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Beware, tech world: 'Easy growth is behind us,' says Mary Meeker

Everything from population growth to smartphone adoption has hit a wall. But there are still areas of opportunity, says the Kleiner Perkins partner known for her annual Internet report.

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Mary Meeker talks about the broader slowdown in the economy.

Asa Mathat / Recode

Mary Meeker paints a sobering picture that Silicon Valley may want to attention to.

Everything from population growth, global economic expansion, smartphone shipments and, most importantly, the number of new Internet users has hit a wall, according to Meeker, a partner at venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. Meeker is an influential voice in the tech community thanks to her report, which she presented on Wednesday and is embedded below. The data from her findings, which track the shifts in mobile, media and tech, serve as guideposts for tech companies looking for direction.

"The net economic growth is slowing," she said at Re/Code's Code Conference in Ranchos Palos Verdes, California. "Easy growth is behind us."

But Meeker wasn't all doom and gloom. In a slowdown, there are plenty of opportunities for companies that can find more efficient ways of operating. She also noted that the ad business continues to hum, although warned that the proliferation of ad-blockers meant marketers had to get more savvy to get justify their presence.

She pointed to Snapchat and Spotify as examples of companies with good ads.

Meeker also talked up the power of live video, citing Candace Payne, also known as the Chewbacca mom, who became an Internet celebrity through her infectious laugh while trying on a Chewbacca mask on Facebook Live. Thanks to that video, sales of that Chewbacca mask "went through the roof."

As with last year, Meeker was bullish on messaging, calling it the "secret sauce" and noting its ability to be more expressive than just simple texts. The messaging app is increasingly becoming the second home screen on the phone, she said.

There's just as much opportunity in voice as a computing interface, she said, touting the popularity of Amazon's Alexa digital assistant, which is found on its Echo speaker.

"iPhone sales may have peaked in 2015, while Amazon Echo sales are just beginning to take off," she said. "Food for thought."

Lastly, she hit upon the transformation of transportation going on with Uber and other ride-sharing services.

"We may be entering an automotive golden age, take two," she said.