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互联网风投与管理者,创业企业是谷歌Adsense概念创造者之一

 
 
 

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我是美国风投创始人和管理合作伙伴,曾担任过Jupiter Media公司VP,Paul Kagan Associates机构分析师,我的创业企业Applied Semantics2003年被谷歌收购,是谷歌Adsense概念创造者之一。现着重投资互联网领域,对中国互联网和网络新媒体有深刻研究。我写的《零重力1.0》和《零重力2.0》成为彭博社最畅销书籍,比尔盖茨、杨致远也读过我写的商业报告。在中国,我给网易科技独家供稿。hapn.cool try it!

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Facebook遭遇困境 瞄上中国  

2009-03-31 17:56:33|  分类: 默认分类 |  标签: |举报 |字号 订阅

  下载LOFTER 我的照片书  |

    在过去两年中,Facebook以惊人的成长速度震惊了整个互联网界,并且完全改变了全球社交网络的格局。然而,这家飞速发展的公司目前面临着一个难题,谁将为其带来下一个1.75亿用户?答案是显而易见的,中国。也许欧洲也是一个理想的市场,但是那有着超过20种语言,并且Facebook已经初步打入了包括英国在内的市场。因此,毫无疑问,中国将是一个独一无二的目标。

    五年时间,Facebook获得5亿美元投资和1.75亿用户,它会面临增长问题吗?答案是肯定的。事实上,人们对于社交网络的热情似乎总是有限的。谁还记得第一家用户突破百万的社交网站Friendster,谁还记得名噪一时的Ryze或者Six Degrees。而即便是MySpace这样的巨无霸,也已经开始走下坡路了。

    在互联网世界中,人们对于一家社交网站并不会存在真正的感情联系。这就像不同品牌的可乐饮料,无论是可口可乐、百事可乐、甚至是中国的非常可乐,它们在口味上似乎并没有太大的区别。而名称各异的社交网站也是如此。事实上,用户追赶潮流的心态以及追捧的热情才是决定社交网络成长与否的决定性因素。

    几个月之前曾有报道表示,Facebook将Twitter看成了其新一轮增长的驱动力,并愿意出资5亿美元收购后者,但是这家仅拥有300万用户的小公司拒绝了Facebook。这不禁让人回忆起一年前的Facebook,当时包括雅虎在内的互联网巨头争相出价超10亿美元寻求收购,但都被Facebook一一拒绝。

    现在,Facebook已经成为了美国第四大互联网站。一年多以前,随着Facebook的开放,大学生、职业白领、教育者等的各色人群便纷纷涌入了这家充满现代色彩的社交网站。突然间,你的岳母变成了你在Facebook上的好友,无论怎样,这的确是一件十分奇特并且时髦的事情。Facebook大获成功的秘诀在于,它不仅拥有极大的开放性,同时它还通过API成功的由单一服务转型为一个综合性的平台。通过API服务,数千家第三方研发商在Facebook上开发了新的功能或者业务。比如Slide.com,Rockyou,以及许许多多诸如此类的公司。Facebook的最大成就在于,它清楚的认识到当时不存在任何一个以社交网络为依托的平台,对于一家基于网络的公司而言,成功的关键不仅仅在于用户数量,还在于能够给予外部开发商一个发展的平台。

    事实上,苹果公司也通过iPhone在做着同样的事情,而且苹果在这方面的起步比Facebook还要早。苹果及Facebook都认识到,微软成为个人电脑操作系统市场统治者的关键并不是其所提供的操作系统,而是在于其操作系统为第三方研发商提供了表演的舞台。于是在32年过去之后,微软仍然是全球软件行业的统治者。

    现在,一场关于“社交网络操作系统”的竞赛已经展开。目前,微软持有Facebook小额股权,尽管并不是很多。但是如果微软足够理智的话,他们很可能先于任何竞争对手向Facebook要求优先收购权。而现在,时机已经成熟。一年之前,Facebook普通股的估值已经由150亿美元下降至理37.6亿美元。也许如果微软出价50亿美元,就很可能将Facebook收入囊中。论得失,Facebook将成为毫无疑问的赢家。毕竟,这家公司也面临着自身的问题。不久之前,Facebook刚刚更新了其用户界面,而这一改变被指抄袭了Twitter的设计。(也许Facebook会说,好吧,既然你们(指Twitter)不肯接受我们的5亿美元,我们就只好复制你们的设计并将其运用在我们的界面上,这样,比原来多50倍的用户都将享受到这一好处。)

    目前,Facebook还是美国最大的照片分享网站,其上传的照片数量超过了40亿张。但是如果你们轻率的认为Facebook将赢得这场战争,那就错了。战争?是的。现在,全球各国许多社交网站已经成长起来,并且建立的当地用户人数是Facebook难以企及的。

    无论如何,Facebook在某些方面的战略是十分明智的,而这些细节常常被人们忽略。但是如果你发现中国超级富翁李嘉诚投资了1亿美元,那么你也许会觉察到事情的不同。另外有消息说,Facebook已经向中国地区派遣了考察团队,以寻求成为中国最大社交网站的方式。在Facebook当前的用户组成中,美国地区用户以30%的比例高居榜首,英国以7%位居第二。而中国地区的用户人数不到Facebook总用户数的2%,这也表示,在中国只有不到400万人使用Facebook,而对一个互联网用户超过3亿的国家而言,这个数字实在太小了。目前,中国最大的社交网站是校内网,该网站的注册用户人数为4000万。在校内网的用户中,87%的用户来自中国地区,而美国地区用户仅占总用户数的2%,这一情况与Facebook的处境刚好相反。


