el producto #122 👉 a weekly round-up of Tech and Product goodness

Angel Jaime
May 11 · 7 min read

Google live captions, AliExpress opens to international sellers, Lyft car rentals, Uber’s NYSE debut, The greatest coach, New Mac Pro, Hiring Product talent, …


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

🎰 The week in figures

$200M - raises ride-hailing firm Gett on a $1.5B valuation from Volkswagen, Access, and others; the company says it will likely be the last round before it goes public, which is expected to happen by the end of Q1 2020.

$25M - Google.org’s Global AI Impact Challenge awards to organizations using machine learning to address critical challenges; checks range from $500k to $2M; a sample of recipients: the New York City Fire Department is working to reduce response times; Rainforest Connection will detect illegal logging; a Colombian university will detect illegal mining that contaminates drinking water.

15M - Google reaches more than 15M users for its music streaming services; covers YouTube Music, and Google Play Music (which is being rolled into YouTube Music); compares with Spotify (more than 100M subscribers) and Apple Music (more than 50M).

$42 - Uber debuts on the NYSE at $42 per share after pricing at $45; the pricing valued the company at $75.4B; Uber is the 2nd rideshare company to go public in the US; Lyft stock is down 20% since its Nasdaq debut in March; Uber closes its 1st day of trading at $41.60 per share, down almost 8%.


📰 What’s going on

Google announces Driving Mode update for Assistant; enables voice-responsive notifications; for example, if a call comes in during navigation, the user can say “yes” or “no” to accept or decline the call.

Google announces Live Caption, a feature that provides automatic audio captions for on-device video; part of Android Q, the tech promises to work across apps and with live video; makes use of localized machine learning, which also lets Live Caption work offline.

Google announces a scheme to let Android users in emerging markets pay for apps using cash; users in India and some other markets can opt to receive a payment code when downloading an app; the app is locked until the customer visits a store and pays to access it; refunds come in the form of Play store credit.

Google announces Kotlin is now the preferred language for Android app development; will launch many new Jetpack APIs and features in Kotlin first; Google encourages developers to start new projects in Kotlin, noting it will result in less code, and therefore, simplified testing and maintenance.

Google launches dynamic features for the Android App Bundle publishing in general availability; on-demand delivery only installs portions of an app when needed; conditional delivery installs portions based on device specs, user location, more; instant experiences feature enables instant play on Google Play with only one artifact upload.

Google rebrands Home Hub as Nest Hub and cuts the price from $150 to $130; the device is also launching in 12 additional countries including Canada, Germany, and Japan.

Google unveils 10-inch smart display with video camera, Nest Hub Max; the $230 device launches this summer; supports hand gestures, facial recognition, on-device machine learning, more; the camera can move to track subjects.

Apple will announce updates for core iOS apps such as Maps, Reminders, and Messages at next month’s WWDC; the firm will also introduce new features for Apple Watch that allow it to operate more independently from iPhone; includes an App Store, calculator, audio books app, and more.

Apple is considering revealing the new Mac Pro and a new external monitor at WWDC next month; the company plans to launch the App Store on Apple Watch and will launch Apple-branded apps for audio books, new health apps, more.

Tim Cook says Apple averages one acquisition every 2–3 weeks and that the company has bought 20-25 businesses in the last 6 months; most buys target talent and intellectual property; in its FQ2 earnings report, Apple claimed $225.4B cash on hand.

Apple will implement new antenna tech in its upcoming iPhone lineup and introduce a 5G model in 2020; the company will implement an antenna structure known as modified-PI, which promises better indoor navigation.

Alibaba opens its AliExpress e-commerce platform to sellers outside China for the first time; now accepting sellers from Italy, Russia, Spain, and Turkey; plans more markets; AliExpress President Trudy Dai said the move supports a broader globalization strategy.

Facebook begins testing its fact-checking program against Instagram posts; content flagged as potentially misleading will be sent to the same dashboard fact checkers already use; those teams will then review and label any false news; Instagram is also considering information literacy features such as pop-ups for when a user searches for anti-vaccination content.

