el producto #269 🚀
Uber dinner + events bookings, Ways to support Ukraine, The Steve Jobs bias, Product coaching, Crypto investment due-diligence, New iPhones, & more
Welcome to a new edition of el producto.
🇺🇦 Help Ukraine - resources from the tech community:
Real ways you can help Ukraine as a foreigner: Extensive list of resources, from hosting refugees, to donation and volunteering opportunities
Help Ukraine Win: A collection of resources and info on how foreigners can help
Help Ukraine: Another detailed resource for how those outside Ukraine can help
Help Ukraine | Crowdsourced List: A list of resources to help Ukraine with crowdsourced info
We Stand With Ukraine Website Badge: A simple website badge to show support for Ukraine
I am offering 1-1 consultations with Product professionals affected by the conflict (whether need help finding a new job abroad, pivoting a product, etc)
More here. These resources provide various ways to help, from suggestions on where to donate (if you are able) to petitions that you can sign and more to support Ukraine
🎰 The week in figures
$19.7B: Microsoft completed its $19.7B acquisition of AI speech-tech specialist Nuance Communications. Boston-based Nuance's voice technology was used in the creation of Apple's Siri; The deal will combine Nuance's conversational AI and ambient intelligence with Microsoft's cloud offering;
$1.5B: Fanatics has reportedly raised $1.5B at a $27B valuation; the company is looking to expand from sports-focused merchandise to trading cards and sports betting; Fanatics has raised almost $5B to date and has not announced plans for an IPO
$800M: Vendor-flexible data management platform Snowflake has acquired open-source data app dev platform Streamlit for $800M; the companies began talking last year and found themselves united in their mission to democratize access to data
$425M: E-grocer Weee! raised $425M at a $4.1B valuation; Weee! sells "hard-to-find" food products from Asian and Hispanic countries to distinguish itself from rivals such as Instacart and Gopuff; its product offerings include over 10k locally sourced items
$355M: Australian buy now, pay later (BNPL) firm Zip acquired its US counterpart Sezzle for A$491M ($355M); the move will help Zip expand across the US, and will give Zip 8.8M US users and more than 60,000 merchants, including Ikea and Target
$170M: Electric Vertical Takeoff and Landing (eVTOL) maker Volocopter raised $170M as the first part of a Series E funding round; the Germany-based startup intends to use autonomous capabilities to offer an urban air-taxi service; Volocopter reported the completion of 1000 test flights; competitors include Germany’s Lilium, America’s Kittyhawk and Joby Aviation, and China’s EHang
$140M: Fabric, which provides composable API tech for digital commerce, raised $140M Series C at a $1.5B valuation; Seattle-based Fabric offers 300 commerce APIs and an associated framework, centralizing companies' sales channels to one place; Fabric's target market consists of B2B brands of $50M+ revenue, which cannot operate well on platforms such as Shopify
$100M: London-based spend management startup Payhawk has added $100M to its Series B round; Payhawk can be used to centralize payments in a modern interface; when you first open a Payhawk account, you get a dedicated IBAN and you can upload money from your existing bank account; Payhawk plans to launch new features, such as Oracle Netsuite integration, subscription management and budgets; the company has offices in London, Sofia, Berlin, and Barcelona, and plans to open offices in Amsterdam, Paris, and New York
$72M: Netflix has acquired Finnish gaming studio Next Games for ~$72M; Next Games specializes in games based on entertainment franchises; they partnered with Netflix in 2021 to develop a game based on ‘Stranger Things’
$70M: Ethereum staking startup Lido has raised $70M from a16z; Lido has an 80% market share in Ethereum liquid staking, which will become more important as Ethereum transitions to a PoS (proof-of-stake) model this summer; Lido has $10B worth of staked assets across 76,000 wallets; via TechCrunch: staking is less risky, lower return than investing in cryptocurrencies
📰 What’s going on
Key moves in tech after the Russian invasion of Ukraine:
The BBC will use short-wave radio to broadcast news in Russia after having its sites blocked in the country; prior to blocking, the BBC reported that its Russian language traffic was elevated at 10.7M vs. the typical 3.1M; the last time BBC used short-wave radio in Europe was 2008
Facebook and Instagram said they would suppress the spread of Russian state media via algorithms and will begin attaching labels to their content to provide more context. It also restricted access to their content in the EU, and more recently, the U.K. per a government request
Facebook said it would let users in Russia and Ukraine lock their profiles — a feature that prevents non-friends from viewing posts and photos, downloading images and more
Instagram announced it would make encrypted DMs available to users in Russia and Ukraine
Reddit banned links to Russian state media outlets across its site for all users worldwide and ads that originated from Russia or those that target the country
Spotify closed its office in Russia “indefinitely,” and removed all content from Russian state media outlets RT and Sputnik in the EU and other markets, except Russia
Snap halted ads in Russia, Belarus and Ukraine, and pledged $15M to relief orgs. It’s also helping to relocate the 300-plus person Ukrainian staff of its AR platform
TikTok blocked Russian state media accounts, Sputnik and RT, in the EU. The accounts are also no longer able to post to audiences within the EU
YouTube banned Russian state media outlets in the EU and U.K.
