距离上一次对话阎焱,已经过去了两年。

It’s been two years since we last spoke with Andrew Yan.

尽管只有短短两年的时间,中国商业世界发生的变化依然令人瞠目。共享单车走下神坛,区块链快速冷却,华为被美国围追堵截……有黑天鹅也有灰犀牛,赛道依然人头攒动,新贵快速崛起,老牌贵族快速陨落,洗牌不止,生命不息,一切充满了不确定性。

Within the short past two years, the changes in the Chinese business world have been eye-opening. Shared bicycles are no longer worshipped; the blockchain sector has cooled down rapidly; Huawei has been blocked by the United States……There are black swans as well as gray rhinos; sectors are still swamped; new comers rise up swiftly; old leaders fall down quickly; industry reshuffle continues; business is still ongoing; everything is full of uncertainties.

不确定性带来的焦灼、不安与挑战,来自企业家、创业者,也来自投资者,因为,创业没有不死法则,投资也没有。商业充满了无数戏剧性,旁观者如同雾里看花,即使看得懂开头,也难料结尾。连位列中国VC第一梯队的投资家阎焱,已经拥有了巨大的成功和声望,也坦承,投资二十五年依然没有找到投资成功的充分条件,而股神巴菲特已经找了60年,仍未果。

The anxiety, unsettlement and challenges brought about by uncertainties bother entrepreneurs, self-starters and investors, in that there is no law to survive eternally for entrepreneurship or investing. Business is full of countless dramas. Onlookers cannot see through its essence. Even if they understand at the beginning, it’s hard to forecast the ending. For Andrew Yan, who is considered immensely successful and prestigious as a first-tier venture capitalist in China, he still hasn’t found the sufficient conditions for successful investments after 25 years. Neither has Warren Buffett, who has been exploring for 60 years.

“这个世界上最难的事是什么?应该就是赚钱,而且要持续地赚钱。”创业不止、投资不止,所有的参与者都试图寻找活得最长、财富聚集最快的生存方式。

“What is the hardest thing in the world? It should be making money in a sustainable way.” Entrepreneurship and investing never end. All players attempt to find the most sustainable way to survive and create wealth as quickly as possible.

最早涉水中国VC的阎焱,有着耀眼的投资经历,投资盛大,造就了中国最年轻首富陈天桥,金融危机时逆势注资58同城,力挽狂澜……其领导的赛富亚洲目前管理着总规模近500亿的人民币基金及40亿美元基金。长达二十五年的投资生涯,超过400家投资公司,经历过摸着石头过河的野蛮生长时代,也游弋于鱼大水大的激荡年代,阎焱对投资的洞察,是这个时代和后来者丰富的供养。

Andrew Yan was one of the earliest venture capitalists in China with extraordinary investment experience. He invested in Shanda and made Tianqiao Chen the youngest richest man in China; during the financial crisis, Andrew Yan invested in 58.com against the adverse situation and saved the day……SAIF Partners under Andrew Yan’s leadership currently manages RMB funds of nearly 50 billion yuan and USD funds of 4 billion dollars. During his 25 years of investment career, he has invested in over 400 companies. Andrew Yan went through both a wild growth era by exploring alone and a blooming time with fierce competitions. His insights on investment serve as abundant resources for this era and future participants.

混沌时代的孤独还是百花齐放的喧嚣?
The loneliness in a chaotic era or the hustle in a flourishing time?

“国内大部分管我们叫皮包公司,你说你做风险投资,大家也搞不清楚。你说你有钱,别人也见不着,那时候我们就背个双肩包。”

“We were considered as shell companies by most people. Even if we claimed that we were venture capitalists, they wouldn’t understand. We said we were wealthy, but people couldn’t tell either. Back then, we just walked around with backpacks.”

这是阎焱对90年代初在国内做风投的回忆。

This is Andrew Yan’s recollection of the domestic venture capital industry in the early 1990s.

1994年,阎焱加入AIG亚洲基础设施投资基金,担任该基金北亚和大中国区董事总经理,成为一名风险投资人。那时的中国创投尚处于草莽时代,IDG VC在中国还只是公司内部刚成立一年的投资部,投资市场几近空白,鲜有对手,但阎焱切实感受到了孤独,中国人对VC的理解还是“皮包公司”,甚至是不靠谱的“骗子公司”。当时判断土豪的方式也简单粗暴,“第一件事儿,往这个桌子前面放一个大哥大,这就表示他很有地位,很有钱。”

In 1994, Andrew Yan joined AIG Asian Infrastructure Fund as Managing Director of the North Asia and Greater China region and became a venture capitalist. At that time, China’s venture capital sector was still in its infancy. IDG VC was only an internally founded one-year-old investment department in China. The investment market was almost vacant with few competitions. Andrew Yan felt lonely for real. Back then, Chinese people considered VCs as “shell companies”, or even unreliable “fraudulent firms”. In that era, it was simple to tell if a person was rich or not. “First and foremost, if this person places a GSM mobile phone on the desk, that means he has a high social status and is wealthy.”

