el producto #268 🚀
New Macs in 2022, Spotify and Web3, Netflix comedy feed, Meta's AI and tools to create the metaverse, PM salaries in 2022, How to work in Web3 & more
Welcome to a new edition of el producto
🎰 The week in figures
$2.2B: Carvana acquires vehicle auction firm Adesa US from KAR Global for $2.2B; Carvana will continue to operate Adesa's 56 auction sites and use those locations for inspections and reconditioning vehicles for online sales; Carvana plans to spend $1B to upgrade those locations, which generated $800M in revenue last year
$1.1B: Lender and wealth management firm SoFi acquires digital banking tech company Technisys for ~$1.1B; SoFi plans to use the core-banking platform to deliver personalized financial services, and to make the platform available to other banks and fintechs
$500M: Tingo, an agriculture-focused fintech company, is raising $500M to expand in Africa, its domestic market, partly through M&A; the firm trades OTC in the US at a ~$6.3B valuation, and plans to list on the NYSE this year; the company serves ~12M customers, mostly rural farmers, leasing smartphones connecting customers to produce markets and more; Tingo also offers an e-commerce platform that processes ~$4B in transactions per year
$497: Milan-based Scalapay raised $497M Series B; Scalapay is a payment solution for e-commerce merchants across the globe that allows customers to buy now and pay later without interest; clients include Shein, Decathlon, Calzedonia, Swappie, Moschino, Samsonite, Nike, and Pandora
$325M: Information security firm eSentire raises $325M at a $1B+ valuation from Georgian and others; the company serves enterprises, offering an AI-powered platform that hunts for threats and pushes new defenses across its entire customer base
$250M: Enterprise cybersecurity company BlueVoyant raises $250M Series D at a $1B+ valuation; the end-to-end managed platform addresses internal and external risks via AI, machine learning, and automation; BlueVoyant claims 500 customers around the world
$190M: PrimaryBid, which enables retail investors to participate in funding rounds, SPAC listings, and IPOs, raises $190M Series C at a ~$690M valuation; the London startup plans an office in the US and is working on regulatory approvals to support US listings by late this year or next year
$175M: Bloomreach, which provides e-commerce tools for automated marketing, content, and more, raises $175M at a $2.2B valuation; investors last valued the firm at $900M in January 2021; the Mountain View firm plans to use the funding to focus on European expansion and more product personalization features; Bloomreach serves 850 brands, including Albertsons and Bosch
$162M: Cloudflare acquires anti-phishing firm Area 1 Security for ~$162M in cash and stock; the company offers an email security solution addressing the threats that get past the security of cloud email providers and email gateways, including ransomware campaigs; the startup blocked 40M phishing campaigns last year
$140M: E-commerce platform Fabric raises $140M Series C at a ~$1.5B valuation led; the firm offers a headless solution with tools for inventory management, promotions, checkouts, and more; customers include McDonald's and The Honest Company
$125M: MediBuddy, which operates an end-to-end digital healthcare platform, raises $125M Series C; the Indian company offers telemedicine, medicine delivery, at-home testing, and other services; MediBuddy claims 30M customers
$110M: Relational database company Timescale raises $110M Series C at a $1B+ valuation; the startup created TimescaleDB, a time-series SQL database with fast analytics; it powers products using data from industrial equipment, financial markets, blockchain activity, and more; customers include Apple, Salesforce, and Walmart
$100M: Digital banking firm Niyo raises $100M Series C; the company offers a savings account, wealth management, and other services for individuals, and also provides fintech products for banks; the Indian firm claims 4M-plus customers and adds 10k-plus each day; Niyo processes $3B in transactions per year
$100M: Password-free identity management firm Beyond Identity raises $100M Series C at a $1.1B valuation; the multi-factor authentication system uses 70 contextual indicators, including geolocation, IP address, and time to verify users and defend against ransomware account takeovers, and more
400: at least 400 Salesforce employees have signed a letter protesting the company's plans for an NFT cloud service; the letter, which is circulating on company messaging channels, asks Salesforce to halt the plans over concerns about the environmental impacts and unregulated nature of NFTs
📰 What’s going on
Netflix is testing a TikTok-style comedy feed among selected users on its TV app; the feature, called Fast Laughs, lets users scroll through short clips of funny movies and shows to potentially discover new content; Netflix is now rolling out Fast Laughs in beta to some TV subscribers in the U.S., Canada, the U.K., Australia, and other English-speaking countries
Spotify makes Car Thing, a dashboard device for controlling Spotify while driving, widely available in the US; the $90 product requires a Spotify Premium subscription and a mobile phone with data connectivity; it features physical, display, and voice controls
