el producto #242 🚀

Euro-fintech growth, How to structure customer interviews, Books for PMs, Netflix videogames, Amazon's buy-now-pay-later, Paypal crypto in UK, & more

🎰 The week in figures

$22.6B: A record number of Europe-based fintech startups are joining the unicorn ranks. Collectively, these companies have raised $22.6B to date—with more than half of that funding coming in this year alone—and are altogether valued at $178B

$20B: Microsoft pledges to spend $20B on cybersecurity initiatives over the next 5 years and Google commits $10B following a cybersecurity meeting with President Biden; Microsoft committed $150M to expanding its training network to help government agencies upgrade their cybersecurity systems; the company will also provide cybersecurity training for community colleges and non-profits

$13.56B: Xiaomi generated $13.56B revenue in Q2, up 64% YoY; $9.1B smartphone revenue, with 52.9M units shipped; $3.2B IoT and lifestyle revenue, up 36%; $1.28B net income; the company also announced it would acquire autonomous driving tech firm DeepMotion for $77.3M

$3B: Chinese video platform Kuaishou generated $3B in revenue during Q2, up 49% YoY (~$2.89B expected); online marketing revenue grew 156%, but live-streaming revenue fell 14%; ~$1B net loss (~$960M loss expected); the company has lost ~$180B in market value since peaking following its February debut

$1B: Axel Springer to acquire Politico, reportedly for ~$1B; the German publisher owns Insider and Morning Brew in the US and Bild and Die Welt in its home country, among other magazines, apps, etc; the companies previously launched Politico Europe as a joint venture

$1B: CryptoPunks, a collection of 10k NFT artworks, surpasses $1B in total sales; Larva Labs initially gave away the collection for free, but people now buy and sell them through a blockchain-based marketplace; the NFTs now start at $450k+

$500M: E-commerce platform Nuvemshop raises $500M at a $3.1B valuation; the Brazilian firm serves 90k shops across Brazil, Mexico, and Argentina, including PlayMobil and Billabong; clients launch branded shops, some powered by Nuvemshop's own payments platform

$441M: Paysafe ($5.96B market cap) to acquire FL-based payments firm SafetyPay for $441M in cash; the deal will expand London-based Paysafe's footprint in Latin America; the SafetyPay team will join Paysafe's eCash and online banking team

$300M: Ramp, which offers a corporate card and spend management tools, raises $300M Series C for a $3.9B post-money valuation; the New York City-based startup offers physical and virtual cards with 1.5% cash back, custom spending rules and limits, merchant backlists, and more; Ramp also offers accounting tools, expense reports, etc

$150M: B2B marketplace Zetwerk raises $150M Series E led by D1 Capital Partners for a $1.33B post-money valuation; investors reportedly valued the Indian startup at $600M-$700M for a $120M Series D in February; Zetwerk offers manufacturing products, including cranes and machine chassis

$130M: Picsart, a mobile-first, AI-powered platform for editing and enhancing photos and videos, raises $130M Series C; sources indicated a ~$1.5B valuation; the company employs 800 and claims 150M-plus monthly active users across 180 countries; Picsart plans an IPO in 12 to 18 months

$104M: Subscription car rental firm Kovi raises $104M Series B; the company specifically targets on-demand drivers working for ride-hailing and food-delivery firms in Latin American markets, where car ownership can be prohibitively expensive; the company claims 11k customers in Brazil and Mexico and plans to expand its fleet of 12k vehicles to 20k by year's end

$100M: Jane Technologies, which helps marijuana dispensaries sell online, raises $100M Series C; the startup's platform powers 20% of all legal marijuana sales in the US; the company also serves brands, including Cheeba Chews and Wana, offering marketing tools and more

$100M: Property management services marketplace Plentific raises $100M Series C; the London-based firm plans to use the funding for expansion to the US and to build out its AI features; the software enables landlords and building managers to find, book, and pay maintenance and other service providers

