el producto #149 👉 a weekly round-up of Tech and Product goodness

Angel Jaime
Nov 16 · 7 min read

OpenTable-Postmates integration, Disney+ launch, UI dark patterns report, New MacBook Pro, 2020 Product conferences, GitHub app, Facebook Pay & more.

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


🎰 The week in figures

£100B: UK Labour party says it could offer every British home and business free fiber broadband by 2030 if it wins next month’s general election; it would nationalise part of BT, and introduce a tax on big tech firms to help pay for the scheme; Labour estimates the plan would cost £20B, while BT CEO Philip Jansen says £100B (~$128B).

$38.8B: Alibaba set a new sales record for the 24-hour Singles Day shopping event, reporting ~$38.3B in gross merchandise value (GMV); up ~26% from last year’s $30.5B (which was up 27% over previous).

$12B: Alibaba issues a partial guide price for its upcoming Hong Kong IPO; plans to raise +$12B, and will offer 12.5M shares at HK$188 (~$24) each.

3.2B: Facebook removed 3.2B fake accounts between April-September; up from 1.55B fake accounts over the same period last year; during Q3, the company removed 11.6M Facebook items and 754k Instagram items depicting child exploitation or nudity.

1.2B: The We Company informs investors it lost $1.2B in Q3, up 150% YoY; it had revenues of $984M, up 48% YoY.

$290M: Huawei will pay out a total of 2B yuan (~$290M) in staff bonuses to those helping the company weather a US trade ban; Huawei’s 190k staff will also receive double pay this month in recognition of their efforts.

10M: Disney ($269B market cap) reports 10M subscribers for streaming service Disney+, launched on Tuesday with connectivity problems the company attributed to unexpected demand; comparatively, Hulu recently claimed 28M users and Netflix 60M; Disney’s stock jumped 7% on the news.

2600: Google entered into an agreement with Ascension to gather health data from millions of patients using the health system’s 2600 US medical facilities. The news reflects Google’s increasing forays into healthcare. Google was recently advertising Senior Product roles for healthcare in London.

11.1%: Princeton and University of Chicago researchers find “UI dark patterns” in 11.1% of the ~11k shopping sites they analyzed; includes features designed to trick or mislead users into inadvertent purchases, unknowingly sharing data, more; sites more popular according to Alexa rankings were more likely to feature dark patterns.


📰 What’s going on

Netflix’s Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos suggests the company has not been distracted by the launch of Disney+; Sarandos noted Netflix would likely have to rely more on its catalog of content as additional competitors emerge.

Lyft suspends scooter-sharing services in six cities including Nashville and Atlanta; the company is also cutting 20 staff in the unit.

OpenTable integrates Postmates. The two foodtech giants have partnered to offer food delivery options via OpenTable apps in US.

Apple announces 16-inch MacBook Pro, starts at $2.4k; features a scissor switch keyboard, rather than the butterfly-style variant on other MacBook Pros; base model features 2.6GHz 6-core 9th gen Intel Core i7, 16GB RAM, and 512GB storage; replaces previous 15-inch model; available now.

Apple is developing a 3D sensor for use in a range of new devices including AR and VR headsets; the tech could let users create 3D representations of objects, spaces, and people; the company plans to launch a new iPad Pro and iPhone featuring the sensor as early as next year; Apple will then launch AR/VR devices featuring the tech in 2021.

Apple acquired 200k-plus News+ subscribers in the 48 hours following the product’s March launch but has struggled to grow its base; the $10-per-month service provides access to ~300 publications; sources indicated Apple might bundle News+ with Music and TV+.

Apple is funding and facilitating large-scale medical studies that track hundreds of thousands of participants; the company’s new Research app removes friction for enrollment and monitoring, reducing the need for in-person visits; Apple could influence how academic researchers treat subjects’ data, as the app provides participants granular control over what they share.

GitHub launches its first native mobile app; also launched Actions and Packages in general availability; a new pre-release program lets users test in-development features; an expanded Sponsors program enables anyone to contribute funds to a project.

Twitter to launch a new misinformation reporting tool for Britain’s Dec 12 election; specifically targets tweets intended to mislead users regarding registration and voting processes and dates; the company also developed custom election emoji activated by hashtags such as #GE19; Twitter will ban all political advertising this month.

Facebook launches Pay, a new payments system that works across Facebook properties; supports shopping, peer-to-peer payments, more; Pay is not connected with the Calibra crypto wallet or the Libra crypto network.

