el producto #133 👉 a weekly round-up of Tech and Product goodness
Uber subscription, WhatsApp payments, Apple credit card, Q2 results (Amazon, Alphabet, Facebook), Outcomes vs Outputs, …
Welcome to another week full of fresh ideas and innovation at el producto.
🎰 The week in figures
$108B - SoftBank announces $108B Vision Fund 2; SoftBank will commit $38B, while companies such as Apple, Microsoft, and the sovereign wealth fund of Kazakhstan will also contribute; SoftBank says it plans to focus on AI-centric firms.
$1B - Apple to acquire the majority of Intel’s smartphone modem chip business for $1B; includes IP and equipment; ~2.2k Intel employees will join Apple; Intel will continue to develop modems for PCs, IoT, and other applications.
$1B - Microsoft commits $1B to nonprofit AI research organization OpenAI (company co-founded by Elon Musk); the funding will primarily support the development of artificial general intelligence (as opposed to specialized), which can learn virtually any task a human can; OpenAI will work with Microsoft to co-develop AI tech for Azure.
$600M - Didi Chuxing raises $600M from Toyota; as part of the deal the companies will establish a joint venture to offer vehicle-related services to Didi drivers; Didi has raised more than $21B to date.
$7.6B - valuation of zero-commission stock trading app Robinhood after raising $323M Series E; raised ~$860M to date.
~48% - iPhone XR accounts for 48% of Apple’s Q3 iPhone sales; iPhone XR, iPhone XS, and iPhone XS Max collectively made up 67% of all iPhone sales in the quarter; 35% of iPhone customers subscribe to Apple Music; 30% use Apple Podcasts.
~30% - Huawei has managed ~30% revenue growth in the first half of 2019; the company is rewarding staff for helping it overcome the impact of the US trade ban; Huawei is set to reveal its first-half numbers on July 30.
📰 What’s going on
Netflix officially launches an entry-level mobile-only plan in India; users pay $2.80 per month, but content cannot be accessed via laptops, TVs, and other devices; streams are also limited to standard definition.
Alibaba opens its third-party marketplace to US sellers; currently, 1/3 of marketplace buyers are in the US and ~95% of sellers are in China; US merchants can now sell to buyers in the US, Canada, India, Brazil, and other countries; Alibaba launched an English-language version of its Tmall seller-side website last month.
Uber is testing a $25-per-month subscription plan that provides discounts for car rides, free scooter- and bike-sharing, and free Eats food delivery; limited to San Francisco and Chicago; the company is testing similar plans in other cities, but Eats delivery is only free beyond a spending threshold.
Uber’s logistics platform Uber Freight launches in Germany; represents its second European market after previously rolling out in the Netherlands; Uber Freight connects shippers with delivery operators; the division is hiring staff at Amsterdam office and says it’s considering expanding to more European countries.
Uber releases an update for its open-source, no-code deep learning toolkit, Ludwig; in addition to bug fixes, v0.2 adds Comet.ml integration, Google’s BERT natural language model, audio and speech features, more.
Lyft open-sources an autonomous vehicle data set in Aptiv’s nuScenes format; samples collected via a Ford Fusion fleet include 55k annotated frames of traffic agents, an HD spatial semantic map with 4k lane segments, more; Lyft also announced a $25k engineering challenge for developers building machine learning models with the data.
WeWork plans to IPO in September; the company is meeting with banks and will file an S-1 next month; WeWork has raised $8.1B debt and equity to date and is called at $47B.
Google launches Gallery Go for Android, a lightweight photos app; similar to Google Photos, the app uses AI tools to organize photos and lets users make simple edits; the app is 10MB in size and also works offline.
A Facebook researcher concludes the company’s core app is at risk of cannibalization from WhatsApp and Instagram; senior Facebook data scientist Tom Cunningham has filed an internal report that shows if enough users post primarily on WhatsApp and Instagram, Facebook’s overall usage will likely suffer a significant decline.
Facebook to establish a board committee on privacy as part of its settlement with the FTC regarding the mishandling of user data; reportedly will also agree to user privacy certifications for executives; the company will pay $5B.
