为什么软件在吞噬世界-马克·安德森 (Marc Andreessen)

刘江在线 2020-01-20 509浏览 0评论

本文最初于2011年8月20日发表在《华尔街日报》上。 原汁原味版。最后附有英文版

为什么软件在吞噬世界-马克·安德森 (Marc Andreessen) 商业故事

上周,惠普(我是董事会成员)宣布,正在探索抛弃陷入困境的个人电脑业务,转而加大对软件的投资,在软件方面,其增长潜力更大。同时,谷歌计划收购手机制造商摩托罗拉移动。这两个举动都令科技界感到惊讶。但是,这两个举措也符合我观察到的趋势,尽管最近股市动荡,但我对美国和世界经济的未来增长持乐观态度。

简而言之,软件正在吞噬世界。

在1990年代互联网泡沫高峰之后的10多年里,诸如Facebook和Twitter之类的十几家新兴互联网公司在硅谷引发争议,这是由于它们的私人市场估值迅速增长,甚至偶尔有成功的IPO。由于Webvan和Pets.com鼎盛时期的伤痕仍令投资者不寒而栗,人们开始问:“这难道不是一个危险的新泡沫吗?”

我和其他人一直在争论案件的另一面。(我是风险投资公司Andreessen-Horowitz的联合创始人兼普通合伙人,该公司已经投资了Facebook,Groupon,Skype,Twitter,Zynga和Foursquare等。我个人也是LinkedIn的投资者。)许多著名的新兴互联网公司正在建立真正的,高增长,高利润,高防御性的业务。

当今的股票市场实际上讨厌技术,主要的公共技术公司的价格/收益比一直以来都较低。以苹果为例,其市盈率约为15.2,与整个股票市场大致相同,尽管苹果拥有巨大的盈利能力和主导的市场地位(根据市值来衡量,苹果在过去几周成为美国最大的公司,超过了埃克森美孚)。而且,也许最能说明问题的是,当人们不断尖叫“气泡!”时,您就不会有气泡。

但是,与硅谷最好的新公司的内在价值相反,太多的争论仍然围绕着财务估值。我自己的理论是,我们正处于技术和经济急剧变化的中间,软件公司已准备好接管大范围的经济。

从电影到农业再到国防,越来越多的主要企业和行业都在软件上运行并作为在线服务提供。许多获奖者是硅谷风格的创业技术公司,它们正在入侵并推翻成熟的行业结构。在未来的十年中,我预计会有更多的行业被软件所破坏,新的,举世瞩目的硅谷公司在不多的情况下也会做出破坏。

为什么现在会发生这种情况?

计算机革命已经过去了六十年,微处理器的发明已经过去了四十年,现代互联网兴起已经过去了二十年,通过软件转变行业所需的所有技术终于奏效了,并且可以在全球范围内广泛推广。

现在有超过20亿人使用宽带Internet,而十年前我在我共同创立的公司Netscape的时候是5000万。在未来的10年中,我希望全世界至少有50亿人拥有智能手机,使拥有这种手机的每个人都可以每天每一刻即时访问Internet的全部功能。

在后端,软件编程工具和基于Internet的服务使您可以轻松地在许多行业中启动由全球软件驱动的新型初创企业,而无需投资于新的基础架构和培训新员工。2000年,当我的合伙人Ben Horowitz成为第一家云计算公司Loudcloud的首席执行官时,运行基本Internet应用程序的客户的费用约为每月15万美元。今天在亚马逊的云中运行相同的应用程序每月花费约1,500美元。

凭借较低的启动成本和广泛的在线服务市场,其结果是全球经济首次实现了完全数字化连接-1990年代初每位网络视觉专家的梦想终于得以实现后来。

这种软件吞噬传统业务的现象中,最戏剧性的一个例子可能是“边界”的自杀和亚马逊的崛起。2001年,Borders同意将在线图书业务移交给亚马逊,因为该理论认为在线图书销售是非战略性的且不重要的。

