Silicon Valley's acquisition targets aren't just in tech anymore

硅谷的收购目标不仅限于科技公司了

Los Angeles Times · 2017-06-19 21:46

Los Angeles Times · 2017-06-19 21:46

For once, the target of an extravagant tech industry acquisition wasn’t a small start-up unfamiliar outside of Silicon Valley, but a household name.

终于,科技产业的奢侈收购对象不再是一家硅谷之外小型的无人知晓的初创企业,而是一个家喻户晓的名字。

Few foresaw Amazon.com reaching an agreement Friday to buy grocery store Whole Foods for $13.7 billion. But the pending deal — a record purchase for Amazon — has opened the possibility of the nation’s biggest tech companies acquiring businesses known for bricks-and-mortar stores rather than software.

几乎没人预见Amazon.com会在星期五达成协议以137亿美金的价格收购Whole Foods。不过这项交易—Amazon值得记录的收购—打开了这个国家最大的科技公司收购在传统实体行业而不是在软件业闻名的公司的可能性。

As struggling retailers, banks and automakers weigh buying technology to catch up to the smartphone age, the likes of Amazon, Google and Facebook may find it simpler to rescue the hobbled.

当挣扎的零售商、银行和汽车公司们还在考虑购买科技来赶上智能手机时代的时候,像Amazon、Google和Facebook这样的公司可能觉得拯救这些困难的公司还更简单。

“Amazon is effectively saying that if retailers are going to tool themselves up with technology, then it will tool itself up with a physical presence and high-street brand,” said Paul Cuatrecasas, chief executive of the British investment bank Aquaa Partners. “It helps justify the belief that the larger tech giants will start buying up established companies, like banks and automotive manufacturers. The impact could be immense and generational."

“Amazon实际上说到如果零售商们将利用科技给他们自己升级的话,那Amazon自己将会利用实体的存在和大众的品牌来武装自己,”英国投行Aquaa Partners的执行总裁Paul Cuatrecasas说到。“这有助于证明科技巨头们将开始收购像银行和汽车制造商这样的现存公司的观点。这个影响是巨大的并且是跨时代的。”

Seeking ownership of decades-old, well-trafficked businesses would represent a significant role reversal for companies used to pouring billions of dollars into acquiring cutting-edge technology that’s unproven in the market.

在拥有数十年历史并且生意兴隆的公司里寻求所有权,这代表了 这些公司的一个重要的角色转换,它们曾经倾注数十亿美金去收购那些还没有被市场证明的前沿科技。

Forecasting big shifts in how people will educate, entertain and even dress themselves, Facebook has snatched up start-ups such as WhatsApp, Oculus and Instagram. Microsoft and Alphabet picked up online software firms such as Mojang and Waze. Amazon and Apple scooped up robot builders.

对于预测人们以后在教育、娱乐甚至是打扮自己方面的巨大转变,Facebook抢占了WhatsApp、Oculus和Instagram这样的初创企业。Microsoft和Alphabet获取了Mojang和Waze这类的在线软件公司。Amazon和Apple也在机器人制造里挖了一杯羹。

But this group of tech industry giants has more than $500 billion in cash to burn, historic amounts fueled by billions of Google searches, iPhone sales and online purchases. Their shares are hitting record highs, outpacing growth in the broader stock market. And persistently low interest rates also have reduced the costs of borrowing cash to fund deals.

但是这一组科技巨头们拥有超过5000亿美金的现金可以烧,由Google搜索,iPhone销售和在线购买这些历史数额组成。他们的股票正在实现历史新高,比大盘的股票交易市场都增长得快。而一向较低的利息也降低了现金借贷用于交易的成本。

Conglomerates with interests in varied sectors aren’t favored by U.S. investors. Their demands for focus has spurred companies such as General Electric and Hewlett-Packard to spin off divisions in recent years. But investors have given more leeway to top tech chiefs, including Amazon’s Jeff Bezos and Microsoft’s Satya Nadella, than to most of corporate America.

