Internet boom times are over, says Mary Meeker


San Francisco: Growth of internet users worldwide is essentially flat, and smartphone growth is slowing, too. Those sobering insights were among the hundreds packed into the much-awaited Internet Trends report, an annual tech industry ritual led by Mary Meeker, a general partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers.

Wearing an Apple Watch while standing at a podium onstage at Recode’s technology conference in Rancho Palos Verdes, California, on Wednesday, Meeker blazed through highlights from her 213-slide presentation in roughly 20 minutes. She said the number of global internet users hovers around 3 billion, with new ones slow to come online. She attributed the slowdown to stagnating gross domestic product. Global GDP growth in six of the last eight years was below the 20-year average.

Developing countries have proven harder to capture than expected because internet access remains inaccessible or unaffordable for many, the report said.

Meeker co-authored the first Internet Report in 1995 as an analyst at Morgan Stanley. She regularly presented the findings at tech conferences, where Silicon Valley executives would pack the room in search of insights about what’s happening in their industry. She helped identify early opportunities in China and India. Meeker left Morgan Stanley in 2010 to join Kleiner Perkins as a general partner while continuing to write analyst reports.

Despite the doom and gloom in this year’s report, some business should be optimistic. Meeker highlighted opportunities for online shopping companies, live sports viewing, messaging, advertising, and artificial intelligence.