哎呀

如今,全球最大的书商亚马逊是一家软件公司-其核心功能是其惊人的软件引擎,几乎可以在线销售所有商品,而无需零售店。最重要的是,当Borders在即将到来的破产困境中挣扎时,Amazon对其网站进行了重新布局,以首次将Kindle电子书推广为实体书。现在,即使书籍本身也是软件。

当今,按订户人数计算的最大视频服务是一家软件公司:Netflix。Netflix如何将百视达剔除是一个古老的故事,但是现在其他传统娱乐提供商也面临着同样的威胁。康卡斯特(Comcast),时代华纳(Time Warner)等公司正在做出回应,通过电视无处不在等努力将自己转变为软件公司,该公司从物理电缆中释放内容并将其连接到智能手机和平板电脑。

当今的主要音乐公司也包括软件公司:Apple的iTunes,Spotify和Pandora。传统记录标签越来越多地存在,只是为了向那些软件公司提供内容。数字渠道的行业收入在2010年总计46亿美元,从2004年的2%增长到总收入的29%。

当今增长最快的娱乐公司是视频游戏制造商(再次是软件),该行业从五年前的300亿美元增长到600亿美元。增长最快的大型视频游戏公司是Zynga(包括FarmVille在内的游戏制造商),该公司完全在线提供游戏。Zynga今年第一季度的收入增长至2.35亿美元,是去年同期收入的两倍多。Rovio是《愤怒的小鸟》的制造商,预计今年将清除1亿美元的收入(该公司在2009年底在iPhone上首次推出该流行游戏时几乎破产了)。同时,传统的电子游戏巨头如电子艺界和任天堂都看到收入停滞和下降。

皮克斯是数十年来最好的新电影制作公司,是一家软件公司。迪士尼-迪士尼!-必须收购一家软件公司Pixar,才能在动画电影中保持相关性。

当然,摄影是很久以前就被软件吃掉的。购买几乎没有配备软件相机的手机几乎是不可能的,并且照片会自动上传到Internet进行永久存档和全球共享。诸如Shutterfly,Snapfish和Flickr之类的公司已经涉足柯达的市场。

当今最大的直销平台是软件公司Google。现在,Groupon,Living Social,Foursquare等公司加入了该行,它们正在使用软件来吞噬零售营销行业。在仅运营两年之后,Groupon在2010年创造了超过7亿美元的收入。

当今增长最快的电信公司是Skype,这是一家软件公司,刚刚被微软以85亿美元的价格收购。CenturyLink是美国第三大电信公司,市值达200亿美元,截至6月30日,它拥有1500万条接入线,以每年约7%的速度下降。若不计入收购Qwest的收入,CenturyLink来自这些传统服务的收入下降了11%以上。同时,两家最大的电信公司AT&T和Verizon幸存下来,通过与Apple和其他智能手机制造商合作将自己转变为软件公司。

LinkedIn是当今增长最快的招聘公司。员工有史以来第一次可以在LinkedIn上维护自己的简历,供招聘人员实时搜索,这使LinkedIn可以吃掉利润高达4,000亿美元的招聘行业。

软件也吞噬了被广泛认为主要存在于物理世界中的许多产业价值链。在当今的汽车中,软件可以运行引擎,控制安全功能,招待乘客,引导驾驶员前往目的地,并将每辆汽车连接到移动,卫星和GPS网络。汽车迷可以自己修理汽车的日子已经过去很久了,这主要是由于软件内容丰富。混合动力和电动汽车的趋势只会加速软件的转变,电动汽车完全由计算机控制。谷歌和主要的汽车公司已经在开发软件驱动的无人驾驶汽车。

如今,领先的现实世界零售商沃尔玛(Wal-Mart)使用软件来增强其物流和分销能力,过去曾用它来压制竞争。联邦快递(FedEx)也是如此,最好将其视为一个恰好连接了卡车,飞机和配送中心的软件网络。如今和将来,航空公司的成败取决于其使用软件为机票定价,正确优化航线和收益的能力。

