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Uber在華“難行”

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2019年11月13日

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Uber在華“難行”

為了招募司機和吸引乘客,一年來Uber已經在中國支出了逾10億美元。它宣稱取得了初步的成功,在11個城市快速發展,每天有逾100萬單業務,但Uber也承認,其中一些是欺騙性的。

測試中可能遇到的詞匯和知識:

stake 打賭

imperative 勢在必行的

formula 準則

logistics 物流

intriguing 有趣的

contemplating 沉思

Making it big in China requires a large measure of localization(780 words)

By Richard Waters

Can a US consumer internet company ever make it big in China?That question,which has long dogged Silicon Valley,is starting to take on the urgency of a strategic imperative.

It isn't just that China is a juicy target in its own right. There is a risk to ceding ground to emerging Chinese rivals in their booming home market at a time when those companies are taking their first,tentative steps towards going global. US companies,themselves accustomed to using dominance of a massive domestic market as a launch pad to take on the world,should understand what's at stake.

Uber and Airbnb,the yin and yang of the sharing economy,are the latest to try their luck. The ride-hailing app that likes to batter down doors is in a pitched battle with a Chinese local competitor backed by two of those aspiring global players,Tencent and Alibaba. Airbnb,which prefers a less confrontational approach,this week lined up some influential allies as it seeks its own way in.

“Localisation” figures prominently in both companies' game plans. Having the right management and local backers and supporters certainly helps. Knowing when to adapt a successful global formula will also be key. The failure in China of eBay,which was outflanked by Alibaba's free listings for buyers and its introduction of a payment service to reduce fraud risks,is still a case study in how an adaptable local rival can come out on top.

Uber and Airbnb at least have one advantage over companies like Google and Yahoo,which failed before them: they aren't directly involved in the online media and communications businesses,making them less obviously targets of an authoritarian state.

But any successful internet business is to some extent a challenge to the status quo. China's latest gesture towards online control — to station police officers physically inside internet companies — is an indication of the outsized influence that the successful internet companies can have,whatever corner of the market they are in.

One reason is the amount and range of the data they hold. Amassing a giant database about the movements of a nation's citizens is a key asset. And that is likely to be only a starting point,as the winning platforms reach into more areas of online(and,increasingly,offline)life.

Holding the data locally might give authorities greater confidence that they can tap into it when they need: Uber has data centres for its operations inside China. But there is still a question about whether a foreign company could ever be trusted to be as compliant as a local competitor.

Another factor that weighs on foreign players is the way that competition tends to evolve in internet markets. Many turn into winner-takes-all affairs,with the companies that come out on top ending up as centres of power in their own right.

The immodest ambitions of a company like Uber highlight what is at stake. It aspires to become an essential part of the infrastructure of any big city,not only supplying personal transport but also handling logistics. Local governments in China may resist foreign control of something so essential,even if Uber promises to help solve some of the problems caused by swelling personal car ownership for China's polluted and traffic-clogged cities.

A key question now will be how far the latest US aspirants are prepared to go to become truly “local” to overcome reservations like these. Uber's funding arrangements for China are the most intriguing. It already has Chinese investors and is now trying to close a funding round for a separate Chinese unit,bringing outside investors directly into the business.

An Uber spokesperson says the company is also contemplating a local initial public offering,some time in the future,for its Chinese arm,though there are no plans for a one at the moment.

Given its huge need for capital and the particularly cut-throat nature of the Chinese taxi app wars,local investors will be useful. A structure like this would also give Uber more flexibility to adapt later — for instance by bringing in local partners or even,if forced,to reduce its stake in the Chinese venture.

But for any US internet company,staying in the driving seat will be a priority. Yahoo's decision to fold its struggling Chinese business into Alibaba a decade ago turned into one of the most successful internet investments ever made. But now,as it gets ready to spin out what's left of that minority stake,Yahoo's diminished role is all too obvious. That is a fate its successors will be working hard to avoid.

1.Who is backing Uber's Chinese local competitor?

A.Tencent and Alibaba

B.Tencent and Baidu

C.Sina and 360

D.Baidu and Alibaba

[1] 答案

2.Which company did not fail before Uber and Airbnb?

A.Google

B.Yahoo

C.Amazon

D.Apple

[2] 答案

3.What is the most key asset for internet business to be successful in China?

A.core technology

B.government support

C.a giant database

D.public praise

[3] 答案

4.What is the priority for US internet company?

A.attracting more investors

B.staying in the driving seat

C.the relationship with government

D.boosting television advertisement

[4] 答案

[1]答案:A.Tencent and Alibaba

解釋:Uber在中國競爭對手的金主包括中國互聯網公司騰訊(Tencent)和阿里巴巴(Alibaba)

[2]答案:D.Apple

解釋:谷歌(Google)、雅虎(Yahoo)和亞馬遜(Amazon)都曾押注中國,但全都敗北。

[3]答案:C.a giant database

解釋:收集大量的本地數據庫是最重要的資產,然而這只是起點。

[4]答案:B.staying in the driving seat

解釋:文章最后一段

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