Messaging becoming the heart of mobile, Mary Meeker says

The prominent venture capitalist says mobile messaging may soon evolve into a central hub of communication for users.

Ben Fox Rubin Former senior reporter
Ben Fox Rubin was a senior reporter for CNET News in Manhattan, reporting on Amazon, e-commerce and mobile payments. He previously worked as a reporter for The Wall Street Journal and got his start at newspapers in New York, Connecticut and Massachusetts.
Ben Fox Rubin
3 min read

Mary Meeker, at the 2015 Code Conference, for the past two decades has offered insights on the direction of technology in her annual reports. Asa Mathat for Recode

Messaging apps will likely take over our mobile lives, that is if they haven't already.

That's one of the insights from venture capitalist Mary Meeker's annual report on Internet trends, presented Wednesday at Recode's Code Conference in Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif.

Meeker, a partner at venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and former Morgan Stanley analyst, has become an influential voice in the tech world thanks to her reports, first published in 1995. Her slide presentations -- which delve into some of the biggest changes in mobile, media and tech -- often point to deep shifts in how people use and relate with technology. They are also often used by tech firms as signposts on which direction they should be going.

The 197-slide presentation this year delves into several topics, from the growth of drones to the Internet's penetration into consumer's lives. One notable trend Meeker discussed (starting on slide 46) was the growing significance of messaging apps, with services like Whatsapp and Snapchat potentially becoming "central communications hubs" for users.

"The messaging leaders around the world are growing really quickly," said Meeker, a partner at venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and a former Morgan Stanley analyst.

Bolstering her case, Meeker pointed out that Whatsapp now has 800 million active mobile users, Facebook Messenger has 600 million and WeChat has 549 million. Snapchat, she reported, has 100 million daily active users.

Enlarge Image
This slide mentions the massive user bases of the most popular messaging apps, with "MAU" referring to monthly active users. Kleiner Perkins

On top of those giant user bases, messaging apps also make up six of the top 10 most used apps globally. These statistics build on Meeker's 2014 report, in which she noted how communicating online was changing, with people using messaging and chat apps more frequently to communicate with small groups of close contacts than they were using sites like Facebook to broadcast messages to larger audiences.

These chat apps may draw on their enviable perches in people's lives by becoming hubs for purchasing food and clothing and storing your personal information like location, name and interests, Meeker said.

The potential of messaging apps becoming such a big part of people's mobile lives illustrates why Facebook, the world's largest social network, bid $3 billion ( unsuccessfully) for Snapchat and purchased Whatsapp -- which reported just $12.5 million in revenue last year -- for about $22 billion.

Meeker's slides also point to why Facebook, which already created Facebook Messenger, would want to own more chat apps. In one slide, she shows how people use different messaging apps for different purposes, so it's likely several messaging apps will continue to grow, without a single app taking over the market.

Meeker ended her talk Wednesday with a reference to the importance of diversity in the workplace, a statement that follows a high-profile sexual discrimination lawsuit against her firm by former employee Ellen Pao. Kleiner won the jury case in March, but the trial shined an unflattering light on the male-dominated world of venture capital, with the firm facing heavy criticism for its lack of diversity.

"Diversity matters. It's just good business," Meeker said. "The best decisions are often made by diverse groups of people."