$85M: Airlift, which offers on-demand delivery of groceries, medications, and more in Pakistan, raises $85M Series B at a $275M valuation; the startup currently serves 8 cities and plans to expand internationally over the next few months; raised $110M to date

$75M: Residential real estate rental marketplace Bungalow raises $75M Series C for a $600M+ post-money valuation; investors last valued the firm at $192M for a $32M Series B in 2019; Bungalow claims ~3k residents across the 700 buildings it manages and plans to grow to 10k residents over the next 18 months

$62M: No-code automation platform Leapwork raises $62M Series B for a $312M post-money valuation; the Copenhagen-based company serves banks, financial services firms, healthcare institutions, and others, offering tools to build and maintain workflows

$52.5M: Shelf.io, which offers an AI-powered platform to help customer service agents and remote workers find answers and information, raises $52.5M Series B; Shelf connects to and learns from a company's existing information systems to automatically provide answers to questions; customers include Harvard Business Review, HelloFresh, and Gerber Life Insurance

$50M: NoRedInk, an online learning platform focused on writing skills, raises $50M Series B; the company lets teachers try the adaptive learning system for free and offers a premium version that integrates with learning management systems; students have answered ~12B questions on the platform

$48M: Workstream, a hiring platform for hourly workers, raises $48M Series B; the message-based system automates parts of sourcing, initial contacts, interviews, and onboarding; customers include 7-Eleven, McDonald's, and Uber

$40M: Smallcase, a wealth management startup targeting young investors, raises $40M Series C; the platform gives users access to stocks and ETFs, advisors, investment managers, more; the Bangalore-based company claims 3M users transacting ~$2.5B per year

$42M: Last-mile delivery company Point Pickup acquires GroceryKey, which offers a white-label e-commerce platform for retailers, for $42M; the deal will allow Point Pickup to offer same-day delivery under its own brand as part of the checkout process; Point Pickup Founder and CEO Tom Fiorita noted the merger would enable retailers to own their customer data, unlike arrangements with third parties like Instacart

$25M: Audiobook and podcast app Pocket FM is in talks to raise $20M-$25M at a valuation of $75M-$100M; the Indian startup claims 10k hours of content in English, Hindi, and other Indian languages; Tencent previously invested in Pocket FM

100k: Elon Musk announces SpaceX has shipped 100k Starlink terminals to customers; the company, which began a $100-per-month beta program last fall, claims another ~500k terminal orders; SpaceX has launched 1.7k of a planned ~30k satellites for the internet service

📰 What’s going on

Netflix launches its first streamed video games: two pre-existing "Stranger Things" titles, limited to Poland and the Netflix app for Android; the company notes the service is in its earliest stages; ultimately, Netflix plans to offer console games for Xbox and PlayStation

Google offered to take a reduced Play Store commission from Netflix subscription revenue to prevent the video streamer from pursuing an alternative payments system for Android users; Apple made a similar offer to Netflix, as revealed in Epic Games' suit against Apple

Twitter updates its API to support audio chat product Spaces, initially with functions for the discovery of live and scheduled talks; the company launched its rebuilt API last year, enabling faster integration for new Twitter features; the company said it was exploring options for improved API support for Spaces

Twitter hires a project lead for its decentralized social media initiative, Bluesky; Jay Graber previously worked as a software engineer at Electric Coin Co (creator of the Zcash cryptocurrency), and founded Happening, a site for creating social events and sending invites; Jack Dorsey announced Bluesky in 2019, saying it would enable users to control their social experiences

Facebook tries to add voice and video call into its main app. After spinning out its Messenger app in 2011, Facebook is now testing adding voice and video calls to its main Facebook app

Snapchat updates its Scan feature to serve as a visual search engine that can recognize dog breeds, car models, clothing brands and similar items, nutrition label information, more; Scan also analyzes scenes to find appropriate AR effects, and could, as The Verge notes, draw attention to third-party Lenses and incentivize their creation