Facebook launches Shortcuts Bar Settings, enabling users to customize the navigation bar; users can remove tabs (Groups, Marketplace, etc), silence notifications dots, more.

Facebook is testing an Instagram-like feature called Popular Photos, which displays algorithmically selected pictures from friends in an endless feed; the feature appears in the full-screen view when a user opens an image from News Feed.

Instagram launches TikTok-like Reels, a short video tool for Stories; it lets users compose videos up to 15 seconds long and set them to music or any other audio; users can adjust speed, add effects, and more.

Instagram is expanding its test in hiding Like counts to a subset of users globally; affects a small percentage of users in every country where the app is live; affected users can see like counts for their own posts, but cannot see like counts on posts by other people who are part of the test.

Google is rolling out Rich Communication Services (RCS) support in the Android Messages app to all US users; adds Wi-Fi-based messaging, typing indicators, read receipts, more.

Google is developing “speed badging” to provide users info on why a website is likely slow to load; the badges will be used to identify sites authored in a way that makes them sluggish; the company says it may expand the badging to include slow networks or possible device issues.

Google launches an experimental feature in mobile search that uses AI to analyze and critique the user’s pronunciation; when the user searches for pronunciation guidance for a given word, Google prompts the user to speak it; then offers audio of the word pronounced correctly and explains any user mispronunciation.

Google will stop sharing some data with advertisers; starting in Feb 2020, the company will no longer pass along website descriptions during ad auctions; they will still see URLs, and user locations; some critics say the change does not go far enough to protect user data.

Automattic partners with Stripe for recurring payments across WordPress.com premium sites and third-party-hosted WordPress installations using Jetpack; enables weekly and monthly subscriptions, recurring donations, etc.

Nike will no longer sell products directly on Amazon; the company started selling its apparel on the marketplace in 2017; Nike says it now wants to focus on “more direct, personal relationships”; it will still use AWS.

Kubernetes-as-a-service company Mirantis acquires Docker’s Enterprise business and team; financial terms undisclosed; the deal includes all associated IP; Mirantis will continue to operate Docker Enterprise without changing branding; Docker the company will continue to offer developer tools; Docker has also just raised $35M.

Salesforce to transition its Marketing Cloud to Microsoft’s Azure infrastructure, marking the end of the companies’ rivalry; Salesforce uses AWS for online services and announced in 2017 it would use also Google Cloud; Microsoft has announced large cloud agreements this year, including a deal with AT&T and a Pentagon contract that could be worth $10B.

TikTok begins testing URL links within user bios; the firm is also letting some users add e-commerce links to their videos; similar to Instagram, the links open within an in-app browser.

Elon Musk announces Tesla will build Gigafactory 4 in the Berlin area, near the new airport; also plans a design and engineering center in Berlin; earlier this summer Musk said he expected the European Gigafactory would be operational by the end of 2021.

SpaceX successfully launched its second 60-unit batch of Starlink satellites; first batch launched in May; Monday’s launch represented the company’s first reuse of a fairing protection shield, and its first time using a booster rocket for the fourth time; SpaceX applied to launch a total of 42k Starlink satellites to provide global broadband coverage.

Ford’s upcoming all-electric SUV will be known as the Mustang Mach-E; it will be officially unveiled at an event in LA this weekend; pre-orders for the Mustang Mach-E open on Nov 17.


👩🏾‍💻 Good reads

2020 Product Conferences. Teresa Torres has once again put together a handy guide for Product Conferences across the globe in 2020.

#ProductCon Los Angeles Summary: Presentations + Videos.

Report: Deep Tech trends in 2019, by venture capital and investment management firm SOSV.

8 ways to focus your Product team on Impact, not Features, by John Cutler. “I work in a feature factory! What can I do to nudge my organization to focus more on impact and less on delivering features?”

Demystifying Network Effects. In a world of plummeting coordination costs, mastering the basics of network effects is an increasingly important skill. Brilliant recap on network effects including examples from Airbnb and Uber.

The importance of outcome metrics.With software teams, if builders don’t engage in discovery, often no one will so long as there is “demand.” The result has been a world full of features that work as specified but do not create any value.”

AI bias. AIs trained on volumes of digitized text learn biases that manifest in unpredictable ways, The New York Times reports; AI can associate some activities, like programming, with men; can also assign negative sentiment to any content about Donald Trump; mitigating bias in AI is a top priority for Google; Amazon noted a significant commitment of resources to the issue.


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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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