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Management
管理
Reinventing the company
重塑公司
 
Entrepreneurs are redesigning the basic building block of capitalism
创业者正在重新设计资本主义的基本构件
重塑.jpg
 
 
NOW that Uber is muscling in on their trade, London's cabbies have become even surlier than usual. Meanwhile, the world's hoteliers are grappling with Airbnb, and hardware-makers with cloud computing. Across industries, disrupters are reinventing how the business works. Less obvious, and just as important, they are also reinventing what it is to be a company.
 
由于Uber正在他们的地盘上抢生意,伦敦的出租车司机变得比往常更郁闷了。与此同时,世界各地的旅馆经营者正在设法应对Airbnb,硬件厂商正在与云计算较劲。纵观各行各业,创新者正在重塑商业运作模式。虽不明显,但同样重要的是,他们还在重塑公司的含义。
 
To many managers, corporate life continues to involve dealing with largely anonymous owners, most of them represented by fund managers who buy and sell shares listed on a stock exchange. In insurgent companies, by contrast, the coupling between ownership and responsibility is tight. Founders, staff and backers exert control directly. It is still early days but, if this innovation spreads, it could transform the way companies work.  
 
对于许多管理者,企业的生命仍将是与众多的匿名所有者打交道,而这些匿名所有者大都是由在股票交易所买卖上市股票的基金经理代表的。与之相比,在创新性公司中,所有权与责任之间的这种结合是紧密的。创始人、员工和出资者是直接实施控制。虽然这种创新还处于萌芽状态,传播开来的话,它可能彻底改变公司运作模式。

Listing badly
糟糕的上市
 
The appeal of the insurgents' model is partly a result of the growing dissatisfaction with the public company. True, the best public companies are remarkable organisations. They strike a balance between quarterly results (which keep them sharp) and long-term investments (which keep them growing). They produce a stream of talented managers and innovative products. They can mobilise talent and capital.
 
创新模式的吸引力部分是对公众公司日渐不满的结果。的确,最好的公众公司都是出类拔萃的组织。它们兼顾了(让他们保持敏锐的)季度业绩与(让它们不断成长的)长期投资平衡。它们造就出一大批杰出的管理人员和创新产品。它们能够调动天才,盘活资本。
 
But, after a century of utter dominance, the public company is showing signs of wear. One reason is that managers tend to put their own interests first. The shareholder-value revolution of the 1980s was supposed to solve this by incentivising managers to think like owners, but it backfired. Loaded up with stock options, managers acted like hired guns instead, massaging the share price so as to boost their incomes.
 
但是,历经一个世纪的绝对主宰后,公众公司正在显露出疲态。一个原因是,管理者往往把自身利益置于首位。上世纪80年代的股东价值革命的本意,是通过激励管理者像所有者那样去思考的方式解决这个问题。但是,这场革命却产生了反作用。配备了股票期权的管理者转而成为了职业杀手,他们大肆操纵股价以提高自己的收入。
 
The rise of big financial institutions (that hold about 70% of the value of America's stockmarkets) has further weakened the link between the people who nominally own companies and the companies themselves. Fund managers have to deal with an ever-growing group of intermediaries, from regulators to their own employees, and each layer has its own interests to serve and rents to extract. No wonder fund managers usually fail to monitor individual companies.
 
(持有美国股票市场总市值大约70%的)大型金融机构的兴起,进一步消弱公司的名义人与公司自身间的联系。基金经理不得不去应付层出不穷的代表从监管者到他们自己的员工的中介机构,而且每一层面都有自身的利益要去侍奉,都有自己的租金要去抽取。基金经理常常无法监控单个公司就不足为奇了。
 
Lastly, a public listing has become onerous. Regulations have multiplied since the Enron scandal of 2001-02 and the financial crisis of 2007-08. Although markets sometimes look to the long term, many managers feel that their jobs depend upon producing good short-term results, quarter after quarter.
 
