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Mary Meeker: A Love Letter to Net Queen

Mary Meeker, once called "the Queen of the Net," has gotten a bad rap for her bullishness on the sector earlier this decade. But it's time to set the record straight, commend her for her prescient work on the Internet sector and look at what she likes now.

For those who don't recall, or have blocked it out, Meeker was part of the triumvirate of superstar analysts in the late 1990s who rode the boom in the Internet all the way up and all the way down. The other two analysts were Henry "Let's put lipstick on this pig" Blodget and Jack "WorldCom" Grubman. Those two have been discredited and are out of the business.

Meeker, however, has survived, in large part because she saw the potential of the Internet from the beginning. And now, 12 years after her initial recommendation of AOL, when it was a split-adjusted 50 cents and had only 300,000 subscribers, it's pretty clear she has been right, and that the Internet's potential has arrived.

Many of the companies that Meeker recommended through the 1990s have continued to have remarkable success. Her comment from the 1990s when she was picking those stocks: "Go with the leaders. Remember Microsoft vs. Lotus; Cisco vs. Wellfleet; Dell and Compaq vs. Everex." Obviously, she was dead-on about these companies' viability, and she was right about the future of the Internet.

Meeker's writings have always expressed a tension between her role as a stock analyst where, for better or worse, you are judged on your short-term picks, and her role as "Queen of the Net."

It's the latter role that excited her the most, and the fulfillment of the vision she saw beginning with Yahoo! (YHOO), eBay (EBAY), and Amazon (AMZN) (and then Google (GOOG)).

It's interesting to note that in December 1999, she told Barron's: "I think there will be an e-commerce shake-out in the first quarter of 2000." This was right at the very peak, the middle of a feeding frenzy for Internet shares that lasted until the actual peak, in late first-quarter 2000.

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