Boiling Down Mary Meeker’s Trends

In order to have one’s signals rise above the noise, one needs to have influence within context. Mary Meeker meets these standards, to put it lightly. She holds tremendous experience in technology research while on Wall Street and now is a technology investor with Kleiner Perkins. In one of her moves moves while on Sand Hill Road, Meeker released a must-read report, USA Inc., which — to unjustly boil it down — examined the U.S.A. as if it were a company, looking at P&L statements and the percent of GDP that is allocated to wages versus debt. Deservedly so, when Meeker’s report hit, everyone stopped what they were doing, read or gleaned through the report, and followed influencers’ comments on her work.

This is the power of synthesizing after a deep dive into research. Meeker knows how to do this like no other, and most recently, she unveiled her latest research yesterday at Battelle’s 2.0 Summit, which she called, “Internet Trends 2011.” Unfortunately, Meeker didn’t have enough time to walk through all the arguments in her thesis, and therefore, had to rush through her slides. Even though I was in the room and paying attention, it didn’t stick, so I went through her deck a few times and thought I’d pluck out the nuggets that matter most for the early-stage people who are out building and investing in the consumer, mobile, and enterprise spaces:

  1. 8 of the Top 25 Internet companies (by market cap) are located in China or Russia. That ascension is pretty quick. It may mean that other geographies in Asia and South America, for instance, could have 1-2 entrants to this list soon.
  2. In terms of international customers, and Apple have a ton of room to grow.
  3. U.S. smartphone penetration exploded between two of the country’s last recessions, which provides significant opportunities despite dismal economic conditions.
  4. The year-on-year growth of mobile in emerging economies is staggering, and gives even more weight to Bill Gurley’s statement that Android is a “freight train.” Therefore, all mobile advertising follows this.
  5. The growth trajectory of the iPad is poised to surpass the iPod and even the iPhone.
  6. Mobile Google search queries worldwide are growing like crazy. This is why people are rushing to solve and reinvent search on iOS through apps, bypassing the browser, and now with Siri, those apps will have to plan for voice-search accordingly.
  7. The next few years will see new products come to market that are “connected devices,” from earphones, bluetooth, speakers, as well telematics and HCI through voice.
  8. As we see with the new e-commerce subscription service that launches every week, e-commerce has lots of room to grow. This is driven now by e-commerce, like people buying goods directly from Amazon and eBay.
  9. My favorite slide is Slide #34, a graphic about how new companies are revitalizing local commerce. Check it out.
  10. For the first time, in 2011, people “entered” the web via social networks, not traditional web portals.
  11. Social CPM rates show amazing growth with more room to grow. This is why Facebook is going to push $100b.
  12. Not only is content creation declining, but so is curation. This is why Quora’s timing is golden.
  13. Emerging economies are going to take different steps. In India, they may entirely bypass checks and credit cards and go to mobile payments. Same in terms of PC vs. mobile. We all kind of know this, but worth repeating.
  14. We will be debating our “online identities” for the next 10 years. Bold statement. I think she’s right.
  15. In terms of the macroeconomic conditions now, market volatility is jittery, the U.S. is poised for negative growth the next two years, and the gap between the country’s expenses vs. revenues is widening, fast. If one looks at the debt level as a percent of a country’s GDP, America is just behind countries like Japan, Greece, Italy, and Ireland. Yikes.

In the lens of early stage companies and those who invest in the space, what does this all mean?

Let me say, first, that I’d love to hear *your* take, too. From my point of view, now having digested Meeker’s slides, entrepreneurs and investors should look (and I assume they already are) at ways to capture existing but more importantly new audiences that emerge online and through mobile outside the United States. While it may be difficult to do this in China, it may point to opportunities in places like East Asia, Brazil, Chile, and North Africa, etc. E-commerce, even in silos, can build loyal communities of customers and provide alternatives to sites like Amazon. Apple mobile growth looks promising, but getting discovered in the App Store is hard, and as Android grows like crazy worldwide, I wonder if more top-shelf developers will start to move over and learn Android because of distribution and the chance to be discovered overseas. Internet users are “reshaping” the web they see through social networks, and that’s why these few sites are getting soaring valuations. They have our attention, and that means lots of money. It is not a bubble in these spaces. And, yet, during all this time, we may not just be realizing we’re still in the same recession that slowly began in 2007 and hit in September 2008, and that America may be almost half-way through the malaise — and during this time, there are many, many opportunities to chase after.