1998 年,被誉为“中国风险投资之父”的成思危先生提交了《关于借鉴国外经验,尽快发展中国风险投资事业的提案》,这就是后来被认为引发了一场高科技产业新高潮的一号提案,风险投资由此在中国真正进入了一个高速发展时期。

In 1998, Mr. Siwei Cheng, known as the “Father of Venture Capital in China”, submitted the “Proposal on learning from foreign experience and developing China’s venture capital Industry as soon as possible”, which was later regard as the first proposal to trigger a new peak in the high-tech industry. Venture capital officially ushered in a fast development period in China afterwards.

2005年,盛大等项目已经让阎焱领导的软银亚洲成为全球最赚钱的VC之一,年平均回报率高达90%。也是在那一年,阎焱从软银亚洲独立成立了软银赛富亚洲基金,开启属于自己的投资时代,掀起中国VC独立风潮。

In 2005, Shanda and other projects made Softbank Asian Infrastructure Fund(SASIF) under the Andrew Yan’s leadership the most profitable VC in the world, with an annual return of 90%. In the same year, Andrew Yan independently founded SAIF Partners outside of SASIF and kickstarted his own investment career, setting off a trend of independence in China’s VC industry.

混沌时代的独自探索是单枪匹马的孤独,而今天的百花齐放则是一拥而上的喧嚣。根据行业咨询机构Crunchbase的数据显示,去年前十个月中国风险投资的总额达到了创纪录的938亿美元,领跑全球。

The explorations alone in the chaotic era came with the loneliness of working single-handedly. Nowadays, the bloom of the industry creates the hustle of rushing up in crowds. Based on data from an industry consulting platform Crunchbase, the total amount of venture capital investment reached a record high of USD 93.8 billion in the first ten months of last year, taking the lead globally.

艾诚:您更喜欢混沌时代的独自探索?还是喜欢现在这个时代的百花争鸣,但群雄逐鹿?

Gloria Ai: Do you prefer the explorations alone in the chaotic era, or the flourishing competitions in this era?

阎焱:其实不一定是谈得上喜欢哪一个,因为各个时代有各个时代的不一样。在那个时代里竞争少一些,但是你有一种孤独感。现在是做风投已经成了一个风尚,到今天为止,大概在中国基金业协会注册的已经有13000多万家PE、VC,管了8万多亿的人民币,跟当年不可同日而语。

Andrew Yan: I don’t really have a preference, since each era has its own features. Back then, there were fewer competitions, so you would feel a sense of loneliness. Nowadays, VC has become a trend. To date, there are more than 130 million PEs and VCs registered in the Asset Management Association of China(AMAC), with over RMB 8 trillion under management, scaling up to the next level.

成千上万条赛道,资本的泡沫膨胀又破裂。中国文化偏重速食文化,速食文化催生出赚快钱。如何在浮躁易变的速食文化中保持投资定力,阎焱抽茧剥丝,简单化为两件事,“一个是看事,你到底做什么事。一个看人,就是谁来做。成功的创业者确实有一些共性的东西,譬如勤奋,专业,还有性格。”

There are ten and thousands of sectors, and the capital bubble has burst. The Chinese culture favors fast-food culture, which spawns the desire to make quick money. Regarding how to maintain the investment focus in the impetuous fast-food culture, Andrew Yan analyzed and simplified the answer from two aspects. “Firstly, it depends on the business, i.e. what the business is about; secondly, it’s about people, namely, who runs the business. Successful entrepreneurs do share something in common, such as diligence, professionalism, and personality.”

投资要看事,什么事值钱?商业模式的创新落地快,也容易造势形成共鸣并得到资本的青睐,而技术的创新则需要经年累月的打磨,往往不为人知。一直在原创技术投资领域深耕的阎焱深谙其道,“真正创新的技术是要耐得住寂寞的,在中国市场上大量的科技公司,很少能做到从0到1的技术创新,大部分做的是从1到N的应用层面的创新。”

Investment depends on business. What business is worth investing? The innovation of business patterns can be put in practice in a quick manner, hence making it easier to lead a trend with followers and obtain capital investments. However, developing a technology takes years of efforts and tends to be less known by the general public. Deeply experienced in the field of original technology investment, Andrew Yan is fully aware of its essence, “Truly innovative technology takes patience. Among the numerous technology firms in China, few can innovate from scratch. Most of them innovate by extending applications based on the technology.”

