Tech Trends

Christmas in May: Internet Trends

Every May, Mary Meeker of Kleiner Perkins releases a ~200 slide deck entitled “Internet Trends”. And every May, I anxiously await its release much like a kid looking forward to opening presents on Christmas morning.

The deck is overflowing with really great data that captures the current state of technology from a bird’s-eye view. Below are some of my key takeaways in this year’s deck:

  • There are over 5.2B mobile phone users, and approximately 40% of all mobile devices are now smartphones. Mobile subscriptions increased 23% in 2014. That pace, however, should slow down as new user adoption shifts from predominantly developed markets to less developed pockets.
  • There is a still a big disconnect between time spent on mobile for media consumption (~25% of total time) and mobile ad spend (8% of total spend). In general, ad spend per medium is very much in line with consumption time. Reaching parity in mobile ad spend presents a ~$25B opportunity in the US alone.
  • Meeker highlights that enterprises’ application of computing is moving away from process optimization and toward process redesign – a fundamental shift that is allowing small technology insurgents to aggressively compete against incumbents. Banking and transportation come to mind. Many more industries will likely follow.
  • In terms of consumer spending, the top spending categories for the average US household are housing (33%), transportation (18%), food (14%), personal insurance (11%), and healthcare (7%). We’re witnessing an explosion of startups and investment activity around 4 of those 5 categories. The notable exception in the US remains personal insurance. Could we expect innovation to finally take hold of this trillion-plus dollar market in the next 5-10 years?

I highly recommend digging into the entire deck. Here it is:

programming, technology

Hello World!

Welcome, dear reader!

This is a blog about technology, innovation, and change. I hope to take stock of what are some incredibly interesting times, both on a personal level and a global level.

On a personal level, I just finished my first year of b-school at Columbia. It flew by. Although I’ve been exposed to a lot of ideas, I haven’t really internalized all the great stuff I’ve learned. In part, I hope to use the space here to solidify some useful concepts by applying them – when appropriate – to the world of technology ventures.

It just so happens that I recently started to program at a coding school called General Assembly. I’m interested in technology but don’t have a computer science or engineering background. So I’ve decided to plunge into tech by learning some of the languages and frameworks that power the web: HTML/CSS, JavaScript, Node, Ruby on Rails, Angular, among others. In this blog, I hope to share, think through, and hone “granular” concepts that will initially seem difficult or novel to me.

But if I’m a business student, why am I learning to code? It’s a valid question, and one that was asked a lot by my classmates who are on their way to top consulting and finance firms. Here’s my take.

On a global level, technology is having an unprecedented impact. Of course, technology has always had a huge impact in the world. This time around, however, the ensuing change will be more diffused and profound than ever before.

Smartphones will account for over 50% of all cell phones within the next decade. A billion+ people who have never had access to a computer or been connected to the Internet will soon come online. This means that business models and industry structures in every corner of the world will be completely redefined. It’s already happening in the US. On balance, this is a good thing.

Today, most businesses outside the software industry consider technology an ancillary support function. Indeed, technology is often relegated to a musty “IT Department,” operating as a cost center. But the businesses of the future are baking technology into their core operations. Is Uber a transportation or tech company? Is Airbnb a lodging firm or a tech firm? The lines that divide technology firms and traditional businesses are being blurred – quickly.

Going forward, having a team of software engineers and UX designers will become the business norm. To be effective, future business leaders must be able to communicate, challenge, and empathize with their developers. Understanding the flow and logic behind the codebase will become as important as being able to read and analyze financial statements.

Too many outside Silicon Valley still find these assertions to be outlandish. My hope is that this blog helps you think otherwise.