The Major Highlights from Mary Meeker’s 2018 Internet Trends Report

June 7, 2018 - 8 minutes read

Venture capitalist Mary Meeker is a rarity among her colleagues; being a woman in a traditionally male-dominated field, Meeker releases a thorough, densely-packed report of insights into Internet trends once a year. She’ll release updates periodically throughout the year, but this report has become a highly-anticipated annual event for most Internet and tech professionals.

Meeker’s Internet Trends report is extremely meticulous; it tackles questions you probably haven’t considered before. We’ve boiled down the almost-300 slide presentation into some key insights below.

U.S. Immigration

Immigration has been a hot topic of contention with the Trump administration and tech giants. Google spoke out against Trump’s ban of Muslim immigrants, and Meeker pointed out something very interesting this year: more than half of all Silicon Valley companies are founded by immigrants or children of immigrants.

This includes the pillars of Silicon Valley: Amazon, Apple, Google, and Facebook. Oracle also counts two founders as children of immigrants. PayPal’s four founders are all immigrants.

What does this mean? The political climate of rejecting world perspectives and experiences of immigrants as we turn away those fleeing from genocide and political abuse could be severely detrimental to the U.S.’s tech scene. At a time when China is leading the way in artificial intelligence (AI), the U.S. cannot afford to close our doors to immigrants, many of whom possess unique backgrounds and strong willpower.

China’s Rapid Growth

China’s Alibaba is growing, reporting strong gross merchandise volumes. And while it still lags behind Amazon in worldwide revenue, Alibaba’s margin numbers are strong at 60% over Amazon’s 37% margin figure. Both companies offer very similar services: cloud computing, physical retail stores, payment processors, digital entertainment, and IoT-enabled devices.

It’s important to note, however, that Alibaba is expanding internationally to India, Pakistan, Indonesia, and Singapore. Amazon’s still struggling to integrate Prime member rewards into the Whole Foods business model, but they’ve been making good headway since the acquisition.

User privacy in the U.S. isn’t a clear concept yet, but Chinese citizens have been more willing to trade personal information for product benefits compared to U.S. consumers. And Chinese companies are getting more spots on the list of top 20 Internet companies while continuing to push AI development and investment.

Internet and Mobile Phone Adoption Across the World

The world continues to adapt to the Internet; half of the world, around 3.6 billion people, now utilize the Internet. Smartphones are cheaper to buy now, and Wi-Fi connection is growing to include rural areas previously unable to be connected.

Going mobile means most people are spending more time online. Smartphones have changed our lives, and now we spend almost 6 hours a day online in 2017, compared to 5.6 hours a day in 2016.

As the web continues to achieve worldwide adoption, it will become saturated. It will eventually reach a point where only a few thousand people are joining Internet connectivity, which will become a problem for Internet telecom companies. Internet adoption is slowing down year-over-year, but we’re spending more time on our phones than ever.

However, this is great news for e-commerce businesses; your product has the possibility of reaching more people than ever today.


Speaking of online businesses, e-commerce grew in 2017. 13% of all retail purchases occur online. This makes room for new shopping app development.

People are now going to Amazon for product searches before looking at Google’s results. But the Seattle-based company still relies on social media, like Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube, to inspire or nudge consumers to come buy something.


With promises of better work-life balance and flexible scheduling, freelancing is experiencing a major boom right now. It grew three times faster than the total workforce in 2017. The on-demand workforce, like Uber drivers, saw a 23% growth over 2016.


In the same vein, education is increasingly a way for 9-5 employees to get faster raises and promotions. Since the job market is saturated with Bachelors degrees, any leg-up on education through YouTube, Udemy, Udacity, or similar yields better performance during annual reviews.

Additionally, skyrocketing student loans provide major incentive for employees to advance their education in an attempt to pay off debt.


People are choosing to hail a ride-sharing service over using their own car. Consumers are also buying less cars, keeping them for longer, and opting for Uber over driving. Ride-share companies like Uber and Lyft saw a 150% increase in rides in 2017. More Uber drivers are signing on every day, which is good since consumers are hailing the ride-sharing cabs more often and for longer trips.

Mobile Ad Spending

Although people are spending more time than ever on mobile phones, companies aren’t switching their spending to mobile fast enough. This creates a gap of $7 billion in mobile ad space.

Of course, data privacy and regulation in addition to safe-for-work ad monitoring are currently the points of contention with most Internet advertising companies. This leaves a big opportunity for large consumer-base companies with massive staffs dedicated to advertising, like Facebook and Twitter, to step up and take a bigger piece of the revenue pie.


Cryptocurrency has been exploding in the news, and its ups-and-downs on the market are being closely watched by more crypto traders than ever. Even Wall Street banks are lining up to implement blockchain into their ledgers, which have been hacked before, and create their own cryptocurrencies for consumers.

Coinbase’s user count went up by four times since January 2017, and although initial coin offerings are being watched more closely due to previous scams, cryptocurrency isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.

The Data Unveils All

As tech enthusiasts, the Internet is the most cohesive product to connect our world today. And even though it’s become second-nature to log onto social media or email first thing in the morning, we’re all leaving behind more data about browsing habits, engagement, and buying patterns than we’d like to think.

Fortunately, Meeker’s report aggregates a lot of that data to create actionable insights for entry-level employees as well as high-level executives. It raises important questions while answering others. What’s your favorite takeaway from the report? Let us know in the comments!

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