More and more capital is chasing fewer and fewer ideas
越来越多的资本追逐越来越少的点子【专题报道《资产管理》系列之三】

青蛙和王子 Frogs and princes-书迷号 shumihao.com

WHO ARE the heirs of Robert Fleming, the 19th-century Scot who saw that America was the coming place to put risk capital? The venture capitalists of Silicon Valley have the best claim. The businesses that loom largest in public equity markets—Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google, Tesla and the rest—were nurtured by VCs. Venture-backed companies account for around a fifth of the market capitalisation of public companies in America and almost half their research spending. The funds that unearth such gems stand to make pots of money. VCs have on average (an important qualifier) beaten the public market net of fees over the long run.
19世纪的苏格兰人罗伯特·弗莱明(Robert Fleming)认为美国才是风险资本的好去处,谁继承了他的衣钵呢?最可能的人选是硅谷的风险投资家们。公开股票市场上规模最大的那些公司——亚马逊、苹果、Facebook、谷歌、特斯拉等——都是风险投资人培育出来的。由风险投资支持的公司约占美国上市公司市值的五分之一,研究支出则几乎占到了一半。挖掘出此类宝石的基金必然赚得盆满钵满。从长远来看,风投在除去费用后平均而言(这是个重要的修饰词)击败了公开市场。

Most firms that receive VC funding fail. But the winner-takes-all nature of technology markets means those that succeed often do so extravagantly. The VC industry is at the frontier of capital allocation. The typical investor has to kiss a lot of frogs to find a prince (or even a decent-looking frog). The average VC firm screens 200 targets, but makes only four investments, according to a study in the Journal of Financial Economics. Part of the added value, say its authors, is to improve the governance of startups and keep a watchful eye on management.
大多数获得风险投资的公司都会失败。但是,技术市场的“赢者通吃”的本质意味着成功的企业往往能够获得极大的成功。风险投资行业处于资本配置的前沿。典型的投资者必须亲吻很多青蛙才能找到王子(或者哪怕是好看的青蛙)。根据《金融经济学杂志》(Journal of Financial Economics)的一项研究,风险投资公司平均会筛选200个目标,但仅进行四项投资。其作者说,增加的价值的一部分在于改善创业公司的治理并密切注意管理层。

No wonder pension schemes, sovereign-wealth funds and mutual funds are competing to write big cheques for Silicon Valley’s next generation of stars. But unlike the railways, brewers, distillers and mines of the Fleming era, today’s new firms have no great need of capital. A young technology firm can rent computing power from the cloud, download basic software from the internet and use a range of cheap, outsourced services to help it grow. Startups are staying private for longer. When they list, it is because the founders need to cash out or (as with the latest rash of tech IPOs) when the money on offer in the public markets is simply too good to turn down. It is not to raise capital for the business.
难怪养老金计划、主权财富基金和共同基金竞相为硅谷的下一代明星开出大笔支票。但是,与弗莱明时代的铁路、啤酒坊、酿酒厂和矿山不同,如今的新公司对资本没有太大的需求。年轻的技术公司可以从云端租用计算能力,可以从互联网上下载基本软件,并可以使用各种廉价的外包服务来帮助其扩展。创业公司保持私有化的时间更长了。当它们上市时,这是因为创始人需要套现,或者(如最新的科技公司扎堆上市)是公开市场上提供的价码实在是太好了,无法拒绝。它并不是为了给企业筹集资金。

Very few new firms turn out to be world-beaters. Good ideas are scarce. But VC firms that have succeeded in the past may have an edge in finding them. A study by Morten Sorensen finds that companies funded by more experienced VCs are more likely to succeed. And sourcing the best entrepreneurial talent is more important to success than the development of that talent.
很少有新公司能做到举世无双。好点子很稀有。但是曾有过成功经验的风险投资公司可能在寻找它们方面有优势。莫滕·索伦森(Morten Sorensen)的一项研究发现,由经验丰富的风险投资公司资助的公司更有可能成功。而在取得成功上,寻找最好的创业人才比培养这种人才更重要。

In this sense the best venture-capital firms resemble elite universities. Because the brightest turn up at their door, they are able to charge the highest fees. And those fees are mostly for the accreditation and the social networks that the institution can offer.
从这个意义上说,最好的风险投资公司类似于精英大学。因为最聪明的人会来敲它们的门,所以它们能够收取最高的费用。而这些费用主要是为了这些院校可以提供的资质认证和社交网络。