【公司研究】Koos Bekker的投资原则和对腾讯的评价

谦璞投资   2022-08-22 本文章14阅读

   Koos Bekker是南非互联网巨头Naspers的现任董事长, 他于1985年创立了M-Net/MultiChoice, 主营付费电视业务。1991年,他共同创立了移动运营商MTN,这是今天非洲最大的电信公司。在1997年,他成为Naspers首席执行官。在2014年,他从Naspers/Prosus的首席执行官职位上退休,并于次年重新担任董事长。任职期间, Koos Bekker将Naspers从传统的报纸发行出版商成功转型为贸易版图横跨100多个国家的互联网巨头


    Koose Bekker最为最为中国人熟知的还是他和腾讯的缘分。在2001年,在他的领导下,Naspers斥资3200万美元从李泽楷/IDG资本/腾讯团队手中收购了腾讯46.5%的股权。以腾讯控股2022年7月27日收盘价计算, 这笔投资收益6703倍, 年化收益率为50%,是目前记录在册的最伟大的投资之一。Koos Bekker是如何选中腾讯的? 是运气使然还是技艺高超? 我们通过梳理2003年以来Koos Bekker和Naspers公司高管财报发布会发言,按图索骥,试图拼凑出他的投资理念。这也有助于我们理解腾讯的商业模式。


能力圈,能力圈,能力圈


    Koos Bekker对于媒体,流量,平台经济有深刻的理解,他大多数的投资也都集中在这个领域。这源于他的个人经历。80年代初,Koos Bekker离开南非前往纽约广告行业工作。1983年, Koos进入哥伦比亚大学商学院深造。在那时,他了解到HBO电视的付费业务并为之着迷。大多数有线电视通过广告获取营业收入。但付费电视有另一套盈利模式:通过卫星将内容上传,直接向用户售卖解码器来收取年费。在这种模式下,资本支出是前置且固定的,订阅的用户越多,每年摊销的折旧就越低,同时也有更多预算来制作优质内容。这个飞轮是不是似曾相识? 1984年,Koos Bekker将建立南非版HBO的商业计划写成MBA论文并发给Naspers,成功拿到投资,回到南非建立了M-Net,挖到了人生第一桶金。


    由于在付费电视行业的积累,Koos Bekker在互联网尚未成熟时就认识到互联网行业的优势。付费电视行业的前期资本支出包括制作剧集,租用卫星,安装天线等等,相比之下,互联网的资本开支很少,费用最多的部分就是工程师的工资。更棒的是,检验一个付费节目是否成功需要较长的周期,当得知一个节目没有市场的时候沉没成本已经很高。而互联网是快节奏的,一个产品有没有竞争力,几个月到半年往往就有结果了。


    在2008年,分析师提问是否考虑把公司低增长和高增长业务分装成不同的公司。Koos显然对这个问题有过深度思考. 他预见互联网会对付费电视行业带来冲击,因此如果根据增速快慢分割公司并不是好主意:


I think that -- a couple of years ago, I would've said, yes, it may be a good strategy。What we are now -- suspect is that pay TV and the Internet will run into each other and will influence each other fundamentally。For example, I don't think a pay-TV competitor entering any of our markets at the moment is the biggest thing we should lie awake about because the Internet is definitely coming at pay TV and it will become a competitor。And you can just see it happening。So Disney sits in Los Angeles, and they create their platform, and they offer worldwide coverage, and people go there。So it's yet another competitor we face。Or a sports league might set up their own Internet sites。So we think there is going to be a great interweaving of Internet and pay-TV businesses。And you wouldn't want them in two camps without being able to talk to each other。


Koos也从他对于付费电视的理解,认识到电商行业大有可为:


Now, when we looked at e-commerce, we realized unexpectedly that it shows a number of similarities with Pay television。It's quite heavy on the IT infrastructure, lots of customer service, lots of logistical issues。It's a big, intensive, integrated system。And that looks to us very much like the business we know。So the more we worked with e-commerce, the more we liked it。It happens to suit our temperament as a Group。With the e-commerce, there's lots of things we can do。And this slide simply shows a few。For example, you could be a B2C seller, business to consumer, like Amazon。You could do classifieds, like we used to do in newspapers many years ago, you can now do on Craigslist in the US。You can be a payment platform like payU or PayPal。You can generate leads for people and they pay you for it。You can actually sell items yourself, like sell shoes, like Zappos or someone。And you can create a marketplace and facilitate other people trading。So lots of things you can do to market。



不要将视野局限在本土和成熟市场,敢于在人少的地方掘金

    

    也许是南非独特的地理位置和政治环境, Koos Bekker特别关注欧美成熟市场以外的投资机会。除了腾讯,Naspers目前或曾经投资的公司有俄罗斯的Mail.ru,印度的Flipkart,Swiggy和PayU,德国的DeliveryHero,波兰的Allegro等。Naspers现任CEO Bob van Dijk就曾任Allegro的CEO。在2007年财报会上,Koos阐述了原因:


