el producto #83 👉 a weekly round-up of Tech and Product goodness

China’s investment landscape, Facebook dating, Ola UK launch, Design expectations vs reality, After product-market fit, Samsung-Spotify collab & more.

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

🎰 The week in figures

$5B; the amount that SoftBank plans to put in an Asia fund, half of which will go to Indian startups; investments set to start in early 2019; SoftBank has invested more than $8B in India to date, backing firms such as Flipkart, Paytm, and Snapdeal.

$1.43B tweet: On Tuesday afternoon, Elon Musk tweeted: “Am considering taking Tesla private at $420. Funding secured.” Cue a market frenzy, in which shares increased more than 7% before trading was halted just 80 minutes after the tweet. Elon Musk’s net worth is tied to Tesla’s stock price — meaning he theoretically made $1.43B in a day.

$1B; Didi Chuxing will invest in its auto services division; the rebranded Xiaoju Automobile Solutions will operate as a standalone unit; includes vehicle rentals, maintenance, and gas station services; has operations in more than 250 cities.

8% of mobile browser activity in US comes from Facebook; Safari is the most popular mobile browser overall with 58% share , while Chrome has 32.4%.

0.2% —Alexa users who purchased more than once via the assistant; of some 50 million Alexa users, only 1 million have tried buying something via the voice assistant. And only 100,000 (0.2% of users) have used it to buy something more than once.


📰 What’s going on

Facebook announces changes to business Pages on mobile; the redesign promises to simplify the process of making reservations and appointments, as well as making user recommendations more prominent; the company is also rolling out its job application tool worldwide.

Facebook begins internal tests of its new dating feature; rather than a standalone app, the feature will be part of the Facebook app.

Google is using its Chinese subsidiary 265.com to build a database of filtered websites, 265.com offers news updates, financial links, and more; platform searches are passed off to Baidu, but Google is using search terms to cross-reference which sites are blocked; sources say the dataset is being used to build a censored search engine codenamed Dragonfly.

Baidu CEO Robin Li says the company is ready to take on Google if it returns to China; Li made the comments in a WeChat posting, noting Chinese firms have the ability to compete on a global scale.

Google releases Google Maps update depicting earth as a globe; the 3D Globe Mode allows a more accurate representation of the earth’s surface; the company previously used the flat Mercator projection to help preserve the angles of roads.

Snap ($16.8B market cap) Q2 mixed: $262M revenue, up 44% YoY ($250M expected); 188M DAUs, down 2% from Q1 (192M expected); Snapchat’s drop in DAUs represents the first fall since the app launched in 2011; the company says the app’s redesign was a contributing factor.

Samsung announces Bixby-powered Galaxy Home smart speaker; features eight far-field mics and promises surround-sound style audio via six internal speakers and a subwoofer; more details in November.

Samsung announces a partnership with Spotify; Spotify will become a part of the setup process on Samsung devices, with support for phones, watches, and TVs planned; Spotify will also integrate with Bixby and SmartThings.

JD.com opens its first overseas cashier-free store in Indonesia; the new JD.ID X-Mart in Jakarta uses cameras, facial recognition technology, and radio-frequency identification to track customers and products; the Chinese e-commerce company already operates 20 such stores throughout China.

Alibaba plans to combine its lifestyle and food delivery businesses and raise $3B to $5B for the division; the merged unit would include Ele.me, Koubei, and others; would reportedly be worth as much as $25B.

Baidu says its DuerOS voice assistant is now available on 100M devices, up from 50M six months ago; the assistant is on 110 products from a variety of partners; Baidu also says it’s working with Huawei, Oppo, and others to integrate DuerOS with smartphones.

India-based ride-hailing firm Ola announces plans to launch in the UK; represents its first European market; unclear when the service will go live, but the company says it will initially launch in South Wales and Greater Manchester; will partner with local taxi firms and private hire drivers.

New York City Council votes to cap ride-hailing services; the city plans to freeze all new permits for one year so it can study the impact of such services; there are ~80k ride-hailing drivers in NYC, which compares to ~13.5k yellow cabs; transportation analyst Bruce Schaller says ride-hailing cars account for at least 50% of traffic in some parts of the city.

Morgan Stanley estimates driverless car firm Waymo could be worth over $175B, ~$100B more than its previous evaluation; highlighted Waymo’s potential value in three key areas: autonomous taxis ($80B), logistics and delivery ($90B), and licensing ($7B).

Magic Leap One Creator Edition headset goes on sale for $2.3k; the AR device runs on an Nvidia Tegra X2 chip and features 128GB storage; promises 3 hours of continuous use on a single charge; includes Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity; shipping to select regions of US. And Magic Leap’s VP of product marketing Jeff Gattis steps down.


📚 Stuff to think about

What comes after Product-Market Fit? Marc Adreessen says: taking the whole market, more products, or everything else; “The general model for successful tech companies, contrary to myth and legend, is that they become distribution-centric rather than product-centric. They become a distribution channel, so they can get to the world.”

Customer funded growth vs VC money. Aytekin Tank, founder at JotForm, walks us through the pros and cons of each approach.

Product Design: expectations vs reality. Fun illustrations about the frequent mistakes we make when designing digital products.

Alibaba and Tencent have become China’s most formidable investors. Good read on China’s tech investment landscape (which has me fascinated at many levels). Few key points:

  • Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent (BAT) are involved (investing directly or indirectly) in ~60 Chinese unicorns.
  • 80% of Chinese firms reaching $5bB valuation have investment from BAT
  • Recent focus areas include bike-sharing (Ofo, Mobile), ride-hailing (Didi) or food delivery (Ele.me, Meituan), areas where investments from BAT tend to end up in competing products.
  • Startups are becoming locked into relying on one or another BAT if they want to stay competitive
  • For comparison, 5% of VC investments in US come from tech giants, vs ~50% in China coming just from BAT.
  • For Chinese start-ups, the potential buy in by tech giants, encourages VCs to invest in early, aiming to get big exits.
  • This scenario encourages entrepreneurship, but ultimately the hand of the bigs can determine who wins in a specific sector (examples in Mobike backed by Tencent, and Ofo by Alibaba)
  • Startups with backing from one side or the other, also have to trade-off with their services being blocked in companies with the other side’s investments. E.g. WeChat (Tencent) does not allow links to Taobao (Alibaba shopping).
  • Some successful startups are rejecting Alibaba or Tencent backing in order to prevent being locked in. E.g. Toutiao (news aggregator) by Bytedance.
  • Meituan is distancing itself from Tencent and founded its own investment fund
  • Didi seems to be following, with the recent acquisition of Ofo.

The power-user curve. Andrew Chen on why looking at your power users is more powerful than DAU/MAU, and can help to identify positive signals like network effects.

Apple’s market cap breached $1T, but what does that really mean? Scott Galloway argues it does not mean that much; however some (scary?) impressive milestones got beaten along the way.


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el producto is a curated selection of Tech&Product happenings within the last few days from a curious and frequently skeptical Product Owner’s perspective.

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