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Blame Mary Meeker. Definitely blame Google. And most of all, perhaps, blame MySpace.
Whoever’s fault it was, somewhere around the mid-2000s many people got the idea there was an enormous gap between time spent and dollars spent on the Internet—and that gap needed to get filled in somehow. They likely got the idea from Meeker, a well-known venture capitalist in Silicon Valley known for her much-anticipated Internet Trends presentation each year. Then Google set the expectation that ad-supported Internet businesses can have hockey-stick growth.