el producto #244 🚀

A playbook to pivot, Facebook x Ray-Ban smart glasses, Microsoft news product, Apple September event info, Roadmapping tips, Best interview questions, & more

🎰 The week in figures

$15.5B: Alibaba says it will spend $15.5B by 2025 to support the Chinese government's "common prosperity" initiative, which has drawn significant financial pledges from businesses and entrepreneurs; Alibaba said it would work to create high-quality jobs for people in vulnerable groups, invest in economic development and technical innovation, more

$6.18B: Consumers around the world to spend $6.78B in social apps this year and $17.2B per year by 2025; total cumulative spending in social apps reportedly will reach $78B by 2025; during the first six months of this year, apps with live streaming features represented 75% of spending in the top 25 social apps

$5B: ByteDance is in talks with banks to raise $5B for debt refinancing and overseas expansion; ByteDance reportedly would use ~half of the syndicated loan to refinance debt at lower interest rates

$2.7B: PayPal ($345B market cap) to acquire Japanese buy-now-pay-later firm Paidy for $2.7B, mostly cash; Paidy, which will continue to operate its existing business, uses machine learning to determine a consumer's creditworthiness for a given purchase; the companies expect the deal to close in the fourth quarter

$1.5B: Whatnot (iOSAndroid), a collector/enthusiast marketplace focused on live stream auctions, is raising funds at a $1.5B valuation; Andreessen Horowitz is contributing to the round, which reportedly triples the valuation Whatnot saw for a $50M Series B in May; the startup authenticates items including comic books, collector cards, and figurines

$1.2B: Blockchain infrastructure firm Blockdaemon is raising a round led by SoftBank's Vision Fund 2 at a $1.2B valuation, according to sources for The Information; the Los Angeles-based startup offers industrial-grade infrastructure and managed services and also operates a marketplace for services, protocols, and add-ons compatible with the Blockdaemon platform

$589M: Geely-owned ride-hailing company Cao Cao raises $589M from Chinese investors; the firm said it would use the funding, in part, to develop purpose-built vehicles for its ride-share business; Cao Cao claimed 10M MAU across 62 cities in July

$530M: Cloud security firm Snyk raises $530M Series F at an $8.5B valuation; the platform scans connected repositories for license violations and compares code to a vulnerability database; the system identifies problematic snips of code so developers can resolve problems ahead of security teams

$220M: Agile Robotics raises $220M Series C for a reported ~$1B post-money valuation; the German company said Apple manufacturing partner Foxconn would deploy Agile's computer vision-powered robots for smartphone production; Agile also produces medical robots, human-like robotic hands, and more

$200M: Cloud networking firm Aviatrix raises $200M at a $2B valuation; investors last valued Aviatrix at $700M for a $75M round in February; the company expects $40M in annualized revenue by the end of 2021 and $100M by the end of next year

$170M: Online used vehicle marketplace Carsome raises $170M Series D; the company said its $1.3B post-money valuation was the highest ever for a Malaysian tech startup; Carsome will use the funding, in part, for its auto-financing business

$110M: Shutterstock ($4.14B market cap) acquires PicMonkey, which offers online photo editing and graphic design software, for $110M; the platform automates editing tasks like background removal and replacement, text additions, photo animations, more; Shutterstock plans to integrate the tech into its media assets platform

$363M: Real estate platform HomeLight raises $100M in equity and $263M in debt; the deal more than tripled the company's valuation to $1.6B; HomeLight finances all-cash offers and gives buyers up to 90% of the value of their current homes before sale

$89.1M: BuzzFeed reports Q2 earnings ahead of public debut: $89.1M revenue, up 51% YoY; $47.8M advertising revenue, up 79%; the company announced in June it would go public through a reverse-merger with Nasdaq-listed SPAC 890 5th Avenue Partners, and acquire entertainment company Complex Networks

$80M: AI-powered relationship management platform Affinity raises $80M Series C at a $600M valuation; the platform connects with various CRM solutions, aggregates data, then provides insights about which contacts are most likely to make purchases and more; the system powers ~500k introductions and tracks ~450k deals per month

$80M: Cloud-based real-time database firm SingleStore raises $80M at a reported $940M valuation; the company, previously known as MemSQL, claims Dell, Samsung, and Sony as customers; the platform supports real-time transactions and analytics at scale

$45M: Wisetack, a buy-now-pay-later solution for in-person purchases, raises $45M Series B; the startup offers loan terms of three to 60 months, and consumers see up to six options; Wisestack does soft credit checks, meaning an application does not impact a buyer's credit score

