el producto #219 🚀

Stripe mega-valuation, Ed-tech growth, Amazon telemedicine, Instagram for kids, Clubhouse creators accelerator, Telegram voice chats, NFTs & more

Welcome to a new edition of el producto!

🎰 The week in figures

$95B: Fintech firm Stripe raises $600M on a $95B post-money valuation; the company does not disclose its earnings, but it reportedly handles more payments than rival Adyen, which processed ~$363B in transactions last year; has raised ~$2.2B to date

$12.58B: Ed-tech startups around the world raised a total of $12.58B last year, up from $4.81B in 2019; US primary and secondary schools received 26.7M laptops last year, up from 14M in 2019

$10B: Squarespace raises $300M on a $10B post-money valuation; the website-building platform, which filed for an IPO in January, has seen its valuation rise 5x over the last few years; has raised $578.5M to date

$7B: Amazon-backed UK food delivery firm Deliveroo says it will offer £1B (~$1.4B) worth of new shares in its upcoming IPO; the listing will also see existing stakeholders offer up shares; the offering is expected to value Deliveroo at more than $7B; the company has previously confirmed co-founder and CEO Will Shu will exclusively hold Class B stock, giving him 20 votes per share

$5.77B: Airtable, which provides a cloud database with a spreadsheet as a front end, raises $270M Series E at a $5.77B valuation; investors valued the firm at $2.5B for a round last September; the platform provides automation functions, no-code tools for building software, more; Airtable offers ~50 prebuilt apps and an API for custom integrations; claims 200k organizations as clients; raised $618M to date

$1.7B: Insurtech firm Coalition raises $175M on a $1.7B post-money valuation; Coalition offers cyberattack insurance products to enterprise customers; has raised $315M to date

$1.2B: Bitpanda, an Austria-based investment app, raises $170M Series B on a $1.2B post-money valuation; Bitpanda lets users invest in a variety of digital assets such as bitcoin and XRP, as well as physical goods such as gold; has raised more than $220M to date 

$895M: UK-based fintech firm SumUp raises $895M; the company offers on-site and online payment tools, invoice services, and more; has raised ~$1.3B equity and debt to date

$300M: China-based social platform Soul App has confidentially filed for a US IPO that could occur as soon as this year; the company may raise as much as $300M, though a final target is yet to be decided; Soul uses AI to match users, allowing them to chat with one another via text or voice

$230M: E-commerce marketing platform Yotpo raises $230M Series F on a $1.4B post-money valuation; Yotpo offers a suite of tools including SMS marketing, reviews handling, and more; has raised more than $400M to date

$45M: Location data platform SafeGraph raises $45M Series B; provides place and foot traffic data for Choice Hotels, Tripadvisor, and Verizon Media; also serves ~7k data scientists and claims citations in 300-plus academic papers; also claims large, public organizations as clients; raised $61M to date

$23M: Docker raises $23M Series B; the firm sold its enterprise business and team to Mirantis in 2019 and shifted to focus on cloud-native containers and developer clients

$23M: NFT marketplace OpenSea raises $23M Series A led by a16z Crypto; the firm saw $95M in marketplace sales last month, up from $8M in January; Christie's recently conducted its first NFT auction, which generated $69M; OpenSea has raised $27M to date

$20M: Commission-free investing and banking app Invstr raises $20 million Series A; offers relevant news, educational content, a Fantasy Finance game that lets users learn by investing fake money, performance analytics, more; claims 1M global downloads; previously raised $20M across two seed rounds

$16M: LinearB, which provides analytics and automation for software development teams, raises $16M Series A; the project management platform analyzes code, data from repositories, and more to identify issues impacting project progress; currently serves 1.5k teams; raised $20.6M to date

70k: Uber agrees to reclassify its 70k drivers in Britain as workers; the UK’s Supreme Court ruled last month that company drivers were entitled to benefits; the "worker" classification will give drivers minimum wage, vacation pay, and access to a pension plan; British labor rules allow for a classification between freelancer and employee

📰 What’s going on

Google adds native live video caption support to the stable build of Chrome v89; the feature is compatible with a range of services including YouTube, Disney+, and more; works even if device audio is muted; users have to turn on live captions via Chrome settings