十年磨一剑:投资隐形冠军?
It takes ten years to sharpen a sword: investing in hidden champions?

耐得住寂寞,更要开得出花朵。

Need to pull through loneliness to see the results.

阎焱刚刚经历了这样的一个过程。在首批登陆科创板的企业中,一家名为光峰科技的公司赫然在列。这是一家致力于激光显示技术和产品创新研究的企业,2019年,因为央视春晚深圳分会场和故宫“上元之夜”的激光秀而一跃成为“科技网红”,被称掌握了“黑科技”。

Andrew Yan just had such an experience. Among the first companies to go public on the STAR Market, a company named Appotronics is one of them. This is a company dedicated to laser display technology and product innovation research. In 2019, the company became a “big name in the tech industry” overnight for presenting the laser projection shows at the Shenzhen sub-venue of the 2019 Spring Festival Gala and the “Lantern Festival Night” at the Palace Museum. Rumor has it that the company masters a “futuristic technology”.

春晚和故宫“上元之夜”激光秀之前,光峰科技还是德国管理学家赫尔曼·西蒙所定义的“隐形冠军”,即在本行业处于数一数二的领先位置,在其专业领域具有一定名气甚至已经声名显赫,但不为大多数普通公众知晓。

Before the laser projection shows for the Spring Festival Gala and the “Lantern Festival Night” in the Forbidden City, Appotronics was also a “hidden champion”, defined by German management expert Hermann Simon, which refers to top industry leaders well known or even widely acknowledged within the industry, yet less known by the general public.

在成为“隐形冠军”之前,是光峰科技十年磨一剑的韬光养晦。

Before becoming a “hidden champion”, Appotronics spent a decade sharpening its technology and kept a low profile.

“光峰科技是一家有真正原创技术的公司,它主要应用激光荧光技术提供显示领域新的解决方案,其中关键部件为:激光光学引擎和激光光源。全球很少有几家能够做这样的激光光源。但是它需要一个很漫长的时间去研发、去完善、去应用,我们从投资这一家公司到现在,差不多是十年的时间。”

“Appotronics is a company with truly original technology. It mainly provides new solutions for the display field with laser fluorescence display technology. The key components are: optical engines for laser display and laser sources. Few companies around the world are capable of providing such laser sources. It takes a long time to develop, improve, and apply the technology. It’s been almost ten years since we invested in this company.”

艾问(iask-media.com)注意到,光峰科技2016年、2017年、2018年营业收入分别为3.55亿元、8.06亿元、13.86亿元,近三年复合增长率高达 97.58%,归母净利润分别为0.13亿元、1.05亿元、1.77亿元,三年时间增幅巨大。

iAsk (iask-media.com) noticed that Appotronics’ operating income reached RMB 355 million, RMB 806 million and RMB 1.386 billion in 2016, 2017 and 2018 respectively, with the compound growth rate as high as 97.58% in the past three years. The net profit attributable to the parent company amounted to RMB 13 million, RMB 105 million, and RMB 177 million, with a substantial growth rate in the past three years.

世界上永远不缺乏聪明的创业者,即使天时地利人和,其产品非市场所需,亦无法抵达胜利彼岸。阎焱反复强调,对于做硬科技投资的公司,有一点至关重要,不能做自己想象的技术,而是要做有市场的技术,以市场驱动技术。

There is never a shortage of smart entrepreneurs in the world. Even if an entrepreneur takes advantage of the right timing, right platform and right people, they cannot succeed if there is no market demand for the product. Andrew Yan repeatedly emphasizes that for companies that invest in hardcore technologies, it is crucial to develop market-driven technologies rather than imaginary ones.

截至目前,应用光峰科技自主研发的ALPD®激光显示技术的放映方案创下国内市场超过15000套安装量的业绩,彻底打破了国外企业在核心放映技术上的垄断。此外,光峰科技的技术还被广泛应用于激光电视和激光工程投影等多个领域。

To date, more than 15,000 sets of laser display devices based on the ALPD® laser display technology independently developed by Appotronics have been installed domestically, breaking through the monopoly of foreign enterprises in core display technology. Moreover, Appotronics’ technology is also widely applied in various fields, such as laser TV, engineering laser projection and so on.

