或更多的融资轮次,而软银参与了18个。与新加坡政府有关的投资基金新加坡政府投资公司(GIC)和淡马锡控股(Temasek Holdings),以及阿里巴巴和红杉资本中国,也是今年最活跃的过亿轮投资者。

As a result, early investors must make sure their portfolio companies are friendly with the large funds, laying groundwork for a potential investment in the future.

因此,早期投资者必须确保他们的投资组合中的公司对大型基金友好,为未来的潜在投资奠定基础。

“It feels like there is a bit of a beauty pageant that early-stage investors put on for the megafunds,” said Patricia Nakache, a general partner at Trinity Ventures.

“感觉就像早期阶段的投资者为巨额资金举办了一场选美大赛,”圣尼资集团(Trinity Ventures)的普通合伙人帕特里西亚·纳卡什(Patricia Nakache)说。

The hot funding market is pushing high-growth startups to change their plans. Flywire was not going to pursue more investment money until next year. It still had $15 million in the bank from a previous funding round. But the company saw “investment heat” in the payments industry and Massaro thought more money would help Flywire grow even faster.

炙手可热的融资市场正在推动高增长初创公司改变自己的计划。Flywire本来要到明年才会募集更多的资金。它的银行账户里仍有来自之前一轮融资的1500万美元。但该公司看到了支付行业的“投资热”,而且马萨洛认为,更多的资金将有助于Flywire更快的发展。

Few venture investors foresee a slowdown in the pace of mega-rounds. Those who once cautioned of a tech bubble and subsequent crash have given up on their warnings. In 2015, Gurley of Benchmark predicted “dead unicorns,” referring to startups valued at $1 billion or more. But since 2015, the number of startups worth $1 billion or more has ballooned to 258 from 80, according to CB Insights. Excess funding is tied to inflated valuations, which may create problems when overvalued companies eventually try to go public.

几乎没有风险投资者认为过亿轮的步伐会放缓。那些告诫过科技泡沫和随后崩溃的人已经放弃了警告。2015年,基准资本的格利预言过“死亡的独角兽”,他指的是价值10亿美元或以上的初创公司。但根据CB Insights的数据,自2015年以来,价值10亿美元或以上的初创公司数量已从80家激增至258家。过度融资会导致估值膨胀,当被高估的公司最终试图上市时,可能会产生问题。

Gurley said he was done trying to sound the alarm. “You have to adjust to the reality and play the game on the field,” he said.

格利说他已经不再试图发出警报。“你必须根据现实调整,在场上玩游戏,”他说。

Annie Lamont, a managing partner at the venture fund Oak HC/FT, expected a drop-off in startup valuations and funding three years ago, but it never happened. Now, she expects more of the same, partly because most the companies can easily get more money and few are worried about a downturn.

三年前,风险投资公司Oak HC/FT的管理合伙人安妮·拉蒙特(Annie Lamont)曾预计,初创公司的估值和融资将会下降,但这种情况并未发生。现在她的预期跟大家没什么不同,部分原因是大多数公司可以轻松获得更多资金,很少有人担心出现下滑。

“The fear of a correction is not occurring,” she said. If any startups do “vaporize,” she said, “I think people are going to ignore them and roll right on to the next one.”

“关于市场回落的顾虑没有发生,”她说。如果有什么初创公司“蒸发”了,她说,“我认为人们会无视它们,直接转向下一个公司。”

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