创业中那些似是而非的「常识」

欧阳琦玮

晨山资本 合伙人

创业者常常听到这样或那样的「常识」性战略、「常识」性做法、「常识」性概念……它们究竟是什么意思?这些「常识」性的药方都是对的吗?我们今天挑两个「常识」来皮一下~

本文节选自亿万富翁Peter Thiel的《从0到1》(Zero to One),此书是基于其斯坦福大学创业课程的授课笔记整理而来。Peter是极为成功的创业者(PayPal与Palantir)、投资人(Facebook)、政治活动家(Trump竞选早期在硅谷的重要支持者)、慈善家和作者。

Don’t Disrupt 

不要做颠覆者

Silicon Valley has become obsessed with “disruption”. Originally, “disruption” was a term of art to describe how a firm can use new technology to introduce a low-end product at low prices, improve the product over time, and eventually overtake even the premium products offered by incumbent companies using older technology.

「颠覆式创新」的概念让硅谷为之着迷。出于传播上的便利,它常常被进一步简化为「颠覆」。起初,「颠覆式创新」是你一个新颖的提法,用来描述激动人心的「颠覆之旅」:创业公司运用新技术发明一种性能较弱但是价格更低的新产品,并打入当前主流的高价格、高性能产品所不能覆盖的市场区间。随着新产品的不断迭代和性能的不断提升,其竞争力越来越强,最终彻底替代了老产品,创业公司也随之大获成功,将前浪拍在了沙滩上。

This is roughly what happened when the advent of PCs disrupted the market for mainframe computers: at first PCs seemed irrelevant, then they became dominant. Today mobile devices may be doing the same thing to PCs.

个人电脑(PC)的出现就是一个极好的例子。最初,相对于大型机而言,PC不值一提;但最终,个人电脑成为新的市场统治者。今天的PC也许就是昨天的大型机,它正逐渐被手机所取代。

However, disruption has recently transmogrified into a self-congratulatory buzzword for anything posing as trendy and new. This seemingly trivial fad matters because it distorts an entrepreneur’s self-understanding in an inherently competitive way.

然而,「颠覆式创新」逐渐演变成用来指代时髦、新潮的自嗨式流行词汇。这种变化表面上看来无伤大雅,但却以一种误导性的方式扭曲了创业者的自我认知,并给创业者带来不必要的竞争和对立。

The concept was coined to describe threats to incumbent companies, so startups’ obsession with disruption means they see themselves through older firms’ eyes. If you think of yourself as an insurgent battling dark forces, it’s easy to become unduly fixated on the obstacles in your path. But if you truly want to make something new, the act of creation is far more important than the old industries that might not like what you create. Indeed, if your company can be summed up by its opposition to already existing firms, it can’t be completely new and it’s probably not going to become a monopoly.

「颠覆」这个概念最初是用于描述市场领先者/统治者/旧势力所面临的威胁。当创业者沉迷于「颠覆」的时候,那就意味着他们倾向于从「旧势力」的角度去观察和思考问题。如果你把自己视作对抗黑暗势力的起义者,就很容易对这条路上的障碍过度关注。但如果你真正关注问题本身,真正想作出一些不同以往的突破,那就应该专注于创造新事物,而不必过于关注旧势力的看法。说到底,如果你的新产品可以被简单总结为现有产品的「反其道行之」,那恐怕你的产品理念也不是什么全新的概念,你的公司也恐怕无法成为一个具备独特竞争优势、独特的市场机会并具有一定定价权的领先企业(amonopoly)。

注:Monopoly是作者在本书中反复提及的概念,字典上的解释通常为垄断、独占、专营

Disruption also attracts attention: disruptors are people who look for trouble and find it. Disruptive kids get sent to the principal’s office. Disruptive companies often pick fights they can’t win.

除了认知方面的问题之外,「颠覆」的提法还常常被用来标新立异,并招致不必要的麻烦。「颠覆式」的学生经常被送进校长办公室,「颠覆式」的企业也常常挑起自己打不赢的仗。

Think of Napster: the name itself meant trouble. What kinds of things can one “nap”? Music … Kids … and perhaps not much else. Shawn Fanning and Sean Parker, Napster’s then-teenage founders, credibly threatened to disrupt the powerful music recording industry in 1999. The next year, they made the cover of Time magazine. A year and a half after that, they ended up in bankruptcy court.

