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阿里的收購野心及其背后的風險

Sanjay Sanghoee 2014年09月18日

就在阿里巴巴即將上市并矢志成為下一個大型科技企業集團的檔口,投資者需認真考慮這一野心背后的風險。

聚焦阿里巴巴上市專題

· 阿里上千員工或分得人均數千萬財富
· 阿里的收購野心及其背后的風險
· 阿里巴巴能從亞馬遜和谷歌的IPO中借鑒什么
· 硅谷怎么看阿里巴巴?
· 阿里巴巴IPO:對投資者來說這是一筆“撿漏”的買賣

????中國電子商務巨頭阿里巴巴(Alibaba)即將成為IPO俱樂部的最新成員,其市盈率預計將達到24倍,這將為該公司帶來約240億美元現金,使其躋身全球最大的科技公司行列。

????投資者為這一前景興奮不已是可以理解的,但更為重要的一點是,該公司將來或許能借入更多資金用于收購,阿里巴巴有望攜500億美元在并購市場發起閃電戰。據彭博社(Bloomberg)稱,該公司IPO后的收購名單可能包括即時通訊公司Snapchat和Kik、電影和電視制作公司獅門娛樂(Lions Gate Entertainment)、互聯網電視提供商Roku、云計算公司Rackspace和Akamai,甚至雅虎(Yahoo)。

????所有這些都顯示了阿里巴巴的雄心壯志,即超越現有核心業務電子商務并成為與谷歌(Google)或Facebook相當的科技巨頭,后兩者在過去幾年收購了多種領域的公司,包括機器人、恒溫器和煙霧報警器、健身追蹤、教育、硬件、生物科技、人工智能和虛擬現實等。

????阿里巴巴已經在中國國內進行了收購并在國外進行了投資,包括汽車服務應用程序提供商Lyft和網絡零售商Shoprunner。其招股書中稱:“我們已經并準備繼續進行戰略投資與收購,以擴大我們的用戶群,增強云計算業務,增加互補產品與技術,并進一步強化我們的業務生態系統。”

????大型企業集團模式在上世紀70、80年代非常流行,但逐漸退潮,因為很多公司發現融合并管理不同業務線的難度較大。如今的行業格局已發生變化,這也是阿里巴巴有機會成功的原因,但有些事項需要注意。

????好的一方面是,科技領域天然具有融合和交互應用潛力。例如,獅門可以為阿里巴巴制作獨家內容,然后阿里巴巴可以通過Akamai的內容發布網絡發布,并通過Roku提供給消費者。而且,阿里巴巴還可以將電子商務的互動性與內容整合起來,觀看者可以在看影片時購買產品,并通過Snapchat與其他觀看者就影片進行對話溝通。這樣一應俱全的整體模式可以為消費者提供巨大價值,進而給阿里巴巴帶來巨大利潤。

????挑戰在于,在技術和企業兩個層面讓一切實現無縫融合是很復雜的,而且成本很高。大型企業集團是大規模的企業實體,從業務角度而言可能會變得笨重而難于管理。大型企業集團各業務部門之間的服務應如何定價?將這些服務提供給外部公司是否會有更高的利潤?這將如何影響母公司的競爭力?這還只是一部分有待解決的問題。

????China’s e-commerce giant Alibaba is slated to become the newest entrant to the IPO club with an expected valuation of 24 times future earnings in the public markets, which would net it almost $24 billion in cash and make it one of the largest technology companies in the world.

????Investors are understandably excited about this prospect, but more to the point, the company will likely be able to borrow even more money for acquisitions, resulting in a$50 billion war chest that Alibaba intends to use to make rapid-fire acquisitions. According to Bloomberg, the company’s post-IPO shopping list could include messaging companies Snapchat and Kik, movie and television studio Lions Gate Entertainment LGF -0.89% , Internet TV provider Roku, cloud computing companies Rackspace RAX 0.87% and Akamai AKAM 1.32% , and even Yahoo YHOO 0.38%

????What all this points to is that Alibaba has the ambition beyond its core business of e-commerce to become a technology conglomerate along the lines of a Google GOOG 1.20% or Facebook FB 2.01% , which have acquired many companies over the past few years in areas as diverse as robotics, thermostats and smoke alarms, fitness tracking, education, hardware, biotech, artificial intelligence, and virtual reality.

????Alibaba is already making acquisitions in China and investments abroad, including in car-service app provider Lyft and online retailer Shoprunner, stating in itsprospectus that “We have made, and intend to continue to make, strategic investments and acquisitions to expand our user base, enhance our cloud computing business, add complementary products and technologies and further strengthen our ecosystem.”

????The conglomerate model was wildly popular during the 1970s and 1980s but eventually fell out of favor as companies found it difficult to integrate and manage different lines of business. In the dynamics are different, and that is why Alibaba has a shot at success –with some caveats.

????On the plus side, the tech arena has the potential for integration and crossover applications naturally built in. For example, Lions Gate could make exclusive content for Alibaba, which the company could then deliver over the content-delivery network of Akamai and provide to consumers over Roku. Moreover, Alibaba could integrate e-commerce interactivity with content to enable viewers to buy products while watching a show, and to create a dialogue with other viewers about the show via Snapchat. This type of self-contained universe can provide tremendous value to consumers, and by extension, tremendous profits to Alibaba.

????The challenge here is in the complexity and cost of integrating all this in a seamless way, both on the technological as well as corporate side. Conglomerates are big entities and can become unwieldy and difficult to manage from a business perspective. How should the pricing of services between divisions of a conglomerate be determined? Would it be more profitable to provide those services to outside parties at arms length instead? And how would that impact the competitiveness of the parent company? These are just some of the questions that need to be addressed.

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