el producto #121 👉 a weekly round-up of Tech and Product goodness

The state of Mobile 2019, Uber public transit in London, Facebook redesign and Dating expansion, Marriott home-sharing platform, Google’s virtual customer service, Q1 financials, …


Welcome to another week full of fresh ideas and innovation at el producto.

🎰 The week in figures

$100B - SoftBank is considering taking its $100B Vision Fund public, according to a Reuters source and other reports; it is the world’s largest tech investment fund and has stakes in WeWork, Uber, and ARM.

$47B - WeWork has confidentially filed for an IPO. The office space giant was last valued at $47B in January when it raised a $1B Series H from SoftBank.

$1B - Facebook is looking to raise for its crypto-based payments network; Facebook is in talks with numerous e-commerce firms and payments processors including Visa and Mastercard; Facebook is considering tying Project Libra to its ad network, rewarding users for looking at ads and making purchases.

~$560M - raises Germany-based travel experiences platform GetYourGuide on Series E to a ~$1.8B valuation; follows previous reports the company was raising; $300M; GetYourGuide raised $75M Series D in 2017.

€369.5M - India-based hotel platform Oyo acquires Netherlands-based @Leisure Group from Axel Springer for €369.5M; @Leisure operates several home rental firms across Europe; its brands include Belvilla and DanCenter.

$169M - raises Barcelona-based on-demand local delivery company Glovo on Series D; offers shopping and delivery services for a wide variety of local items; claims 5.5M users across 124 cities; raised ~$322M to date.

100M - Music streaming app Spotify announced that it had passed 100M subscribers. This keeps it well ahead of rival Apple Music, which said it had accumulated 50M subscribers by the end of 2018

$20/month - test price point for Adobe Creative Cloud Photography plan, double the previous cost; the $10 plan used to include Photoshop CC, Lightroom Classic CC, Lightroom CC, and 20GB cloud storage; the new $20 plan retains the three apps, but increases storage to 1TB; Adobe says the new package is only being offered to some customers.

3H/day - spent in mobile by the average user in 2018. App Annie published its yearly report The State of Mobile 2019.


📰 What’s going on

Uber adds public transit info for users in London; users will see schedules and door-to-door instructions for buses and trains alongside ride-hailing options; London is the second city to get such features after Denver, CO.

Uber’s IPO investor pitch is set to lay out its goals of becoming a platform for a multitude of services, going beyond ride-hailing and food delivery; Uber has also amended it’s prospectus to show its FQ1 growth was ~20%, which is less than half what it was a year prior.

Spotify begins trialing voice-enabled ads that encourage users to provide a verbal response to take action on ad content; the company is testing ads that lead a Spotify Original podcast and a Spotify Playlist; the ads are being presented to some US users of Spotify’s free tier.

Twitter signs new live video deals with Univision, NFL, ESPN, Live Nation, and others; includes agreements for Major League Soccer highlights, MTV Video Music Awards content, and more.

Mark Zuckerberg unveils Facebook redesign that highlights messaging, on-demand video, and marketplace features; the revamp de-prioritizes News Feed; also debuted a new feature for booking appointments via Messenger, news ways to engage with immediate social circles, more.

Facebook launches its Dating product in 14 new countries, bringing the total to 19; will go live in the US by year’s end; new Secret Crush feature enables a user to anonymously express interest in an existing contact; if the recipient also adds the sender as a Secret Crush, Facebook notifies both.

Facebook to launch Portal and Portal+ in Canada in June and in Europe this fall; both video chat devices will feature WhatsApp and support end-to-end call encryption.

Facebook unveils the enterprise edition of the Oculus Quest standalone VR headset; the base consumer version runs $400; the base enterprise edition costs $1k; associated services are free for the first year, $180/year after that; a web interface provides mass device management.

Amazon confirms it has been testing an online freight brokerage service since last year; freight.amazon.com lets users get quotes on warehouse-to-warehouse deliveries.

UAE-based e-commerce firm Souq rebrands as Amazon.ae; Amazon acquired Souq in 2017; Amazon has also launched a local operation in Israel.

Google launches CallJoy, a virtual customer service agent for small businesses; provides spam blocking, automatic handling of simple inquiries over SMS, voice call routing, more; the $40-per-month service, currently invite only, records and transcribes voice calls, making them searchable; also provides analytics.

Google will introduce a tool to let users automatically delete their location data and web activity after 3 or 18 months; the settings will be available via Google Dashboard.

Google is testing Express shopping recommendations under YouTube videos; currently, Nike videos feature related products and prices; Google is reportedly adding retailers to Express at an increased rate; Google takes a % from each sale on the Express platform.

