The Indomitable Mary Meeker - WIRED

The Indomitable Mary Meeker - WIRED

There is no president of the Internet. But there is a queen. That only-somewhat-exaggerated sobriquet belongs to Mary Meeker, the 53-year-old financial analyst turned venture capitalist. Back in 1995, Meeker—then an analyst at Morgan Stanley—foresaw how a wave of unprecedented innovation was going to change lives and create enormous wealth. She summarized her views in a landmark report that instantly secured her reputation as the Nostradamus of technology.

As a financial analyst, Meeker helped Morgan Stanley snare major IPOs—Netscape, Priceline, and Google—and recommended bonanzas like Amazon, AOL, Intuit, and Dell. After the first Internet boom went bust, some of her fellow analysts drew penalties and fines for cynically touting stocks they privately disdained. But Meeker remained unscathed, in part because she always believed in what she was selling. Even after the crash, she kept that faith, insisting on the value of some tech stocks when stung investors had lost heart. Those who followed her advice—to stick with Amazon, for instance—profited handsomely.

Now everybody listens. Since the mid-2000s, her annual info-packed presentation on the state of the Internet has become a tech industry event in its own right. Meeker has nailed the most important dynamics of the tech and investment climate, from the spread of mobile computing to the rise of China. She gave her most recent address—99 slides in about 19 minutes—at last May’s All Things Digital conference. In it, she focused on the idea that nearly every conceivable human activity was in the process of being transformed—connectivity (mobile phones), cash registers (Square), manufacturing (3-D printers), window shopping (decor site One Kings Lane), and even education (Codecademy). Her Majesty dubbed this trend “the reimagination of everything.”

Meeker reimagined her own life in 2011, when after two decades on Wall Street she became a venture capitalist, moving to the leafy Sand Hill Road headquarters of estimable VC firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers to head its billion-dollar Digital Growth Fund. She has made bets on high-profile startups like Square, Spotify, and Twitter as well as under-the-radar plays like Lending Club, DocuSign, and Waze. She met with wired at KPCB’s headquarters, pulling up a decade’s worth of her trademark reports on her omnipresent iPad to back up her points…