Google cuts its Play Store commission from 30% to 15% for developers' first $1M in Play Store revenue each year; Apple announced a similar change to the App Store policy in November, but Apple's commission discount (also 15%, rather than 30%) only applies to developers who generate less than $1M in sales each year; Google's new policy goes into effect on July 1

Google announces the second-generation Nest Hub with integrated sleep tracking; the $100 device uses radar and other sensors to monitor user chest movements, room temperature, and more to assess the quality of sleep; also makes recommendations for improvements; features a 7-inch display; pre-orders now open, launches March 30

Google incubator Area 120 launches Threadit, a short-form video app for work teams; Area 120 pitches the service for quick communications, design and code reviews, pitches, product demos, outreach, more; accessible via browser and Chrome extension

YouTube launches TikTok challenger Shorts in open beta in the US; rolling out to all US users in coming weeks; Shorts will appear in a new carousel on the home page of the YouTube mobile app; the beta lacks many of TikTok's key features, such as collaboration tools

YouTube launches Checks, a creator tool that warns users of potential copyright issues at the point of upload; Checks utilizes the platform’s Content ID system to identify any problematic sections of a video; if a portion is flagged, Checks will then guide users to YouTube’s tools for swapping out or removing such content; if a user believes Content ID has made an incorrect match, they can file dispute claim before the video goes live

Amazon plans to make its internal telemedicine service available to other companies; the firm began pilot-testing Amazon Care in Seattle in 2019; beginning Wednesday, Amazon made the service available to other employers in the Seattle area; this summer, Amazon plans to roll the service out to its employees and other companies across the US

Apple to introduce new iPad Pro models in April; the devices will feature improved cameras and a better processor; the 12.9-inch model will likely also feature a Mini-LED display which promises to be brighter and have richer contrast; will also include a Thunderbolt USB-C port

iPhone 13 models likely to feature Face ID and a display-embedded fingerprint scanner, according to Barclays analysts; they also expect a smaller display notch; in 2019, analyst Ming-Chi Kuo made the same prediction for 2021, though he did not mention it in his most recent iPhone report

Apple's coming mixed reality headset will have advanced eye-tracking capabilities and might feature iris recognition; iris recognition could facilitate seamless Apple Pay transactions

Instagram introduces new controls to limit interactions between adults and teenagers; adults will not be able to message youngsters who do not already follow them; teenagers will also see safety notifications if an adult displays “potentially suspicious behavior”; Instagram has not disclosed how its prompts system works but says it could be triggered by someone sending a significant number of messages or friend requests to users under the age of 18

Facebook is working on a version of Instagram aimed at users under the age of 13; Instagram VP of product Vishal Shah has discussed the project via an internal message board; the new app will be led by VP Pavni Diwanji, and overseen by Instagram CEO Adam Mosseri; Mosseri has said Instagram is yet to work out a detailed plan for the app

Facebook Reality Labs reveals plan for wristband controllers for AR and XR; the team is using electromyography (EMG) to measure neural signals; the system can detect various gestures and learn from user behavior; for example, the user could work with the system to develop a custom virtual keyboard; also provides haptic feedback

Facebook announces Learning from Videos, an initiative to create AI that understands what's happening in videos; the company will train the system on users' public videos; will generate machine learning models that can serve as foundations for recommendation engines and moderation tools; the company also noted applications in captioning and video search

Facebook is working with independent writers and will pay some of them to test the company's coming publishing platform; the free platform, currently unnamed, reportedly will integrate with Pages and enable users to create websites and newsletters; will also provide analytics

Twitter is piloting an iOS feature that lets users watch a YouTube video without being sent away from its platform; the feature is being tested for four weeks in the US, Canada, Japan, and Saudi Arabia; it is being made available to select users only

Twitter plans to update Spaces with native recording; Head of Consumer Product Kayvon Beykpour said hosts should have the option to save and edit conversations; he also mentioned the ability for audience members to create and share clips, but noted potential challenges regarding consent from people who participated in clipped conversations, altered context, etc

