爱思英语编者按:Facebook是一个社交网络服务网站,于2004年2月4日上线。从2006年9月到2007年9月间,该网站在全美网站中的排名由第60名上升至第7名。同时Facebook是美国排名第一的照片分享站点,每天上载八百五十万张照片。随着用户数量增加,Facebook的目标已经指向另外一个领域:互联网搜索。2012年2月1日,Facebook正式向美国证券交易委员会(SEC)提出首次公开发行(IPO)申请,目标融资规模达50亿美元,并任命摩根士丹利、高盛和摩根大通为主要承销商。这将是硅谷有史以来规模最大的IPO。2012年5月18日,Facebook正式在美国纳斯达克证券交易所上市。

Social networking

社交网络

Facestagram’s photo opportunity

Instagram为Facebook在照片分享市场带来的商机

A billion dollars is a lot to pay for a tiny start-up with no revenue. But Facebook’s acquisition of Instagram could turn out well.

花10亿美元收购一家尚未盈利的新兴小企业可谓大手笔,但这次收购或许会带来惊喜。

MOST companies preparing for a huge stockmarket flotation would try to keep a low profile. Not Facebook. On April 9th the giant social network stunned the business world by announcing it was buying Instagram, a photo-sharing social network, for a billion dollars in cash and stock. This surprising combination, swiftly dubbed “Facestagram”, has sparked a debate about whether Facebook’s big beasts have overpaid for their prey.

那些准备上市筹集大笔资金的公司大多会保持低调,但Facebook却不在此列。4月9日,社交网络巨头Facebook宣布将通过现金和股票的形式以总价10亿美元收购Instagram(一家供用户分享照片的社交网站),此举令业界震惊。这次出人意料的收购很快就被冠以“Facestagram”之称,同时也引发了热议:社交网络巨头Facebook收购Instagram的这笔钱到底付得值不值?

Instagram has proved irresistible largely because of two big trends that are transforming the technology landscape. The first is the rapid rise of the mobile internet, which is being driven by a proliferation of smartphones and wireless broadband connections. The second is the desire of people to be able to share stuff with their pals from wherever they are. These forces have already spawned a number of mobile-phone-focused social networks such as Path and Foursquare.

Instagram之所以广受欢迎主要得益于当前正在改变科技界格局的两大趋势。第一,由于智能手机和无线宽带连接的普及,移动互联网迅速崛起。其次,不管身在何处,人们都希望可以与好友们分享身边的点点滴滴。这两大趋势已经催生了大量针对手机用户的社交网站,如Path和Foursquare。

By producing elegant apps that make uploading and sharing photos on phones a breeze, Instagram has become one of the most successful of this new breed of start-up. The company, whose apps also let people post their snaps onto Facebook, Twitter and other social networks, already boasts over 30m registered users and is growing like Topsy: its Android app was downloaded more than a million times in just 24 hours after its launch on April 3rd.

一批新兴企业借移动社交网络的兴起发展了起来。由于Instagram开发的供用户上传、分享照片的应用界面精美、简单易用,这使其成为了这批新兴企业中的佼佼者。通过Instagram,用户可以将随手抓拍的照片上传到Facebook、Twitter及其他社交网站,该公司的注册用户已经超过3000万,而且用户数量还在迅速增长:Instagram的Android版本在4月3日发布后的24小时内下载量就超过了一百万次。

But does that make it worth such a vast sack of cash? Critics have not been slow to note that the acquisition makes a 13-person company, which is barely two years old, worth more than the New York Times, among many other famous brands. Facebook’s decision to pay so much money for a firm that has, as it happens, no revenue whatsoever smacks to many of the insanity that fuelled the last tech bubble.

但是即便如此,这家公司真的值10亿美金吗?Facebook宣布其收购计划以后,评论人士便注意到:Facebook的这次收购让这家成立刚刚两年、一共才13个人的公司的价值超过了包括纽约时报在内的许多著名品牌。Facebook决定花这么大的价钱收购一家甚至都还没开始盈利的公司骨子里透出吹大了上次科技泡沫的那种疯狂感觉。

That sense of déjà vu was reinforced by news that Facebook’s bid came shortly after Instagram had closed a funding round with a bunch of venture capitalists that valued it at $500m. How could the start-up’s worth have doubled in just a few days? The venture folk are unlikely to have got their sums so dramatically wrong. “There comes a point when people who want to do a deal just throw out the financial spreadsheets,” says Rajeev Chand of Rutberg & Company, an investment bank.