You see, if you look at the world now, the U。S。, Europe, Japan are really in a slump。They are growing at roughly 1%。They are suffering。The markets that we are-- we've been focusing on for five years now are the BRIC countries, even markets in African, are sitting at above 5% growth。So clearly, at one level, you say that's the place to go。


2011年,他用1910年的匈牙利举例,说明即使本国的经济长期停滞,仍然可以通过投资获取增长:


The rest of the world, Europe clearly has problems。Now we are fairly lightly exposed to Western Europe, more exposed to Eastern Europe outside the Eurozone。And today you have the interesting phenomenon that the economy in a particular country might grow by 1% or even be static, and yet the Internet might grow by 15% or 16% because it's a technological change。It's like saying this is the year 1910 in Hungary the economy is growing at 2% but the auto industry is growing by 20%, because the auto industry is replacing horses and consequently overtaking something else while the economy grows at 10%。So I think we can maintain a growth in double figures even with the current recession。Of course if the whole thing blows up and Italy goes belly up and so on it's difficult to calculate the effect of that mess。Our business tends to be relatively unconnected to the -- to sentiment in the market。


2010年,彼时互联网和中国两大主题都已经世人皆知,Koos承认投资时面临的竞争更大了:


As to your second -- the second half of your question about competition, it is definitely intensifying。People are realizing the Internet is becoming a core part of the economy and not a side show and, consequently, the prices people will pay to have a part in it reflect that。So I think competition for good assets will increase。There are actually two factors that influence it。The one we discussed is the realization that the Internet is central to the economy, not peripheral。If you go back to the Internet boom of '99, lots of people were saying this is a flash in the pan, the Internet is not really -- not really a substantial part of the economy, and today it is。The second part is the realization that the emerging markets are a good place to do business。So while people, even five years ago, poo poo'd places like Brazil or China, today they are taken seriously, so serious money is also following investments in those areas。


不做VC,也不做野蛮人:部分持股,合作共赢


Koos Bekker对Naspers的定位不是VC,不是完全完全控股,而是长期投资者。他更愿意和熟悉本土环境的团队合作。这一点和巴菲特有一些类似。在2008年,他详细说明了他的投资方式以及原因:


I think we're somewhat unusual investors that, if you look at the typical investment, let's say the US investors, they fall into two categories。One is VC fund, who want 5% of your company。They also want to sit on the Board, contribute nothing, and sell out as fast as they can。There's nothing wrong with it。It's just a business model。And the next guy wants to take over the whole company and boot you out and put his management in。And we fall in between。We believe that in media, unlike most other markets, there's a very strong component of local knowledge, even local cultural feel。So we are quite comfortable not to dominate the show。We are quite happy to follow behind a competent management team。So where we often sit is between 20%, where we can exit the account, and 50%, where we have to consolidate。And we are quite happy at that level。So typically we have -- let's take mail。ru -- very competent management, very good partners。We have 45%, we have Directors on the Board, we can give our views, but we recognize that Russia is its own culture and its own competitive environment, and we follow that。So it works for us。And eventually, although you don't see the results on the top revenue line, when it comes to profits and dividends, of course, we receive our full share。Look, I think we are more patient than the typical VC fund。Now, years ago when we invested in pay TV, the profile was that you go into a market, you spend hundreds of millions of dollars going down。There's no assurance you'll turn。And -- but if you turn, one day you'll get some return。It's quite a harrowing ride。


2010年,他再一次对部分持股的投资方式做了阐述:


You know what, we -- probably it's a collection of entrepreneurs。So we have people in Pay TV and the Internet who are trying new things。Sometimes it works and we succeed, and sometimes not。We often buy the companies not at the very first stage, but once there is some shape and form and the cash till is starting to ring, and then we hope to get more than we lose。But there is always an element of risk involved。Now, some of the other shares in the portfolio hopefully will go the same way。We'll add more and more to it; more complexity, more depth of engineering talent。And then eventually they'll stand on their feet and the market will say, well, we think there is some value。I think, in fact, Allegro has reached about such a point。If you look at Allegro's figures Antonie presented today, it's very substantial。It's by far the leader in Poland and has a depth to it; it's not only a one-trick pony。There's lot of things we can do on eCommerce and still stay within Allegro and pay for your purchase。


用独门绝技打败巨头


Koos很早就认识到不能用投固定资本的Amazon方式和Amazon战斗,在2012年就转向做细分领域(垂类电商):