作为一家成立13年的公司,光峰科技熬过了漫长的发展期,而自2009年就投资光峰科技的阎焱,也陪光峰科技熬了10年。在阎焱看来,政策的利好和光峰科技的表现已经超出了他的预期,“原来的预期是更远一些,没想到5G来得这么快;另外,中国的科创板能够推出来,能够赶上第一批上市,这也是超出我们预期的。”

As a company established 13 years ago, Appotronics has endured a long period of development. Since Andrew Yan invested in Appotronics in 2009, he has also gone through 10 years with the company. From Andrew Yan’s point of view, the preferential policies and Appotronics’ performances have exceeded his expectations. “I expected to wait longer, but 5G was developed earlier than expected. In addition, the establishment of the STAR Market and going public among the first batch were also beyond our expectations.”

艾诚:如果光峰科技是一个相对成功的案例的话,那么这样的投资经验是不是可以复制?

Gloria Ai: If Appotronics is a relatively successful case, can such investment experience be replicated?

阎焱:我觉得光峰科技是一个蛮典型的、做硬科技的,而且是在中国做的比较成功的企业范例。我觉得从一个风险投资人的角度来看,尤其在中国,从过去投资主要是以商业模式创新为主,逐步向有真实的硬技术转移的过程中,光峰科技是一个蛮好的典型。

Andrew Yan: I think Appotronics is a typical example of companies with hardcore technology that are successful in China. From the perspective of a venture capitalist, especially in China, investors used to focus on investing in business pattern innovations. Now the investment focus is shifting towards truly hardcore technologies. Appotronics is a good example.

再伟大的等待也要从选对人开始?
Only the right person is worth a long wait?

2019年7月22日,光峰科技正式登陆科创板,一向低调的创始人李屹现身上交所。他就是阎焱心中典型的优秀创业者。

On July 22, 2019, Appotronics officially became listed on the STAR Market. Founder Yi Li, who has always kept a low profile, showed up at the Shanghai Stock Exchange. Yi Li is considered a typical outstanding entrepreneur in Andrew Yan’s mind.

2006年,李屹博士创办了光峰科技。三年后,阎焱在香港见到了李屹,“第一次见面的印象就挺好,他的商业悟性挺好,人品也好,这么多年下来我们相处得也比较好。”

In 2006, Dr. Yi Li founded Appotronics. Three years later, Andrew Yan met with Yi Li in Hong Kong. “He left a good impression on me. He has sharp business acumen and nice personality. We have been getting along well for so many years.”

阎焱说,如果李屹未来选择再次创业,一定还会投他。

Andrew Yan said that if Yi Li chose to start another business in the future, he would definitely invest in Dr. Li’s business again.

有意思的是,这位创始人给公司定好发展战略之后,就专心去搞研发了。阎焱分析,“李屹博士搞技术出身,又是公司的技术带头人,管理公司的日常事务就交给有管理经验的人来做,薄总来了以后,把生产和销售也都抓起来了,总体来讲是技术团队搭配合适的管理团队。”

Interestingly, after the founder set a development strategy for the company, he shifted his focus to R&D. Based on Andrew Yan’s analysis, “Dr. Yi Li has a technology background. He leads the development of technology for the company, while entrusting experience management team with daily operations. After Lianming Bo served as CEO of the company, he enhanced production and sales. Overall, the technology team is in well collaboration with the management team.”

薄连明曾任陕西财经学院贸易经济系副主任、深圳航空有限责任公司总会计师、深圳市华星光电有限公司CEO及董事长、TCL集团股份有限公司总裁。2018年3月,他作为合伙人兼CEO加入光峰科技。

Lianming Bo served as Deputy Director of the Department of Trade and Economics of Shaanxi College of Finance and Economics, Chief Accountant of Shenzhen Airlines, CEO and Chairman of Shenzhen China Star Optoelectronics Technology Co., Ltd (CSOT), CEO of TCL Multimedia Technology Holdings Limited. In March 2018, he joined Appotronics as Partner and CEO.

投对事,选对人,还要等得起。阎焱直言,对于技术型企业,很多时候GP有耐心,但基金的投资人未必有耐心,“一方面GP看到好的科技公司,未来有可能成为一个伟大的公司,想投资,但是大多数LP等不住,他说今天我家里面临了困难,你赶紧把钱退给我,那你退不出来怎么办?”

