el producto #139 👉 a weekly round-up of Tech and Product goodness

Apple Music web, Amazon food delivery in India, Europe’s top 100 startups, Feature vs Product teams, 40 favorite interview questions & more.

Welcome to another week full of fresh ideas and innovation at el producto.

🎰 The week in figures

$20B: The We Company (WeWork) plans to go forward with its IPO roadshow next week despite concerns about the valuation it can achieve; the company reportedly is considering a valuation of ~$20B, less than half of its last private valuation of $47B. In this other piece, CBInsights looks at how WeWork makes and spends money.

$3B: eBay plans to sell off its ticket marketplace StubHub for as much as $3B; potential buyers include Silver Lake and rival Vivid Seats; eBay announced in March this year that it was reviewing its ownership of StubHub, alongside the future of its Classifieds unit.

$2B: Alibaba acquires China-based cross-border payments service Kaola from current owner NetEase for $2B; Kaola will be overseen by Alibaba’s Tmall subsidiary, but it will continue to operate standalone.

$1.7B: Peer-to-peer car rental platform Getaround is raising $200M-plus Series D at a $1.7B valuation; the SoftBank-backed firm, which primarily operates in the US, acquired Parisian car-sharing company Drivy for $300M in April.

400M: Unprotected server exposes phone numbers associated with 400M-plus Facebook IDs; Facebook said someone scraped the data before the company removed a feature that enabled users to find others via phone numbers; the data, spanning multiple databases, included some records with real names, genders, and country locations.

100M: Xiaomi claims to have shipped more than 100M smartphones in India since launching there 5 years ago; Redmi and Redmi Note devices are its most popular; Xiaomi has been the top phone brand in India for the last 8 quarters.

60M: Music streaming services passed 60M paid subscribers in the US this year; total music revenue grew 18% to $5.4B in the first half of 2019; streaming revenues grew 26% over the same period to $4.3B; streaming accounted for 80% of all music revenues.

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$10M: India-based hotel platform Oyo acquires Danish data science company Danamica; terms undisclosed, but a TechCrunch source puts the figure at $10M; Danamica offers dynamic pricing tools for rental property firms.

📰 What’s going on

Apple Music launches web player in beta; limited to subscribers; does not require iTunes or any other app; Apple says the player should work on any device with any browser; features the entire Apple Music catalog and any tracks users have synced to their libraries.

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Apple is developing in-display fingerprint scanning tech for next year’s iPhones; currently in testing at Apple and with suppliers, the consumer launch might be delayed until 2021; the scan reportedly will work in tandem with Apple’s Face ID tech.

Apple is set to add a sleep-tracking feature to Apple Watch; it’s expected to track the quality of a user’s sleep while wearing their watch in bed; the feature will not require special hardware; expected to be announced at an event on Sept 10.

Code within iOS 13 references a device codenamed Garta that appears relevant to Apple’s AR plans; one file references a shell for AR apps called StarBoard; an includedSTARTester app seems to provide headset simulation for AR app developers; the new Find My app includes an AR/VR headset icon, which might refer to the app’s reported AR feature for locating devices.

Apple is set to launch a lower-cost iPhone next spring; full details unclear but the device is expected to have a similar form-factor to iPhone 8; the report says it will be pitched as a successor to the iPhone SE, which started at $400.

Google announces Ambient Mode for Google Assistant on Android devices; the Home Hub-like feature lets users display weather, photos, reminders, and more when docked; set to work on select devices including some Lenovo tablets and Nokia smartphones; unclear when it will roll out.

YouTube launches a dedicated fashion section featuring curated videos of clothing collections, suggested accounts, and more; The New York Times notes YouTube has hired former Vanity Fair contributor Derek Blasberg as its head of beauty and fashion partnerships.

Facebook stops scanning images for facial recognition purposes by default; the company has also opened its Face Recognition settings panel to all users; users’ connections can still tag them manually, but will not see automated tag prompts; users who wish to enable face recognition must provide explicit permission.

Facebook Dating launches in the US, its twentieth market; suggests other Facebook Dating users as potential matches; also lets users integrate select Instagram posts and Stories into their profile; Facebook Dating profiles are only viewable by other users.

Facebook is considering hiding Likes on posts; app researcher Jane Manchun Wong has uncovered code in Facebook’s Android app that shows the firm is looking at concealing Like counts from a follower’s friends; users will still be able to see the number of Likes on their posts; Facebook confirms it may test such a feature, but says it’s not rolled anything out yet.

Amazon is developing a biometric payment system that uses hand scans for validation; codenamed Orville, the system will be linked to default credit cards on users’ Amazon Prime accounts; the company is testing the tech via vending machines at its offices; unknown if or when it will launch fully.

Amazon unveils a new Fire TV Cube and Fire TV Edition products; the lineup includes the first Fire TV Edition audio product — a soundbar from Anker; also includes the first Fire TV Edition OLED TVs; the new Fire TV Cube, now available for pre-order at $120, features a hexa-core processor and offers hands-free control, with support for 4K UHD at up to 60 fps.

Amazon is close to acquiring Foodpanda’s India operations from Ola; terms unknown; Ola purchased the business in 2017, but later suspended most of its activity; Amazon is also reportedly planning to launch its own restaurant delivery service in the country next month; the service is set to launch in Bengaluru, though the company is signing partnerships across the country.

Amazon India says it is aiming to replace all single-use plastic in its packaging by June 2020; the firm plans to use paper cushions in place of plastics; rival Flipkart provost announced it has cut such packaging by 25% and plans to reduce it to zero by March 2021.

Firefox starts blocking third-party tracking tools by default in version 69; the Enhanced Tracking Protection feature has been available since last year, but users had to actively turn it on; the system operates a block-list, rather than stopping all website cookies.

Medium is developing a Paper-like tool to save articles from the web; the company’s Android app includes references to a Save to Medium feature.

Stripe launches Stripe Capital, offering business loans that customers repay from sales; initially limited to the US; available for Stripe customers and customers of companies using Stripe’s payment platform, Connect.

Twitter temporarily disables its SMS-to-tweet feature after SIM swappers used it to tweet via CEO Jack Dorsey’s account, publishing racist slurs and a bomb threat; the function is essentially legacy tech, as most users now rely on the mobile app.

👩🏾‍💻 Good reads

Europe’s 100 hottest startups 2019 by Wired.

Consume less, create more. Modern technology makes us consumers instead of creators. All media is created to be consumed; let’s start creating instead.

Now bigger than eBay, Shopify sets its sights on Amazon. Canadian ecommerce company plans move into logistics after rapid growth.

At Booking.com, innovation means constant failure. If your hit rate is only about 10%, but if you’re running 10,000 experiments, you’re still getting 1,000 right. This can have a huge impact on your business.

40 favorite interview questions by some of the smartest and most thoughtful collaborators of First Round.

Product vs. Feature Teams. A thoughtful piece by Marty Cagan, one of the most notable and influential voices in Product Management. Marty helps setting direction towards a truly empowered product team.

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Written by

Full-time learner, product stuff, “triathlete” & global traveller. Creating cool products @ Revolut, formerly @ Booking.com and @ Just Eat.

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