el producto #108 👉 a weekly round-up of Tech and Product goodness
Uber Transit, Experimentation efficiency at Netflix, Apple’s game subscription service, Facetime flaw, Facebook focus for 2019, Q4 financial results,…
Welcome to another week full of fresh ideas and innovation at el producto.
🎰 The week in figures
$3B - Twilio ($11B market cap) closes acquisition of SendGrid; the all-stock deal was valued at $2B when announced, but rose to $3B by close; SendGrid is now a Twilio subsidiary led by CEO Sameer Dholakia; together, the businesses serve 140k active accounts.
4B - active Apple devices ; includes iPhones, Macs, etc, but not accessories like AirPods; 900M active iPhones, up 9% YoY; the company exceeded 1B active devices in 2016; Google announced 2B active Android devices in 2017.
550M users and 31M drivers used ride-hailing service Didi Chuxing in 2018; the company, China’s largest ride-hailing platform, says it operated in more than 1k cities globally last year.
$100M - Payments processing firm Stripe raises $100M Series E (second tranche) on a $22B post-money valuation from Tiger Global Management; former Google Cloud CEO Diane Greene also joins the board.
75M - Facebook says its Watch platform has 75M daily viewers; compares with 1.5B daily Facebook users; half of US consumers have not heard of Watch, and three-quarters have never used it.
10M - daily active users claimed by Slack, and 85k paying organizations; more than half of users are outside the US, and the user base spans ~150 countries; Japan is the company’s second-largest and fastest-growing market.
97 - Chinese firms reached unicorn status last year; the companies cover several sectors including e-commerce and EVs; they have a combined valuation of $178B; crypto mining firm Bitmain has the highest valuation at $7.4B; Sequoia Capital, Tencent, and IDG are the leading unicorn investors.
10% - India’s smartphone market growth in 2018; it’s the fastest-growing smartphone market in the world; last year it shipped more than 145.2M devices, up from 132M in 2017.
📰 What’s going on
Amazon will remove ~400k items from sale in India following the introduction of new e-commerce rules; from 1-Feb, firms are restricted from selling goods from businesses in which they own equity; the move could cost Amazon as much as $2B in lost sales; Flipkart also affected.
Google begins rolling out updated Gmail apps for Android and iOS featuring some Material design changes; includes options to add or reduce white space between emails, new icons, and more.
Google is set to launch a Duo web-client in the coming weeks; full plans unclear, but the web app is expected to support video messages and more.
Google announces the consumer version of Google+ will close on April 2; Google will begin deleting accounts and pages from that date, removing all associated content; support for account creation will cease on Feb 2; the company will save Google+ Community data for archival purposes; the changes do not affect G Suite-based accounts.
Mark Zuckerberg says Facebook will not combine the architecture of Messenger, Instagram, and WhatsApp before 2020; notes the project is at a nascent stage but suggests it could add some integration with SMS.
Zuckerberg also announces Facebook’s priorities for 2019; the company will focus on major social issues facing Facebook and the internet at large; the firm will also work on new experiences designed to “meaningfully improve people’s lives,” and support businesses that rely on Facebook; lastly, Zuckerberg says the company plans to communicate more transparently.
Facebook is paying $20/month plus referral fees to users as young as 13 to participate in a data collection program; users install the company’s Research app on their iOS or Android devices, giving the company root access to network traffic; Facebook says it plans to remove Research from the iOS App Store; the company also disputes some of TechCrunch’s reporting, saying the service does not spy on users; Facebook also claims less than 5% of users are teenagers, and those who are must first get parental permission.
Microsoft and MIT researchers develop AI model for covering self-driving cars’ virtual “blind spots”; the tech uses human behavior modeling and real-time corrections.
Apple revokes Google’s iOS Enterprise Certificate, which enabled the company to distribute apps internally; Google violated policy by using the certificate to distribute an app to consumers; Google disabled the app the same day Apple revoked Facebook’s certificate for a similar violation. Both Facebook’s and Google’s certificates were restored by Apple on Friday.
Apple confirms a FaceTime flaw that lets a caller hear or see the person on the other end before a call is picked up; occurs when adding a second person to a Group FaceTime call before the first person has answered; Apple says it’s working on a fix but in the meantime, it has deactivated group calling.
Apple plans to launch its video streaming service this spring; the company reportedly gave partner studios and networks a mid-April deadline, and plans to launch within several weeks of that deadline.
Apple plans to launch iPhones with more powerful, longer-range 3D cameras as soon as next year; reportedly will scan environments for AR purposes; plans a triple-camera system for one of this year’s iPhones; iOS 13 will include a system-wide dark mode.
New iOS 12.2 developer’s beta includes Downtime feature customization capabilities; users can now set different limits for different days of the week.