综合性大企业在不同领域表现出来的兴趣并没有受到美国投资者的喜爱。他们对企业关于重点领域关注的要求使得许多公司比如通用(General Electric)和惠普(Hewlett-Packard)在近年里不断拆分他们的部门。但是投资者却给顶级的科技首席官们比美国大多数企业们留有更多的余地,包括Amazon的Jeff Bezos和Microsoft的Satya Nadella。

The support reflects transformations they’ve led in recent years. Microsoft recovered from stumbles in designing smartphones to become a leader in online storage technology. Apple is investing in content and services to diversify beyond the iPhone, which accounts for about two-thirds of its sales. Amazon generated little profit most of its history, but significant inroads in online ad and computing services have nearly tripled its warchest to about $22 billion over the last four years.

这种支持反应了他们近几年里所领导的转型。Microsoft从设计智能手机时的跌跌撞撞到成为在线储存科技的领头人。Apple在它的内容和服务上进行投资用来多元化以iPhone为主的事业,它占有了大约2/3的销售。Amazon从它的历史业务里只能赚取少量的利润,但是在在线广告和计算服务领域里的侵占使得它在过去四年里获得了将近三倍约220亿美金的储备。

The circumstances add up to a recipe for bigger and wilder investments than the companies may have once considered.

种种事件相加得出的结论是:比公司曾经能够想象的更大更疯狂的投资。

“Big tech has been king,” said Daniel Ives, a former stock analyst who oversees corporate development for Synchronoss Technologies. “Their success has been cemented to a point where they can go on the offensive.”

“大型的科技公司都是国王,”一个为Synchronoss Technologies监督企业发展的前股票分析师Daniel Ives说到。“他们的成功可以让他们主动进攻。”

Netflix could target a fancy theater chain, adding free showings as a perk for subscribers while giving a lift to a business struggling to maintain attendance. Alphabet could match Amazon by making room for grocery chain Kroger or delivery company FedEx. Tech observers have dreamed of Apple purchasing HBO or Tesla Motors.

Netflix可以把一家精美的连锁电影院作为目标,给订阅用户添加免费的电影场次作为奖励,同时对于在维持上座率上有困难的企业给予帮助。Alphabet可以和Amazon一样给食品杂货连锁店Kroger或者快递公司FedEx制造空间。科技观察者们一直梦想着Apple收购HBO或者特斯拉(Tesla Motors)。

“It demonstrates the capability that the largest tech companies now have,” Cuatrecasas said. “Market value is power. Cash is power. Talent is power. They have all that, more so than any other companies. And they have a global presence.”

“这展示了那些大型的科技公司现在所具有的能力,”Cuatrecasas说到。“市场价值就是力量。现金就是力量。人才就是力量。他们拥有这所有,比其他公司拥有的多得多。并且他们还具有全球性。”

The leading tech companies of the 1980s and ’90s had narrow visions. When the World Wide Web emerged, companies such as Sun and Cisco were the equipment providers. They had no reason to branch far afield from their core expertise because hardware and software development was challenge enough.

20世纪80年代和90年代的科技公司拥有的是狭窄的视野。当万维网(World Wide Web)出现的时候,Sun和Cisco这类公司还只是设备提供商。他们没有理由从他们的核心事业里扩展其他的分支因为硬件和软件开发在当时都足够具有挑战性了。

The generation built upon the Internet, which encompasses Amazon, Google, Facebook and Uber Technologies, didn’t manufacture technology or hold many hard assets.

依托互联网而建造的这一代,包括Amazon,Google,Facebook和Uber Technologies,并没有制造技术或者持有许多硬资产。

Uber is basically a new-era taxi company. Facebook in essence is a media company, selling advertising and customer data on the backs of a massive staff of volunteer content creators. Amazon makes clever use of information to run a radically new kind of sales, pricing, distribution and logistics network that competitors are hard-pressed to replicate.

Uber基本上是一个新时代的出租车公司。Facebook本质上是一家传媒公司,在拥有大量的内容创造志愿者的基础上销售广告和用户数据。Amazon巧妙的运用信息来运营一个全新的销售、定价、发行和物流网络,这是竞争者很难复制的。

Considering their success, the tech firms are bullish about bringing software expertise to new sectors, whether it’s trucking in Uber’s case or groceries in Amazon’s.

