Meeker: Most technology companies are far from bubble valuations

Reuters News
Posted: May 28, 2014 3:31 PM

RANCHO PALOS VERDES Calif. (Reuters) - Technology companies are far from approaching frothy levels of 1999 and 2000 when measured by a few key metrics, said Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers partner and noted Internet analyst Mary Meeker at the Recode conference on Wednesday.

"Technology company valuation excess?" Meeker asked in one of the slides in her closely-watched annual report on the state of the Internet.

"Some? Yes..." she continued. "But, Let's Look @ Patterns."

Meeker did not refer to specific companies in her presentation. But her slides showed that global initial public offerings of technology companies totaled 41 last year. That compares with 310 in 1999 and 221 in 2000, the year the last Internet bubble burst.

By dollar volume, last year's IPOs totaled $8 billion, compared to $31 billion each in 1999 and 2000.

Meeker has been considered one of the leading analytical voices on the tech industry since her time as a Morgan Stanley analyst, when she became known for bullish calls during the first dotcom boom. She joined Kleiner Perkins in 2011 and her annual state-of-the-industry reports remain closely followed in and around Silicon Valley.

On Wednesday, she argued that private companies, when measured by venture capital spending, also look less inflated compared to 1999 and 2000 markets.

Last year, U.S. technology venture capital spending totaled $24 billion, versus $101 billion in 2000, she said. Some 2,746 U.S. technology companies received venture funding, compared to 5,476 in 2000.

Many venture capitalists and others have complained of inflated private-company valuations as some start-ups raise hundreds of millions of dollars. For example, reports emerged last week that Uber, an app-based transportation service, is raising $500 million at a valuation of more than $12 billion.

As evidence of disruptive and successful products, Meeker also discussed messaging services that have amassed more than a billion users in aggregate over five years, among them WhatsApp, acquired by Facebook <FB.O> earlier this year for $19 billion, and Snapchat. She also cited the cryptocurrency Bitcoin, which she said has more than 5 million "wallets."

In her presentation, Meeker also reviewed themes she has highlighted in the past, including the remarkable growth of mobile technology and the Chinese economy, and the ceding of power from traditional personal computing companies to phone and tablet makers.

(Reporting by Sarah McBride and Alexei Oreskovic; Editing by Nick Zieminski)