The highly anticipated Mary Meeker and Kleiner Perkins Caufield Byers data were finally published two weeks ago. Every year in this season, Mary Meeker and the KPCB fund draw the numbers and trends of the global technological and digital market with great lucidity and precision. What are the main trends emerging from the over 200 slides of the report?
According to TechCrunch, some highlights include:
• The global internet adoption rate was flat year-over-year at 9%, reaching 3 billion users or 42% of the world’s population
• Smartphone adoption’s growth is slowing, while Android increases marketshare
• Video viewership is exploding, with Snapchat and Facebook Live showing the way
• Messaging is dominated by Facebook and WeChat, it’s growing rapidly, and evolving from simple text communication to become our new home screen with options for vivid self-expression and commerce
• US advertising is growing, with Google and Facebook controlling 76% of the market and rising
• Meeker predicts the rise of voice interfaces because they’re fast, easy, personalized, hands-free, and cheap
• The USA could become the home of the auto industry again thanks to innovation from Tesla and Google despite US auto sales slipping since 1950, though car ownership will fall as Uber/UberPool sharing becomes mainstream
• Non-tech giants are acquiring tech companies to fuel growth and transition to digital as data becomes the next big platform
For an Italian VC these are certainly interesting signals, though, actually, already known: to manage capital investment with the intent to rise a new Apple-like company and collect ten times the invested capital has not much to do with risk, rather, with the ability to understand data and anticipate trends.
Let’s take, for example, e-commerce: 15 years ago this was an area in which to invest seemed like science fiction, while now it has grown so much that it drives the retail sector and has a turnover of around 1.6 trillion dollars. This also points to another phenomenon: e-commerce has not created new retail, rather it has subtracted its business from the existing market. The old continent, and Italy in particular, have the advantage of product: we have a very rich supply but we are late in the creation of demand. And, as always, supply generates demand…
What else do the global internet trends tell that could be useful for Italian entrepreneurs? Certainly, that we are about to witness the revitalization of apparently saturated markets, where, thanks to technology, new niches are rising. See the explosion of social networking chats – an example of the new opportunities born in the field of telecommunications. Indeed, these systems are now used to sell and promote products, thus they disintermediate the world of distribution and in turn create an implicit economy that has to be taken into account.
The Silicon Valley continues to be a benchmark, but too often we do not consider that there are other good role models for Italy. The prerequisite for an Italian growth, however, remains the same: to quickly change our mental attitude. Especially the widespread tendency of Italian entrepreneurs to believe the success they have achieved is unrepeatable by others, as well as their reluctance to look outside the national borders.
Also, our mass communication should change, as it is still tied to old patterns that consider startups and innovation as an ancillary phenomenon, less serious and not very integrated with the institutional-traditional world – although e-commerce and many other data have long ago refuted this old notion.
And finally… the urgency of urgency. We should seize opportunities without hesitation, because every year that passes weighs much more than before: Meeker’s the internet trends show an exponential acceleration every 12 months. Finally, we should have more financial resources, though this point – that is, of course, of necessary importance – is not the most central issue: we should first of all start to think that what these data really show us is Italy’s future.