Every year (going way back), venture capitalist Mary Meeker publishes a set of stats and data highlighting trends for the year. It’s a big report with a lot of data, stats, comments, quotes - more than 300 pages. She has just released her 2019 report:
Here is the intro/summary of what is in the report:
"We use data to tell stories of business-related trends we focus on. We hope others take the ideas, build on them & make them better.
At 3.8B, the number of Internet users comprises more than half the world’s population. When markets reach mainstream, new growth is harder to find as evinced by declining new smartphone shipments in 2018. While E-Commerce continues to gain share vs. physical retail, growth rates are slowing. While Internet advertising growth is solid & innovation is healthy, there are areas where customer acquisition costs may be rising to unsustainable levels.
While Internet user growth is slowing, global innovation & competition continue to drive product improvements, new types of usage & monetization – especially in areas of digital video, voice, wearables, on-demand + local services & traditionally underserved markets. Outside of USA, we focus on especially high growth & innovation in data-driven / direct fulfillment & financial services. We highlight massive global usage changes related to the evolution of images & interactive gaming as communications tools & the broad emergence of freemium businesses at scale.
The rapid rise of gathered / analyzed digital data is often core to the holistic success of the fastest growing & most successful companies of our time around the world. Context-rich data can help businesses provide consumers with increasingly personalized products & services that can often be obtained at lower prices & delivered more efficiently. This, in turn, can drive higher customer satisfaction. Better data-driven tools can improve the ability for consumers to communicate directly & indirectly with businesses & regulators.
Core constituents (consumers / businesses / regulators) are increasingly drinking from a data firehose & management challenges continue to rise for all parties. Broad awareness of challenges (& related vigorous / heated debates) can be the first step in driving change.
Consumers are aware of concerns about Internet usage overload & are taking steps to reduce usage – leading USA-based Internet platforms have rolled out tools to help monitor usage & social media usage growth appears to be decelerating following a period of strong growth. Privacy & problematic content concerns are also top-of-mind & are following similar patterns.
Owing to social media amplification, reveals / actions / reactions about events can occur quickly – resulting in both good & bad outcomes. In markets where online real-time rating systems exist, accountability can be improved vs. offline options as consumers & businesses interact directly while regulators can also benefit.
Rapidly expanding connectivity has helped amplify voices of good & bad actors. This has brought new focus to an age-old challenge for regulators around the world – finding the most effective ways to amplify good & minimize bad, often resulting in different regional interpretations & strategies.
As Internet systems become increasingly sophisticated, data-rich & mission critical, so has the opportunity for cyber attacks. We are in a new era of cyber security where technology issues are increasingly intermixed with international diplomacy & defense.
We focus on the impact of the Internet on work (via on-demand services & remote options), education & healthcare – the materiality of current trends imply inflections are occurring. We update USA trending around government finances & the importance of immigration to the technology sector.
The Hillhouse Capital team provides insights into China – the largest market of Internet users & a leader in innovation / scale."
A few items from the report:
Social media use globally is flattening and growth has slowed way down.
Europe has 15% of global internet users, North America has 9% and Asia Pacific has 53%
Spotify is the only European company in the Top 30 Internet Market Cap list, and it is #30.
" …privacy [concerns] are a headwind for [Facebook] in 2019. It’s one of the factors that’s contributing to our expected deceleration of revenue growth throughout the year. You’ve got regulatory – which was GDPR in 2018… the regulatory arc will be longer-term in playing out…Platforms like iOS are making bigger pushes in privacy & that has the potential impact… then changes that we’re making ourselves…we’ve elected to rollout GDPR-type controls globally…later this year, we’ll be launching Clear History, which will also affect our ability to do third-party targeting."
- David Wehner – CFO, Facebook, 2/19
Survey of Retail Customers (2018 Accenture survey that included a lot of European responses):
91% Prefer Brands that Provide Personalized Offers / Recommendations
83% Willing to Passively Share Data in Exchange for Personalized Experiences
74% Willing to Actively Share Data in Exchange for Personalized Experiences
I clicked through some slides in the report as well. The numbers are really interesting, actually … as in, Google and Facebook had 40% and 90% ad revenue growth, respectively, from the beginning of 2017 to today. I didn’t really think that the ad market was growing at all anymore …
I was feeling a kind of disgust though, about how these venture capitalist types are pushing for and cheering for everything that drives consumption.
Instead, if we want the world to be naturally beautiful, full of life and livable in 100 years from now, we quickly need to arrive at the point where everyone feels guilt and disgust when consuming something without necessity. As in, feeling to have no moral right to consume.
So how will people have fun when they don’t consume for fun anymore? Oh, they will manage. They might have to learn the art of frugal hedonism or something along these lines. (That’s actually a book and here are some sample chapters.)
Yes you must read these reports understanding the lens she uses.
This question is deeper than it seems. I started writing a reaction, but then I realized I really don’t know much about how to frame the problem, and I deleted it.
In this context, @hexayurt wrote a really interesting piece a few days ago about needless consumption of resources driven by “identity seeking”. It’s a long-ish thread, starting from here:
i read it, but honestly it did not seem groundbreaking to me. When I was in university (1980s) marketing types were already crooning about “oh, we don’t sell products, we sell whole ways of liiiiife!”.
He does make some interesting observations about tools and skills.
What do you think how the current situation will influence the report this year?
How has the focus of conversations and the perception as well as the growing of tracking data. Do you guys think the tone of the report will be the same?
Hard to predict of course but the tech sector is taking a huge beating like everyone else. Maybe not Google and Zoom, although I imagine ad revenue will be way down. That tells me that Google/Alphabet will just get into deeper personal surveillance.
And the situation is not stopping tech companies from trying to rip out whatever regulatory framework impedes their profits…