el producto #99 👉 a weekly round-up of Tech and Product goodness

Citymapper’s everything routing, AWS announcements, Instagram “Close Friends”, Marketplaces of the future, Spotify in India, Startups geo shift & more.

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

🎰 The week in figures

$9.1B - Q3 US consumer spending on video games; up 24% YoY; software sales, including titles, subscriptions, and micro-transactions, hit $7.9B — a 25% increase; hardware sales were $737M.

$7.9B - Cyber Monday online sales reached nearly $8B; up 19.7% from last year’s $6.6B; Adobe had predicted $7.8B.

>$1B - Paypal took in mobile payment volume on Black Friday, a new single-day record for the company; surpassed $1B in total payment volume (desktop site included) on Cyber Monday; from Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday, the company processed an average of $25k per second.

500M - guests whose data has been exposed after a data breach at Starwood Hotel brand (Marriott group); the firm says hackers have had access to a customer database since 2014; the exposed data includes names, emails, and phone numbers for ~330M guests; Marriott says some encrypted credit card data was also accessed.

<$4k - Bitcoin drops at its lowest valuation since Aug 2017; it has lost 40% of its worth in the last 2 weeks; it was valued at almost $20k in Dec 2017.

1/3. Over a third of Black Friday sales happened on smartphones; reaching a total of $6.2B in US, smartphones accounted for $2.1B.

10% - Trump suggests laptops and mobile phones produced in China may be subject to 10% tariffs; Trump claims consumers “could stand that very easily”; Apple’s stock fell ~1.6% in after-hours trading.


📰 What’s going on

Apple announces Entrepreneur Camp, a free, two-week tech lab for women focused on app development; beginning in January, the program will provide female founders with 1–1 assistance from Apple engineers; will also feature sessions on design and App Store marketing.

Apple’s next watchOS update to enable the Watch 4’s ECG function; the update reportedly includes a new app that determines if the wearer suffers from atrial fibrillation; the reading takes 30 seconds.

Apple music to launch on Amazon Echo devices the week of Dec 17; Music subscribers will be able to trigger playback via voice command, specifying playlists, radio stations, and artists (albums and songs).

Google adds multi-device support to Fast Pair, its Bluetooth pairing tech; similar to Apple’s AirPods, Bluetooth headphones can sync across Android devices logged into the same Google account; Fast Pair will also add support for Chromebooks next year.

Amazon Web Services launches Amazon Personalize: a managed personalization and recommendation service powered by machine learning; supports streaming data and data sets on Amazon’s S3 storage; accessible via API, requires minimal ML knowledge.

Amazon to shut down its restaurant food delivery service in the UK on Dec 3; will remain active in the US; Amazon initially launched the service for Prime members in Seattle in 2015 and followed with other US cities; the UK version launched in September 2016.

Amazon launches AWS RoboMaker: a cloud system for building and testing robotics apps; runs the open-source Robot Operating System (ROS); also manages warehouse fleet deployments; Amazon reportedly plans to launch a home robot as soon as next year.

Amazon is encouraging a number of consumer packaged goods firms to include Alexa branding in their ad campaigns; Amazon is asking companies also to demonstrate Alexa voice ordering in TV ads; in return, Amazon is offering to work with firms on brand skills and share details of how their products are performing on its marketplace.

Amazon makes its internal machine learning courses freely available to the general public: 45h of content across 30 subjects; the coursework incorporates numerous AWS machine learning services, including Rekognition and DeepLens.

Amazon announces two AWS blockchain services: the fully-managed Amazon Quantum Ledger Database (QLDB) and Managed Blockchain; Amazon promises simple scalability and flexible, robust APIs.

Instagram adds Close Friends, a feature that lets users share Stories with a restricted set of people; users create a curated list and shared Stories feature a green circle to indicate their limited reach.

Facebook launches local news feature “Today In” in 400 US cities; also began its first international test of the section in Australia; the company started testing local news early this year; Today In aggregates local breaking news, crime reports and more in a dedicated section of the app.

Spotify secures deals with major music rights holders in India in preparation for Q1 launch; 90% of Spotify’s paid users are in North America, Latin America, and Europe.

Uber’s plan to acquire UK-based food delivery firm Deliveroo has stalled; Uber has made an offer of less than $2B, but Deliveroo believes it’s worth $4B; talks are ongoing; follows a report Deliveroo is raising $400M.

Samsung’s upcoming foldable device will cost £1.5k to £2k ($2k to $2.5k) and may be exclusive to EE network in the UK market; the report also refers to the product as Galaxy Flex.

Japan-based messaging firm Line announces partnerships with Mizuho Financial and Tencent; Line and Mizuho will establish a digital banking service, full details of which remain unclear; additionally, Line’s payments service Line Pay will add transaction support for Tencent-owned WeChat Pay next year.

Lime launches in the UK; the company is making its dockless e-bikes available in the city of Milton Keynes; bikes cost £1 to unlock, with rides charged at £0.15 per minute thereafter.

Citymapper launches routing for private transport options (e.g. scooters and cycles). Users can now compare public, private, and multimodal options.

Bounce, an India-based scooter-sharing firm, acquires Ofo’s local assets; terms undisclosed; some of Ofo India’s management team have also joined Bounce; Ofo previously scaled back it’s dockless bike operations in India.

Bird announces Bird Platform: a service through which entrepreneurs and businesses can purchase electric scooters, brand them, and rent them out; independent operators can utilize Bird’s charger and mechanic marketplace for a 20% cut of all sales, or charge and maintain the scooters themselves.

Lyft reveals the pink-wheeled bikes that will soon be available via its app; the company announced the close of its acquisition of bike-share operator Motivate for $250M; Lyft commits $100M over five years to expanding City Bike (Motivate); currently has 12k bikes docked in New York City; the investment will expand the fleet to 40k bikes and double the service area. Lyft also announced that 15% of 2018 rides in Denver were scooter shares.

Volkswagen partners with Tesco to establish an EV charging network in UK; the companies will roll out 2.4k chargers at 600 Tesco stores over the next 3 years; the project will boost the country’s public charging network by 14%.


📚 Stuff to think about

Monetization: Two-Sided Network Simulation. This interactive tutorial from Boston University shows how to simulate the interdependency of prices in multi-sided markets, adding network effects to the calculation of monetization curves.

What’s next for marketplace startups? Andrew Chen walks us through the evolution of online marketplaces, presenting a framework for the future of service economy.

The 3 phases of adopting platform-ecosystem thinking in organizations. Simone Cicero walks us through the path of Refusal, Excitement and Awareness that companies experience, aiming to help change agents to understand better how to build momentum so that organizations can gradually adopt the Platform-Ecosystem lens.

$1 Billion Valuation, 800 Employees, and Zero Offices. InVision is dispelling a myth that physical proximity is a prerequisite for creative teams.

The ‘Neo-Banks’ are finally having their moment. A new wave of alternative banks such as Revolut, Monzo and Chime are attracting millions of customers away from the traditional banks.

The geography of Startups and Innovation is changing. In mid-90s US accounted for 95% of global VC investment. Now it’s around 50%.


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