el producto #150 👉 a weekly round-up of Tech and Product goodness

Angel Jaime
Nov 23 · 8 min read

Teams vs Slack, Uber audio & video recording, Facebook’s meme app, Apple Music for business, Podcasts for PMs, OKRs vs KPIs, Ford’s EV, TikTok growth & more.

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


🎰 The week in figures

$21B: China launches $21B fund for the advanced manufacturing sector, including new materials, electrical equipment, and information tech; will invest in younger and established companies; last month China established a $29B semiconductor fund

£4.9B: Naspers-owned Prosus encourages Just Eat shareholders to accept its £4.9B takeover bid; Prosus made the offer despite UK-based Just Eat entering a merger with fellow food delivery firm Takeaway.com; Prosus says the Takeaway.com deal underestimates the future investment Just Eat requires.

$4B: PayPal ($122B market cap) to acquire price comparison and coupon discovery company Honey for $4B; it’s PayPal’s largest acquisition to date; Honey’s mobile app and browser extension claim 17M monthly active users.

$2.5B: Analytics firm Celonis raises $290M Series C on a $2.5B post-money valuation; the company offers data monitoring tools to enterprise customers.

1.5B: TikTok has passed 1.5B downloads worldwide across the App Store and Google Play; it has been downloaded 466M times in India, 173M times in China, and 123M times in the US.

$500M: Airbnb signs a multi-year sponsorship deal with the International Olympic Committee (IOC); FT says the partnership is worth $500M; as part of the arrangement Airbnb will offer event attendees guaranteed accommodation in host cities; Airbnb is expected to IPO in 2020.

400M: Almost 400M of Facebook’s 2.45B MAUs are fake and duplicate accounts: the company claims its user base has grown 18% over the past 2 years, taking fraudulent accounts into consideration, the growth is around 7%

20M: Microsoft says its group communications service Teams has reached 20M users, up from 13M in July; competitor Slack has 12M users. Slack’s share price dropped as much as 11% on the news; the company’s shares are down ~45% since their day one in June.

$1.5M: Google increases its maximum bug bounty reward for Android exploits to $1.5M.

2400: WeWork lays of 2.4k employees globally; will provide severance and continued benefits; SoftBank has pressed for significant streamlining after bailing the company out in the wake of a failed IPO.

41%: Tech stocks are set to achieve their best year since 2009; the S&P 500’s tech sector is up 41% for the year (the index has gained 25% overall in 2019); semiconductor companies and ancillary firms have seen the most gains.


📰 What’s going on

Spotify announces Your Daily Podcasts, enabling users to discover and follow podcasts surfaced via the same tech the company uses for personalized music playlists Discover Weekly and Daily Mix; the custom podcast playlist only appears if the user has listened to +4 podcasts in the previous 90 days.

Uber is set to introduce an audio recording feature for drivers and riders; the company plans to start testing the in-app tool in Mexico and Brazil next month; it’s expected to bring it to more markets in the future; the feature will start automatically for drivers, while riders will have to choose to launch it; both drivers and riders can opt to send the audio to Uber at the end of the journey. Uber is also testing in-car video recordings in TX, FL, and TN, reports The New York Times; lets drivers record journeys, which can then be reviewed by Uber if there are any complaints about passengers; drivers must request the cameras, for which they pay a $5 per month fee.

Uber Chief Product Officer Manik Gupta will leave the firm on Dec 13; reasons for the departure unclear, but Gupta says he’s “very bullish on Uber’s future”; Gupta joined Uber from Google in 2015.

Uber’s future in London remains unclear as its temporary operating license is set to expire on Nov 25.

Twitter begins testing a feature to let users schedule tweets via its web app; the tool, which is now available to some users, is accessible via a three-dot menu within the compose tweet function.

Twitter makes its “Hide Replies” feature available to all users globally; enables the original tweeter to hide specific comment replies, though other users can still access them with an extra click; when a user hides a reply, Twitter asks to block the commenter.

Amazon launches the Voice Interoperability Initiative, seeking cooperation from AI assistant providers and others to facilitate consumer access to multiple assistants on a given device; 30 companies have committed to supporting the initiative, including Sony, Salesforce, Tencent, and Spotify.

Amazon plans to expand the cashier-free shopping experience of its Go convenience stores to supermarkets and pop-up locations as soon as the first quarter of next year.

Amazon expands its ad-supported free music streaming service to iOS, Android, FireTV, and browsers (previously Echo devices only); similar to Spotify, Amazon Music also offers an ad-free option for $10 per month.

Facebook launches Whale, a meme creation app for iOS(currently available in Canada only); the app lets users add graphics and text to their own photos or use library images; memes can then be shared via Facebook, Instagram, Messenger, and more; it was developed by the company’s New Product Experimentation (NPE) team.

Facebook announces the 2020 F8 conference will take place May 5–6 at the McEnery Convention Center in San Jose.

Salesforce announces Service Cloud Voice (telephony for Service Cloud), an updated Einstein Voice Assistant, and voice app development toolkit Einstein Voice Skills (previously Voice Builder); also unveiled new data and identity products for Customer 360.

