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Tech Industry

Mary Meeker: On-demand jobs are changing the way we work

The tech industry sage makes her annual predictions for upcoming internet trends.

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When Mary Meeker talks, the tech industry listens. 

Michael Kovac/Getty

When Mary Meeker busts out her slide deck of internet trends, people pay attention.

This year's report from the venture capitalist at Kleiner Perkins Caufield Byers hit on everything from privacy to just how much on-demand services -- yes, your Lyft ride and DoorDash delivery -- are changing the job front.

Meeker delivered the talk at the Recode's Code Conference on Wednesday.

For the unfamiliar, Meeker's worked at the firm since 2010. But as a financial analyst for Morgan Stanley earlier in her career, she was involved with the initial public offerings of companies like Google, Netscape and Priceline. Having anticipated so many big moments in tech, her predictions attract plenty of interest.

This year's 294-slide presentation noted slowed growth for smartphones and steady internet usage. An IDC report out Wednesday gave a similar perspective on the smartphone market, noting that shipments will decline in 2018.

Meeker also talked about how some of the biggest tech companies are evolving as time goes on. Google, she said, is going from an ad platform into an e-commerce platform. And Amazon is essentially morphing from an e-commerce platform into an ad platform.

On an everyday level, Meeker discussed the relationship between technology and the way we live.  

For example, ride-share usage is rising. In general, transportation costs are flat -- consumers are spending less on vehicles.

Then there's the future of work, which is changing rapidly, thanks to the internet.

"New technologies have created and displaced jobs, historically," Meeker pointed out, saying that new jobs are typically created around new technologies.

Modern workers desire more flexibility and tech can make freelance work and other forms easier to find, she said, noting that freelance work is growing three times faster than the total workforce.

On-demand businesses -- everything from Uber to Etsy to Instacart -- play a big part in this.

"These are big numbers and the growth is high," she said.

There were 5.4 million on-demand workers estimated in 2017 and that number is set to hit 6.8 million in 2018.

On-demand work can also help those who are looking for extra income and have underutilized skills, she said.  

Data and privacy also made an appearance in the report. There's a certain love-hate relationship between consumers and sharing their data. Consumers want a better consumer experience informed by data -- think about how you might want your music streaming platform of choice to know what type of music you like. In fact, 79 percent of US consumers are willing to share data if its for a "clear personal benefit."

If that benefit is not clear, though, consumers are taking actions like deleting apps, modifying their privacy settings, and disabling cookies.

"We're living in a period of unprecedented change," Meeker said, "and especially for the people in this room, unprecedented need for responsibility." 

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