Highlights from Mary Meeker’s 2019 Report

Every year venture capital all-star Mary Meeker releases a report with loads of data about the world going digital. I’ve decided to showcase my favorite slides and what I took away from them.

Internet advertising is still growing, and it’s growing even faster now than the past few years. Moreover, that growth is entirely coming from mobile internet advertising. Desktop ad spend has plateaued. Nominally, the 2018 internet ad spend in the U.S. was almost $120 Billion. That’s a lot of money brands are paying to get in front of us.

The internet is global. I’ve spent most of my life living in North America. Here, I’ve been paying attention to the world going digital all around me. Everybody in my world is now an internet user, even my 80-something-year-old grandmother who spent most of her life in the Soviet Union. I hadn’t considered how complete the transformation has been until seeing this chart.

Two other things stand out to me in this chart. First, despite the highest internet user penetration rate, our continent still has the smallest number of internet users. WOW. Second, in Asia Pacific, Africa & the Middle East more than 50% of people remain unconnected. What will happen when they join the rest of us?

Digging into the chart above to the country level puts a clear highlight on three countries to watch over the coming years: China, India and Nigeria.

Where there are people, there are ads. I wouldn’t have thought to do this analysis, and I’m glad someone else did! Our ad spend has caught up to our attention. I can almost feel the market forces in action here. Willie Sutton was a bank robber in the 1920s and 1930s. When asked why he robbed banks, Willie replied, “I rob banks because that’s where the money is.”

Encryption is coming! Or is it already here? Right now DNS remains open. So your internet service provider may not know what you’re doing on the internet, but they can know where you’re doing it. Once the content and DNS are encrypted, will our internet use be private? I’m not sure…

Your data has already been stolen. And if not, it’s only a matter of time. If you’re in the U.S. and haven’t already locked your credit reports, consider doing that now… I’ll wait.

Speaking of privacy… the tech giants and ISPs may be willing to lock the front door, but the number of attempts to break in through your back door continues to rise. The bright spot is that we are getting better at detecting intrusions. More details here.

Algorithms are among us. The internet is on track to reach all of humanity. We’re collectively working on privacy. But we’re at the mercy of algorithms because we’re human. Why not an Algorithmic Bill of Rights? Well, it’s a nice idea at least.

We, as a people, sure do love spending time looking at photos and videos! YouTube was acquired by Google for $1.65 Billion and Instagram was acquired by Facebook for $1 Billion. With the benefit of hindsight, they snatched them right out of the bargain bin!

Real photos and videos are old news. The real world is cool, but if you can combine it with imagination it can be even cooler. We the people vote with their time.

Education is changing. We know that. It’s slowly happening. Enrollment in post-secondary education in the U.S. has plateaued. I wonder if the ever-escalating cost has anything to do with it? Those who are continuing are more and more likely to augment their education with online courses. Only 2/3 are offline-only, down from 3/4 a few years ago. I think online course technology has to keep improving to keep this tend up – specifically around engagement. I’ve taken a couple of MOOCs over the years and I found it harder to stay focused compared to offline classes.

Looking for a great brand for your degree? You’re in luck! More and more top institutions are offering degree programs online. It’s nice to see my alma mater University of Illinois as an early adopter here.

Online teacher-student-parent communication is real! This one product has over 20MM monthly active users since back in 2016. This caught me by surprise.

Seeing the U.S. budget as an income statement is eye-opening. Corporate income taxes are tiny in comparison to the rest of the nation’s revenue. They don’t even cover the interest on the national debt (which is comparatively low, given today’s interest rates). Individual income taxes make up the majority of revenues. It’s painful, but try comparing the revenue from “Social Insurance Taxes” to expenses in the “Entitlement / Mandatory” category.

America, yay! We’re not worried about unemployment. We’re doing great. Other countries? Different story. For people in Italy, South Korea, Spain and South Africa unemployment is a top-3 concern for more than half of respondents.

The adoption of Electronic Health Records has been relatively swift and is nearing completion. But the interoperability of those records is lacking, so they’re often stuck in data silos that make it harder to capture their value.

That’s all for this year! If you thought these slides were interesting you might want to check out the complete report.

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