el producto #128 👉 a weekly round-up of Tech and Product goodness

Angel Jaime
Jun 22 · 7 min read

Facebook’s cryptocurrency, Slack goes public, Twitter’s Mac app, Netflix hackathon,Lessons from hypergrowth at Airbnb, Internet via light bulbs, …


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

🎰 The week in figures

$20B - Slack opens on the NYSE at $38.50, a 48% up after reference pricing at $26 per share; the company set an asking price of $37 for the direct listing; continued to rise after market open, pushing Slack’s capitalization to ~$20B.

$105M - Optimizely secures in new funding; Optimizely offers tools for testing apps and websites; not including credit, the company has raised $200M to date.

20M - weekly YouTube Kids users; children tend to transition over to the main platform before they reach 13, usually around the age of seven; the report notes regular YouTube gives parents tools to screen clips for their kids.

~40% - drop in global shipments expected by Huawei this year because of US trade ban; the company is considering a number of moves including pulling the Honor 20, which is set to launch in Europe on June 21; Huawei’s market share in China could grow to as much as 45% as its strategies shift; the company’s annual revenue is expected to fall to ~$100B over the next 2years; the company reported income of $104B last year, and had anticipated as much as $125B this year.

~1.5% - of all Canadian housing rental supply is available through Airbnb. In 2018 there were ~128k active daily listings on Airbnb, generating revenue of $1.8B, up 40% on 2017.


📰 What’s going on

Apple adds picture-in-picture support in the latest tvOS 13 beta; lets users shrink the main screen down to one corner while scrolling through other content; picture-in-picture is currently limited to the Apple TV app.

Apple introduces active subscription alerts in the latest iOS 13 beta; users are given the option to manage a subscription when removing an app.

Apple plans to finance six movies for its upcoming Apple TV+ service; the company is reportedly seeking films that have award potential, and intends to spend $5M — $30M on each project.

Apple issues a voluntary recall for select MacBook Pro variants; the company says some 15-inch models sold between Sept 2015 and Feb 2017 have potential battery issues that may cause dangerous overheating.

Alibaba partners with Audi, Honda, and Renault to deploy in-vehicle voice services in China; will use Alibaba AI Lab’s Tmall Genie Auto to provide food ordering, movie ticket purchases, information about nearby restaurants and attractions, more; will also enable remote voice control of Tmall Genie home smart speakers.

Twitter to relaunch its Mac app when Apple releases OS X Catalina with Project Catalyst, which simplifies bringing iPad apps to Mac; Twitter discontinued the app last year, citing difficulties in maintaining divergent code.

Microsoft-owned GitHub acquires Pull Panda, a service to help teams with code reviews; terms undisclosed; Pull Panda offers free and premium tools for developers working on collaborative projects; GitHub is making all Pull Panda tools free.

Facebook announces Libra, a blockchain-based cryptocurrency that will launch in 2020; Facebook has released a white paper outlining the project, noting it will be tied to government-backed currencies and securities; it will also be overseen by the Libra Association, a non-profit based in Geneva, Switzerland; PayPal, Mastercard, and Visa are among the 28 founding members, all of whom are committing $10M each to help support Libra’s value; Facebook says it will not have access to users’ Libra transaction data; Libra will also not be used for ad targeting or other forms of Facebook personalization.

Facebook establishes Calibra, a financial services subsidiary; the unit’s first product will be a digital wallet, also called Calibra; it will allow users to send and receive Libra, and the company plans to add bill payments and more; it will be made available within Messenger, WhatsApp, and as a standalone app; set to launch in 2020; Calibra users will have to validate their identity using a government-issued ID; other companies wishing to build Libra wallets can establish their own verification process.

Facebook open-sources AI Habitat, a simulation platform that uses photo-realistic 3D environments to train AI for embodied agents (physical robots) and for improved physical awareness in software agents; potential applications include a software agent that provides navigation for the visually impaired and a robot that can locate missing items in a home.