Amazon is testing Affirm's buy-now-pay-later solution with some customers; Affirm serves Walmart and other online retailers, offering a monthly installment plan as an option at checkout; Amazon said it would roll out the integration more broadly in coming months; Affirm's shares jumped ~30% following the report

Apple plans to launch a Mac Mini with the M1X processor this fall; Apple hasn't yet announced the chip, but rumors have indicated the company will launch redesigned 14- and 16-inch MacBook Pros featuring the M1X this year; previous reports have said the next Mac Mini would have more ports and a smaller chassis than the current version

PayPal launches its cryptocurrency service in the UK, enabling users to buy, sell, and hold bitcoin, bitcoin cash, ethereum, and litecoin; the initiative marks the first international expansion of the service, which launched in the US in October; powered by New York City-based crypto firm Paxos

Zendesk ($14.75B market cap) acquires Cleverly, which uses AI to help customer service agents find answers and more; terms undisclosed; Cleverly already integrates with Zendesk and Salesforce; the entire team will join Zendesk starting at the end of the month

Elastic ($14.45B market cap) acquires CMD, which offers a security platform for Linux infrastructure; terms undisclosed; Elastic also announced its acquisition of build.security this week; both companies will join Elastic's Security team, and their tech will integrate with Elastic Stack

Restaurant chain Sweetgreen acquires automated kitchen tech startup Spyce; terms undisclosed; Boston-based Spyce spun out of MIT and began serving the dining hall at the school; the company has since launched two restaurants offering takeout and delivery orders; Sweetgreen plans to integrate Spyce's robotics tech at some of its 120 US locations

China-based ride-hailing firm Didi postpones plans to expand to the UK, France, and Germany due to regulatory and political concerns; the company reportedly warned people working on those initiatives they could face layoffs; Chinese officials are currently investigating Didi's cybersecurity and data-collection practices

Chinese game distributor XD, which publishes its own Android titles alongside third-party apps via the TapTap app store, plans to expand internationally and garner as many global users as it currently has in its domestic market by year's end; the firm claimed 28.7M monthly users in China during the first half of the year; XD doesn't charge commissions on in-app purchases, whereas Huawei and Tencent take up to 50%

China's Securities Regulatory Commission plans to prohibit companies that hold large amounts of sensitive consumer data from listing publicly on foreign exchanges; the rules reportedly would not apply to firms holding less-sensitive data, such as pharmaceutical businesses; the change would make it more difficult for Chinese tech firms to circumvent existing rules for foreign investment

Salesforce ($241.6B market cap) Q2 beats: $6.34B revenue, up 23% YoY ($6.24B expected); $1.88B Platform and Other revenue, up 24%; $1.6B Service Cloud revenue, up 23%; $1.48B Sales Cloud revenue, up 15%; $1.48 EPS (adjusted, $0.92 expected); the company increased its full-year revenue guidance to $26.2B to $26.3B, including $530M from Slack ($26.01B expected); Salesforce closed its $27.7B acquisition of Slack during the second quarter

📚 Good reads

How to structure and conduct customer interviews. The best way to gain buyer insights is by conducting customer interviews. That’s certainly easier said than done. Tien-Anh Nguyen shows you how to design a comprehensive customer interview guide that will help you conduct interviews smoothly

8 Product hurdles every founder must clear. In this interview, Ryan Glasgow (former PM at multiple startups, and more recently founder and CEO of Sprig), takes us through tackling the tough questions product builders face in every stage of getting a startup off the ground, from segmentation and MVPs, to product/market fit and second products

What today’s social apps can learn from Web 2.0, the social network revolution from 15 years ago, by Andrew Chen

Book recommendations for Product Managers. There are thousands of PM booklists out there, however this one caught my attention for 2 reasons: 1) includes fairly recent titles, 2) has some of my favourite books. Happy reading!

How the biggest companies broke design trends to succeed. The cases of Facebook, Google, Gojek, and Apple

Have a great weekend.


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