Former Google Senior UX Designer and Inbox Co-Founder Michael Leggett launches Simplify, a free Chrome extension designed to de-clutter Gmail; uses CSS and JavaScript to bring the principles of Inbox to web Gmail.

Google Pixel 3a will start at $400 and Pixel 3a XL will cost $480 for 64GB versions — Google will reportedly also offer 128GB models; the devices will feature 1080p screens, 3.5mm headphone jacks, three color options, and 5.6-inch display for Pixel 3a, 6-inch display for Pixel 3a XL; promises Night Sight camera feature, fast charging, three years of software updates, and more.

Microsoft announces $3.5k HoloLens 2 developer edition; keeps the same hardware, but includes trials of Unity Pro, Unity PiXYZ Plugin for CAD data, and Azure credits; will also get Unreal Engine 4 support at the end of May.

Tim Cook says New York City’s MTA will begin adding Apple Pay support this summer; known as OMNY, the tap-to-pay system will be initially available at some subway entrance gates and on select buses; the MTA has previously announced OMNY will also support Android devices.

Samsung patents a screen that wraps around the front and back of a mobile device; the filing imagines various use cases including live language translations and a viewfinder that lets a photo’s subject see how they look.

Samsung is developing a Galaxy Home Mini speaker; full details unclear but it will feature support for Bluetooth 4.2.

Marriott launches Homes & Villas, an Airbnb-like home-sharing platform; Marriott began testing the service last year with ~200 homes in London; it’s now available in more than 100 markets across Europe, US, Caribbean,...

Chinese smart city data exposed via unprotected Elasticsearch database; the Alibaba Cloud-hosted database included hundreds of facial recognition scans; Alibaba has not disclosed the name of the client; the smart city project covers two areas in Beijing.

Sainsbury’s opens UK’s first cashierless store in central London; customers use Sainsbury’s mobile app to scan items as they shop, then use a contactless payment method to complete their shop.

Fiat Chrysler to ship all new vehicles with Google’s Android and Harman cloud platform software by 2022; starting this year, some new vehicles will feature live customer care, maintenance prediction, location information for charging and fuel stations, more.

Pornhub expresses interest in acquiring Tumblr; VP Corey Price says the company could purchase the platform and reinstate it “to its former glory with NSFW content”; follows a report Verizon is looking to sell the firm.

Niantic launches AR game “Harry Potter: Wizards Unite” as an open beta in Australia and New Zealand; available for iOS and Android, the title lets users search for digital items in the real world


💰Earnings Q1

Apple ($946B market cap) Q1 beats with $58B revenue ($57.4B expected); $31B iPhone revenue, $11.5B services revenue; has gained ~$300M in market value since January, when it reported disappointing results.

Alphabet ($899.2B market cap) Q1 mixed: $36.3B revenue, up 17% YoY ($37.3B expected); $6.9B traffic acquisition costs ($7.3B expected); $170M Other Bets revenue, up 13.3% YoY. CEO Sundar Pichai notes Android will be a part of the next phase of mobile which includes 5G tech and foldable devices.

Samsung Q1 ($261B market cap) meets: $45B revenue, -13.5% YoY; $5.4B profit, -60% YoY; $3.5B semiconductor profit, -64% YoY. Samsung shipped 78M phones and 5M tablets in Q1; the company says it expects to improvements in its chip business in the second half of this year.


📚 Something to think about

Game Changers: CB Insights shares the 36 private companies pioneering technology that could transform society and economics for the better.

The New York Times profiles the fast growth and subsequent struggle of bike-sharing firms in China; the reports highlights the billions-of-dollars invested in startups such as Mobike and Bluegogo, who have since struggled to reach profitability; many companies have found it difficult to pay for bike orders, leading to a surplus for manufacturers.

Can AI nudge us to make better choices? In this HBR article, Bob Suh explores different techniques for creating higher-EQ AI that organizations are putting to work to produce better outcomes.

Your company needs a strategy for voice technology. HBR shares how voice is already making a mark on a wide variety of industries, from healthcare to banking.

The only thing more important than Product-Market Fit. P-M-F was a term coined by Marc Andreesen and defined as, “being in a good market with a product that can satisfy that market.” Culture/market fit is similar, yet even more foundational. Find yourself a healthy market, yes; then develop a culture that can deliver product/market fit.

Inherently ambiguous and hard to measure, the value of design is usually often struggling to emerge in contrast to traditional metrics. In this note, Andrea Mignolo tries to unpack an often difficult topic for every business.

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