el producto #143 👉 a weekly round-up of Tech and Product goodness

Angel Jaime

Uber Works, 2019 internet trends, Instagram’s messaging app, Revolut expansion, Upcoming new iPhone, Ethical Product Management & more.


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


🎰 The week in figures

$108B: SoftBank is responsible for $1 in every $10 spent by VC firms in 2019 so far; the company’s Vision Fund has been involved in 8% of all VC investments this year; SoftBank is raising $108B for its second Vision Fund.

$100B: Southeast Asia’s internet economy is predicted to reach $100B this year, increasing to $300B by 2025, according to a joint report from Google, Temasek, and Bain & Company; the study covers Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam, Singapore, and the Philippines; it says growth in the region has exceeded previous expectations and cites broad internet access and expansive consumer trust in online services as key factors.

$8.4B: China-based ByteDance, owner of TikTok, generated $7B-$8.4B revenue in the first half of 2019; the initial half of 2019 was unprofitable for the company, but it made money in June; it also expects to make money for the second half of the year; ByteDance was valued at $78B in 2018.

$2.5B: Dockless scooter company Bird raises $275M Series D at a $2.5B valuation; Bird lost $100M in the first quarter, and revenue dropped to ~$15M; since then, the company has launched two new scooters with improved longevity and unit economics; the funding can enable more vehicle R&D and a path to profitability.

$2B: Tesla’s $2B Shanghai factory is set to become operational this month; the plant is designed to produce at least 1k Model 3 vehicles a week.

$10M: Google.org announces a $10M scheme to provide capital and training to individuals from low-income backgrounds who are starting their own business; $2M from the program will go to the American Library Association to establish library-based entrepreneurship hubs in 10 states.

70%: The People’s Bank of China approves PayPal’s acquisition of a 70% stake in payment services company GoPay; PayPal will complete the deal under its China-based subsidiary Yinbaobao; PayPal will be one of the first international companies to obtain a payments license in the country.


📰 What’s going on

Uber launches Uber Works, an app that pairs temp shift workers with available jobs; initially available in Chicago, the service shows details of nearby roles including pay and required skills; individuals can then apply for work through the app, and those hired can also use it to track their hours.

Uber expands its Uber Copter service to all customers in New York City; previously available to select users only, Uber Copter transports passengers between lower Manhattan and JFK airport in roughly eight minutes.

Uber is testing a feature that lets riders record audio during their journey; the tool, found within the app’s Safety Toolkit, lets riders capture a recording that they can then share with Uber.

Twitter begins testing a DM filter tool that automatically hides potentially offensive messages; the feature scans conversation requests for specific language, moving flagged DMs to an additional messages folder; the DMs are labeled with warning, but users can still choose to read them.

Revolut signs a strategic partnership with Visa as it announces a plan to expand into 24 new markets and hire 3.5k staff around the world; the company, which offers app-based banking services, will roll out to the US, Brazil, Japan, and more by the end of this year.

The We Company is selling off subsidiaries Teem and SpaceIQ; Teem offers room scheduling software, while SpaceIQ provides workplace management tools; Teem was acquired for $94M last year; SpaceIQ was purchased earlier this year (price undisclosed). Fitch Ratings downgrades The We Company’s credit rating from B to CCC+, saying the firm does not have “sufficient funding to meet its growth plan”.

Apple will soon allow Siri to default to third-party messaging and call apps; the company is set to update Siri later this year, letting users set specific apps for individual contacts; it will work with WhatsApp, Skype, and more; users currently have to ask the digital assistant to initiate contact using their preferred app, otherwise it defaults to Apple’s Messages.

Apple will launch a new iPhone SE in Q1 2020; the device will have the look of an iPhone 8 and feature a 4.7-inch LCD display, but have newer internals including an A13 processor and 3GB RAM.

Apple News+ launches in the UK and Australia; the news aggregation service includes some access to premium publications including The Wall Street Journal and Esquire; costs £10 per month in the UK and A$15 in Australia; compares with $10 in the US.