Facebook is developing a wrist-worn device designed to provide haptic feedback for VR environments; known as Tasbi, a user wears one on each arm, and the system responds to in-world actions such as pressing buttons or shaking hands with a character.
WhatsApp says it will officially roll out a payments service for India-based users this year; the company has been testing a remittance service with ~1M users since last year; data will be stored locally, in compliance with national financial regulations.
Apple and Goldman Sachs plan to launch the Apple Card in US during the first half of August; Apple has been testing the card with hundreds of employees and retail workers; the no-fee, Apple Pay-compatible card provides an app for spending insights, daily rewards, more.
Apple hires former Tesla VP of engineering Steve MacManus as a senior director; full details unclear, but MacManus previously oversaw interior and exterior engineering; he is the third exec this year to depart Tesla for Apple.
Ebay is trialing a warehousing and shipping service in the US and Germany; the company plans to launch Managed Delivery next year, and to offer free two-day shipping for qualifying items (~40-50% of items shipped); the remainder will have guaranteed 3-day delivery; sellers on the platform ship 1.5M items per day in the US alone.
Salesforce partners with Alibaba as it expands into the Chinese market; Alibaba will be the exclusive provider of Salesforce tech in mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan; China-based Salesforce data will be stored on Alibaba Cloud.
UK supermarket chain Sainsbury’s partners with Deliveroo to trial deliveries of hot food, snacks, and drinks; the service is available to customers in London, Birmingham, Cambridge, and Brighton.
TikTok has seemingly acquired UK-based AI-powered music creation tool Jukedeck; founder and CEO Ed Newton-Rex is listed on LinkedIn as a director of TikTok’s AI Lab; Jukedeck has taken down its online app, leaving just a message that indicates a future announcement is pending.
Samsung says it has made improvements to the Galaxy Fold and that the device will launch in September; the company has extended the screen’s protective layer beyond the bezel as well as adding additional reinforcements to protect it from debris.
💰 Q2 financials
Alphabet ($787.9B market cap) Q2 beats: $38.9B revenue, up 19% YoY ($38.1B expected); $6.2B revenue from non-search based products such as cloud and hardware ($4.4B expected). Google says Pixel sales for Q2 more than doubled YoY; the company did not provide exact figures, but the increase follows the launch of Pixel 3a; Sundar Pichai notes the company expanded its network availability, signing partnerships with T Mobile, Sprint, and others.
Amazon ($971.7B market cap) Q2 misses: $63.4B revenue, up 20% YoY; $2.6B profit, up 4% YoY; $8.4B AWS revenue, up 37%YoY.
Facebook ($584B market cap) Q2 beats: $16.9B revenue, up 28% YoY ($16.5B expected); 2.4B MAUs, up 8.8% YoY; the company took a $2B charge for its FTC settlement, which combines with $3B for the previous quarter.
Snap ($20B market cap) Q2 beats: $388M revenue, up 48% YoY ($360M expected); 203M DAUs, up 8% YoY (192M expected).
👩🏾💻 Good reads
How clients describe their problems vs. what they actually mean. Invision’s VP of Design Transformation Richard Banfield walks us though some common assumptions teams and orgs make, often leading to early and mislead UX solutionizing.
10 common mistakes every Product Manager should avoid. We know them, we preach against them, yet we fall in some of these traps again and again.
When to give strategic vs. prescriptive design feedback by Fabricio Teixeira. While this article is originally addressed to UX leaders, I found it highly applicable to Product folks (either interacting with UXers, or within product roles). Knowing how to deliver feedback is as important as knowing what feedback to deliver.
What the @#*($&# is product market fit? Co-founder @hustlefundvc and Former Partner at @500Startups Elizabeth Yin reflects on some often ignored or missed concepts around PMF (which by itself is not a clear concept).
Outcomes over Outputs. Josh Seiden (co-author of Lean UX and Sense & Respond) talks about his new book Outcomes over Outputs. On his own words: ”An Outcome is a change in human behavior that drives business results”.
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