Apple plans a subscription game service and began talks with developers in the second half of last year, according to Cheddar sources; would provide access to bundled titles for a monthly fee.
Grab adds Netflix-like video streaming service HOOQ to its main app; terms of the partnership undisclosed; represents the ride-hailing app’s latest add-on feature; Grab also supports shopping, gaming, and more.
Uber launches Transit feature in Denver in partnership with transit provider Regional Transportation District (RTD) and data provider Moovit; enables users to plan multimodal trips; details trip instructions, schedules, and pricing; will add in-app digital ticket purchases in coming weeks; will expand to additional markets in coming months.
Latin American scooter rental firms Grin and Yellow merge, and raise $150M; Grin (Mexico) and Yellow (Brazil) will now be known as Grow Mobility; will operate in cities across Chile, Colombia, and Uruguay, as well as original markets; the company is on track to generate $200M annually by the middle of this year.
WeWork launches an on-demand service in China that lets users rent desk space by the minute; known as WeWork Go, it allows users to see the real-time availability of desks at nearby sites via an app; users scan a QR code upon arrival; private are available for an additional fee; the company has also rolled out a similar feature at its Made by We space in Manhattan, NY.
Waze is deploying wireless beacons across the New York City metro area; will improve navigation in areas with poor GPS coverage, primarily tunnels; the open-source devices are available to any navigation app that supports the tech.
The nonprofit Bluetooth Special Interest Group, which oversees standards for the tech, reveals that Bluetooth 5.1 includes direction finding features; devices will be able to locate other Bluetooth devices with centimeter accuracy.
Israeli finance minister says Intel will build an ~$11B chip plant in the country; Israel will give the company a $1B grant as part of the deal; the factory will be in the southern city of Kiryat Gat.
Japan is planning a massive hack in the name of cybersecurity. It plans to access connected devices in millions of homes and offices to expose weaknesses in the internet of things.
Tesla plans to begin volume production of the Model Y electric SUV by the end of next year; will most likely manufacture at the NV gigafactory; the company expects Model Y production will cost less than Model 3 production, as the vehicles share a platform and ~75% of components; Elon Musk predicts Model Y sales will surpass Model 3 sales.
Travis Kalanick partners with former Ofo COO Zhang Yanqi to launch shared kitchens company CloudKitchens in China; CloudKitchens takes over distressed spaces, upgrades them for kitchen use, and rents them out to food and beverage businesses.
💰 Q4 financial results
Amazon ($840.4B market cap) Q4 beats: $72.4B revenue, up 20% YoY ($71.9B expected); $3B revenue, up 61% YoY; $7.4B AWS revenue, up 45% YoY ($7.3B expected).
Facebook ($432B market cap) Q4 beats: $16.9B revenue, up 30% YoY ($16.4B expected); $7.4 ARPU, ($7.1 expected); DAUs 1.5B (1.5B expected); 2.3B MAUs (2.3B expected). Instagram Stories has 500M DAUs, up from 400M in June 2018; Facebook says it now has 2.7B users across all its apps; the company notes it will begin reporting metrics for its family of products, rather than focusing on Facebook’s usage numbers.
Apple ($732B market cap) Q4 beats: $84.3B revenue ($83.97B expected); the company’s fiscal first quarter includes the holiday season; Apple reduced its top-line projections for the first quarter by 8% in early January; projects $55B to $59B revenue for Q2.
Microsoft ($816B market cap) Q4 mixed: $32.5B revenue, up 12% YoY ($32.5B expected); $13B revenue for Windows, Surface, and ads division ($13.1B expected); revenue for Azure undisclosed but the unit is up 76% YoY (74% growth expected).
Samsung ($275B market cap) Q4 meets: $53.4B revenue, down 10% YoY; $9.7 profit, down 29% YoY; $1.3B profit from its mobile division, down from 48% YoY; Samsung predicts weak demand for its memory chips in Q1. Samsung confirms it will launch a Galaxy S10; the company outlines its hopes that the device will help improve its business performance over the coming months; Samsung also says foldable and 5G devices are bets on longer-term growth.
Tesla ($53B market cap) generated a record $7.2B in Q4, bringing 2018 revenue to a record $21.4B; it was the company’s fourth profitable quarter and the first time Tesla reported consecutive profitable quarters; expects to deliver 360k to 400k vehicles this year, up 45-65% over 2018.
📚 Something to think about
15 things you should know about Product Managers, by John Cutler. “Comforting” read for those of us working in or around Product Management, and an eye opener for those who are willing to move towards the role.
Improving experimentation efficiency at Netflix. Netflix is trying to get around some of the challenges of experimentation at scale (e.g. reduce bias while keeping experiments short) with Meta Analysis and Optimal Stopping.