Instagram launches Threads (iOS, Android), a messaging app that utilizes a user’s Close Friends list; opens directly to camera to allow for quick photo and video sharing; also lets users automatically share their current location and battery level.

WhatsApp is set to introduce a self-destructing messages feature; the tool lets users set their outgoing messages to disappear after five seconds or one hour; WhatsApp is testing the feature for Android.

Google Maps rolls out Incognito Mode; first announced earlier this year, the feature prevents activities from being linked to a user’s account; Google is also rolling out auto-scrub tools for YouTube search and watch histories; lets users set an activity delete schedule of three months or 18 months.

Google rolls its Express ecommerce service into Shopping and rebrands its web and mobile apps; Google Shopping now features personalized recommendations, price tracking, and more; includes new a Lens feature that users snap pictures of fashion items to get style suggestions.

Google makes its Password Checkup feature an inherent part of Chrome; previously available as a Chrome Extension, the tool checks website logins and warns users if a username and password combination is likely compromised.

Google is testing its Duplex booking tool for Chrome; the Google Assistant-based feature promises to let users automatically book movie tickets and more after responding to a few prompts; Duplex is already available via Assistant on smartphones.

Google Pixel 4 will include a voice recording app with automatic transcription; known as Google Recorder, the tool works with or without an active internet connection; also includes the ability to search through audio recordings; Pixel 4 is expected to be announced on Oct 15.

Microsoft unveils Surface Neo, a dual-screen device the company plans to launch late next year; pairs with a detachable keyboard and redesigned Surface pen; also runs Windows 10X, a build of Windows designed for new form factors.

Microsoft announces $250 Surface Earbuds; each bud features two mics, and promise eight hours of battery on a single charge, while the carry case holds 24 hours worth of power; includes Office integration for dictation.

HP says it plans to cut 7k to 9k jobs, the equivalent of 13%-16% of its workforce; the firm expects the attrition will occur through 2020, and will be made up of voluntary retirement and targeted cuts.

The We Company is set to announce job cuts this month; the company is expected to cut as many as 2k roles.

Huawei Mate 30 users are no longer able to download Google apps via a workaround; following a US trade ban, a tool known as LZPlay emerged, allowing Mate 30 customers to install apps such as Gmail and Google Maps manually; that software no longer works, though it’s unclear how exactly it was shutdown; Huawei denies any involvement in the creation of LZPlay.

The French government is set to launch a national ID scheme that utilizes facial recognition tech next month; known as Alicem, the program seeks to use imaging tech to verify individuals when logging into tax services, bank accounts, and more.


👩🏾‍💻 Good reads

Sandvine’s 2019 Internet Trends. The global report. Streaming video continues to dominate internet consumption, but the content sources are fragmenting from the convenience of Netflix as the aggregator to many brands with unique original offerings. This has a big effect on overall internet traffic patterns, as it has also resulted in an increase in file sharing as users seek to avoid spending more money on subscriptions.

An interview with Alibaba Group chairman and CEO Daniel Zhang. The chairman and CEO of China’s e-commerce giant describes Alibaba’s approach to innovation and how he balances analytics and instinct to push himself to spot hidden opportunities.

How to be an ethical Product Manager. Good advice on how not to trade off people’s positive experiences and outcomes by business objectives. Common sense? Maybe. But is it always used? And are we aware of that?

How companies like Google and Alibaba respond to fast-moving markets. Dave Ulrich, professor at the University of Michigan Ross School of Business, argues today’s companies need to replace old hierarchical models with he calls a “market-oriented ecosystem.” From research at Alibaba, Google, Huawei, Supercell, and others, he shows the impressive results of orienting teams and processes toward market opportunities.

Scrum vs Waterfall. Scrum is not the holy grail, and both have their place in their own context.


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Angel Jaime

Written by

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

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