石油和天然气公司是超级计算,数据可视化和分析的早期创新者,对当今的石油和天然气勘探工作至关重要。农业也越来越多地由软件提供支持,包括与每英亩种子选择软件算法相关联的卫星土壤分析。

在过去的30年中,金融服务业已经通过软件实现了明显的变革。从购买一杯咖啡到交易数万亿美元的信用违约衍生品的几乎每笔金融交易都是在软件中完成的。金融服务领域的许多领先创新者都是软件公司,例如Square(允许任何人都可以用手机接受信用卡付款)和PayPal(在今年第二季度创造了超过10亿美元的收入),比上一年增长31%。

我认为,医疗保健和教育将紧随基本的基于软件的转型。我的风险投资公司在这两个巨大且至关重要的行业中都支持积极进取的初创企业。我们相信,这两个行业在历史上一直高度抵制企业家的变革,因此非常适合以软件为中心的新兴企业家提供小费。

甚至国防也越来越基于软件。现代作战士兵被嵌入软件网络中,该网络提供情报,通信,后勤和武器指导。由软件驱动的无人机可以发动空袭,而不会给飞行员带来危险。情报机构使用软件进行大规模数据挖掘,以发现和跟踪潜在的恐怖阴谋。

每个行业的公司都需要假设软件革命即将到来。这甚至包括当今基于软件的行业。像甲骨文和微软这样的大型软件公司正日益受到诸如Salesforce.com和Android等新软件产品的无关紧要的威胁(尤其是在Google拥有一家主要手机制造商的世界中)。

在某些行业中,尤其是那些具有大量实际组成部分的行业,例如石油和天然气,软件革命主要是老牌企业的机遇。但是在许多行业中,新的软件构想将导致新的硅谷式初创公司的兴起,而这些公司却不受惩罚地侵入了现有行业。在接下来的十年中,在位者与以软件为动力的叛乱者之间的战斗将是史诗般的。创造了“创造性破坏”一词的经济学家约瑟夫·熊彼特(Joseph Schumpeter)将感到自豪。

尽管人们看着过去几周401(k)的价格上下波动可能会对此表示怀疑,但对于美国经济而言,这尤其是一个深刻的正面故事。许多近期最大的科技公司(包括Google,Amazon,eBay等)都是美国公司,这并非偶然。我们将一流的研究型大学,亲风险的企业文化,大量寻求创新的股权资本以及可靠的商业和合同法相结合,这在世界范围内是前所未有的。

尽管如此,我们仍面临一些挑战。

首先,当今的每家新公司都是在面对巨大的经济逆风的情况下建立的,这使挑战远远超过了相对温和的90年代。在这样的时期建立公司的好消息是,成功的公司将变得非常强大和富有弹性。当经济最终稳定下来时,请注意-最好的新公司将增长得更快。

其次,美国和世界各地的许多人缺乏参加软件革命带来的新兴公司所需的教育和技能。这是一个悲剧,因为与我合作的每家公司都绝对缺乏人才。硅谷合格的软件工程师,管理人员,市场营销人员和销售人员可以在他们想要的任何时候提供数十个高薪,高薪的工作机会,而全国性失业和就业不足却是天壤之别。这个问题比看起来更糟,因为现有行业中的许多工人将被困在基于软件的破坏的错误方面,并且可能永远无法再在他们的领域工作。除了教育之外,没有其他方法可以解决这个问题,而且还有很长的路要走。

最后,新公司需要证明自己的价值。他们需要建立强大的文化,使客户满意,建立自己的竞争优势,并且有理由证明其不断增长的估值。没有人会期望在一个成熟的行业中建立一个新的,由软件驱动的高增长公司变得容易。这太残酷了。

