el producto #254 🚀

Metaverse investing, Getting OKRs right, Apple self-repair initiative, Dogfooding your products, Mixpanel funding, Facebook's Live Audio rooms, Proddy Awards, & more

🎰 The week in figures

$10.4B: VCs have dedicated $10.4B toward metaverse startups this year. It breaks down into four categories: 

  • Gaming: ~$7.5B (382 rounds)

  • Online games: ~$2.5B (110 rounds)

  • Augmented reality: ~$2.1B (176 rounds)

  • Virtual world: ~$62.8M (9 rounds)

$2.5B: Paradigm raises $2.5B for the world's largest crypto fund to date; the firm said the fund would invest at all stages and geographies and target DeFi and Web3 companies; Co-Founder Fred Ehrsam previously co-founded Coinbase; Co-Founder Matt Huang previously served as a partner at Sequoia

$1.3B: Cloud security firm Lacework raises $1.3B for an $8.3B post-money valuation; the platform identifies threats to accounts, cloud servers, and containers; the company claims the round is the largest ever in the security industry

$520M: Customer engagement platform Braze raises $520M at IPO; the NY company priced shares at $65 each after marketing at $55-$60 per share, giving the firm a $5.87B market value ($6.7B fully diluted); investors valued Braze at $850M for an $80M round in 2018

$510M: Workday ($74.17B market cap) to acquire VNDLY, a SaaS for managing contractors and vendors, for $510M; following integration, Workday will enable clients to manage internal and external workers using a single interface; the companies expect to close the deal during Q1

$201M: Customer communications platform Podium (YC W16) raises $201M Series D at a $3B valuation; investors valued the firm at $1.5B for a $125M Series C in April 2020; the platform supports video chats, text-based payments, surveys, and more; Podium claims 100k businesses as customers

$200M: App analytics firm Mixpanel raises $200M Series C at a $1.05B valuation; the software visualizes data regarding popular features, causes for churn, which types of users stay with the product the longest, more; the company claims 600 paid business customers including DocuSign, Uber, Yayzy and ZipRecruiter

$200M: Writing assistance firm Grammarly, which offers tools for detecting and fixing spelling, grammatical, voice, and other errors, raises $200M at a $13B valuation; the company's new desktop app works with text in Microsoft Office, Slack, Discord, and other apps

$150M: AllTrails, an app serving outdoor enthusiasts, raises $150M; the company targets hikers, climbers, dog walkers, runners, and others, offering trail/site search and discovery, maps, reviews, etc; the app claims 25M users and 300k locations

$100M: Airwallex, a fintech firm serving international businesses, raises $100M at a $5.5B valuation; the company provides global accounts, borderless cards, an online payments system, and more; it also plans to enable clients to issue cards; Airwallex claims 20k customers and 500 large platform clients

$100M: Real estate platform Place raises $100M Series A at a $1B valuation; the company's consumer-facing tools enable users to find agents, secure financing, buy and sell homes, and more; agents use Place for accounting, marketing, hiring, etc

$100M: Apple device management company Kandji raises $100M Series C at an $800M valuation; investors valued the startup at $80M for a $21M Series A in October of last year; Kandji claims 1k companies as customers; the startup employs 250 (up from 40 at the beginning of the year), and plans to employ 400 by next year

$100M: Business Intelligence platform ThoughtSpot raises $100M Series F at a $4.2B valuation; the company pivoted to a SaaS model over the past year and is on track to exceed $100M in ARR less than a year from now; Hulu uses ThoughtSpot to measure the impact of a given show on subscription revenue 

$75M: Overwolf, a platform for creating, sharing, and monetizing in-game apps and game modifications, raises $75M; game developers and publishers integrate the system to foster their creator communities; the platform claims 87k creators representing 20M monthly end users

-27%: Paytm owner One97 Communications closes down 27% in its public debut; the company priced shares at $28.95, at the top of its marketed range, to raise $2.46B; Paytm serves 330M+ customers, offering financial services and digital payments

📰 What’s going on

Facebook is incentivizing musicians and celebrities to use its Live Audio Rooms feature, offering $10k-$50k per hosting session; contracts, negotiated through production companies, reportedly require creators to host four to six sessions at 30 minutes-plus each

Apple announces Self Service Repair, a program through which consumers will obtain tools and replacement parts the company currently restricts to certified technicians and repair shops; Apple will also publish repair manuals; the company plans to launch the program next year

Digital bank N26 to withdraw from the US on 11th January 2022. The fintech aims to shift focus towards Europe. In 2020 N26 abandoned UK

Micro-mobility firm Tier acquires bike-sharing company Nextbike; terms undisclosed; Tier, which offers electric bikes, scooters, and mopeds, closed a $200M Series D last month and recently launched in London and Stockholm; Nextbike operates a fleet of 115k traditional and electric bikes

Drone delivery firm Zipline launches its first commercial operation in the US with a Walmart partnership; customers in Pea Ridge, AR can choose from thousands of health and wellness products for UAV delivery; the program covers a 50-mile radius; Walmart first tested drone deliveries in 2015

📚 Good reads

The Cold Start Problem - book preview. Andrew Chen has publicly shared the first episode of his upcoming book. The Cold Start Problem is a book a collection of case studies, from Tinder, Twitch, credit cards, Dropbox, and others — about the lifecycle of these networked products. How to get them started, how to scale them, and what it’s like to compete

Dogfooding: a simple practice to help you build better products. Dogfooding is a simple, almost essential, yet often ignored practice in Product Management. Over the years I have seen it work successfully in my own teams, and I have implemented the practice in multiple orgs and teams. Feel free to reach out if you want templates and examples beyond what Vikram Goyal shares in the article

Discovery hand-offs kill momentum: here’s what to do instead. A nice and practical article by Teresa Torres explaining how to keep teams aligned (and involved) in discovery

Personal development: how to become a feedback magnet, by Shivani Berry, founder and CEO of Ascend. Getting actionable feedback is a skill, and the top performers have excelled largely because they’ve never stopped honing it

Making OKRs work. The good folks at Mind The Product UK shared 2 useful resources on OKRs this week:

  • [Podcast] OKRs can be simple – Storm Fagan on The Product Experience. I had the honor of working with Storm at Just Eat (she’s now CPO at BBC), and can’t say enough good words about her. Here she breaks down how she made OKRs scale at a big company by keeping them simple (and lessons along the way)

  • [Video] OKRs in Product Management by Roman Pichler. Another referent for anything related to Product processes and planning, Roman shares his thoughts on setting effective product-related goals using OKRs

An online marketplace, Facily, is applying Chinese tactics to beat Amazon in BrazilThe company, founded by former Facebook head of LATAM Diego Dzodan, is leveraging the model used by Pinduoduo of focusing on low-income consumers. It's working:

  • Low-income customers were ignored by other shopping apps despite being the largest base of Brazil's population

  • Facily has focused on the biggest need of its low-income userbase — food and groceries

  • By selling directly through Facily, farmers and producers earn more money while consumers benefit from lower prices and free shipping

  • The app's MAUs increased to 7.1M from ~100k a year ago

  • They are raising $100M at a pre-money valuation of over $1B

  • October's transaction volume reached $23M

Proddy Award winners: The best products for PMs of 2021 (or a useful resource list!)

The state of LATAM unicorns, by CB Insights:

Have a great weekend


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