Google Maps removed newly added user content, like pins, in Russia, Ukraine and Belarus, amid claims of its use in coordinating Russian military activity. Google also disabled live traffic tools on Google Maps
Apple halted product sales in Russia, disabled Apple Pay services in the country and, like Google, disabled Apple Maps’ traffic and live incident reports
Apple’s Maps and Weather apps began showing Crimea as part of Ukraine in all regions outside Russia, after not showing the region as part of any country since 2019
Microsoft halted all new sales in Russia, and is suspending many other aspects of its business in the country
Airbnb suspended all operations in Russia and Belarus and said it was offering free short-term housing for up to 100,000 Ukrainian refugees
Google stopped selling online ads in Russia on Search, YouTube and outside publishing partners, after similar moves by Snap and Twitter
Apple is expected to announce a low-cost iPhone SE at its product-launch event on March 8; the virtual “Peek Performance” event will be broadcast on Apple's website; Apple could also announce new Macs and an iPad Air tablet with a new CPU (although these may be delayed to the fall event)
Apple, Google, Microsoft, and Mozilla, along with software consultancies Bocoup and Igalia, have agreed to work together to make web design technologies perform in a more consistent way across different platforms; the group has created a benchmark called Interop 2022 to assess how a handful of web standards get implemented by different vendors, with an eye toward ironing out differences; the idea is that web applications should look and behave the same way across different devices and operating systems
Uber now allows customers to book dinner reservations and live events through the app; the Uber Explore feature launched in 15 cities in the US this week; the company has partnered with Yelp and PredictHQ to offer recommendations to users; its goal is to drive more trips through increased user engagement
Uber is testing out a new algorithm in multiple cities that lets drivers view the pay and destination before accepting a trip; the move is the largest update to Uber's driver-pay algorithm in several years or longer, and it is designed to provide more incentives for drivers to take short ride; in addition, it could appease demands and attract more drivers
Meta released Facebook’s ‘Widely Viewed Content’ report for Q4; the top page was viewed over 121M times and came from a now-banned account; Meta did not disclose which account it came from; these reports were started in Q2 last year in response to the @FacebooksTop10 Twitter account
Instagram is introducing auto-generated captions for videos on its app; up until now, creators had to manually add captions to their videos; the addition of captions will make Instagram more accessible for users who are in the deaf and hard-of-hearing communities; the new feature will also be useful for users who would prefer to watch videos without sound; TikTok rolled out auto captions in April 2021
Amazon will close all 68 of its Amazon Books, Amazon 4-Star, and Amazon Pop Up physical shops in the U.S. and U.K. to focus on its grocery and fashion stores and the technology behind them
Amazon launched its cloud-based game streaming service Luna in the U.S. with free games for Prime members and more via subscription; users can try Luna on Fire TV using their iPhone or Android phone as a controller via the Luna Controller app
Google employees in the Bay Area and several other locations have been asked to return to physical offices on April 4 under a hybrid work plan; most employees will work from the office about three days a week, though they can request permission to work remotely
Android announced its 2022 initiatives to better prepare developers for the upcoming changes; app developers will have until July 20 to submit the data safety form, and the Data Safety section will appear in the Play Store from late April
Twitter is expanding its community-based fact-checking service Birdwatch to a small and randomized set of US users after testing it since January 2021; the company was recently criticized for not prioritizing fact checks over other features, when the Russia-Ukraine war is leading to a spike in misinformation
Online genealogy service MyHeritage used AI technology from D-ID to launch "LiveStory," a tool that generates animated biographical videos of a user's ancestors; Israel-based D-ID, a specializer of AI-powered "reenactment technology," developed AI software that makes still photos appear as if they're moving
Disney is considering launching a less expensive or free version of Disney+ with ads to boost subscriber growth; Disney+ grew global subscribers 37% y/y to ~130M as of January 1st; Paramount, NBC, WarnerMedia and others have all launched ad-supported services; Disney+ is on a ~$6.8B revenue run rate as of Q1 2022
Epic Games acquired Bandcamp, a music marketplace and community; Bandcamp’s CEO noted the shared vision of an open, artist-friendly ecosystem when talking about Epic Games; Bandcamp has paid out almost $1B since launching in 2008
Instant delivery startup Gopuff expanded into France; Gopuff is now operating in Paris, Lille, Marseille and Toulouse; the company has opened 20 micro-fulfillment centers and is offering 4,000 products
TikTok confirmed that it's expanding its maximum video length for uploads to 10 minutes, up from 3 minutes, opening the door for more longer-form content such as reaction videos and tutorials; the company says it hopes the move will “unleash even more creative possibilities;" when the TikTok app first launched in 2016, the maximum video length was capped at 15s
Walmart launched an AI-powered virtual clothing try-on feature called “Choose My Model,” which lets online shoppers build a virtual model that matches their dimensions, body shape and skin tone to see what clothes will look like on their own body; the feature is powered by Walmart’s Zeekit acquisition and will be available on the web and in the Walmart mobile app.
