el producto #123 👉 a weekly round-up of Tech and Product goodness

Angel Jaime
May 18 · 7 min read

Amazon flight bookings, Twitter Developer Labs, Google’s push for Trips, Spotify’s stories, Amazon invests in Deliveroo, Portfolio Maps,…


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

🎰 The week in figures

$10B-$12B - target valuation by food delivery company DoorDash, currently raising new investment on a B round.

$9B - SoftBank’s market cap drops ~$9B following Uber’s IPO; SoftBank’s valuation fell 5.4% on Friday, dropping an additional 4.9% Monday; SoftBank is one of Uber’s largest investors.

$2.1B - valuation of neighborhood-based social network Nextdoor after raising $123M Series F; users post notices for lost pets, request recommendations for home service providers, more; generates revenue via sponsored posts and a real estate vertical; claims ~236k active neighborhoods.

$800M – Israeli freelance services marketplace Fiverr files for NYSE IPO; enables artists, actors, others to offer gig services; Fiverr collects transaction and service fees; last privately valued at $262M; Fiverr would seek an $800M valuation for IPO.

~$577M – French telecom Orange acquires remote access provider SecureLink for ~$577M; the latter also provides detection and response services, consulting, more; SecureLink’s entire team will join Orange.

$575M - Deliveroo is raising, a significant portion of which will come from Amazon; Amazon shut down its London-based Restaurants UK service last December, due in part to competition from Uber Eats and Deliveroo; Amazon and Uber reportedly held talks to acquire Deliveroo.

$484M raises Berlin-based travel activity marketplace GetYourGuide on Series E led by SoftBank’s Vision Fund (Ted Fike joins board); the company revealed it is now a unicorn but did not disclose valuation; enables users to book sightseeing tours, skill classes, more.

18.6M - Disney-owned Hotstar claims to have set a global video streaming record as 18.6M people watch the deciding game of an Indian Premier League (IPL) cricket tournament; India-based Hotstar says the tournament garnered 267M views throughout, which compares with 202M for last year.


📰 What’s going on

Amazon launches a flight booking service in India; the company is partnering with local travel firm Cleartrip to let users find and book flights on a number of airlines including Vistara UK, GoAir, and SpiceJet.

Amazon launches Counter, a click-and-collect service for the UK and Italy; the company is partnering with retailers such as Next (UK) and Giunti (Italy) to let customers pick up Amazon packages from brick-and-mortar stores; Amazon says it plans to introduce Counter in more European countries.

Amazon rolls out its free Alexa Guard security monitoring feature to all Echo customers in the US; users let Alexa know when they’re leaving, and Echo’s mics monitor for sounds such as breaking glass and alarms; if anything is detected, a notification is sent to the user’s smartphone.

Twitter launches Developer Labs, a program enabling coders to preview coming product features and APIs; developers will provide feedback to inform final versions; the program is part of a broader initiative to simplify developer tools and offer more robust features.

Apple updates iOS and tvOS, releases the redesigned Apple TV app; the TV app is also launching on Samsung smart TVs; the app adds new premium channels, including HBO, Showtime, and Starz; this fall, Apple will launch its TV+ service with original programming.

Google combines its web-based travel products into a single platform called Trips; lets users search for flights, hotels, and vacation packages; users can also view recommended destinations; as with the Google Trips mobile app, the service also provides a single repository for booked travel.

Google announces Discovery, a new ad format that works across YouTube, Gmail, and Google Discover (formerly Google Now); Discovery ads are targeted at audiences, rather then keyword-based; they also adjust to the layout of where they’re placed; Discovery ads will roll out later this year.

Google Play begins suggesting Android users remove old apps they no longer use; some users report seeing a notification that takes them to an app management page within Google Play; from there they see a list of suggested apps to remove and just how much device space they will regain.

Google reveals Translatotron, an AI system designed to translate a person’s speech and generate audio for the target language in the speaker’s voice; in January, Google launched Interpreter Mode for its Home speakers.

YouTube VR to launch an app for the Oculus Quest headset, which launches May 21; YouTube’s platform features 1M-plus stereoscopic 3D videos and experiences; supports voice search and non-VR content; YouTube previously launched the app for a variety of headsets and platforms, including Daydream View, Samsung Gear VR, and PlayStation VR.

