by Patricia Sellers
Many people are asking: Will Internet analyst Mary Meeker be savvy enough at spotting brand-new businesses to succeed as a venture capitalist in Silicon Valley?
Quitting Morgan Stanley (MS), where she's worked for 19 years, to become a partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers is a major career switch. "Will I be good at this?" is one of several questions she asked herself, Meeker, 51, told me yesterday.
The question is fair for anyone to ask since Meeker's mojo -- and stature as one of Fortune's Smartest People in Tech -- lies mainly in spotting mega-trends (her 424-page report on the mobile Internet was on every techie's reading list a year ago) and analyzing companies just before they go public and after the stock is trading.
As I said yesterday in my Postcard on Meeker's move, Morgan Stanley CFO Ruth Porat claims that Meeker is so good at "seeing around corners" that she'll thrive in her new West-coast gig. Porat recalls that in the late '90s when she was an investment banker working with Meeker to finance startups such as AOL (AOL) and eBay (EBAY), Morgan Stanley couldn't work with Amazon.com (AMZN) on its IPO because Barnes & Noble (BKS) was a client. Meeker's prediction at the time: Amazon's stock-market value would exceed Barnes & Noble's sometime soon after the IPO.
This was the spring of 1997, one year after Meeker had garnered fame by publishing the first of her analytical tomes on the future of the Internet. But as she contended that Amazon would revolutionize customer relationship-building as well as book-selling, most people thought her prognostication was nuts. How could a tiny Internet retailer possibly supplant a national bookstore giant.
It happened, by measure of market cap, in just over a year. Amazon's stock-market value surpassed B&N's on June 9, 1998. Both companies were worth about $2.4 billion then.
And today? Amazon is worth $78.8 billion. Barnes & Noble: $829 million.
P.S. This evening, I'll be interviewing Yahoo (YHOO) CEO Carol Bartz at a Fortune Most Powerful Women dinner in Silicon Valley. What should I ask Bartz? Please suggest questions. Click here if you'd like to watch the Bartz interview live on Tuesday at 8 p.m. PST.
"You can always do what you should do if you're willing to put in the time and energy to develop a new set of skills. If you only extend into places where your skill sets serve you, your skills will become outmoded."
- Amazon.com (AMZN) CEO Jeff Bezos in "Amazon's Next Revolution," the Fortune cover story that hits newsstands today. My colleague Jeff O'Brien uses Bezos' newest big venture, the Kindle, MOREPatricia Sellers - Jun 1, 2009 6:51 PM ET
by Esther Wojcicki, journalism teacher and newspaper adviser at Palo Alto High School
Reading the newspaper these days makes me sad about journalism. "The American Press on Suicide Watch" was the headline of Frank Rich's New York Times column this past Sunday. "Legendary brands from the Los Angeles Times to the Philadelphia Inquirer are teetering," Rich said, adding that the New York Times Co. (NYT) might shutter the Boston Globe. Maureen MOREPatricia Sellers - May 13, 2009 1:53 PM ET
When I arrived at Pace University at 9:30 this morning in lower Manhattan, the line was already snaking down the side of the building. The crowd, gathered to witness the announcement of a third version of Amazon's (AMZN) Kindle electronic reader, was feverishly tapping at gadgets galore and every so often stepping out of line to take camera phone shots of the assembled group. It seemed their excitement had gotten MOREJessica Shambora, Writer-Reporter - May 6, 2009 3:57 PM ET
I'm an optimist. Always have been. So take with a grain of salt--or sugar, perhaps--these signs of hope across the board:
1. Maybe print isn't dead. My new Kindle 2 makes me think that even though we may not be reading magazines and newspapers on paper a decade or two from now, long-form stories and beautiful page design can endure. (My Monday Postcard, "Amazon: Thinking beyond the Kindle," stirred debate about MOREPatricia Sellers - Apr 3, 2009 1:45 PM ET
We love companies that underpromise and overdeliver. Apple (AAPL) is one. Another is Amazon.com (AMZN). Founder and CEO Jeff Bezos thrives on overdelivering.
I had my own Jeff Bezos multimedia experience last night as I sat in my living room and played with my new Kindle 2 while watching Bezos on the Charlie Rose show. (Click here to see the show from late February--yes, I was playing DVR catchup.) The Amazon MOREPatricia Sellers - Mar 30, 2009 3:07 PM ET
It was, to steal a Malcolm Gladwell term, a "tipping point" in my outlook on the cratering economy. I call it my "That Girl" moment.
It was the fourth Monday in November last year. I was at a Thanksgiving party at the home of Cathie Black, the president of Hearst Magazines. Marlo Thomas was there, too. "Saks is selling shoes for 75% off. It's incredible!" TV's onetime Ann Marie was crowing, MOREPatricia Sellers - Feb 27, 2009 1:01 PM ET
"This does not attach directly to my brain?"
-- Jon Stewart to Amazon (AMZN) CEO Jeff Bezos on Tuesday's Daily Show on Comedy Central (VIAB). Amazon's Kindle 2 began shipping today to customers, many of whom have been waiting for months. The device sold out before Christmas for the second year in a row. When Bezos told Stewart he could download any book in 60 seconds or less, Steward feigned misunderstanding MOREJessica Shambora, Writer-Reporter - Feb 24, 2009 6:53 PM ET
"It isn't as though the two things—books and the Kindle—are in conflict. It's like peanut butter and chocolate. When you put them together, you get a whole new taste treat."
-- Best-selling author Stephen King at a press event announcing the Amazon Kindle 2 in New York City on Monday. King's comments underscore what Amazon.com (AMZN) CEO Jeff Bezos has said since the Kindle, an electronic book reader, was introduced in MOREJessica Shambora, Writer-Reporter - Feb 9, 2009 6:27 PM ET
"The price of inaction is much higher than the price of making a mistake."
-- Meg Whitman, who was CEO of eBay (EBAY) from 1998 until she retired this past March. Whitman said this at the 1999 Fortune Most Powerful Women Summit while speaking on a panel about the future of the Internet with Morgan Stanley (MS) tech analyst Mary Meeker and Joy Covey, then CFO of Amazon.com (AMZN). The panel MOREJessica Shambora, Writer-Reporter - Oct 1, 2008 8:26 PM ET
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