DeveloperDAO, a community for people interested in participating, learning, and contributing to the future of Web3, is accepting new members; the DAO has +5k members and +130 channels on Discord for onboarding, introductions, technical discussions, etc; new members can join the DAO by acquiring its genesis NFTs from the open market or from other members; the DAO also gifts free memberships through its scholarship program for developers who cannot afford a token, and can apply here
💸 Q4 financials
Singapore-based superapp Grab’s annual net loss increased to $3.6B on $675M of revenue; overall GMV increased 29% YoY to $16.1B; the largest source of growth was deliveries (56% y/y GMV), followed by financial services (37%); management cites severe lockdowns impacting rideshare as the core reason for 2% decrease in overall average monthly users YoY; shares were down 18% on the report
Baidu beat analysts' forecasts for total revenue in Q4, driven by growth in its AI and cloud-computing business. The Chinese search engine giant experienced strong growth in its non-advertising business, particularly in Baidu AI Cloud. The Beijing-based company previously said its "diversified AI portfolio," including self-driving, robotaxis, smart EVs, and smart devices, positions it well for longer-term growth. Baidu's revenue grew to 33.09B yuan ($5.24B) in Q4 (32.22B yuan expected)
Salesforce reported Q4 and FY earnings: Q4 revenue of $7.33B (up 26% YoY), Q4 net loss of $28M, FY revenue of ~$26.5B, FY net income of $1.4B; projected $32B in revenue for FY2023 (which would be ~21% YoY growth); Q4 Slack revenue was $308M (up 23% YoY)
📚 Good reads
Reinventing Twitter. Twitter executives now believe that decentralizing the social media service will radically shift online power, moving it into the hands of users, and pose a fundamental challenge to the walled gardens of companies like Facebook. “If you decentralize your platform and you give developers more powers to make richer experiences and better, safer timelines, then everybody benefits from this,”
The negative rake: how marketplaces can solve an age-old dilemma and trigger network effects in a Web3 world. “Imagine if each purchase on Amazon gave you tokens that equated to value in the Amazon network. Maybe you could redeem them through a loyalty program, or use them to vote on which of your favorite shows would be developed next on Amazon Prime”
Its' time to pop the crypto bubble. Looking beyond the hype to the core use cases of Web3. “Crypto’s rapid rise to prominence in the past 12+ months has been polarising to say the least. Some think this is the largest bubble we’ve ever seen, others see it as the coming of internet Jesus.“ Bubble or not, we should think critically about why some things are here to stay, and in which form
The Steve Jobs Bias: thinking the gap between how you envision users will use your product — and how users actually use your product is lower as opposed to reality
Diligence process for early-stage crypto investments. Paradigm investment partner Casey Caruso breaks down how her firm decides on which projects to invest in
This week I also got published a couple of content pieces:
[Podcast]: I was invited by Samelogic podcast GTM (Got Ten Minutes?) to share my thoughts on research, empowering teams, the "impostor syndrome", keeping alignment under a fast-paced environment, and how focusing on Learning Fast helped create one of the most successful b2b products at Booking.com. All in 10 minutes!
PM Hacks [in Spanish]: I gave a brief interview (5 questions) sharing tips to help those interested in becoming a PM
🔮 Emerging trends
The metaverse is transforming the real estate sector as more investors look to buy land in the virtual world. Virtual land sales reached $500M in 2021 and could double to $1B in 2022. Here are some reasons as to why digital real estate is taking off: :
In the metaverse, the land is bought to develop or lease it outto a third-party entity
Anyone can invest in the metaverse, and land parcels come in various sizes, shapes, and locations and are available on different metaverse platforms such as The Sandbox, Decentraland, and Superworld
It's based on long-term investment and hopes that it will "blow up"
Digital land is high risk and could lead to significant losses
Real-world activities can be reimagined in the metaverse. For example, the metaverse can host events and concerts, among other activities
Blockchain and the law: capital markets. Liam Gill writes for Inside on one of the most interesting applications of Blockchain technology - its potential to revolutionize capital markets - by discussing the following questions:
The Current Situation: How do capital markets currently operate and what are the issues?
The Blockchain Future: How could capital markets function if blockchain technology becomes widespread in the space?
Overview of Legal Considerations: What are the general areas of law that must be considered when analyzing the application of blockchain technology to capital markets?
Past Cases: A quick glance at three foundational cases involving major companies raising ICOs.
The DAO Case: An in-depth look at how the U.S. has dealt with DAO and the concept of decentralized funding/investing.
Trends to Watch: What are some emerging trends that investors and market participants should be aware of?
el producto is free, but if you enjoy reading it, you can support my work and buy me a coffee 🙌
NOTE: I will re-direct all proceeds from this and upcoming weeks to the UN Crisis Relief Fund for Ukraine. Feel free to contribute directly