Benner on Tech: Internet Trends and the On-Demand Economy

Katie Benner is a Bloomberg View columnist who writes about technology, innovation, and the cult and culture of Silicon Valley. She lives in San Francisco.
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Kleiner Perkins partner Mary Meeker released her annual Internet trends report, a huge PowerPoint presentation that’s become something of a touchstone for tech prognosticators.

This year she said Internet and mobile user growth is strong, but it will slow. The Wall Street Journal says this could be seen as a potential cap on the prospects of many Web startups. But she notes that all of biggest growth gains are happening in mobile.

She’s also bullish on the on-demand economy, a burgeoning world of startups that I wrote about just this week. She thinks the market for drones will increase considerably and that India’s tech boom will continue to be strong.

Bloomberg made life easier by highlighting the nine most important slides from her 197-slide presentation.

The most amusing bit was her snapshot of millennials, a demographic group that she characterizes as narcissistic and money hungry, but adaptive and open to change.

Chip Consolidation

Hardware suppliers continue to consolidate to boost revenues. In the industry's biggest deal ever, Avago Technologies agreed to buy Broadcom for $37 billion. (Bloomberg)

Media Flame Throwing

Bob Lefsetz, a music critic known for his acerbic rants, published a memorable acerbic rant in the wake of the Vox-Re/code deal. His basic premise is that media personalities lose their power when they leave their big brands. If Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher couldn’t make Re/code work, precious few others will succeed when they leave their motherships. He writes:

Bottom line… ReCode had the best tech news in the business. Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher built a team of experts. But nobody cared, nobody went to the site, they thought their minions would follow them but it turned out they were aligned more with the “Wall Street Journal,” their former home, than the writers themselves. It’s kind of like when the lead singer leaves the band … good luck! Sure, there are exceptions, but …

Even though I can’t think of an exception to the Lefsetz rule, meaning someone who left and remained a huge, in-the-mainstream-spotlight brand, I don’t entirely agree with his assessment. I do think quality work is as important (maybe more so) than personal or corporate brands. And that’s why niche subscription businesses like Grant’s Interest Rate Observer (run by a former Barron’s writer) and the Information (my former employer, which is run by a former Wall Street Journal writer) have done relatively well. I wrote a whole column about how the media landscape is indeed tough, but that subscription businesses that appeal to an engaged set of readers are a bright spot. 


Airbnb is getting close to a million guests hosted a night. (Re/code)

Didi Kuaidi, China’s leader in on-demand taxi rides, got a $142 million investment from the Chinese microblogging company Weibo. (Reuters)

Jawbone sued Fitbit for allegedly stealing Jawbone’s confidential company information by poaching its employees. Fitbit has filed for an IPO. If Jawbone refuses to settle, it could keep the case going and keep the profitable Fitbit from going public before sales of wearable devices slow down. (Bloomberg)

Uber and Lyft are both mad at the same New York City rules but for slightly different reasons. (Bloomberg)

Redpoint’s Tomasz Tunguz explains why it’s better to sell your startup for cash rather than stock

People and Personnel Moves

Ross Ulbricht, the founder of Silk Road, has asked for a lighter sentence. He could spend life in prison. (Fortune)


Amazon is offering free same-day delivery for Prime members. (Bloomberg)

Apple’s Messages app was crashing, thanks to an iOS bug. (9to5Mac) Jeff Williams, the company’s senior vice president of operations, fueled rumors that Apple is working on car technology when he answered a question about company strategy by saying: “The car is the ultimate mobile device, isn’t it?” (Bloomberg) The company is in talks to incorporate CBS into its Apple TV project. (Bloomberg)

Facebook will roll out its Messenger Payments product in New York City. (New York Daily News)

Google will replace its low-, medium- and high-maturity classifications for apps in the Google Play store with a ratings system run by an outside body. (BBC) The company will likely highlight projects such as its virtual reality device Cardboard to woo developers during its upcoming I/O event. (Bloomberg)

Samsung’s ruling family is tightening its grip on control of the empire. (Bloomberg View)

Sony bought the storage startup Optical Archive before it ever came out of stealth mode. (Wall Street Journal)

Security Watch

Yahoo must face a privacy-related class action lawsuit alleging the company illegally scanned e-mails to increase advertising revenue. (Bloomberg)

Media Files

BuzzFeed is starting a lab called the BuzzFeed Open Lab For Journalism Technology and the Arts to develop new hardware and software tools for reporting.

Comcast was trying to buy Vox, but the two sides couldn’t agree on a price. (Quartz)

News and Notes

It’s not illegal to offer up software that can block online ads, a German court ruled. (Financial Times)

A bidding war has broken out for an online store that sells things such as Star Trek pajamas. Geeknet agreed to a deal with Hot Topic, which would buy it for $17.50 a share. Now an undisclosed bidder has emerged and offered $20 a share. (Bloomberg)

Lawyers are using big data to track down medical victims. (Bloomberg)

Detroit is fighting Silicon Valley to be the leader in driverless cars. (Bloomberg)

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Bloomberg View's editorial board or Bloomberg LP, its owners and investors.

To contact the editor on this story:
Maria Lamagna at