Facebook will base its WhatsApp payments team in London; the unit will develop digital remittance tech, as well as anti-spam features, and more; Facebook says it chose London because the city attracts talent from countries where WhatsApp is popular.

Twitter launches a feature to let users add images, videos, and GIFs to retweets; rolling out now for iOS, Android, mobile web.

Square ($29B market cap) acquires AI-powered customer support agent company Eloquent Labs; targets small e-commerce businesses with Elle, a virtual chat agent that supports returns, product tracking, FAQ, more.

Microsoft to open-source its Quantum Development Kit this summer on GitHub; will include the Q# language, libraries, simulators, and compilers; the company will provide Visual Studio and Visual Studio Code extensions.

Microsoft launches Visual Studio Online in limited preview; intended as a companion rather than a primary environment; supports edits, pull request reviews, etc; also works with all Visual Studio Code extensions; features workspaces, IntelliCode support, more.

Walmart inadvertently ships some pre-ordered Oculus Quest units three weeks before launch; multiple Reddit users reported receiving the VR headset and published photos; Facebook said those customers would not be able to set up their devices until the software release on May 21.

Netflix acquires preschool education and entertainment brand StoryBots; the founders have an overall deal with Netflix to expand the franchise

Slack to live-stream its Investor Day event from New York City on Monday; the stream, accessible on Slack’s website, will enable the public to view the invite-only meeting, in which the company will pitch its coming direct listing to prospective shareholders; Slack could debut on the NYSE as soon as next month.

Uber signs a strategic partnership with India-based bike-sharing firm Yulu; the companies are launching a pilot scheme to let users rent Yulu e-bikes via Uber’s app.

Lyft ($17B market cap) FQ1 results mixed: $776M revenue ($739.5M expected); $1.1B loss; the company recorded 20.5M active riders, up 46% YoY.

Lyft to offer rides via Waymo’s driverless vehicles in the Phoenix area this summer; Waymo will make ten vehicles available via Lyft’s app; riders in certain areas will have the option to select autonomous trips.

Lyft is testing car rentals with select customers in San Francisco; the program supports long trips, such as weekend getaways; the company has a rental lot in the Mission; current pricing is $60 per day for a sedan, $100 per day for an SUV; customers can request add-ons like bike racks and snow chains.

Volkswagen to develop e-scooters in partnership with Chinese firm NIU.

Researchers at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab to present a method for significantly reducing the size of deep neural networks without compromising accuracy; the tech involves repeatedly pruning unnecessary connections between functions.

Bezos unveils Blue Moon, Blue Origin’s lunar lander; NASA plans manned moon landings within 5 years, and ultimately to use the moon as a staging platform for longer missions; Blue Origin aims to participate; the company plans to take humans to space later this year via the New Shepard suborbital rocket; Blue Origin’s cargo craft, New Glenn, is slated to launch in 2021.


📚 Something to think about

The Greatest Coach. Steve Jobs, Larry Page, Sergey Brin and Jeff Bezos had something in common during their company’s formative years — they were all coached by the same person, Bill Campbell. Marty Cagan shares some notes on the impact that Bill made.

The success of Amazon Prime told by those who were there at its beginning. Vox has talked to the rank-and-file employees and the top company executives who built Prime.

“Look, here’s 20 names and here’s the three that we actually like better than Prime.” … Jeff came in and he read the document, he says, “Oh, okay, this is great. I agree. I like Prime.” And then laughed.

Ikea’s 4-month experiment shops. Ikea is using a temporary smaller-scale shop format to gather customer insights and target new segments.

Find, vet and close the best Product Managers (video). Todd Jackson (VP or Product at Dropbox) shares his best practices to find (skills and experience), evaluate (interview) and hire the best product talent.

When data and research are a waste. Charles Lambdin shows why “more data” is not always a good thing. It’s way more important why we need, how (if) we can interpret it, and what can we do with it.

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Angel Jaime

Written by

Full-time learner, product stuff, “triathlete” & global traveller. Former product @ Booking.com and @ Just Eat.