我很荣幸能与新型软件公司中的一些最好的公司合作,我可以告诉你他们在做事上确实很擅长。如果它们能达到我和他人的期望,它们将成为全球经济中极有价值的基石公司,吞噬的市场远远超过了历史上技术行业所能追求的范围。

让我们继续了解新一代技术公司的工作方式,为企业和经济带来更广泛的影响,以及我们可以共同做些什么来扩大创建的创新型软件公司的数量,而不是不断质疑其估值。在美国和世界各地。

那是很大的机会。我知道我要把钱放在哪里。


英文原版


This week, Hewlett-Packard (where I am on the board) announced that it is exploring jettisoning its struggling PC business in favor of investing more heavily in software, where it sees better potential for growth. Meanwhile, Google plans to buy up the cellphone handset maker Motorola Mobility. Both moves surprised the tech world. But both moves are also in line with a trend I’ve observed, one that makes me optimistic about the future growth of the American and world economies, despite the recent turmoil in the stock market.

In short, software is eating the world.

More than 10 years after the peak of the 1990s dot-com bubble, a dozen or so new Internet companies like Facebook and Twitter are sparking controversy in Silicon Valley, due to their rapidly growing private market valuations, and even the occasional successful IPO. With scars from the heyday of Webvan and Pets.com still fresh in the investor psyche, people are asking, “Isn’t this just a dangerous new bubble?”

I, along with others, have been arguing the other side of the case. (I am co-founder and general partner of venture capital firm Andreessen-Horowitz, which has invested in Facebook, Groupon, Skype, Twitter, Zynga, and Foursquare, among others. I am also personally an investor in LinkedIn.) We believe that many of the prominent new Internet companies are building real, high-growth, high-margin, highly defensible businesses.

Today’s stock market actually hates technology, as shown by all-time low price/earnings ratios for major public technology companies. Apple, for example, has a P/E ratio of around 15.2 — about the same as the broader stock market, despite Apple’s immense profitability and dominant market position (Apple in the last couple weeks became the biggest company in America, judged by market capitalization, surpassing Exxon Mobil). And, perhaps most telling, you can’t have a bubble when people are constantly screaming “Bubble!”

But too much of the debate is still around financial valuation, as opposed to the underlying intrinsic value of the best of Silicon Valley’s new companies. My own theory is that we are in the middle of a dramatic and broad technological and economic shift in which software companies are poised to take over large swathes of the economy.

More and more major businesses and industries are being run on software and delivered as online services — from movies to agriculture to national defense. Many of the winners are Silicon Valley-style entrepreneurial technology companies that are invading and overturning established industry structures. Over the next 10 years, I expect many more industries to be disrupted by software, with new world-beating Silicon Valley companies doing the disruption in more cases than not.

Why is this happening now?

Six decades into the computer revolution, four decades since the invention of the microprocessor, and two decades into the rise of the modern Internet, all of the technology required to transform industries through software finally works and can be widely delivered at global scale.

Over two billion people now use the broadband Internet, up from perhaps 50 million a decade ago, when I was at Netscape, the company I co-founded. In the next 10 years, I expect at least five billion people worldwide to own smartphones, giving every individual with such a phone instant access to the full power of the Internet, every moment of every day.

On the back end, software programming tools and Internet-based services make it easy to launch new global software-powered start-ups in many industries — without the need to invest in new infrastructure and train new employees. In 2000, when my partner Ben Horowitz was CEO of the first cloud computing company, Loudcloud, the cost of a customer running a basic Internet application was approximately $150,000 a month. Running that same application today in Amazon’s cloud costs about $1,500 a month.

With lower start-up costs and a vastly expanded market for online services, the result is a global economy that for the first time will be fully digitally wired — the dream of every cyber-visionary of the early 1990s, finally delivered, a full generation later.