最后,公开上市已经变得不堪重负。自2001-02年的安然丑闻和2007-08年的金融危机以来,监管措施已经翻倍。尽管市场有时看重长期,但是,许多基金经理认为,他们的工作取决于一个季度又一个季度地拿出良好的短期业绩。
 
Conflicting interests, short-termism and regulation all impose costs. That is a problem at a time when public companies are struggling to squeeze profits out of their operations. In the past 30 years profits in the S&P 500 index of big American companies have grown by 8% a year. Now, for the second quarter in a row, they are expected to fall, by about 5%. The number of companies listed on America's stock exchanges has fallen by half since 1996, partly because of consolidation, but also because talented managers would sooner stay private.
 
冲突的利益、短浅的目光再加上监管,所有这一切给成本带来了压力。这是一个公众公司正在想方设法从运营中挤压利润的时代的问题。在过去的30年中,标普500指数中的大型美国公司的利润一直在以每年8%的速度增长。如今,预计,它们的利润会连续第二个季度下滑大约5%。自1996年以来,在美国的股票交易所上市的公司数量已经减少了一半。究其原因,部分是源于公司间的合并,但也是因为天才的管理者宁愿保持私有。
 
It is no accident that other corporate organisations are on the rise. Family companies have a new lease of life. Business people are experimenting with “hybrids” that tap into public markets while remaining closely held. Astute investors like Jorge Paulo Lemann, of 3G Capital, specialise in buying public companies and running them like private ones, with lean staffing and a focus on the long term.
 
其他合作组织的兴起绝非偶然。家族企业重获新生。商界人士正在实验能够在进入公开市场的同时又能保持对其密切掌控的“混血儿”公司。像3G资本的豪尔赫•保罗•雷曼这样的精明投资者的特长就是收购公众公司,然后再像运作私有公司一样,以精干的员工和对于长期目标的专注,来运作这些公司。
 
The new menagerie
新物种
 
But the most interesting alternative to public companies is a new breed of high-potential startups that go by exotic names such as unicorns and gazelles. In the same cities where Ford, Kraft and Heinz built empires a century ago, thousands of young people are creating new firms in temporary office spaces, fuelled by coffee and dreams. Their companies are pioneering a new organisational form.
 
但是,在公众公司的各种备选方案中,最让人感兴趣的是一类凭借着像独角兽或者羚羊这样的异国情调的名字而出名的新型高潜力创新型公司。在福特、卡夫和亨氏于一个世纪前建立了帝国的同一个城市中,大量的年轻人正在临时的办公空间中,在咖啡和梦想的推动下,创建着一家又一家新公司。他们的公司正在引领一种崭新的组织形式。
 
The central difference lies in ownership: whereas nobody is sure who owns public companies, startups go to great lengths to define who owns what. Early in a company's life, the founders and first recruits own a majority stake—and they incentivise people with ownership stakes or performance-related rewards. That has always been true for startups, but today the rights and responsibilities are defined in contracts drawn up by lawyers. This aligns interests and creates a culture of hard work and camaraderie. Because they are private rather than public, they measure how they are doing using performance indicators (such as how many products they have produced) rather than elaborate accounting standards.
 
关键之不同在于所有权:相比公众公司所有人的不确定,创新性公司则是竭尽全力要对各种所有权做出明确的界定。在这类公司的初创时期,创始人和公司元老工拥有大部分股份——并且使用股权或绩效奖励去激励员工。过去,创业公司总是如此;但是,如今,权力和责任都明确地写在律师起草的合同中。这把各方的利益捆绑在一起,并且创造出一种努力工作、互帮互助的文化。由于它们是私有的而不是公有的,创新性公司是使用(诸如产量这样的)绩效指标而不是用繁杂的会计指标来衡量目前的工作进度。
 
New companies also exploit new technology, which enables them to go global without being big themselves. Startups used to face difficult choices about when to invest in large and lumpy assets such as property and computer systems. Today they can expand very fast by buying in services as and when they need them. They can incorporate online for a few hundred dollars, raise money from crowdsourcing sites such as Kickstarter, hire programmers from Upwork, rent computer-processing power from Amazon, find manufacturers on Alibaba, arrange payments systems at Square, and immediately set about conquering the world. Vizio was the bestselling brand of television in America in 2010 with just 200 employees. WhatsApp persuaded Facebook to buy it for $19 billion despite having fewer than 60 employees and revenues of $20m.
 
