el producto #140 👉 a weekly round-up of Tech and Product goodness
New Apple products, Disney+ pilot live in NL, Funding war stories, How autonomous vehicles work, The most innovative leaders, & more.
Welcome to another week full of fresh ideas and innovation at el producto.
🎰 The week in figures
$1.2B: Connected exercise firm Peloton issues a guide price of $26 to $29 per share for its upcoming IPO, aims to raise as much as $1.2B; the company would be valued at $8B if its stock sells at the top of the range; Peloton was last valued at $4.1B.
$1B: Chinese social video app Kuaishou is raising more than $1B on a $25B valuation ahead of an IPO; most of the investment is expected to come from existing backer Tencent; Kuaishou plans to go public in 2020.
$718M: Germany’s government commits ~$718M over two years to a quantum computing project in which IBM will partner with the Fraunhofer Gesellschaft research institute; IBM will install a Q System One quantum computer and work with the institute to build a research community; IBM ultimately plans to make the system commercially available via cloud access.
$450M: Shopify acquires warehouse robotics firm6 River Systems for $450M; the company provides mobile robots and software for managing fulfilment centers; has raised $46M to date.
435: Uber lays off 435: 170 from product and 265 from engineering; Eats and Freight were unaffected; 85% of those laid off were in the US.
📰 What’s going on
Microsoft shares more details about its Oct 2 event in New York City; press invites indicate the company will discuss devices and experiences; ZDNet suggests Microsoft will announce Surface products and associated services.
Microsoft unveils its updated To Do app; the redesigned app features backgrounds, color templates, and more; the company is encouraging users to move over to To Do from Wunderlist (which it acquired in 2015), noting it integrates much of Wunderlist’s core features.
Amazon announces a Sept 25 hardware event in Seattle; this is the company’s third such September event; last year’s revealed Fire TV Recast, Amazon Echo Sub, and other first-party hardware; also included new software features, such as Skype calling via Echo Show.
Amazon launches Alexa Answers, a crowdsourced Q&A platform for Alexa devices; the company has gathered hundreds of thousands of user answers since launching a private beta last year; the knowledge base will continue to grow as users contribute; when Alexa answers a question with a user-supplied answer, it notes “according to an Amazon customer”.
Taste with your ears. Spotify is partnering with a winemaker to create playlists that it says will complement specific wines.
Google Docs adds an automatic word count feature for the desktop web; lets users activate a counter that displays the number of words as they type; clicking on the count box shows additional info including page numbers.
Google teases its new Play Pass service; the company is testing a monthly subscription service offering premium apps and games; Play Pass is expected to cost $5 per month.
Google begins rolling out Chrome 77, adding the ability to send web pages to other devices; currently available for Chrome on Windows, Android, and iOS, but seemingly not yet active on macOS; Chrome 77 also features new site loading indicators in tabs.
Google Photos launches Memories, a Stories-like feature that resurfaces images and videos on their anniversary; the content is presented at the top of a user’s photo gallery, allowing for quick access; photos and videos are algorithmically selected; rolling out now.
Indonesia-based Go-Jek partners with local startup hub Digitaraya to launch an accelerator program; known as Go-Jek Xcelerate, the scheme will work with 20 Indonesian startups for six months, and feature initiatives for business model development, growth hacks, and more; also promises participation from Google Developers Launchpad.
Alibaba founder Jack Ma officially steps away from the company; the company threw a four hour farewell event at an 80k capacity arena; Ma addressed the audience, saying “it is not easy to be a strong company, but it is more difficult to be a good company”.
Disney rolls out a free open pilot of its upcoming streaming service in the Netherlands; users can access Disney+ for free through November 12 when it launches in numerous markets; the available catalog includes the complete “Star Wars” franchise and numerous Marvel films including “Avengers: Infinity War” and “Black Panther”; the pilot service offers seven viewer profiles, and includes support for AirPlay and Chromecast.
Mozilla introduces Firefox Premium Support, its first paid product; the $10 per month service is aimed at enterprise customers and promises private bug submissions, fixes for critical flaws, and more; Mozilla has plans for more premium services including a desktop VPN; the company’s income has historically mostly come from a revenue-sharing partnership with Google.