Facebook invests undisclosed amount in India-based reseller network Meesho; serves SMBs and individuals selling from home; runs mini-marketplaces on Facebook, WhatsApp, more; also offers shipping services; raised $65M before Facebook’s new investment.

Instagram begins testing tools to help users recover hacked accounts; includes providing device-sensitive login codes and placing restrictions on username registration.

Google announces a plan to roll out direct RCS support for Android users in the UK and France later this month; more locations will be added over time; users will be able to opt into the service via Android Messages; Google says it will delete messages from its servers once they’re delivered, though stickers, photos, and other attachments may be stored for a period; RCS does not yet support end-to-end encryption.

Signify (formerly Philips Hue) announces Truelifi, a light bulb system that promises to transmit internet data to connected devices at speeds of up to 150 Mbps; similar to Wi-Fi, Li-Fi uses light waves in place of radio frequencies to carry data; details of the Truelifi lineup unknown, but it will include point-to-point transmitters to capable of speeds of up to 250 Mbps.

India-based ride-hailing firm Ola announces plans for an R&D facility in Silicon Valley; the company intends to hire 150 engineers for the location; it will focus on EVs and self-driving cars.

Domino’s announces autonomous pizza delivery pilot in Houston; will use Nuro’s fully electric R2, a vehicle that dedicates virtually all interior space to cargo; the customer will opt into self-driving delivery when ordering via website or app; the company will generate a PIN for accessing the vehicle’s compartments.

Airbus to launch on-demand helicopter business Voom in the US this fall; currently limited to Latin America; Uber recently announced its air taxi service, Copter, will launch next month, carrying passengers between lower Manhattan and the JFK airport; Voom also plans to launch in Asia (countries undisclosed) this year.

JP Morgan is working on a new digital banking product based out of London; JP Morgan is hiring developers with experience working on full-stack and cloud-based projects; one source speculates the firm is developing a cloud banking platform.

Atlassian publishes its term sheet for acquisitions; targets a streamlined process that enables founders to focus on integration rather than negotiations; the terms set lower-than-average escrow holdings and wait periods; the company aims to mitigate time and expense dedicated to intellectual property; has acquired ~20 companies for a total of ~$1B.

Niantic officially launches “Harry Potter: Wizards Unite”; the company released the AR mobile game in the US and the UK; adding more locations on a rolling basis.

Waymo signs a research partnership with carmakers Renault and Nissan; the companies will investigate how self-driving tech can be implemented in France and Japan; the firms will look at legal and regulatory issues, as well as possible commercial implementations.

Baidu unveils Apollo Lite, a vision-based framework for Level 4 autonomous driving; uses ten cameras for 360-degree awareness, detecting objects up to 700 feet away; the company has tested Lidar-free self-driving vehicles on public roads; expects to achieve full autonomy on urban roads and highways next year.

Amazon receives a patent for a drone surveillance service; the filing explains how a UAV could monitor an area for property vulnerabilities such as open windows or garage doors; residents could then be notified and drones would remain in place to surveil the scene.

Jeff Bezos’ space company Blue Origin test fires an engine for its Moon lander for the first time; Bezos tweeted a video of the engine (known as BE-7), noting the hardware is in “perfect condition”.


👩🏾‍💻Good reads

Netflix showcases several projects from a recent company hackathon; Project Rumble Pak explores the possibility of activating a smartphone’s haptics during key moments in a movie or show; TerraVision is a software program that lets filmmakers discover shooting locations using a reference photo; the system uses computer vision tools to search through its locations library and return suggestions.

Building a chatbot for Facebook essenger in 5 minutes. Larry Kim walk us through the creation of a simple chatbot.

How I survived insane hypergrowth at Airbnb. A former Director of Product at Airbnb shares some of the challenges and lessons learnt during the startup’s massive scale period 2011 -2017.

A look at Monzo and Satrling, the British mobile banks of the future, now. Bonus: here’s a short piece I wrote about Monzo a couple of years ago.


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Angel Jaime

Written by

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