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  Entrepreneurship in America
  Gazelles in the heartland
  American entrepreneurship is flourishing, if you know where to look
  AT FIRST glance, it seems that America’s economy is losing its mojo. Many  economists, most notably Robert Gordon of Northwestern University, have lamented  that productivity growth seems to be anaemic when compared with earlier golden  eras (see Free exchange). A gloomy chorus of business leaders has echoed what  media outlets have by now turned into a mantra, that American entrepreneurship  is in steady decline. Surely America’s overall competitiveness, then, is  plummeting?
  乍看起来,美国经济似乎正在失去光环。以美国西北大学教授罗伯特·戈登(Robert  Gordon)为首的许多经济学家哀叹,与早前的黄金时代相比,如今美国的生产力增长看起来羸弱无力。商界领袖们齐声唱衰,恰应和了如今媒体常挂在嘴边的论调,即美国的创业浪潮日渐衰退。那么,美国的整体竞争力想必是在直线下坠了?
  The answer from one influential think-tank, the World Economic Forum (WEF),  is no. In its latest update to its long-running annual ranking of global  economic competitiveness, published on September 27th, America rose from third  place to second, ranking below only Switzerland.
  颇具影响力的智库“*经济论坛”(World Economic  Forum)给出了否定的答案。在它于9月27日例行揭晓的*年度全球经济竞争力排名中,美国从第三位上升至第二位,仅次于瑞士。
  This is partly because poor economic policies and weak productivity growth  are bedevilling rivals such as China and Europe. Yet glaring American  weaknesses, such as fraying infrastructure and fractured politics, are  outweighed in the WEF analysis by the country’s strengths in areas like business  sophistication and technological readiness. And aside from market size, the  variable on which America still outscores other rich countries the most is its  culture of innovation and entrepreneurship.
  Hand-wringing about a crisis in business formation relies on official data  showing that fewer new firms are being started than in the past. The latest  figures, released on September 20th, show that there were 414,000 firms that  were less than a year old in 2015 (the latest available year), compared with an  average of 511,000 in the decade before the financial crisis. Still, not every  new firm is equal—some entrepreneurs want to create the next Tesla, not open  another bodega. Of the roughly 4.4m firms created in the last ten years, about  30,000 can be described as gazelles, or young, high-growth companies, according  to the Kauffman Foundation, another think-tank that is known for its work on  entrepreneurship. These firms have a disproportionate impact on job creation and  innovation. They pack a powerful punch.
  人们非常担忧美国的创业文化遭遇危机,是因为官方数据显示新成立公司的数量较以往有所减少。9月20日揭晓的*数字显示,在2015年(有数据可查的较近一年),成立不到一年的公司有41.4万家,而在2008年金融危机前的十年间平均每年有51.1万家。然而,并非所有新公司都可等量齐观——有些企业家想打造的是下一个“特斯拉”,而不是又一间杂货铺。另一家以创业研究闻名的智库考夫曼基金会(Kauffman  Foundation)表示,过去十年成立的约440万家公司中,大概有三万家可称为“瞪羚”企业,即高成长的年轻公司。这些公司在创造就业和创新上的影响力远超其他新公司,冲击力十足。
  A forthcoming report from the Kauffman Foundation finds that high-growth  entrepreneurship has rebounded in America from the trough induced by the global  financial crisis and is now rocketing (see chart). These experts scrutinise  three things: how quickly startups grew in their first five years; the share of  firms scaling up past 50 employees by their tenth year; and the prevalence of  “fast growth” firms with at least 20% annualised growth over three years (and  $2m or more in revenues).
  The analysis also reveals that such gazelles are found in unexpected  places. Consider ProviderTrust, a health-tech startup. The firm has developed a  novel software-as-a-service offering that helps health-care firms track people’s  professional credentials and licences efficiently. Because states do not  typically share timely information about disciplinary actions taken against  health-care workers, footloose rogues can create a costly regulatory headache  for unwitting new employers in another state. The company has been growing at a  rate of over 60% a year since its founding in 2010; revenues should reach $10m  this year.