Chicago-based Valqari demonstrates its smart receptacle for drone deliveries; the company is developing a curbside solution for houses and a window installation for apartments; the box automatically opens when a drone lands on top; a motorized shelf inside lowers packages into a stack.
Square is testing a free stock trades feature within its Cash App; a source indicated employees began testing the service in recent weeks; Cash App previously launched Bitcoin trading.
The massive cost of not adapting to climate change. A new report says that spending $1.8T on mitigating the effects of climate change over the next 10 years could generate $7.1T in net value.
🍏 Apple event
Apple unveils the iPhone 11; features a 6.1-inch display with a notch for the Face ID camera; unlike the XR’s 12MP wide-angle rear camera, the 11 has a dual-lens array with ultra-wide support; available in purple, white, green, yellow, black, and red; starts at $700, launches Sept 20.
Apple announces the 5.8-inch iPhone 11 Pro and 6.5-inch iPhone 11 Pro Max, starting at $1k and $1.1k, respectively; each features a three-lens camera array for wide-angle, ultra-wide, and telephoto support; each includes an 18w fast charger; both devices launch on Sept 20.
Apple unveils Watch Series 5 with always-on display; the screen dims and brightens as needed, with a full charge lasting 18 hours; includes a compass for better Maps support without a paired iPhone; available in ceramic and titanium; launches Sept 20, starting at $400.
Apple unveils a new entry-level iPad with 10.2-inch display, starting at $330; replaces the 9.7-inch model; it is the first of Apple’s seventh-generation iPad lineup; supports the full-sized Smart Keyboard and the first-generation Apple Pencil; features a Lightning port rather than USB-C.
Apple announces its TV+ streaming service will launch Nov 1 at $5 per month; new iPhone, iPad, and Mac buyers will get one year of service for free; up to six family members can share one account; will include original programming.
Apple to launch subscription gaming service Arcade on Sept 19; the $5-per-month plan will provide access to a library of 100-plus titles, some of which will be exclusives; will feature the four-player “Pac-Man Party Royale,” “Rayman Mini,” and “Enter the Gungeon”.
Apple announces a Research app that will enable Watch owners to opt-in to share data from Watch sensors and the Health app; partners including the World Health Organization, the American Heart Association, and Harvard School of Public Health will use the anonymized data for studies; research topics include the impact of exercise on overall health and how menstrual cycles can informosteoporosis screenings.
The latest pre-release versions of iOS 13 and Xcode 11 seem to indicate Apple’s AR glasses will require an iPhone and support a handheld controller with a touch surface, trigger, home button, and motion controls; StarBoardsoftware looks to function like CarPlay, in that it uses an iPhone to power an external display, but stereoscopic.
iPadOS will launch Sept 30; includes desktop-class browsing via Safari and homescreen widgets; supports numerous models dating back several years including iPad Air 2 and fifth gen iPad.
Apple will launch macOS Catalina in October (exact date undisclosed); the updated software includes discontinues iTunes, replacing it with standalone apps Music, Podcasts, and TV; also adds native support for using an iPad as a second display, and more; it will be available as a free download via the macOS App Store.
Apple to update HomePod with hands-free radio streaming on Sept 30; other previously announced features, such as multi-user voice support, music playback handoff from iPhone, and ambient sounds, will launch later this fall.
👩🏾💻 Good reads
Funding war stories. Hustle Fund GP Elizabeth Yin shares a Google Doc in which founders share stories and tips about meeting investors; specifically targets entrepreneurs who don’t have extensive networks.
How does an autonomous vehicle actually work? Nice interactive presentation highlighting pros and flaws of AV tech today.
US’s 100 most innovative leaders. Business school professors Jeff Dyer, Nathan Furr and Mike Hendron teamed up with consultant Curtis Lefrandt to measure four essential leadership qualities of top founders and CEOs: media reputation for innovation, social connections, track record for value creation and investor expectations for value creation.
A beginners guide to Lean UX. A nice intro / refresher put together by Tony Ho Tran for InVision.
Data-driven blunders and how to avoid them. Being “data-driven” can mean very different things for different companies, and it’s usually far from the holy grail it’s claimed to be. From data-puking to poor experimentation (generally poor hypotheses), the folks at Mind the Product share their views, including some examples and advice.