Different types of e-commerce have different lines of expenditure。To give an example, if you set up, as we do some markets, an Amazon-like service, your expenditure is mainly in creating magazines, warehouses where you can store your products, and in subsidizing some products to attract the market。That's one way of doing it。But if you run a classified site, your cost is mainly advertising。You -- to set up a classified site is relatively easy。But promoting it with the public, that's what really costs you money。If you have a marketplace, your costs are mainly servers and engineers to maintain the structure, because you have neither inventory -- you don't physically handle the goods, nor logistics。If you have a payment system, you have lots of people and server-related costs, but not inventory。

So if you look at our mix of e-commerce across the world, we tend to start at a certain point in a country where we think we have a gap。Let's say we might start on the classified。And the first phase would then be mainly advertising cost。Then we add let's say a marketplace。And you have more servers, more engineers and so on。And eventually you add something where you keep inventory, where you have real warehouse costs, like Amazon。So it's a bit of a mix。In general, we try to provide an array of services in a market。Unlike many American e-commerce services that specialize heavily, we tend to think that there are different products that lend themselves to different paths。


他的同事Basil对Amazon模式做了非常漂亮的总结:


What we can add is if you sort of have in mind, a linear expansion of revenue。It doesn't -- in some markets, it doesn't quite work that way。For example, in classifieds, the classical pattern is to provide a service for free for some years and build quite a large base, not charge people anything。And then at some point, three years or whatever, down the line, you flip a switch and you start asking some income for certain services like success fees。And then you add a payment service and so on。So if you look at the pattern, you first have adoption and expansion of your user base。And then at some point, monetization starts。And if you plot it, it looks more exponential than linear。That's not always true though。If you, for example, have an Amazon-like model, it's fairly linear。So your cost structure is you create the basic infrastructure for awhile。You then start selling。As you sell, your costs -- things move more or less linearly。If you look at our e-commerce globally, you'll find some elements that move linearly and some elements that move with this sort of more delayed exponential curve。Our biggest cost, no doubt, is engineers。And it's also our biggest asset。And the cost of engineering is increasing, especially in China and India。The engineers are very good but they're getting expensive。


2012年,对于如何用本土化对抗巨头,Koos做了更详细的陈述:


When we started, we had a very un-American philosophy, take Pay-TV。We tend to be local wherever we are。And similarly, on the Internet, we have 101 brand names。And you could probably say, you idiots, look at Google。They have a wonderful brand name all across the world。You have so many hundreds of brand names。And that's a defect。I know it's a defect, but it allows us to be very local。We can sound local in every country。And we give the local entrepreneur a lot of leeway on his own logo and his own business。That's an advantage。


反复尝试,反复迭代


Koos Bekker在1997年成为Naspers的CEO后,他就将视线转移到亚洲。尽管人们都羡慕他投中腾讯,但在投资腾讯之前,他已经在中国投资了3次,且均以失败告终。但他并没有气馁。2001年,时任Naspers CIO的他对于年轻创业者的建议就是:"尝试,尽早尝试“,因为年轻人即使从头再来也承担得起。


试错成本低也是互联网的一大特点。 2011年,Koos对于互联网快速迭代的商业模式做了非常精彩的描述:


The Internet is quite different。It's -- the good Internet companies basically throw spaghetti on the fridge wall as fast as possible and some pieces stick and some fall off。The cost of throwing the spaghetti is pretty low。And then if you see you get traction on something you add five engineers, and then if it works better you add 30 engineers and you reinforce success and you kill failure。And then often these things get integrated into the mother company pretty fast。So you develop a service, it doesn't generate revenue itself but it enhances the consumer experience; then you absorb it back into the mother company。And you can of course track how well the mother company is doing, but to take out that discrete development and say I've spent $10m developing this and to separate that from the rest of the company is often quite difficult。In the Internet the projects tend to be very short-term with a rapid iteration。So if you're successful you reinforce it and if you fail you get out as fast as you can。


对于失败,Koos Bekker在2012年分享了两个失败的例子:


Then on businesses we close down or write down, we definitely have that。You'll see it in our depreciation figures。What we do -- I think our failure rate is fairly good。It all depends what you're used to。It's higher than mature, normal industries where you buy predictable companies at a mature phase。It's also much lower than -- less than an angel investor in Silicon Valley where 80% of your ventures might fail。We typically come in at the stage -- we don't come in at the idea stage。In other words, we hardly ever buy into two guys in a garage with a great idea。That's for different people。We come in where the business has typically 30, 100 staff, some revenues。It's probably not yet making a profit or it's at breakeven but certainly not a great profit。And entrepreneurs realize they've got a success on their hands and what they'd like to do is bring in an investor in for 30% or 50% or something。That's the moment we enter。So it's early enough still to make good money if the thing turns out to be successful。But it's also early enough to still fail。Now to give you an example, we bought a company, for example, in sort of a social network service in Poland called Gadu。And it seemed a good idea at the time, but then Facebook came along and really undercut the need。And people did their Facebook -- they did their social network by Facebook。And then you said, okay, mistake。Right? Let's fix it。Let's go elsewhere。So sometimes we do write down。But I think our failure rate so far has been fairly good。And the assessment we'd make is not really every venture works out。If it does, we're probably entering the market too late。