Google launches automated booking tool Duplex on the mobile web as “Google Assistant in Chrome”; initially limited to purchasing movie tickets; works with ~70 US cinema companies and ticketing services, including AMC, Fandango, and Movietickets.com; Google plans to expand to car rentals next.

Google updates Earth for the web with the ability to create guided tours; creators can set landmarks with associated media and notes, and create routes between them; users can present the markers in a particular order and select specific Street View camera angles to represent each.

Google launches Your News Update for Assistant; the voice-controlled feature provides an audio feed of news selected algorithmically based on location and other information Google has learned about the user; pulls audio from PBS, Reuters, ABC, Cheddar, more; rolling out now.

Google brings Gmail’s Smart Compose, an AI-powered auto-complete feature, to Docs in beta; initially limited to G Suite users on the web working on English-language documents; as the user types, the feature presents options for auto-completing a sentence; hitting tab accepts a suggestion.

Google acquires CloudSimple, which helps clients run workloads in virtualized cloud environments; terms undisclosed.

Alphabet’s Loon signs a commercial agreement with Telefonica’s Internet para Todos to provide connectivity in remote parts of Peru’s Amazon rainforest; Loon plans to launch service next year, pending regulatory approval.

Apple sends out press invites for an event in New York City on Dec 2; the company says it will honor its favorite apps and games of 2019; Apple is not expected to announce any new products.

Apple launches Music for Business, providing curated playlists of music licensed (via PlayNetwork) for play in retail locations; tailors selections according to country and region; proprietary iOS app enables clients to schedule playlists, select different playlists for different locations, more.

Apple launches a dedicated app for developers registered with the company; the Apple Developer app replaces and expands upon the WWDC app, which provided information about the company’s annual Worldwide Developer Conference; the new app adds articles on technical topics and design, developer-relevant news, more.

Apple will change its software testing process; the company will start using daily software builds to more quickly identify and resolve bugs; testers will be able to activate flags to turn on new features, allowing the software team to better isolate issues; the process will be used for the development of iOS/iPadOS 14.

Apple launches Smart Battery Cases for the iPhone 11 lineup; the $129 silicone cases are available in black, white, and for the Pro and Pro Max, pink sand; the cases charge simultaneously with the iPhone via Qi chargers.

Facebook announces it’s adopting Visual Studio Code as its default development environment; the company is also working with Microsoft to enhance existing remote development extensions; previously, Facebook teams worked in several environments, including the company’s Nuclide; Facebook retired the open-source version of Nuclide last year.

Airbnb is searching for a media exec to oversee its video programming division; the company has approached multiple individuals including current YouTube exec Susanne Daniels, who has previously worked at ABC and Fox; the company is expected to create its own shows as an extension of its marketing efforts.

Ride-hailing firm Juno has filed for bankruptcy protection; the company says it plans to draw up a chapter 11 plan with its owner Gett; Juno’s existing operations are being liquidated; the firm notes it intends to become a B2B transportation service.

Wikipedia Co-Founder Jimmy Wales launches WT:Social, a social site stemming from news wiki WikiTribune; enables users to set interests that inform a feed of user-submitted news links; also offers a commenting system; users can pay $13 per month or $100 per year to support the ad-free network.

Y Combinator abandons its China expansion plans; exact reasons unclear, but the firm says it decided to change strategy after Sam Altman stepped down as President; the company says Qi Lu, who had been working on YC China, will now fund Chinese startups under his own program, MiraclePlus.

Yahoo Japan and messaging app Line announce an initial agreement for a $3.1B merger; under the deal, SoftBank (Yahoo Japan’s parent firm) and Naver (which owns Line) will jointly own the combined company.

Tesla unveils Cybertruck, the company’s first electric pickup truck; will come in three variants offering a driving range of 250 miles ($40k), 300 miles ($50k), and 500 miles ($70k); Cybertruck seats six people; exterior is made from hardened stainless steel.

Ford unveils Mustang Mach-E, its first fully-electric vehicle; will be available in a variety of configurations with some models launching in late 2020; base Select version (spring 2021) starts at ~$44k with a range of ~230 miles.


👩🏾‍💻 Good reads

The Difference: OKRs vs KPIs. I recently found myself having to explain this to a senior leader. While not getting to the full value of well defined and implemented OKRs, this simple article helps conveying the message.

Nike-Amazon wars. Nike recently decided to part ways with Amazon, and to stop selling their products through the eCommerce giant. Avinash Kaushik shares an interesting perspective on what little Nike has to win on this battle.

Coaching mindset for PMs. “Developing people is the single most important part of your job.” Great read by Chris Jones from SVPG.

Product Research Rules by C Todd Lombardo. “To minimise the number we need to spend time doing effective product research — a combination of user research, market research and product analytics”.

10 podcasts for Product Managers. I would also add a16z podcast to the list. Any other recommendations? Please send them in, and we will share them next week.


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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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