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Smartphones are about to pay off for markets, investor says

Reflecting on tech turnaround

The rebounded in May for its best month this year, outperforming other major U.S. indexes. But companies switching to mobile payment, says Roger McNamee, co-founder of Elevation Partners, could pay off for the broader markets.

"The market's been adjusting all year long to this shift from the adoption of smartphones," McNamee told CNBC's "Squawk Alley " on Wednesday. "Adaptation of the economy to the prevalence of the smartphones is now the big opportunity."

Big enterprises are finally realizing that people young and old use a smartphone, McNamee said. Starbucks was ahead of the trend, he said, with an app that lets customers order and pay for drinks before entering the coffee shops.

"There's this benefit to Starbucks from an efficiency point of view and to the consumer from an efficiency point of view," McNamee said. "You can imagine that taking place throughout the economy, it produces a different type of company than we saw over the last 10 years."

Technology services companies are benefiting from the pivot to mobile. Fidelity National Information Services, a global banking and payment technology company, is one example that outperformed the S&P 500 tech sector by nearly 18 percent year to date.

"The folks that are doing the credit card processing are just loving this, because it lowers their costs and increases the transaction volume," McNamee said, adding the benefits aren't limited to banking.

"Everyone who deals with consumers has an opportunity to build products that make the transactions go smoother and costs them less, and in fact causes people to have an incentive to spend more money."

The tech sector has had a high growth premium from investors, mainly because there's so little growth elsewhere, McNamee said.

"You still find the best growth stories in tech," he said, mentioning names like Facebook with high multiples. Although McNamee said the average tech company's price trajectory looks like more like S&P 500's than like Facebook's.

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"They're struggling to put up the kind of numbers they did in the past, and investors are some days feeling good about that, some days obviously more desperate," McNamee said.

Names with high multiples can benefit from M&A, although significantly fewer deals that have gone through this year than in the record-breaking 2015.

"Companies have multiples that imply rates of growth that they're going to have a hard time delivering out of their current business," McNamee said, adding that these companies are better off being bought out. "Most M&A doesn't actually work out for the buyer so you're going to see some people succeeding on this model and most people are not."