$300: Facebook and Ray-Ban launch Stories, a $300 pair of smart glasses with two front-facing cameras the user can activate via button and voice command; companion app Facebook View allows the user to edit clips and share them to other apps; Stories accepts prescription lenses and is available from LensCrafters, Sunglasses Hut, and other retailers


📰 What’s going on

Apple updates Music with song identification tech from Shazam, which Apple acquired in 2018; Shazam will identify songs featured in DJ mixes and mashups to provide track information to listeners and to ensure proper compensation for artists, event promoters, and labels

Apple announces a September 14 event with the tagline "California streaming"; the company will begin streaming at 10 am Pacific; many expect Apple to unveil the iPhone 13 lineup and possibly Watch Series 7; MacBook Pros and AirPods are also possible

Apple has overcome Watch Series 7 manufacturing issues and will begin mass production mid-month; previous reports indicated the Watch's flatter screen and edges required new manufacturing processes that initially led to reliability issues

Apple's AR/VR headset will require a wireless connection to an iPhone or other device; the company reportedly completed the development of custom chips for the gadget last year, and sources indicated the chips were ready for trial production

Amazon to deploy its “Just Walk Out” cashier-free checkout tech at two Whole Foods locations slated to launch next year in Washington DC's Glover Park neighborhood and Sherman Oaks, CA; shoppers will have the option to pay via palm-scanning system Amazon One or the Amazon mobile app

Microsoft launches Start, a personalized news product that integrates with Windows 10 and 11 and the Edge browser; available via website and mobile app, Start provides a feed of content from various publishers as well as widgets for weather, sports scores, stock prices, etc

US- and UK-based users of TikTok for Android average more viewing time per month than users of YouTube for Android in the same markets; YouTube, which has ~2B users, claims more overall time spent in its app; TikTok claims ~700M users

Robinhood begins rolling out recurring crypto investments, allowing users to automatically purchase Bitcoin, Ethereum, Dogecoin, and other cryptocurrencies on daily, weekly, and monthly schedules; the company will gradually roll the feature out through September

Mastercard acquires crypto-intelligence company CipherTrace; terms undisclosed; the company serves banks, card issuers, exchanges, and others, providing blockchain analytics solutions for risk mitigation, compliance, etc; the startup also offers government solutions for financial crime investigations and more

Epic Games discontinues social video chat app Houseparty, will shut down the service next month; Epic acquired the startup for a reported $35M in 2019 and integrated the tech into "Fortnite"; that feature, "Fortnite Mode," will also shut down

Volkswagen announces its electric van, the ID Buzz, will serve as the platform for autonomous taxi and delivery services slated to launch in Germany in 2025; the company plans to test the models, powered by autonomy hardware and software from Pittsburgh-based Argo AI, on a private track and public roads in Munich; Argo AI previously raised $2.6B from VW and is now exploring a public listing

Chinese President Xi Jinping says the country will establish a new stock exchange in Beijing for innovation-focused SMEs; Mainland China's two primary exchanges are in Shanghai and Shenzhen


📚 Good reads

Visual hierarchy and UX-Design. A brief and handy intro / reminder on basic principles to understand how visual information should be arranged

How Xiaomi redefined what it means to be a platform, by HBR. Three factors enabled the electronics giant’s unique business model: 1) Xiaomi structures its investments to incentivize innovation and build trust while still ensuring alignment, 2) proactively fosters an ecosystem mindset throughout its organization, and 3) takes a deliberate, measured approach to expanding the scope of its ecosystem over time

Product leadership skills: influence without authority. Product School has put together some advice on one of the toughest challenges many PMs (especially entry-level) face

A founder’s playbook to pivot: advice for the pre-product/market fit days, by Tara Viswanathan, co-founder and CEO of Rupa Health. Most conventional startup advice out there is post-product/market fit, but it’s dangerous to take that advice when you’re still pre-product/market fit. “The most common mistake I’ve seen founders struggle with is falling in love with a particular product or solution and thus spending too many cycles on something that doesn’t work“

20 underrated qualities to look for in candidates, and 50+ interview questions. A great guide for preparing candidate interviews by First Round Review

The Handy Guide for Product People. ProdPad has made their book available for digital download

Privacy by design: flipping the script on privacy in product. Rather than looking at privacy as a trade-off between business needs and user requirements, product-focused professionals who see privacy as a “win-win” feature are likely to understand their users better and create more attractive products

3 qualities of great product roadmaps, by Roman Pichler


Have a great weekend.

Angel


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