Even if you invest in the right business and choose the right person, you still need to be patient. Andrew Yan frankly stated that for technology companies, more often than not, General Partners have patience, but fund investors do not. “On the one hand, General Partners spot promising technology firms that might make a difference in the future, so they intend to invest. On the other hand, most Limited Partners cannot wait. They might request for withdrawal of funding when their family runs into trouble. What if they cannot withdraw their money?”

幸运的是,阎焱等到了,光峰科技也做到了。

Fortunately, Andrew Yan waited till it happened, and Appotronics made it.

投资界存在一种法则,叫幂次法则,投资回报和所投资公司的排名存在着幂次方的反比关系。如果投对了像Facebook、阿里巴巴这样优质的公司,所获得的投资回报率将是所有其他投资的公司的回报的总和。而赌对赛道、选对公司,犹如大海捞针。VC,也是提灯夜行之人,无数创业者勾勒的世界如同头顶璀璨星空,但有些企业如同流星绚烂转瞬即逝,有些隐忍黯淡却能厚积薄发,投资人需慧眼如炬,有大浪淘沙的本领,以资本沃土厚植,实现共赢。

There is an unspoken law in the investment sector, called the Power Law, where the return on investment is inversely proportional to the ranking of the invested company raised to a certain power. If you invested in quality firms such as Facebook or Alibaba, the return on investment would be the sum of the returns from all other invested companies. Yet, betting on investing in a right sector and a right company is similar to looking for a needle in a haystack. Venture capitalists are like walkers holding a lamp at night; the visions described by countless entrepreneurs resemble the starry sky; some firms vanish swiftly like dazzling meteors, yet some stand out with accumulated hard work despite being imperceptible before. Investors need sharp business acumen to mine gold out of sand and support the invested companies with abundant capital so as to achieve a win-win situation.

即便如此,阎焱坚持认为投资是最好的职业,做了25年依然乐此不彼,“每一天都可以学到新的东西,每一天我都可以碰到有趣的人,而且是聪明人。” 此外,“别人把那么多钱交给你,说明很信任你。而且,一开始做基金没钱,用别人的钱,然后别人的钱赚了以后你分一点,这个是挺公平的事。”

Even so, Andrew Yan insists that investing is the best profession. He still enjoys it after 25 years of industry experience. “Every day I can learn something new. Every day, I can meet with interesting and smart people.” In addition, “people provide you with so much money, which means they trust you. Moreover, when you first start operating a fund, you can only deploy other people’s money without earning a penny yourself. Later on, you can obtain a share after helping others make a fortune. This is a fair business.”

艾诚:对于登陆科创板的公司而言,您有什么建议?

Gloria Ai: What advice would you offer for companies listed on the STAR Market?

阎焱:科创板肯定会出现两种企业,一种就是有硬科技,同时有盈利,比如说像光峰科技这样的,技术好,市场盈利也好。据我所知,光峰科技应该是科创板上市的公司中有硬科技的,盈利排在前列的。但是也有另外一些企业,它确实有好的技术,但是短期内未必能有盈利。所以对于投资人来讲,就面临一个选择,就是比如说这个企业它有硬科技,但是十年内都不盈利,你投还是不投?

Andrew Yan: There will definitely be two kinds of enterprises on the STAR Market. The first type has hardcore technologies and makes profits, an example being Appotronics, which is equipped with both promising technology and market profitability. As far as I know, Appotronics should be among the top on the STAR Market among the companies with hardcore technologies and leading profitability. However, there are also other companies with sound technologies that are unable to make a profit within the short term. Therefore, investors are faced with a dilemma. For example, if a company has hardcore technology but cannot earn a profit within ten years, should investors fund the company?

艾诚:您投还是不投?

Gloria Ai: Would you invest or not?

阎焱:如果从我们投资人的角度来讲,我可能作为一个GP,我有这个耐心。但是我后面的投资人不行,我基金只有七年的时间,如果这个企业十年都不盈利的话,我可能股票跌得稀里哗啦,那我怎么投?我有这个耐心,但我后面投资人没耐心。

Andrew Yan: From the perspective of an investor, as a General Partner, I have patience. Yet, the investors behind my back might not be as patient. My fund only allows seven years to generate returns. If a company cannot make a profit within ten years, my stock value might plummet. How can I make such investments? Even if I have patience for it, my investors do not.

艾诚:所以您还是希望在中国的科创板上有着更多像光峰科技一样,技术好、盈利也棒的公司?

Gloria Ai: So you still hope that there would be more companies with strong technology and outstanding profitability on the STAR Market, just like Appotronics?

阎焱:这是最理想的。

Andrew Yan: This would be the most ideal.