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.
by Patricia Sellers
When Internet analyst Mary Meeker announced at Morgan Stanley's Monday morning meeting today that she's leaving to become a venture capitalist at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, most people were surprised.
But to those who know Meeker, the so-called Queen of the 'Net since the late '90s, her move from Wall Street to Silicon Valley is a long time coming.
I mentioned this "rumor" (will Meeker leave Morgan Stanley to MOREPatricia Sellers - Nov 29, 2010 5:18 PM ET
The Most Powerful Women franchise, just a decade old, is already Fortune's second biggest after the Fortune 500. Amazing, isn't it? This fact attests to the power of women in a year when so many powerful women - including Hillary Clinton and Morgan Stanley's (MS) Zoe Cruz and Lehman Brothers' (LEH) Erin Callan - got so close to the top and then fell. Even so, the power of women in business MOREPatricia Sellers - Jul 25, 2008 2:16 PM ET
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