  Or look at Root Insurance, America’s first mobile-only insurance firm,  which is increasing downloads of its app by nearly 50% month over month. It uses  actual driving data to set insurance rates for all of its customers, and offers  discounts to drivers for using the self-driving mode of their Tesla car. Alex  Timm, its chief executive, explains that data collected via its customers’  mobiles proves that people are much safer when the car does the driving. His  firm even punishes drivers for texting and driving, which it discovers by  analysing the micro-vibrations of smartphones.
  另一个例子是美国*完全基于手机的保险公司Root  Insurance,其应用下载量的月增幅接近50%。该公司利用实际驾驶数据为所有客户设定车险费率,并向使用特斯拉汽车自动驾驶模式的驾驶者给保费折扣。公司的首席执行官亚历克斯·蒂姆(Alex  Timm)解释说,从客户手机收集的数据*,汽车采用自动驾驶模式时,安全性更高。该公司甚至能通过分析智能手机的微小震动发现驾驶者在驾车时发短信,从而对其做出惩罚。
  These gazelles are found not in Silicon Valley or Boston but, respectively,  in Nashville and Columbus. Other overlooked cities in the American heartland are  also hotspots of high-growth entrepreneurship (see map). Mark Kvamme of Drive  Capital, a venture-capital (VC) fund based in Ohio, points to Indianapolis as a  rising technology hub: ExactTarget, a local software-marketing startup, was  acquired in 2013 by Salesforce, a Californian software giant, for $2.5bn.  “Luring talent away from Silicon Valley and Seattle is getting much easier,”  says Mr Kvamme, a native Californian who left Sequoia Capital, a top Silicon  Valley VC fund, to found Drive.
  上述两家“瞪羚”企业并不在硅谷或波士顿,而是分别位于纳什维尔(Nashville)和哥伦布(Columbus)。美国中西部其他被忽视的城市也是高增长创业公司的聚集地(见地图)。总部位于俄亥俄州的风投基金Drive  Capital的马克·克瓦姆(Mark  Kvamme)指出,印第安纳波利斯是新崛起的技术中心:当地一家数字营销创业公司ExactTarget在2013年被加州软件巨头Salesforce以25亿美元收购。“从硅谷和西雅图挖人才变得容易多了。”  克瓦姆说。他是加州当地人,在离开硅谷实力较好风投基金红杉资本(Sequoia Capital)后创立了Drive Capital。
  Steve Case of Revolution, an entrepreneur turned venture capitalist (in  1985 he co-founded what later became America Online), calls this the “rise of  the rest”. Having observed this trend on periodic bus tours across America,  during which he encourages (and sometimes invests in) many local entrepreneurs,  he thinks three factors are fuelling it. Barriers to entry have fallen,  especially for technology companies. Access to risk capital for startups,  including through crowdfunding, is no longer limited to the two coasts. Local  governments are increasingly supporting training schemes, accelerators and other  bits of soft infrastructure that greatly boost startups’ chances of success.
  风投公司Revolution的史蒂夫·凯斯(Steve Case,成为风险投资家之前是一位企业家,在1985年联合创办了  “美国在线”的前身企业)称上述现象为“其他人的崛起”。他定期乘坐巴士穿行美国各地,为众多当地创业者打气,有时也直接投资。在行程中他观察到了这一趋势。他认为三个因素起了助推作用:进入门槛已降低,尤其是对科技公司而言;创业公司要获得风险资本,包括通过众筹,已不限于要在东西海岸;地方政府加强了对培训计划、加速器及其他软基础设施建设的支持,大大进步了创业公司的成功率。
  Challenged on whether high-growth entrepreneurship can really be spread  like jam across America, Mr Case acknowledges there is value to clustering. He  insists, however, that nearly three-quarters of all VC money need not go to just  California, Massachusetts and New York. “Spreading this to 30 cities”, he  reckons, “would transform America.”












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