Twitter's reported unsend feature will require a subscription; app researcher Jane Manchun Wong posted a GIF of the "undo" button in action; it displays a timer, giving the user several seconds to cancel and edit a tweet before it's sent

Clubhouse announces an accelerator program for creators on its platform; dubbed Creator First, the scheme will provide resources to 20 individuals who are looking to build their audiences; Clubhouse CEO Paul Davison also says the app will stop asking users to upload their contacts and will soon introduce a feature to scrub previously added details

Telegram expands its Voice Chats feature to channels; previously limited to groups; the company also removed limits on the numbers of call participants; millions can listen live to public group talks; group and channel admins can save and rebroadcast audio to followers; Telegram also gained the new raise hand feature, more

Robinhood appoints first CPO: former Google VP Aparna Chennapragada; she will oversee product, design, and research; before becoming VP at Google, Chennapragada served in product management roles for ~seven years at the company

Dropbox to make its password management service, Dropbox Passwords, available to free Dropbox Basic accounts; the company launched the service for premium users last year; the free version limits the user to 50 stored passwords

Snap ($95.9B market cap) acquires clothing size recommendation company Fit Analytics; terms undisclosed; Fit serves ~18k retailers, providing tools to optimize sales; helps consumers select the right clothing and shoe sizes; clients include Calvin Klein, North Face, and Patagonia; Fit will continue to operate its existing business while helping Snap to build out its shopping platform

The Wikimedia Foundation announces Wikimedia Enterprise: a premium suite of developer tools and services enabling clients to use and reproduce Wikimedia content; the organization plans to launch the new business this year; Google has integrated Wikipedia excerpts into search results for years

ByteDance is considering adding a group chat feature to TikTok; Douyin, the Chinese version of TikTok, has had group messaging since 2019; ByteDance discussed adding a number of new social features to TikTok last year, but the firm put plans on hold after the Trump administration tried to force a sale of the company’s US operations

Tencent, ByteDance, and other Chinese tech firms are testing a tool to see whether they can bypass Apple’s incoming ad tracking restrictions; the companies are piloting CAID, a system backed by the China Advertising Association, that promises to let marketers track user habits; CAID is an alternative to Apple’s IDFA, which gives developers some insight into how iPhones are being used; Apple will soon let users restrict access to certain IDFA data

Alibaba-owned e-commerce marketplace Taobao Deals is set to launch on Tencent’s superapp platform WeChat; the move will see Taobao’s transactions handled by WeChat Pay, which is a competitor of Alibaba affiliate Alipay; Alibaba has long blocked WeChat Pay from its own sites; Tencent will have the final say on whether Taobao Deals is allowed to operate on WeChat

Chinese app stores remove Alibaba's UC Browser after President Xi Jinping called for stricter regulations regarding tech firms; the Communist Party has expressed concerns about Alibaba's growing influence and reportedly requested the company to divest of its media assets; China has cracked down on app security and recently blocked Signal in the country

📚 Good reads

How NFTs (non-fungible tokens) became the latest tech speculation bubble. Good into on NFTs by The Guardian

Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the world wide web, shares his thoughts about the state of social networks and how to build better platforms that reduce toxicity; speaking with The Guardian, Berners-Lee suggests minor changes to how platforms maximise engagement could have a significant impact; Berners-Lee also discusses the progress of Solid, an open source web decentralization project

To launch or not to launch? Your launch date is in a week. Your whole team's credibility is riding on your collective ability to make it happen. Leadership is Eye-of-Sauron-ing this project. There's just one problem. You suspect the product sucks.Julie Zhuo shares her thoughts on what can happen next

New strategies for the Platform Economy. MIT Sloan shares a special report on: a) competing on platforms, b) How healthy is your business ecosystem?, platform scaling, fast and slow

Building the world’s most customizable workspace. Ness Labs interviews Ivan Zhao, co-founder of Notion

📹 To listen and watch

This Week in Startups speaks with Shopify CEO Tobi Lutke about Shopify's ecosystem vs Amazon's, launching the Shopify App Store, Shopify's impact on the creator economy, why the firm hasn't sold, how the pandemic changed business focus, the future of commercial storefronts, more 

Have a great weekend.


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