Welcome to another week full of fresh ideas and innovation at el producto.
🎰 The week in figures
$1B: Grammarly, which provides AI-powered tools for writers, raises $90M at a $1B-plus valuation; offers a freemium app with tiered options; checks for spelling, syntax, punctuation, tone, plagiarism, more.
$200M: Employee performance and engagement company Lattice(YC W16) raises $25M Series C at a ~$200M valuation; enables companies to set goals and employees to track progress; managers can provide feedback; claims 160k paid users.
3M: Facebook’s Workplace now has 3M paid users, up 1M in the past eight months; comes as Workplace adds Portal support for face-to-face calls, automatic video captioning, and more.
500: The We Company will soon cut ~500 of its 1.5k software engineers; ~350 will come from the firm’s corporate unit, and ~150 from the divestment of subsidiaries such as Teem and SpaceIQ; The We Company is expected to also cut an additional 1.5k to 2k workers across its business.
📰 What’s going on
Alipay unit partners with Mail.ru for a Russia-based digital payments joint venture; Mail.ru is taking a 40%, making it the largest shareholder.
Twitter launches a new app for macOS; it’s based on Twitter’s iPadOS app, which is made possible using Apple’s Catalyst tools; Twitter discontinued its earlier macOS app in 2018; the new app is available via the Mac App Store.
Uber to acquire on-demand grocery delivery company Cornershop; primarily serves Latin America but recently launched in Toronto; Uber expects the deal to close early next year, subject to regulatory approvals.
Google launches stream transfer, a feature for moving video and audio playback between compatible devices; using Google Assistant, Home, or Nest apps, users can shift playing content such as YouTube videos or Spotify tracks across Chromecast, Home, and other compatible devices.
Google Maps for iOS and Android adds detailed voice guidance for visually impaired users; provides continuous audio notifications including warnings of upcoming busy roads and confirmation that a user is still on the correct route; available now in English and Japanese.
Microsoft announces an expansion of its rural broadband program to parts of Latin America and Sub-Saharan Africa; Airband, which initially launched in the US in 2017, utilizes unused spectrum to provide broadband-grade internet access to remote areas; Microsoft says it aims to help get an additional 40M people online by 2022.
Microsoft files a patent for a VR mat; the filing describes a floor covering that features vibrating elements and distributed pressure sensors for a more immersive experience.
Instagram rolls out an update for iOS, adding a dark mode; swaps out white spaces and replaces black text with white; the feature activates when iOS 13 users turn on dark mode within the main system settings.
Instagram is shutting down its Following tab, a section of the app that let users see the activity of others across the platform; Instagram says it’s removing the feature because of low usage.
Instagram is set to launch a group Stories tool; will let users share newly created Stories directly to those in a messaging group; Facebook recently shut down its own Stories in Groups feature.
Visa, Mastercard, Stripe and eBay withdraw from the Libra Association, which will oversee Facebook’s digital currency, slated to launch in June of next year; PayPal exited the group last week; France and Germany plan to block the project in Europe, favoring a public cryptocurrency.
Apple launches macOS Catalina; replaces iTunes with dedicated apps for Music, Podcasts, and TV; Finder now handles iOS device management; the update enables Watch authentication for security prompts; includes new Find My and Screen Time apps, more.
Apple is in early talks with record labels about bundling Apple Music and the coming Apple TV+ under a single monthly subscription.
Tim Cook emails Apple employees explaining the company’s decision to remove HKMap Live from the App Store; Cook reiterated the firm’s earlier claims that the app has allowed some users to maliciously attack Hong Kong police. HKMap Live is still available in the Play Store.
Sonos is testing a subscription service that lets customers rent its devices on a monthly basis; currently available to some users in the Netherlands, Sonos Flex starts at €15 a month for two Sonos One speakers, and tops out at €50 for two Sonos Ones, a Playbar, and Subwoofer; units will be automatically replaced if and when a newer product becomes available.
Waymo emails customers of its ride-hailing service in Phoenix, AZ, notifying them that they may soon be riding in an autonomous vehicle without a safety driver; Waymo says riders will be informed that a fully driverless car is on its way when booking.
Dyson cancels EV project, saying its engineers developed a fantastic electric car that was not commercially viable; the company worked on the initiative in stealth for 2.5 years before disclosing it in the fall of 2017; Founder James Dyson said in an email to employees that the company had unsuccessfully tried to sell the unit, which employs 523; Dyson will shut down its EV facilities in the UK and Singapore.
Sony confirms will launch PlayStation 5 in time for holidays 2020; PlayStation 5 will make use of on-device ray-tracing tech, allowing for more natural lighting effects within games; titles will be available via 100GB optical disks, and the console will also serve as a 4K Blu-ray player.
👩🏾💻 Good reads
Learning from failure: Product Manager style. Product coalition shares some popular Product failure examples and lessons, as well as individual cases by its community.
Time to burst your Research bubble. The folks at Ideo suspected they were being exclusionary with their research, and plotting user engagements into a map made them realize how big their bubble was.
Managing Outcomes (vs outputs). Transcript of Teresa Torres’ talk in which she explains the reasons why “outcome momentum” tends to fade off, and what to do about it.
Principles over Practices. In a similar fashion as the Outcomes vs Outputs discussion goes, this article looks at how companies and teams can operate less bounded by following guiding principles, rather than defined practices.
Report: The state of Travel and Mobility tech 2019. Direct access to the pdf here.