Mary Meeker turns focus on post-Covid business world

Published on the 23/04/2020 | Written by Heather Wright


Mary Meeker

The rise of tech, DX and the on-demand economy…

She’s the queen of the Internet Trends slide deck, and now Mary Meeker has turned her focus on Covid-19 and its longer-term impact on business.

Meeker, a partner at Silicon Valley venture capital firm Bond Capital whose portfolio of companies includes Slack and Uber, says the current Covid-19 environment ‘creates a moment for the technology sector and its entrepreneurs to shine’.

The report highlights how the events of the past few months underscore the need for broad-scale, data-driven forward planning and execution, and the need for modern technology.

“In industry and govt, we expect greater focus on forward planning with more domain experts who have seats at the table.”

It highlights an acceleration of digital transformation, permanent change to the way we work, and a more influential role for technologists, scientists and other domain experts, and a growth in the on-demand economy as changes we can expect.

“In both industry and government, we fully expect greater focus on forward planning with more scientist, engineers, domain experts who have seats at the table and relevant voices. This would be a good thing,” the report says.

“Many of our customary activities have suddenly slowed – or come to complete halts. But the impact of Covid-19 has also brought accelerating growth and focus in other areas. Most of these represent an acceleration of trends that have been underway for years. Most have digital tie-ins.”

Businesses doing the best through the current situation are most likely to be those who are cloud-based, have always in-demand products or products that make businesses more digitally efficient and who have an easily discoverable online presence and a broad, or emerging, social media presence – and can provide limited contact distribution.

The report notes Zoom’s dramatic rise from 10 million to 200 million daily meeting participants in three months, reminding us that Instagram took two years to secure 100 million monthly users, and Fortnite snagged its 100 million users in around 18 months.

“Zoom has secured its spot in the record books,” the report says.

But it’s not just Zoom. The Meeker and the Bond team note that other business-focused apps have also seen dramatic usage increases: Slack has reported a more than 2x increase in paying customer adds for Q1 and a 20 percent increase in the average daily messages sent per user. Microsoft reported 44 million daily active users for its Teams offering for the week of March 19, up 3.7x week over week.

The work from home push in the face of Covid’s threat has, in effect, started ‘a big experiment that will likely change the way lots of office work is done’.

Large scale remote work does however throw up some challenges, and while the report says the first six weeks of mass remote work have shown at the margin productivity is the same or higher, and video calls, messenger and video-based information sharing and editing are proving effective, it notes a number of ‘top of mind’ issues for companies to consider:

  • Ensuring creativity is captured and productivity is maintained
  • Determining in-person requirements of teams
  • Maintaining engagement and culture
  • Managing technology and security with increasing numbers of remote workers

The report also forecasts the rise of on-demand services, something that has been on the rise for many years but many of which have been negatively impacted.

“Leading on-demand platform for transport (Uber/Lyft etc), accommodation (Airbnb etc) and services have seen volumes decline… On the other hand, on-demand platforms that deliver groceries and food have experienced surging demand and are aggressively bringing on new workers, in addition to providing demand to local grocers, restaurants and other essential stores [just not in NZ yet – Ed].

“We believe on-demand and to the door delivery services may be gaining permanent market share in these unusual times.”

The report says while the benefit to consumers are obvious, on-demand businesses are also helping provide workers with work and flexibility.

With that in mind, Meeker points to on-demand work/jobs evolving and becoming a bigger part of the economy as a key trend for the future, along with the nature of work/jobs continuing to rapidly evolve and the relevance of ‘tech-enable, multi-way synchronous/asynchronous communication and feedback’ rising.

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