Perhaps the single most dramatic example of this phenomenon of software eating a traditional business is the suicide of Borders and corresponding rise of Amazon. In 2001, Borders agreed to hand over its online business to Amazon under the theory that online book sales were non-strategic and unimportant.

Oops.

Today, the world’s largest bookseller, Amazon, is a software company — its core capability is its amazing software engine for selling virtually everything online, no retail stores necessary. On top of that, while Borders was thrashing in the throes of impending bankruptcy, Amazon rearranged its web site to promote its Kindle digital books over physical books for the first time. Now even the books themselves are software.

Today’s largest video service by number of subscribers is a software company: Netflix. How Netflix eviscerated Blockbuster is an old story, but now other traditional entertainment providers are facing the same threat. Comcast, Time Warner and others are responding by transforming themselves into software companies with efforts such as TV Everywhere, which liberates content from the physical cable and connects it to smartphones and tablets.

Today’s dominant music companies are software companies, too: Apple’s iTunes, Spotify and Pandora. Traditional record labels increasingly exist only to provide those software companies with content. Industry revenue from digital channels totaled $4.6 billion in 2010, growing to 29% of total revenue from 2% in 2004.

Today’s fastest growing entertainment companies are videogame makers — again, software — with the industry growing to $60 billion from $30 billion five years ago. And the fastest growing major videogame company is Zynga (maker of games including FarmVille), which delivers its games entirely online. Zynga’s first-quarter revenues grew to $235 million this year, more than double revenues from a year earlier. Rovio, maker of Angry Birds, is expected to clear $100 million in revenue this year (the company was nearly bankrupt when it debuted the popular game on the iPhone in late 2009). Meanwhile, traditional videogame powerhouses like Electronic Arts and Nintendo have seen revenues stagnate and fall.

The best new movie production company in many decades, Pixar, was a software company. Disney — Disney! — had to buy Pixar, a software company, to remain relevant in animated movies.

Photography, of course, was eaten by software long ago. It’s virtually impossible to buy a mobile phone that doesn’t include a software-powered camera, and photos are uploaded automatically to the Internet for permanent archiving and global sharing. Companies like Shutterfly, Snapfish and Flickr have stepped into Kodak’s place.

Today’s largest direct marketing platform is a software company — Google. Now it’s been joined by Groupon, Living Social, Foursquare and others, which are using software to eat the retail marketing industry. Groupon generated over $700 million in revenue in 2010, after being in business for only two years.

Today’s fastest growing telecom company is Skype, a software company that was just bought by Microsoft for $8.5 billion. CenturyLink, the third largest telecom company in the U.S., with a $20 billion market cap, had 15 million access lines at the end of June 30 –declining at an annual rate of about 7%. Excluding the revenue from its Qwest acquisition, CenturyLink’s revenue from these legacy services declined by more than 11%. Meanwhile, the two biggest telecom companies, AT&T and Verizon, have survived by transforming themselves into software companies, partnering with Apple and other smartphone makers.

LinkedIn is today’s fastest growing recruiting company. For the first time ever, on LinkedIn, employees can maintain their own resumes for recruiters to search in real time — giving LinkedIn the opportunity to eat the lucrative $400 billion recruiting industry.

Software is also eating much of the value chain of industries that are widely viewed as primarily existing in the physical world. In today’s cars, software runs the engines, controls safety features, entertains passengers, guides drivers to destinations and connects each car to mobile, satellite and GPS networks. The days when a car aficionado could repair his or her own car are long past, due primarily to the high software content. The trend toward hybrid and electric vehicles will only accelerate the software shift — electric cars are completely computer controlled. And the creation of software-powered driverless cars is already under way at Google and the major car companies.

Today’s leading real-world retailer, Wal-Mart, uses software to power its logistics and distribution capabilities, which it has used to crush its competition. Likewise for FedEx, which is best thought of as a software network that happens to have trucks, planes and distribution hubs attached. And the success or failure of airlines today and in the future hinges on their ability to price tickets and optimize routes and yields correctly — with software.