Many years ago, around 2001, we started a service in California called Media Zone。And that was a precursor to YouTube。And it worked perfectly。And it was actually a paid YouTube。And the insight was absolutely sound。People want video。They're prepared to pay for it。Here is a paid YouTube in the year 2001。What more perfect do you want? Except along came YouTube, a free service of the same nature。And then Google came along and bought YouTube。So YouTube never made any money。And it now, currently started to monetize。But for how many years it never made a cent? But Google simply said, I don't mind if I lose money。I like the audience。One day I'll figure out what to do with it。Now it's sort of a slap from the side。There is nothing you can do。Your service depends on people paying。They're not going to pay if the same service is available for free next door。So business is risky。And what we've tried to do is the moment we realize something is not going to work, we close down, turn around, apply our attention elsewhere。And I think we're fairly good at measuring each business, every year for success, and if it's not living up to it, killing it and moving on。



关于腾讯


腾讯是Koos Bekker投资生涯的得意之作,虽然他常常将其归功于运气。对于腾讯及其管理团队,他却毫不吝惜赞美之词:


Now, what distinguishes both Mail and Tencent is that they are fairly rounded companies, so neither is a one-trick pony。Tencent started on communication on instant messaging and expanded from that into portals, social networking, games and so forth。Mail started in emails and expanded to portals, added instant messaging, games, social networking and so forth。They are quite -- ended up being quite composite。So when the market looks at that they say here is a well-balanced company with some legs for the future。


当腾讯太过成功,也产生了不少甜蜜的烦恼。在2008年,有的Naspers分析师建议他卖掉腾讯。对于这些人,他给出了漂亮的回击:


Then David, just on having Tencent, we got some excellent advice from our shareholders over the years when we invested in Tencent。Shortly after they listed we had the suggestion we sell enough stock to cover our initial cost。And then the price hit $15, and we had advice to sell off our stake, and then the price hit $40, and it's up to $75。And luckily Antonie has been resisting so far, so we hope he remains resisting it forever。It's a very good company, very well managed, and at this stage we don't see a bad investment。


腾讯和Naspers在某些时候也会互相合作:


So Tencent are busy building out WeChat and so forth。They're not in the classified space。We sometimes use each other's platforms to co-promote。Yes。We use each other's platforms sometimes to co-promote, so we encourage people to use WeChat to contact each other around the classified space and vice versa, but they're in a separate space to the one we're in。


2018年,由于Naspers的投资需求,他第一次对于腾讯进行了减持:


The sale of Tencent shares was very much driven by additional opportunity we saw on our key e-commerce lines, right, so in classifieds, in online food delivery and then our payments business。I think we've since done a number of investments, but our high bar for return is still the high bar for return, and we see still those key factors as the most attractive one for us to deploy most of our capital。So there's no change in sort of our perspective at the time when we strengthened the balance sheet from where we are today。It's hard to comment on future uses of that capital, but we're very confident we have the right core segments and the right opportunities there。Basil, you okay answering the first 2 questions?


他的继任者Bob van Dijk也秉持了他对于腾讯的态度, 甚至明确给出了持有腾讯的原因:


Second, I believe China is the world's most attractive Internet market with over 1 billion mobile Internet users, and actually the level of engagement of those users is well ahead of those in the West。Simply put, if you want to be a large consumer Internet investor at a global scale, you have to be deeply invested in China。And against this very supportive backdrop, I am convinced that Tencent is best positioned to take advantage of all of this。

And there are four key drivers which underpin our conviction in Tencent。So first, Tencent is led by a world-class leadership team, and has a proven track record of operating through all types of environments to the benefit of all stakeholders。Second, Tencent continuously evolves and it innovates its ecosystems in a profound way。Third, Tencent is the market leader in the core segment, and it is investing and innovating to keep those positions。And finally, Tencent is also one of the most active and successful investors globally。They have their 1,400 investee companies, invested close to $100 billion in deployed capital。And we don't believe that those assets are appropriately valued by the market, and therefore, it represents significant upside to our investment gains。


总结:


Koos是一位乐于分享的智者,他的语言平实生动,读来十分有趣。在看完Koos Bekker的言论后,你不难发现他是一个专注的投资人,对于付费电视行业有着深刻的理解并由此触类旁通,很早的发现了互联网会并认定是一个巨大的机会。由于他刚好在2001年互联网泡沫破裂后发现了腾讯,时机不早不晚恰到好处,这其中很难排除运气的成分。但这也是他秉持自己一贯的投资理念的结果。


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