Spotify is following the likes of Disney and YouTube with a push into Web3; the posting for a senior backend engineer explains that the candidate will "leverage new technologies, like Web3"
Klarna will launch its rewards program in the UK; users that make payments immediately or ensure their repayments are made on time earn points; Klarna's rewards program has attracted over 4M members since it was launched in the U.S. and Australia in 2020; Klarna is looking to expand its Pay Now feature, which lets users make immediate payments to nine countries, including France and Canada; U.S. consumers can now join the waitlist to obtain a physical Klarna card
Meta's Responsible AI team introduced a tool that explains the inner workings of complex AI systems, starting with Instagram's AI feed ranking; the "system cards" aim to help people understand why and how AI operates in an easier and more fundamental way; the company said it wants to be more transparent about its algorithms after facing criticism about the harmful effects of its AI programs
Meta will no longer make its own operating system from scratch for its AR/VR devices such as Quest; the company currently relies on the Android operating system and had planned to create an in-house system; there were over 300 employees working on creating a new operating system to operate Meta's new AR glasses
Facebook Reels rolls out worldwide. After publicly launching in the U.S. this past September, Facebook Reels this week became globally available in more than 150 countries. The feature, which is a key part of Meta’s response to the TikTok threat, allows creators to share short-form video content on Facebook or cross-post Reels from Instagram in order to reach a broader audience
Apple is reportedly gearing up to release several new Macs with an M2 chip later this year; sources expect the company to debut a 13-inch MacBook Pro, Mac Mini, 24-inch iMac, and a redesigned MacBook Air, all outfitted with the rumored M2 chip
Google proposed "best practices" for its cloud customers to shrink their machine-learning carbon footprints; he company says the best practices, called the "4Ms," have kept its ML energy use to less than 15% of its total usage for the past three years:
Selecting efficient ML model architectures to advance ML quality, lowering computation by up to 10x
Using processors optimized for ML training to improve performance and energy efficiency 2x to 5x
Computing in the cloud rather than on-site, which can reduce energy usage and emissions by up to 2x
Using the cloud to choose the location with the cleanest energy, further cutting the gross carbon footprint by 5x–10x
Reddit released a major revamp of its mobile app for the first time in over two years with updated navigation and the addition of a new “Discover Tab.” The latter will offer personalized recommendations of new communities to join based on users’ current subscription, activity and general popularity
Clubhouse introduced a new in-room chat feature that allows users, including both mods and listeners, to communicate in a chat interface while the room is live. Here, users can post texts and emoji to participate in the conversations.
LinkedIn launched its own podcast network to deliver thought leadership in audio form, apparently. The in-house shows will come from the LinkedIn News team and other industry figures. One show, arriving in the spring, comes from Reid Hoffman, the co-founder and executive chairman of LinkedIn, and will focus on personal entrepreneurship
GitHub announced the public beta of the ability to prebuild Codespaces; the prebuild codespace is a template with source code, editor extensions, project dependencies, commands, and configurations downloaded and ready to use; the beta aims to enable developers to get started on a project quickly without performing any manual setup
Sony revealed its new virtual reality headset design, the PlayStation VR2, to complete with Meta Quest; the target customers for these headsets are gamers who already own PlayStation consoles; the headsets come with a 360-degree feel; Sony has not announced a price or release date for the headset
Buildspace offers developers free, cohort-based, self-paced courses to learn and build web3 blockchain apps; the courses are available for free, and developers who complete the course within a week will receive a certificate in the form of an NFT
Several Ukrainian government and banking websites have suffered a massive DDoS attack; targets included the Ministries of Defense, Internal Affairs, and Foreign Affairs; the nation's largest commercial bank, PrivatBank, also went down; Cloudflare notes that DDoS activity in Ukraine is up since last week, but down since last month
Ukraine's government is urging the hacker community to engage in cyber espionage and help protect critical infrastructure such as power plants and water utilities; government-backed posts on hacker forums are seeking volunteers to join both defensive and offensive cyber units
Metaverse Fashion Week is underway as NYC, Paris, and Milan step into the Decentraland metaverse; the event will take place in Decentraland's "Luxury Fashion District," presented by Vogue Arabia and UNXD, to highlight the most iconic fashion labels in Web3; Tokens.com has announced that Cavalli, Dolce & Gabbana, Elie Saab, Etro, Jacob & Co., and Tommy Hilfiger, amongst others, have joined the official lineup for the first-ever Metaverse Fashion Week from March 24-27, 2022.