想想Napster,这个名字本身就起得就有问题。什么样的东西能让人想到打盹呢?音乐,孩子……诸如此类。Napster由两个十几岁的半大孩子创建,1999年的时候他们几乎威胁到了整个唱片行业的生存,次年俩人就上了时代杂志的封面。又过了一年半之后,他们把自己送上了破产法庭。

注:Napster是一款通过P2P的方式共享音乐文件(比如mp3)的软件。该公司由于版权问题被国际五大唱片公司起诉,并于败诉后破产。Nap的原意是「打盹」,而-ster的后缀含义与-er类似,一般表示“做…的人”或“与…有关系的人” 。类似的构词还有trickster:骗子,gangster:匪徒,minister:小人物→佣人;部长、神父、佣人(大概公仆的意思就是这么来的吧…………)

PayPal could be seen as disruptive, but we didn’t try to directly challenge any large competitor. It’s true that we took some business away from Visa when we popularized internet payments: you might use PayPal to buy something online instead of using your Visa card to buy it in a store. But since we expanded the market for payments overall, we gave Visa far more business than we took. The overall dynamic was net positive, unlike Napster’s negative-sum struggle with the U.S. recording industry. As you craft a plan to expand to adjacent markets, don’t disrupt: avoid competition as much as possible.

PayPal这个支付产品可以说是颠覆性的,但是我们并没有正面挑战传统支付厂商。确实,当PayPal在互联网上被广泛用于支付的时候,由于网络购物对线下购物的替代效应,我们也间接抢走了信用卡公司的生意。但是由于PayPal的存在,在线交易的规模迅速扩大,当人们使用信用卡而不是PayPal作为在线支付工具的时候,我们也给信用卡公司带来了新的业务机会。整体而言,我们给支付行业带来的净效应是正面的,反之Napster则给整个唱片行业带来了灭顶之灾。所以,在制定商业计划的时候,不要总想着「颠覆」,要尽可能地避免竞争。

 

THE LAST WILL BE FIRST

后发而先至

You’ve probably heard about “first mover advantage”: if you’re the first entrant into a market, you can capture significant market share while competitors scramble to get started.

我们常常听到“先发优势”,意思是说当其他竞争者还在艰难起步的时候,如果你能率先提供某种产品或者服务,那就能够占据可观的市场份额。

But moving first is a tactic, not a goal. What really matters is generating cash flows in the future, so being the first mover doesn’t do you any good if someone else comes along and unseats you.

然而,「先发」这件事情,本身只是为了达成某种战略目标的一个战术,其本身并不是什么目标。真正重要的是产生持续的现金流入——如果不能够守住优势地位,率先进入某个市场本身并没有什么意义。

It’s much better to be the last mover—that is, to make the last great development in a specific market and enjoy years or even decades of monopoly profits. The way to do that is to dominate a small niche and scale up from there, toward your ambitious long-term vision. In this one particular at least, business is like chess. Grandmaster José Raúl Capablanca put it well: to succeed, “you must study the endgame before everything else.”

成为最后那个下手的人更好——比方说,经过深思熟虑之后在市场中打赢一场重要的战役、获取某个特定的资源优势,并在之后几年甚至几十年内维持这种地位并获取某种意义上的「垄断利润」(monopoly profits)。要实现这个目标,就要先在一个垂直领域/利基市场占据优势地位,并以此为基础不断拓展自己的业务。从这个意义上来说,商业竞争和国际象棋颇为类似。正如13岁拿到古巴全国冠军的国际象棋大师何塞·卡帕布兰卡所说:要想赢,要以始为终,要有终局思维,要先从分析终局开始学起。


关于「后发而先至」的讨论,似乎草草收尾。实际上,今天分享的内容选自Zero to One第五章的最后两小节,而第五章的标题就是《后发优势》(Last Mover Advantage)。

「后发而先至」的部分是整个章节的小结,所以很多内容一笔带过。有兴趣的朋友可以点击「阅读原文」获取第五章的全部内容。篇幅不算特别长,大约15页,但非常不推荐直接读中文版。

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