Sunday, April 28, 2024

"Mary Meeker Turns Her Attention to AI. Here’s What the Tech Investor Is Buying Today."

From Barron's, March 29:

It was 25 years ago that Barron’s dubbed Mary Meeker “Queen of the Net.” Today, she’s a venture capitalist with stakes in AI firms and other start-ups. 

Over a four-decade stretch, there’s arguably no tech investor with greater influence—and staying power—than Mary Meeker. As a Morgan Stanley analyst in the 1990s, she moved markets with calls on stocks like , Microsoft , Apple , and Dell Technologies . In a cover story more than 25 years ago, Barron’s dubbed Meeker “Queen of the ’Net.” In 2010, she moved to venture capital, leading Kleiner Perkins’ investments in Airbnb , Uber Technologies , Waze, DocuSign , Snap , and others.

Meeker went on to launch her own venture firm, Bond Capital, where she’s continued to invest in a new generation of tech leaders, including Australian graphics software firm Canva, where Bond is one of the largest investors and poised to get a windfall from a widely anticipated initial public offering.

Meeker has been on Barron’s annual list of 100 Most Influential Women in U.S. Finance since it debuted in 2020.

When I last caught up with Meeker two years ago, she was spending a lot of time thinking about cryptocurrency, blockchain technology, and NFTs. She still sees promise there but has turned her attention to artificial intelligence, among other things.

In a recent interview conducted via email, Meeker offered her insights on venture capital, tech investing, and the world at large. It’s a unique look at the future, informed by Meeker’s sweeping view of the past:

Barron’s: Mary, let’s start where we did last time. Where has Bond been placing bets?

Mary Meeker: Our recent investments include KoBold Metals, a mining exploration company powered by machine learning; Yassir, a North African consumer and financial services super app; AlphaSense, a market intelligence and search platform; VAST Data, an AI-driven enterprise storage and data computing platform; Passes, a creator platform; and Applied Intuition, which makes AI software for vehicles.

That’s a lot of AI companies.

We are compelled by the opportunity for users to become more efficient as new products and services provide the ability to focus on higher priority tasks versus manual and repetitive ones—we have a long way to go here but the trends are good. On the infrastructure layer, we are focused on foundational business solutions which capture the hearts, minds, and efforts of engineers around the world.

What do you see outside AI?
AI enthusiasm has created some investor disinterest in other areas. We’ve invested in software as a service, marketplaces, and fintech in the past two years and continue to find long-term thinkers with compelling business models and capital discipline. We are believers in AI, but there are other opportunities....