Oil and gas companies were early innovators in supercomputing and data visualization and analysis, which are crucial to today’s oil and gas exploration efforts. Agriculture is increasingly powered by software as well, including satellite analysis of soils linked to per-acre seed selection software algorithms.

The financial services industry has been visibly transformed by software over the last 30 years. Practically every financial transaction, from someone buying a cup of coffee to someone trading a trillion dollars of credit default derivatives, is done in software. And many of the leading innovators in financial services are software companies, such as Square, which allows anyone to accept credit card payments with a mobile phone, and PayPal, which generated more than $1 billion in revenue in the second quarter of this year, up 31% over the previous year.

Health care and education, in my view, are next up for fundamental software-based transformation. My venture capital firm is backing aggressive start-ups in both of these gigantic and critical industries. We believe both of these industries, which historically have been highly resistant to entrepreneurial change, are primed for tipping by great new software-centric entrepreneurs.

Even national defense is increasingly software-based. The modern combat soldier is embedded in a web of software that provides intelligence, communications, logistics and weapons guidance. Software-powered drones launch airstrikes without putting human pilots at risk. Intelligence agencies do large-scale data mining with software to uncover and track potential terrorist plots.

Companies in every industry need to assume that a software revolution is coming. This includes even industries that are software-based today. Great incumbent software companies like Oracle and Microsoft are increasingly threatened with irrelevance by new software offerings like Salesforce.com and Android (especially in a world where Google owns a major handset maker).

In some industries, particularly those with a heavy real-world component such as oil and gas, the software revolution is primarily an opportunity for incumbents. But in many industries, new software ideas will result in the rise of new Silicon Valley-style start-ups that invade existing industries with impunity. Over the next 10 years, the battles between incumbents and software-powered insurgents will be epic. Joseph Schumpeter, the economist who coined the term “creative destruction,” would be proud.

And while people watching the values of their 401(k)s bounce up and down the last few weeks might doubt it, this is a profoundly positive story for the American economy, in particular. It’s not an accident that many of the biggest recent technology companies — including Google, Amazon, eBay and more — are American companies. Our combination of great research universities, a pro-risk business culture, deep pools of innovation-seeking equity capital and reliable business and contract law is unprecedented and unparalleled in the world.

Still, we face several challenges.

First of all, every new company today is being built in the face of massive economic headwinds, making the challenge far greater than it was in the relatively benign ’90s. The good news about building a company during times like this is that the companies that do succeed are going to be extremely strong and resilient. And when the economy finally stabilizes, look out — the best of the new companies will grow even faster.

Secondly, many people in the U.S. and around the world lack the education and skills required to participate in the great new companies coming out of the software revolution. This is a tragedy since every company I work with is absolutely starved for talent. Qualified software engineers, managers, marketers and salespeople in Silicon Valley can rack up dozens of high-paying, high-upside job offers any time they want, while national unemployment and underemployment is sky high. This problem is even worse than it looks because many workers in existing industries will be stranded on the wrong side of software-based disruption and may never be able to work in their fields again. There’s no way through this problem other than education, and we have a long way to go.

Finally, the new companies need to prove their worth. They need to build strong cultures, delight their customers, establish their own competitive advantages and, yes, justify their rising valuations. No one should expect building a new high-growth, software-powered company in an established industry to be easy. It’s brutally difficult.

I’m privileged to work with some of the best of the new breed of software companies, and I can tell you they’re really good at what they do. If they perform to my and others’ expectations, they are going to be highly valuable cornerstone companies in the global economy, eating markets far larger than the technology industry has historically been able to pursue.

Instead of constantly questioning their valuations, let’s seek to understand how the new generation of technology companies are doing what they do, what the broader consequences are for businesses and the economy and what we can collectively do to expand the number of innovative new software companies created in the U.S. and around the world.

That’s the big opportunity. I know where I’m putting my money.




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