💸 Q4 financials
Block (Square) Q4 beats: gross profit of $1.18B, +47% YoY; $4.08B in Q4 revenue, +29% YoY; $1.31B came from transaction-based revenue, $772M from subscription and services, $36M from hardware revenue, and $1.96B from bitcoin revenue;Block’s gross payment volume was $46.3B, a ~45% increase YoY; Square ecosystem generated a gross profit of $657M, a 54% increase YoY; Cash App brought in a gross profit of $518M, up 37% YoY
Coinbase Q4 beats: the crypto trading platform reported Q4 revenue of $2.5B, and net income of $840M; full-year revenue $7.36B, and net income $3.62B; monthly transaction users rose to 11.4M in Q4, +54% from Q3; Coinbase has 89 million verified users
EBay Q4 beats: Q4 revenue of $2.61B, +5% YoY; net income of $647M, +10% YoY. Full-year revenue came in at $10.4B, +17% YoY; net income $2.7B +12% YoY. Annual active buyers fell to 147M, down 9% YoY. Annual active sellers fell to 17M, down 8% YoY.
Deep-dive: Alibaba released its Q4 2021 earnings, reporting its slowest revenue growth since its IPO in 2014. Revenue of $38.37B from Oct.-Dec. 2021, +10% YoY. This is the first time the company’s YoY growth fell below 20%. The company pointed to lower merchant fees as the economy recovers from the impact of COVID-19. Net income came in at $3.21B or $2.65 a share, down from $12.55B reported a year prior.
Annual active users for the full year 2021 grew to 1.28B, a 43M increase in Q4 – 979M consumers from China and 301M international users
China commerce brought in $27.22B (172.23B yuan) in revenue
International commerce brought in $2.6B (16.45B yuan) in revenue
Its Cloud business reported $3.08B (19.5B yuan) in revenue, +20% increase YoY
Its Digital Media and Entertainment business reported $1.28B (8.1B yuan) in revenue
The company said it will focus its efforts on retained users on its platforms versus pursuing new users as it believes it has captured all consumers with purchasing power in China
📚 Good reads
The product-led growth engine that powered Zapier's growth from $0-$140M ARR and a $5B valuation with just $1.4M raised
Don’t let these cognitive biases ruin your product decisions. A refresher on one of our favourite topics, by Guodong Zhao
Calendar reviews - how to optimize your time as a PM, by Rich Mironov. Calendars aren’t something we should obsess about, but gaining a little control over the day is worth some effort. Where can we experiment with improving or dropping meetings in order to be more effective (and less exhausted) leaders?
How ByteDance became the world’s most valuable startup, by HBR. During the past decade, ByteDance has proven itself time and again to be a spectacularly innovative and successful company. This has been true not only for TikTok but many of its other apps, which have vast numbers of users. The company’s secret? It uses a shared-service platform, or SSP, to power innovation. In this article, the authors explain the many ways in which ByteDance has used its SSP to fuel development and growth
The quick guide to PM salaries in 2022, by Product School
🔮 Emerging trends
How to work in Web3. This week we came across a couple of interesting articles including tips for those interested in taking a career shift (or side-gig) towards Web3:
How to work in Web3, by Cabin. From taxes, accounting, and compliance, to setting up your own corp. The legal tips are mostly focused on US, but the rest can be applicable to any region
A product manager’s guide to web3. How PM'ing in web3 is different, the pros and cons of going web3, how to break in, and how to be successful—by Jason Shah, head of product at Alchemy
Go-to-narket in Web3: new mindsets, tactics, metrics, by Maggie Hsu. Traditional web2 GTM frameworks are a useful reference, and offer some helpful playbooks — but they are just a few of the many frameworks available for web3 organizations. The key difference is that the goals, growth, and success metrics of web2 and web3 are often not the same. Builders should start with a clear purpose, grow a community around that purpose, and match their growth strategies and community incentives, and with them, the go-to-market motions, accordingly
A guide to DeSci (decentralised science). The DeSci movement aims to enhance scientific funding; unleash knowledge from silos; eliminate reliance on profit-hungry intermediaries such as publisher conglomerates; and increase collaboration across the field
Mark Zuckerberg described plans for a universal speech translator that will translate all languages instantaneously as people communicate in the metaverse
In a separate demo, Zuckerberg showed off an AI "Builder Bot" that generates 3D objects in virtual worlds using only a voice command. As an avatar in VR, he commanded the tech to create a beach scene and then added clouds, trees, and a picnic blanket
The Builder Bot is a part of Meta's newly announced CAIRaoke project, which aims to improve AI chatbots and assistants. More:
Project CAIRaoke is a fully end-to-end neural model for building on-device AI assistants.
The technology could allow people to have more natural and fluid conversations with voice AI.
Zuckerberg said he wants to one day build assistants that can shift between the virtual and physical worlds.
Have a great week ahead
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