Silicon Valley venture-capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers announced today that it poached Mary Meeker, Morgan Stanley's celebrated tech analyst. And tech investors who see the recent surge of investment as more of a boom than a bubble are happy to have her on their side. Meeker, who was dubbed the "Queen of the Net" for her bullish predictions during the dot-com era, will be joining forces with KCPB's John Doerr, who has been aggressively optimistic about the industry's third wave of innovation around smartphones and social graphs. Meeker, who has been championing the mobile web, will focus on helping "the next generation of Internet technologies and leaders.” Kleiner Perkins rose to prominence in the nineties by backing companies like Netscape and Amazon, and later Google. After missing out on investing in Facebook and Twitter, the firm has been moving away from its perhaps shortsighted focus on cleantech investments and back toward the Internet. Like its recently launched iFund (for start-ups developing for the iPhone) and sFund (for social-network start-ups), hiring Meeker is a splashy move designed to make Kleiner Perkins look less like a Web 1.0 relic.
Meeker's move puts Morgan Stanley in a precipitous position. After the dot-com crash, Morgan Stanley, the underwriter for Netscape and Google's IPO, and other Wall Street firms signed a large settlement to clear up conflicts of interest between their research arms and their investment-banking units, and so-called "sell-side" research "has never regained its influence," says the Financial Times. In response to Meeker's departure, angel investor Chris Dixon tweeted, "Wall street sell-side research is dead." All eyes will be watching to see if Morgan Stanley can get a prominent role in Facebook's impending IPO without Meeker onboard.