el producto #81 👉 a weekly round-up of Tech and Product goodness
Slack buys HipChat and Stride, Amazon & Google Q2 results, JD international expansion, Alibaba’s AI, Network effects vs local know how, Risks of DAU & more.
Welcome to another week full of fresh ideas and innovation at el producto!
🎰 The week in figures
10B Uber announces it surpassed 10B completed trips on June 10; hit 5B trips in June of last year; Lyft reached 500M trips in October.
6M rides taken by bike and scooter rental startup Lime during its 1st year live; comparatively, it took competitor Bird 1.5 years to reach the same milestone; Lime says its service, in conjunction with public transit, costs 80% less than car ownership.
200M phones sold in 2018 by Huawei; nears Apple as world’s second largest smartphone vendor; the company is on track to ship reporting strong growth while other top companies saw first-quarter declines; Huawei is making inroads in major Southeast Asian markets, specifically India.
1.6M 4K streams requests received by BBC during the soccer World Cup and Wimbledon tennis tournament; the busiest day was July 7 when more than 60k users requested UHD streams for the England vs Sweden quarter final match and day six of Wimbledon.
📰 What’s going on
Google Docs to add grammar suggestions for G Suite users; similar to spellcheck, the feature will underline potential grammatical errors and suggest corrections; Docs is also getting an updated language review interface.
Google announces voice commands for Hangouts Meet; lets users initiate video calls with their voice; the instructions work with Meet certified hardware including equipment from Cisco and Polycom
Google updates G Suite with Cloud Search and Google Voice; Search can index Google data, on-premise third-party data, and third-party data in the cloud; new APIs provide access to data and enable Search on third-party apps; the company has also updated G Suite’s Gmail with the new Gmail experience
Google Assistant adds the ability to place Duo video calls on Android; users can ask Assistant to call someone from their contacts list; if either the caller or the recipient doesn’t have Duo installed, the call will default to Hangouts.
Google launches Chrome v68; marks all HTTP sites as insecure; when the browser loads a page not protected by encryption, it displays a “Not Secure” warning to the left of the URL; clicking the warning triggers a popup that warns users against providing the site with sensitive information.
YouTube begins testing an explore tab within its IOS app; available to a small number of users, the feature offers up new videos, channels, and topics.
Facebook rolls out Watch Party to all users; lets Facebook Groups host streamed video sessions that members watch together; hosts can add additional content to the playlist; viewers can comment and suggest more videos.
Facebook acqui-hires team communications tool Redkix; lets companies manage chat, email, groups, and more within Slack-like channels; the service will shut down and the technology rolled into Facebook’s enterprise offering Workplace; raised $17M to date.
Slack acquires HipChat and Stride from Atlassian; Slack CEO Stewart Butterfield said HipChat and Stride would shut down.
HomePod OS 12 private beta includes the ability to make and receive phone calls via the device; also adds Siri support for multiple timers, and Find My iPhone.
Pinterest plans to go public by mid-2019 and is nearing $1B in ad revenue, according to CNBC sources; sources also say the company is currently valued at $13B to $15B; was valued at $12.3B for a funding round in June of last year.
JD.com plans to expand into Europe by the end of the year; China’s second-largest e-commerce retailer hopes to open an office in Germany; the company is considering takeovers and making investments in logistics and offline retail to facilitate the expansion into Europe and US markets.
Waymo partners with Walmart and other companies to provide their customers with autonomous rides; initially limited to Phoenix residents in Waymo’s early rider test program; Walmart will also use Waymo vehicles to deliver groceries.
💸 Financial results Q2
Amazon ($861B market cap) Q2 mixed: $52.9B revenue, up from $38B a year earlier ($53.4B expected); it was the first quarter for which Amazon reported more than $2B in quarterly profit, with $2.5B net income.
Facebook ($618B market cap) Q2 mixed: $13.23B revenue ($13.36B expected); 2.23B monthly active users, up 1.54% quarter-over-quarter (grew 3.14% in Q1); 1.47B DAU, up 1.44% quarter-over-quarter, and up 11% YoY (grew 3.42% in Q1). Facebook says 2.5B people used at least one of its apps last month; the number excludes users with multiple accounts; Facebook has 2.3B MAU, WhatsApp 1.5B, Messenger 1.3B, and Instagram 1B.
Facebook’s DAU drops in Europe for the first time; the company reports 279M DAU for Q2, down from 282M in the previous quarter; Facebook has 185M DAU in the US and Canada, which is the same as Q1; the company added 22M DAUs globally.
Alphabet ($838B market cap) Q2 beats: $32.7B revenue, up 24% YoY ($32.2B expected).
PayPal ($106B market cap) Q2 beats: $3.86B revenue ($3.81B expected); $703M net income, up from $554M a year earlier; projects $3.62B to $3.67B revenue for Q3 (analysts expected $3.71B).
Earnings calls calendar:
- Apple — July 31
- Baidu — July 31
- Tesla — August 1
- Tencent — August 15
- Alibaba — August 16
📚 Stuff to think about
The invisible asymptote: a ceiling that growth curve will bump its head against if continuing down the current path. In this fascinating read, Eugene Wai explains how Amazon anticipates business verticals’ ‘ceilings’. Did Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat reach their ceilings? What should be their next step?
How Alibaba is using AI and ML. Other than the usual recommendation algorithms, Alibaba is heavily investing in anything that could use AI, from facial and voice recognition to fully automated packing and shipping.
Letter from Shenzen: Why drawing parallels between Chinese tech and American tech isn’t a completely accurate comparison. Tech platforms are being inclusive with rural areas, not only adapting to them, but pushing them to evolve.
The risks of relying on DAU/MAU. Andrew Chen gives several examples of when extreme focus on Daily / Monthly Active Users may not be the right thing. Depending on e.g. the target audience and timespan for product consumption, Active Users could have little correlation with factors like retention overtime (e.g. social games usually go through a very intense start, followed by a sudden abandon).
Network effects vs local know how. HBR looks at the case of Uber and Grab, and how deep understanding of local ecosystems helped the underdog. For platforms that involve any physical offerings, the future is looking more traditional than the past.
📖 Quote of the week
“We focus so much on product-market fit, but once companies have achieved some semblance of it, most should spend much more time on the problem of product-market unfit.”
“When Messenger incorporated Stories into its app, it felt like a middle-aged couple dressing in cowboy chic and attending Coachella. When Instagram cribbed Stories, though, it addressed a real supply-side content creation issue for the same young’uns who used Snapchat.”
— Eugene Wai, The invisible asymptote.