    当然,绝大多数美国人都从未听说过校内网而且很可能在相当长一段时间内都不会听说,尽管这家公司从著名风投公司Oak Pacific Partners获得了4.3亿美元的投资。但是,如果用户更愿意去尝试那些更加新鲜的事物,那么投资人的再多资金也将变得毫无意义。
  

  需要记住的是,今天的Facebook就是昨天的Friendster,尽管大受欢迎,但是这种局面是不稳定的。而互联网最吸引人的地方也恰恰在此,即永不停止的创新。而Facebook寻求成为全球社交网站操作平台的结果,很可能无法让其满意。(普莱/编译)

英文原文:

Facebook’s dilemma after two years of record growth is how to grow the next 175 million users. Where are they? Easy answer is China. Sure there’s Europe also. But that’s 20 languages and Facebook already seems to be making headway into places like the UK. But China remains the elusive prize.

Five years, $500 million invested in it and 175 million registered users later does Facebook have growth questions? Yes, size matters on the Web where attention spans for friend networks last about as long as the buzz from a Red Bull soft drink. After all, anyone remember Friendster, the first mega social net? How about Ryze? Six Degrees? Even MySpace has lost its edge.

On the Web with no real emotional connection these networks become like flavors of cola. Coke, Pepsi, RC, or the Chinese made Future Cola. Cola seems to taste the same, social networks seem to be similar. Buzz means growth.

A few months ago Facebook reportedly saw smallish Twitter (3 million reported users) as a growth tool and offered to buy it for $500 million. Twitter turned it down, reminiscent  of Facebook spurning offers from Yahoo and others of over $1 billion just over a year ago.

In the U.S. Facebook is the 4th most used website now. College students, professionals, educators and brands all invaded the service a little over a year ago when Facebook opened its doors beyond the initial college user base. Suddenly your mother in law is your friend on Facebook, which is actually kind of bizarre in many ways.

The secret to Facebook’s exponential growth has been opening up and also turning itself from a service into a platform via its API. Through the Facebook API thousands of third-party developers built applications (and businesses) on Facebook. Example, Slide.com, Rockyou, and many more.

What Facebook did correctly was realize that nobody had a social network platform, that the key to success with a Web-based company is not just the user base but giving outside developers the keys to create businesses on the platform.

Apple is doing the same thing with iPhone (and did it earlier than Facebook). What Apple and Facebook learned is that Microsoft became the dominant PC operating system not from the operating system but by allowing third-party developers to write applications that used the Microsoft OS as the foundation. 32 years later and Microsoft still owns the PC platform.

Do you think Bill Gates was thinking of global domination here:

The race for the ’social network operating system’ (snos) is on.  Microsoft owns a small piece of Facebook, though not much. But if it was smart it probably negotiated for first right to acquire Facebook before anyone else can. Now may be a good time, in the last year Facebook’s valuation for common stock reportedly has dropped from $15 billion to $3.76 billion. $5 billion and Microsoft owns it.

In terms of winners you could call Facebook champion. After all, it would really have to screw things up to lose its position. Facebook also just turned its user profiles into “streaming” updates so that users can answer “what’s on your mind?” as they login, basically stealing Twitter’s thunder and growth curve in one swoop (ok, don’t accept our $500 million, we’ll just copy it and deploy it into our user base which is 50x larger).

Facebook is the largest photo sharing site in the U.S. with more than 4 billion photos uploaded.

But it would be a mistake to believe that Facebook will win the war. The battle? yes, this first one. But across the world many social networks have established themselves and built larger native user bases that Facebook will find hard to dislodge. Sort of like the image of Britney Spears OBGYN exit from the limo will be hard to purge from memory. An entire generation lost in one image.

Facebook has been smart in several ways, though, that many may not have noticed. Consider that China billionaire Li Ka-shing invested $100 million. And rumor has it that Facebook has been sending small envoys into China to try and figure out how to become the largest social net in China.

30% of Facebook users are in the U.S., followed next by the UK with 7% of its users. Chinese Facebook users account for only 2% of its users or under 4 million people — that’s small in a country with the largest Internet user base in the world with 300 million users, 70% of them on broadband connections.

So Facebook has its work cut out for it in many spots around the globe where it must grow now that 1 in 4 U.S. Internet users is on Facebook. Growth from here is almost ALL international.

Which is why in China a homespun company, Xiaonei, with about 40 million registered users is the leader there. 87% of Xiaonei users are in China and 2% are from the U.S., which is an exact mirror of Facebook’s Chinese user base of 2%.

Most Americans have never heard of Xiaonei and probably never will, although it’s raised more than $430 million from Oak Pacific Partners (which is  backed by U.S., Chinese and Japanese investors).  Investors mean nothing if the fickle users go elsewhere, to the new “new thing”. As the masses invade Facebook it’s coolness factor drops dramatically.

Remember that today’s Facebook can be tomorrow’s Friendster, popular but fleeting. That’s the power of the Web and appeal for entrepreneurs, the evolution is never-ending. Facebook’s goal of being the SNOS may turn out more like the dog treat: Snausages.



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