el producto #80 👉 a weekly round-up of Tech and Product goodness
Amazon’s records and glitches, Streaming growth, Uber’s pick-up experience, Ofo’s decline, Microsoft & Netflix Q2 results, Design Sprint 2.0 & more.
Welcome to another week full of fresh ideas and innovation at el producto!
🎰 The week in figures
1 yuan; symbolic amount for which Tencent (parent of WeChat) sued Bytedance (parent of Douyin, a short-video app), demanding apologies for accusations of WeChat disabling Douyin links on the platform. Within hours Douyin counter-sued for 90m yuan. 34% of China’s total mobile-data traffic in 2017 came from WeChat. Douyin has introduced its own private-messaging function, further challenging WeChat.
$500M, Didi Chuxing raised from Booking Holdings; as part of the deal, Didi customers are expected to book hotel rooms through the ride-hailing app, and Booking.com customers gain access to Didi rides service; Didi raised more than $20B to date.
$5B the EU sets a fine against Google over Android antitrust practices. The European Commission says Google pays certain manufacturers to ensure they pre-install Google Search on Android devices; manufacturers are also compelled to install Search and Chrome if they want Google’s version of Android.
$150B+: On Tuesday, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos’ net worth topped $150B, making him the richest person in recent history. (That’s about $55B more than Bill Gates, the world’s second-richest person.)
📰 What’s going on
Amazon’s Prime Day rush resulted in glitches affecting website and apps; shoppers reported problems shortly after the 36-hour sale started; some were unable to access the site, others were unable to complete purchases. Generated $4.2B, 33% up YoY.
Amazon launches AR Part Finder in its iOS app, accessible via the camera button next to the search field; the user can scan an item, such as a bolt or a screw, and the app will measure and identify the part in its catalog.
Instagram is set to introduce a non-SMS two-factor verification system, reports TechCrunch; the feature will rely on a secondary app like Google Authenticator to generate unique codes.
Facebook confirms plans to launch an internet satellite, “Athena”; the device, designed to provide broadband access to underserved areas around the globe, has been in development for at least two years; the company hopes to send the satellite into orbit in 2019.
Facebook is considering implementing G Suite for the company’s internal email and productivity services; follows complaints from staff that the current mix of tools is too complicated; the firm relies on Microsoft Office 365, Salesforce and Dropbox.
Google Cloud Platform suffered a temporary outage on Tuesday; numerous services including Snapchat and Spotify were affected; it’s unclear what caused the issue, but it was resolved within an hour.
Snap launches an initiative to help journalists find relevant Snapchat content during breaking news events; the company is partnering with news discovery services NewsWhip, SAM Desk, Storyful, and TagBoard to provide access to all public photos and videos; Snap’s content is free, though the partner firms do charge their own platform fees.
EU regulators say Airbnb is in breach of a number of laws relating to accommodation listings; consumer justice commissioner Věra Jourová notes the company does not display the full cost of a night’s stay (including cleaning fees, etc) and doesn’t show whether a listing is managed by the homeowner or a 3rd party; Jourová also says the platform’s terms and conditions are unclear; Airbnb has until the end of August to resolve the issues.
WeWork informs its staff they can no longer expense meals containing meat, or order meat for company events; in an email to employees, co-founder Miguel McKelvey noted research shows cutting out meat consumption is one of the most effective ways of reducing an individual’s environmental impact.
Streaming video subscriptions in the UK exceeds pay-TV numbers for the first time; Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Now TV collectively have 15.4M customers; compares with 15.1M for cable firm Virgin Media and satellite rival Sky; the report also says pay-TV revenues fell 2.7% in 2017 to £6.4B; online video revenue grew 28% last year to £2.3B.
Walmart plans a video streaming service to compete with Netflix and Amazon Prime Video; Walmart intends to undercut both by pricing at under $8 per month; considering an ad-supported free tier.
UPS is testing in-home deliveries in New York; has partnered with smart lock company Latchto access units in multi-home buildings when occupants are away; Amazon provides a similar service called Key, the result of a partnership with Kwikset; Key also delivers to vehicle trunks.
Bike-sharing firm Ofo lays off ~70% of its US workforce; Ofo says it’s focusing on growth in viable markets; follows reports the company has scaled back its business in India and Australia.
Uber launches guaranteed pickup windows, pre-written messages for driver-passenger communications, and Spotlight; the pickup window guarantee promises the rider a $10 credit if the driver is late; pre-written messages facilitate faster communications, such as “I have arrived”; Spotlight colors the rider’s phone display for flagging down the driver.
Uber partners with ride-share commerce company Cargo to enable drivers to earn extra money by selling goods to passengers; Cargo provides transparent cases that display candy bars, USB cables, and other items for sale; Uber’s Greenlight Hubs, initially limited to LA and San Francisco, serve as support centers where drivers can pick up Cargo boxes.
Lyft to offer discounts on bike and scooter rentals for rides that start or end at specific mass transit hubs; the company recently acquired bike-share company Motivate and says it is working to integrate bike and scooter sharing into its platform from the ground up; the Lyft app will soon offer multi-modal trip planning and real-time mass transit information.
Didi Chuxing will begin trials in Japan this fall; Didi Mobility Japan will work with local taxi firms; set to launch in Osaka before expanding to Tokyo, Kyoto, Fukuoka, and Okinawa.
💸 Financial results Q2
Microsoft ($808B market cap) Q2beats with $30.1B revenue, up 17% YoY; $8.9B net income, up 35%; $1.1B Surface revenue, up 25%; gaming revenue increased 39%.
Netflix ($174B market cap) shares plummet 14% on Tuesday; the company revealed Q2 subscriber growth missed expectations by 1M users globally; analysts had expected 131M total users; Netflix added 670k US subscribers in the quarter and 4.47M internationally.
Earnings calls calendar:
- Alphabet — July 23
- Spotify July 26
- Amazon — July 27
- Twitter — July 27
- Apple — July 31
- Baidu — July 31
- Tesla — August 1
- Tencent — August 15
- Alibaba — August 16
📚 Stuff to think about
The race to a trillion. 5 tech giants are pretty close to being the first company reaching a trillion market cap. This article looks at the prospects and balance sheets of each of them.
The best product teams crave truth and do the math. The story of Playpump, and how a bunch of unchallenged assumptions led to failure.
How e-commerce is transforming rural China. JD.com is expanding its reach in isolated regions of China, creating on-the-ground jobs and testing drone delivery.
The Design Sprint 2.0. The guys at AJ&Smart have been running hundreds of design sprints, and training people on the method together with Sprint’s book author Jake Knapp. Based on their observations, they have evolved the process, particularly focusing on how to apply it to larger organizations.