WhatsApp fixes a vulnerability that let third-parties remotely install spyware on targeted devices; a bug in WhatsApp’s audio call feature let malicious actors gain access, even if a call wasn’t answered; the flaw was reportedly exploited by Israel-based NSO Group, whose tools have previously been linked to the surveillance of Saudi Arabian dissidents.

Spotify begins testing Storyline, an Instagram Stories-like format that lets fans view insights from artists; users can tap through the card-based interface as music plays; currently available to some iOS and Android users.

Spotify to test Car Thing, a voice-controlled hardware device that pairs with a smartphone for music and podcast control; Spotify will send units to a limited test group in the US; Car Thing will monitor user listening habits to inform product development; Spotify trademarked the brand, as well as Voice Thing and Home Thing.

Wing to pilot drone deliveries in Helsinki’s Vuosaari district starting next month; the city’s largest and most populous district is bordered by water on three sides; Wing will initially deliver meals and snacks from Herkku Food Market and Cafe Monami; Helsinki is developing its public transit system with the goal of making vehicle ownership obsolete by 2025.

Microsoft and Sony announce a strategic partnership to develop cloud-based streaming tech; the two companies will explore options for an Azure-based platform and a developer environment for game creators; Microsoft and Sony also plan to collaborate on semiconductors and AI tech.

Microsoft unveils «Minecraft Earth,» a free-to-play AR game launching in beta for iOS and Android this summer; co-developed with the HoloLens team, the game enables users to place their creations in real-world locations; creations are persistent and viewable by others; players collect «tapables» in the real world for building supplies.

Adobe emails some customers inviting them to apply for the Photoshop CC beta test for iPad; it’s unknown when the app will launch, but Adobe has previously said it will arrive sometime this year; Photoshop CC for iOS promises to have a majority of the equivalent desktop features, an optimized touch UI, and more.

Email campaign platform MailChimp expands to offer a range of marketing services and products, including domain sales, a site builder, ad retargeting, and social media management; the Atlanta-based company claims 11M active users reaching 4B mailing list members; on track to generate $700M in revenue this year.

Tinder to launch a Lite version of its app for emerging markets; Uber, Spotify, Google, and Facebook all offer Lite apps; Tinder averaged 4.7M paid subscribers in the first quarter, up from 1.3M a year earlier; Tinder doesn’t disclose its total user base.

Japan-based messaging app Line adds a Stories feature; users can share posts containing images and videos that disappear after 24 hours.

Lenovo showcases the world’s first foldable display laptop; the prototype device features a 13.3-inch 4:3 OLED touchscreen and runs Windows 10; promises to let users type on a digital keyboard, or to connect a physical keyboard; unknown if or when Lenovo will launch a consumer product.

Machine translation is boosting global trade. After Ebay began using algorithms to translate product listings from English to Spanish, it boosted sales to Spanish-speaking Latin American countries by 11%

Plant-based meat and dairy substitute company Impossible Foods raises $300M at a $2B; Burger King plans to roll out its Impossible Whopper, which uses Impossible Foods’ patty, US-wide by year’s end; competitor Beyond Meat surged in its Nasdaq debut this month; raised $688M to date.

American Express acquires restaurant reservations and back-of-house platform Resy; Resy will continue to operate as a standalone entity but will integrate features with American Express; Resy serves 4k restaurants in 10 countries and claims to seat 2.6M diners per week; previously raised $45M.

VMWare acquires server app and development environment company Bitnami (YC W13); Bitnami enables customers to deliver app packages via any cloud; founded in 2011, Bitnami raised $1.1M in its early days and has been profitable since.


đź“š Something to think about

The empty promise of data moats. Good piece by a16z challenging the value of excessive or purposeless data as a defensibility mechanism in startups.

TikTok is China’s most important export. Chinese apps, made more addictive through machine-learning, are outcompeting US ones.

Business Model evolution using the Portfolio Map. Strategyzer shares a visual tool to show the evolution of a company’s business model over its lifecycle by measuring risk vs return.

How voice assistants could change the way we shop. Good piece by Kane Simms highlighting the opportunities and challenges of ecommerce via voice. We may not be there yet (a voice interface by itself will hardly help in a search result / decision scenario), but we can get the foundations ready.

Using voice interfaces to make Products more inclusive. Cathy Pearl, head of conversation design outreach at Google, shares ways in which voice can help improve products and services for underrepresented groups.

The ugly truth about why your product development team is so slow. Nacho Bassino explains that you must consider how the maintenance work grows over time as a serious threat to your product development speed and cost.

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Angel Jaime

Written by

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