纵观他们的成功,这些科技公司非常看好把软件专家带到新的领域里,不论是Uber的货运或者Amazon的食品杂货店。

The Whole Foods deal — unlike any other the leading tech companies have consummated before — may still prove an outlier.

Whole Foods的这笔交易—与其他领先的科技公司以前完成的不一样—可能仍会证明是一个特殊事件。

“The tech disruption is happening,” said Hrach Simonian, a general partner at Canaan Partners who led the firm’s investment in grocery delivery start-up Instacart. “It’s a land grab for technology: You either get your paws on it or someone else does.”

“科技颠覆正在发生,”Hrach Simonian说到,他是Canaan Partners的普通合伙人并曾带领公司投资食品杂货快递初创公司Instacart。“这是科技公司的土地争夺战:要不是你占得一席之地,要不是别人。”

Tech companies — coming from a position of strength — can be more selective.

科技公司—从他们的优势出发—会变得更加挑剔。

It’s unlikely any would tarnish their brands by acquiring a company that doesn’t have a high-end appeal, said Aaron Solganick, chief executive of Los Angeles tech investment bank Solganick & Co.

他们不可能收购一家没有高端吸引力的公司来损坏他们的品牌,Aaron Solganick,洛杉矶科技投资银行Solganick & Co.的首席执行官说到。

For instance, Solganick doesn’t expect Apple to buy Ford anytime soon despite the iPhone maker’s growing interest in making self-driving cars and the fact that it has five times as much cash as likely needed to acquire the slumping auto giant.

比如,Solganick不会期望Apple在近期收购Ford,尽管这个iPhone制造者在制造无人驾驶汽车上表现出浓厚的兴趣,并且事实上它也拥有比可能收购价高出五倍的现金来收购这家摇摇欲坠的汽车巨头。

On the flip side, automakers are identifying tech investments of their own. It’s an open question, for example, whether they will stick with manufacturing in the long run versus farming it out. That’s what Jaguar is already doing with its I-Pace luxury electric SUV, due in 2018. The car will be built by a manufacturing contractor, similar to Foxconn building iPhones for Apple.

另一方面,汽车制造商也在自己寻找科技投资。这是一个开放性的问题,例如,他们是否会继续坚持长久的生产或者外包给别人。这正是捷豹(Jaguar)I-Pace系列奢侈电动SUV的做法,截止到2018年。这个系列将会由制造承包商生产,类似于富士康(Foxconn)为Apple生产iPhone一样。

In the end, the necessity of traditional industrial firms to adapt means fewer tech-buys-old-school announcements than vice versa, Solganick said.

最终,当传统工业企业必须适应的时候,就意味着相比传统企业收购科技公司会有更少的科技公司收购传统企业的公告了,Solganick说到。

Getting into retail, finance or autos poses a risk of backfiring. Tech firms are attracting increasing scrutiny from government regulators over collecting data about consumers. Having more entry points for consumers would seem to add to data troves.

收购零售、金融或者汽车行业会带来一些事与愿违的风险。科技公司正在搜集用户数据上吸引越来越多的来自政府监管者的监视。消费者有更多的入口点就会增加更多的数据。

Customers of the acquired business may be turned off by what they consider overreach. But Silicon Valley giants so far have demonstrated the ability to leave independent their acquired companies — at least as tech start-ups go.

被收购公司的原有消费者可能会因他们所认为的过火行为而对该公司失去兴趣。但是硅谷的巨头们目前所展现的能力是让被收购公司保持独立—至少对科技初创公司是这样的。

“Amazon will have the attitude of ‘how can we help?’” Cuatrecasas said. “’What can we do to help you give a better experience to a Whole Foods customer?’ For it to go wrong, you would have to assume they would take over operations and I don’t see that happening.”

“Amazon将会持有‘我们能帮你吗?’的态度”Cuatrecasas说到。“‘作为Whole Foods的消费者来说我们能如何帮助你拥有更好的体验呢?’让它出错的话,你可能会假设他们会接管运营,但是我并没有看到这个迹象发生。”(6月17日)

翻译/张Rachel

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