While I gritted out analyst Mary Meeker’s presentation here at Web 2.0 in San Francisco on Thursday (truth: I was worried about my losing my aisle seat beside a good power strip), it would have been better if she hadn’t been given stage time. Granted, I could have just given her (dull and data-driven) presentation a miss, but unlike Schrodinger’s Cat, in my absence Mary would have been alive and presenting, even if I wasn’t there to watch her.
Why the antipathy? Because Mary, while undoubtedly a decent person, is a reminder of booms gone by, and a strange attractor for booms to come. Her megaphone is oversized and disproportionate, one that has financial people scrambling to invest in this Web 2.0 thing (or second derivatives thereof, to paraphrase Fred Wilson) long before anyone has figured out how to make money (other than selling them to AOL and Yahoo) from the first rush of newfangled companies.
As I said to someone yesterday, the epitome of all of this occurred at an afternoon break when I was idly sipping Diet Coke, while Henry Blodget and Mary Meeker passed by one another (and by me). It was a species of financial acid flashback. And while none of us should apologize for the aftereffects of mispent youths (or past booms), that doesn’t mean we have to fit Euphoric Tab A into Financial Spot B quite so rashly.
Here is an FT piece today epitomizing the Meeker megaphone problem:
Back in San Francisco, meanwhile, the local internet crowd was rallying to a siren call that carried its own echoes of the 1990s financial bubble. Mary Meeker, the Morgan Stanley analyst whose championing of the first dotcom boom earned her the nickname Queen of the Internet, was on hand at the aptly named Web 2.0 conference to claim that the technology industry’s Next Big Thing has already arrived. Ms Meeker said that the next engines of the tech boom have been revved up: the broadband internet and mobile data. These two new technology platforms have reached a state where they are ready to usher in the next golden age, she suggested.