有消息称Facebook在Instagram结束一轮风险融资谈判(风险资本家对Instagram的估值为5亿美元)之后立马给出了这个报价,这也让外界越发觉得Facebook此次收购给人的感觉似曾相识。一家新兴企业的价值怎么可能在几天之后就翻番呢?风险投资家们对Instagram的估值与该公司的真实价值不可能偏差这么大。就职于投资银行Rutberg & Company的Rajeev Chand说:“一旦人想急于做成一笔交易,那么他们根本不会在乎价钱。”

But by paying partly with its own shares, Facebook is at least using a currency that has been inflated by investors’ appetite for social networks. (On April 11th Viadeo, a large professional network that is strong in Europe and emerging markets, announced it had raised $32m from financiers.) Moreover, by some estimates, Facebook’s purchase does not seem so outlandish. Don Dodge, a Google executive and start-up veteran, has noted that the social network is paying about $30 per user for Instagram, and other social apps have been valued at anywhere from $20 to $50 per user. Many of Instagram’s fans are no doubt Facebook aficionados already, but the deal will give the big social network even more data about them with which to target its advertisements.

但是通过以自己公司股份来支付部分金额的做法,Facebook至少也利用了因为投资者看好社交网络而含有水分的“货币”。(Viadeo 是一家在欧洲及新兴国家占有较大市场份额的大型专业网络公司,该公司于4月11日宣布从投资人手中筹得了3200万美金)。另外,也有人认为Facebook这次收购其实并没有花冤枉钱。Don Dodge是Google的高管,他也是Google的创业元老之一。他说如果按照平均用户来计算,Facebook为Instagram每个用户支付的金额为30美元,而其他社交应用每个用户的估值在20到50美元之间。毫无疑问,Instagram的许多粉丝其实已经是Facebook的忠实用户了,但是这次收购会让Facebook拥有更多的用户数据,Facebook正是依靠这些数据来向用户提供有针对性的广告。

There are also several good reasons why Instagram is worth more to Facebook than to anyone else. As the social-network giant has matured, it has become paranoid that a sexier start-up will woo its customers. By swallowing Instagram, it removes both an alluring rival and a likely acquisition target for other competitors, such as Twitter and Google, which is trying hard to spice up its Google+ social network.

对于Facebook来说之所以Instagram更值钱,还有其他几个重要原因。由于Facebook已经逐渐发展壮大,一家更有吸引力的新兴企业在争夺它的用户,这让已经它恼火不已。将Instagram收归帐下可谓一箭双雕:即消灭了一个对用户具有很大吸引力的对手,也可以避免Instagram被诸如Twitter及Google等竞争对手收购。Google旗下的社交网站Google+也正在努力吸引用户。

As well as scuppering any prospect of “Googstagram”, Facebook’s purchase also brings it some badly needed mobile know-how. Its own mobile apps are clunky, in marked contrast to Instagram’s slick interface. Some Silicon Valley companies, including Facebook, have closed small firms they have bought in order to set their talent to work on their own services. But Facebook says it has no plans to draw the shutters on Instagram.

Facebook的此次收购不但排除了出现“Googstagram”(译者注:如果Instagram被Google收购,外界很可能也会称之为“Googstagram”)的可能,而且还获得了它亟需的开拓移动社交网络市场的经验。Facebook自己开发的针对移动社交网络市场的应用很蹩脚,这与Instagram精美的界面形成了鲜明的对比。为了专注于主营业务,包括Facebook在内的一些硅谷公司已经关闭了他们之前收购的小公司,但Facebook表示他们会让Instagram继续独立运行下去(译者注:根据新闻报道,这里稍微添加了一点内容)。

It should stick to that promise. Instagram has blossomed precisely because it is cooler, less cluttered and less commercial than Facebook. Squashing the business would alienate loyal followers and destroy a chance that Instagram could do with pictures what, say, Twitter (presently valued at around $8 billion) has done with words. Indeed, if it is to prosper, Facebook, which until now has run itself as a highly centralised empire, not unlike the former Soviet Union, may have to become more of a decentralised federation, with a range of specialist but interlinked apps that do specific things very well. In business, as in photography, it pays to stay focused.

Facebook确实应该信守诺言。Instagram之所以大受欢迎正是因为它的界面更加简洁、功能更加专一而且商业气息没有Facebook那么浓。关闭Instagram的做法可能会让Facebook那些忠实用户心寒,而且还会扼杀Instagram扼杀Instagram在图片微博界建立起相当于Twitter(该公司当前估值为80亿美元)在文字微博界那样地位的可能性。事实上,如果要更上一层楼,至今为止都像一个高度集中的王国(和前苏联差不多)一样运行的Facebook或许应该转变为一个更为分散的联邦,这个联邦由一系列各有所专、各有所长但内部联系紧密的应用组成。经商与摄影一样,聚焦要点总会得到回报的。