🎰 The week in figures
$88.7B: Tesla ($88.7B market cap) became the most valuable US automaker of all time on Monday, closing above Ford’s 1999 record of $80.8B; Tesla still trails Toyota and Volkswagen; Tesla leads US EV sales and has the top-selling EV, the Model 3.
$30.4B: Enterprise tech startups collectively raised $30.4B last year, almost double that of the previous year; consumer tech companies raised $23.3B, down almost 25% from 2018; 2019 was the first year in at least 5 years that enterprise tech companies raised more than consumer startups.
$5B: Insight Partners acquires Switzerland-based data management firm Veeam for $5B; Veeam provides tools for handling data across multiple cloud providers, on-site servers, and hybrid setups; the company claims 365k customers, and says its annual revenue is $1B.
$1B: Subscription fitness service ClassPass raises $285M Series E on a $1B valuation; the company offers premium access to a network of exercise classes and more.
$780M: Mercedes-Benz partners with Chinese carmaker Geely to establish an EV joint venture; the unit will produce all-electric vehicles under the Smart brand; the companies will collectively invest ~$780M in the venture.
400M: ByteDance says its Chinese TikTok counterpart Douyin has reached 400M DAUs, up from 250M in Jan 2019; by comparison, Tencent’s competitor Kuaishou revealed it had 200M DAUs in May last year.
1.8K: Indian hospitality company Oyo fires 1.8k workers representing five percent of its workforce in China and 12 percent of its staff in India, according to Bloomberg sources; the SoftBank-backed company reportedly plans to dismiss 1.2k more employees in India over the next months; Chinese hotel owners recently protested in front of Oyo offices, claiming contract violations.
210%: Facebook Gaming, a video game live-streaming platform that competes with Twitch, saw a 210% increase in hours watched in 2019, achieving an 8.5% share of the hours-watched market.
14%: Scooter-sharing company Lime announces job cuts affecting ~100 employees, ~14% of the company’s workforce; will shut down in 12 underperforming markets in an initiative to achieve profitability; Lime plans to expand into new markets this year, and is open to acquisitions.
📰 What’s going on
Uber to cease operations in Colombia on Jan 31 after a local judge agreed with the competition authority’s ruling that the company violated market rules; Colombian taxi drivers have protested Uber’s business there, and argue the company has an unfair advantage because it doesn’t face the same regulations and fees as cabs.
Uber has made changes to its app in CA, giving riders the option to book their favorite drivers; riders will also now be shown fare estimates when ordering a car, and drivers can also see how much they will earn from a trip; the changes are in response to the state’s newly implemented AB-5 law, which aims to give contract workers more protections.
Uber announces multiple safety features for the Indian market; includes in-ride audio recording and Ride Check, which requests a response from a rider if their vehicle has stopped for an irregular amount of time; riders will also be asked to type in a four-digit code when getting into a vehicle to ensure they’re in correct car.
Twitter to update its compose screen with options for limiting conversations; the conversation participants section will enable the tweet author to limit reply-ability to Global (replies from all), Group (from followed or mentioned users), Panel (mentioned users), and Statement (public tweet without replies); also plans a new conversation layout with threading.
Twitter unveils a new hub for academic researchers who want to study activity on the platform; the service provides access to certain APIs and research tools; the company says it will add more resources later this year.
Spotify to run targeted ads within its exclusive podcasts, using the Streaming Ad Insertion tech to target in real-time, informed by the listener’s device, location, age, more; will provide advertisers with detailed data on ad reach, the number of times a user has heard an ad, more.
Facebook makes its redesigned desktop experience available to some users and expects to open access to more users before spring; the redesign, announced last April, features a less cluttered layout and brighter icons; “The New Facebook” also features light and dark themes.
Facebook announces a ban against deepfakes and other heavily edited videos; the company says it will remove content that has been edited in ways that are not obvious to the average user and could ultimately mislead people.
Microsoft to roll out new Microsoft 365 and Teams features targeting desk-less workers in retail, hospitality, and manufacturing; includes Walkie Talkie communications in Teams, SMS sign-ins, shared device sign-outs, off-shift access controls, more.
Microsoft releases Project Artemis, a tool that analyzes historical chat data to identify patterns indicative of sexually predatory behavior; Microsoft co-developed the tech with multiple partners, including Kik, Roblox, and child protection tech nonprofit Thorn; Microsoft is making the tool available to third parties using Thorn tech.
Amazon Publisher Services (APS) is in talks to sell video ads via third-party streaming devices including Apple TV and Android TV; Amazon already handles ads for streaming apps such as CNN, Discovery, and A&E via its Fire TV devices; as part of its pitch to marketers, APS is promising a better cost-per-viewer than other providers.
Dutch fintech firm Bux acquires crypto investment platform Blockport; terms undisclosed; Bux will rebrand Blockport’s service as Bux Crypto, and the Blockport Token will also be renamed Bux Token; Bux Crypto will also register with the Dutch National Bank; Blockport raised `$15.5M to date.
Lyft open-sources machine learning workflow management platform Flyte; Lyft has used the tool internally for three years, helping to power the company’s pricing, ride arrival estimates, self-driving products, more; Flyte manages 7k workflows at Lyft; Uber open-sourced its AI model debugging tool on Tuesday.
Ride-hailing firm Grab launches a cloud kitchen facility in Singapore; known as GrabKitchen, the space will let third-parties run virtual restaurants with deliveries handled by GrabFood; the company now operates 50 cloud kitchens across Southeast Asia; Grab has also announced full-stack merchant services for GrabFood partners, providing tools for marketing, finance management, and more.
Colombia-based on-demand delivery firm Rappi (YC W16) cuts ~300 jobs, equal to 6% of its workforce; Rappi operates in several countries across Latin America; the firm has raised $1.5B to date.
The Bluetooth Special Interest Group announces Bluetooth LE Audio, the next-generation standard that should be available in products next year; supports audio sharing and broadcast transmissions, useful for museums, airports, etc; will provide direct support for hearing aids; promises improved audio quality and power efficiency, more.
The Verge lists the best products and concepts from CES 2020, noting that many exhibitors displayed concept tech that might not result in purchasable products; the list includes Alienware’s Concept UFO prototype handheld gaming PC, Intel’s NUC 9 Extreme platform (which shrinks PCs and makes component upgrades easier), and Netgear’s Nighthawk Mesh Wi-Fi 6 router.
The New York Times details how big tech companies are turning part of Manhattan’s West Side into a new tech corridor; Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google plan to have 20k employees in the city by 2022.
👩🏾💻 Good reads
The 30 best pieces of advice for entrepreneurs in 2019, by First Round Review.
19 business moats that helped shape the world’s biggest companies. Great extensive research report by CB Insights with examples ranging from AWS to Uber
How tracking pixels work, and how Facebook uses them.
Market research forProduct Development. Why it matters and when to pursue it.
Life in 2030. Frank Chen and a16z present a vision of what tech could do and how daily life could look like in 2030.