新型公司也充分利用新技术,这些新技术能让他们自身还没有发展成大公司的情况下走向全球。以前,初创公司常常为何时投资于房地产和计算机系统之类的大而笨重的资产而犯难;如今,它们能够通过即时购买服务的方式,非常快速地扩张。它们可以为了几百美元而在线合作,可以从Kickstarter这样的众筹网站筹集资金,从Upwork雇佣程序员,从亚马逊租用计算机处理能力,在阿里巴巴找到制造商,在Square安排支付体系,之后立即开始征服世界。只有200名员工的Vizio是美国2010年最畅销的电视机品牌。员工不足60人、收入是2000万美元的WhatsApp说服脸书用190亿美元买下了自己。
 
Three objections hang over the idea that this is a revolution in the making. The first is that it is confined to a corner of Silicon Valley. Yet the insurgent economy is going mainstream. Startups are in every business from spectacles (Warby Parker) to finance (Symphony). Airbnb put up nearly 17m guests over the summer and Uber drives millions of people every day. WeWork, an American outfit that provides accommodation for startups, has 8,000 companies with 30,000 workers in 56 locations in 17 cities.
 
三种反对意见对这是一场正在形成中的革命的思想形成了威胁。第一种意见认为,这场革命局仅限于硅谷一角。然而,创新型经济正在走向主流。创新性公司存在于从眼镜业(Warby Parker)到金融业 (Symphony)的每一个行业中。Airbnb每个夏天给1700万客人提供住宿,Uber每天接送数百万人。作为一家为创新性公司提供场地的美国企业,WeWork在17个城市中,拥有8000家公司、30000名工人和56处场地。
 
The second is that the public company will have the last laugh, because most startups want eventually to list or sell themselves to a public company. In fact, a growing number choose to stay private—and are finding it ever easier to raise funds without resorting to public markets. Those technology companies that list in America now do so after 11 years compared with four in 1999. Even when they do go public, tech entrepreneurs keep control through “A” class shares.
 
第二种意见认为,由于大多数创新性公司的最终愿望,要么是公开上市,要么是把自己卖给一个公众公司,因此公众公司将是最后的赢家。实际上,越来越多的创新性公司的选择是继续私有——而且它们还发现,现在能够在不求助于公开市场的情况下比以前更容易地筹集到资金。如今,在美国上市的技术公司是在成立后11年上市,而在1999年的时候,这个时间是4年。即便上市,技术创业者也会通过A类股票保持对公司的控制。
 
The third objection is that ownership in these new companies is cut off from the rest of the economy. Public companies give ordinary people a stake in capitalism. The startup scene is dominated by a clique of venture capitalists with privileged access. That is true, yet ordinary people can invest in startups directly through platforms such as SeedInvest or indirectly through mainstream mutual funds such as T. Rowe Price, which buys into them during their infancy.
 
第三种反对意见认为,在这些新公司中,所有权与经济体的其他部门之间是一种相互割裂的关系。公众公司给予普通人的是一份资本主义的股份。创新型公司是被少量的拥有优先权的风头资本家所独霸。事实的确如此,但是普通人还是能够投资于初创公司的,直接的办法是通过像SeedInvest这样的平台,间接的办法是通过像T. Rowe Price这类在创新型公司刚成立就入股的主流基金。
 
Today's startups will not have it all their own way. Public companies have their place, especially for capital-intensive industries like oil and gas. Many startups will inevitably fail, including some of the most famous. But their approach to building a business will survive them and serve as a striking addition to the capitalist toolbox. Airbnb and Uber and the rest are better suited to virtual networks and fast-changing technologies. They are pioneering a new sort of company that can do a better job of turning dreams into businesses.
 
今天的创新性公司不会一帆风顺。公众公司拥有他们的地位,尤其是在石油和天然气这样的资本密集型行业。许多创新型公司将不可避免地破产倒闭,包括一些最出名的公司。但是,它们构建公司的方法将在它们身后继续存在下去,并且会作为资本主义工具箱的一个令人瞩目的补充发挥作用。 Airbnb、Uber以及其他的创新性公司更适应虚拟网络和快速变化的技术。它们正在引领一种全新的公司类型,这种公司能够更好地完成把梦想转化商机的工作。