New Samsung devices, WhatsApp hits 2B users, Facebook’s new app, Ofo pivots product, Tesla’s approach to innovation, The opportunity solution tree & more.

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🎰 The week in figures

$2.6B: Google completes its $2.6B takeover of data analytics firm Looker.

2B: WhatsApp claims 2B users around the world, up from 1.5B two years ago; WhatsApp is Facebook’s second app to pass 2B active accounts (it’s main platform has 2.5B users).

$2B: Tesla announces a $2B stock offering; the company says it wants to use the money for general corporate purposes and to make its balance sheet stronger.

$1.2B: China-based online travel platform Trip.com is in talks to raise a $1.2B loan; the company wants to use the money for refinancing and working capital; follows a $2B loan that Trip.com secured last July.

$322M: Airbnb recorded a $322M loss for the first 9 months of 2019; compares with a $200M profit for the previous year; the report notes the company has increased spending on safety features; Airbnb has previously said it will likely IPO this year; sources indicate it will probably go public in Q3 or later.

$93M: Headspace raises $93M equity and debt; the firm offers users a range of guided meditations; Headspace plans to expand into mental wellness tools for those living with chronic illness; has raised $168M to date.

$80M: Ireland-based fintech firm Fenergo raises $80M on an ~$800M valuation; the company offers a suite of tools for financial organizations including compliance and data management; has raised $155M to date.

£60M: UK-based fintech firm Starling Bank raises £60M; the challenger bank offers consumer and enterprise services; has raised ~$418M to date.

$30M: Grab’s personal mobility unit GrabWheels raises $30M Series A from EV firm Kymco; as part of the deal, the two companies will work on schemes to deploy Indonesia-based Kymco’s electric motorbikes and EV charging stations across Southeast Asia.

19%: Video streaming services accounted for 19% of viewing on TV sets in Q4 2019; of that figure, Netflix made up 31% of content, followed by YouTube with 21% ; Hulu ranks third with 12%.

5%: Apple Pay accounts for 5% of global card transactions; the company predicts Apple Pay will reach 10% by 2025; Apple Pay transactions and revenue more than doubled in the last reported quarter.

2%: Amazon accounts for 2% of global ad expenditure, having hit $11bn.

📰 What’s going on

GSMA cancels MWC 2020; the organization says the coronavirus outbreak has made it impossible to hold the event; GSMA says it will continue to work with organizers for MWC 2021.

Facebook releases an internal dataset to select academic researchers; the scheme is aimed at letting scholars study the impact of social media on society and elections.

Facebook launches Hobbi (iOS), a photo and video sharing app for documenting personal hobbies; lets users create highlight videos to showcase completed projects; Hobbi is built by Facebook’s NPE unit which focuses on experimental apps.

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Facebook has acquired UK-based deep learning research platform Deeptide (aka Atlas ML); the deal occurred in Dec 2019; terms undisclosed, but the agreement is reportedly worth ~$40M; Atlas ML oversees Papers With Code, an open research tool for finding machine learning papers.

Apple launches its Swift Playgrounds coding app on macOS; first launched for the iPad in 2016, Swift Playground is aimed at novices who want to get into coding.

Google has organized its multiple health products into a single unit led by David Feinberg; Google Health consists of +500 people working on a multitude of projects that were previously spread across the company.

YouTube TV is ending support for subscriptions managed via Apple’s App Store; from March 13 customers will have to handle their monthly payments via Google’s own payments system

Airbnb says it will extend its suspension of bookings in Beijing through the end of April because of the coronavirus outbreak; the firm initially canceled bookings until the end of February; Airbnb says it’s acting in accordance with local guidance; it has promised to refund affected customers.

Microsoft rolls out Windows 10X emulator and a new SDK; lets developers see how Windows will work on new form factors such as dual-screen devices; apps will run in containers — Win32, MSIX and Native (UWP); Microsoft is set to launch dual-screen Surface Neo and Surface Duo later this year.

Snap is working on a redesign of its Snapchat app; the company is testing new placements for Snap Map and original shows; it’s also piloting breaking news segments within Stories; it’s also testing a navigation bar.

Samsung announces 6.2-inch Galaxy S20 (starts at $1k), 6.7-inch S20 Plus (starts at $1.2k), and 6.9-inch S20 Ultra (starts at $1.4k); all feature 120Hz displays and triple-array rear cameras; S20 and S20 Plus have 12MP wide lenses, 64MP telephoto, 12MP ultra wide; S20 Ultra features 108MP wide, 48MP telephoto, 12MP ultra wide; all can shoot 8K video; all support 5G; available March 6.

Samsung announces $1.4k Galaxy Flip Z; the 6.7-inch foldable smartphone features Ultra Thin Glass, which Samsung says is a “flexible glass” product it developed in-house; promises to last for up ~200k folds; has two 12MP cameras on the back and a 10MP selfie camera; available now.

Samsung announces $150 Galaxy Buds+; the wireless earbuds promise 11h use and 11h of charging via the included case; also claim improved sound quality, though they do not have active noise canceling features.

Samsung will launch its AirDrop-like feature Quick Share with the Galaxy S20 lineup; lets users share photos, videos, and other files with nearby contacts; supports sharing with up to five friends at the same time.

Smartphone firm Essential, founded by Andy Rubin, is shutting down; the company says it couldn’t find a way to bring its Project Gem smartphone to market; the firm launched with the $700 Essential Phone in 2017.

Beijing-based dockless bike-share company Ofo pivots to an e-commerce platform featuring channels for JD.com, Ele.me, others; also features bike rentals, but the company has scaled back its fleets after facing lawsuits from suppliers, and consumers demands for deposit returns.

NASA and SpaceX are aiming to launch the first human-crewed Crew Dragon flight in May.

💵 Q4 financials

Lyft ($16B market cap) Q1 beats: $1B revenue, up 49% YoY ($986M expected); $130.7M loss ($163M expected); 22.9M active riders, up 23.1% YoY (22.8M expected).

👩🏾‍💻 Good reads

Culture > Process; continuously evolve your processes. Uncover the opportunities to change processes in your organization to positively influence the behaviors and values of people and their work for the better.

Lessons from Tesla’s approach to innovation, by HBR.Tesla has developed a multi-pronged strategy for changing an industry. The core strategy has unique elements at each level of the ecosystem: overturning the core product architecture, positioning themselves in key bottleneck components, and resolving system-level limitations that slow the adoption of the technology.

User Flows !=User Journeys, by Product School; While User Flows depict the physical journey of the user through an app or software, User Journeys deal with the emotions, the pain points, and the motivations of the customer.

Experimenting with the Opportunity Solution Tree. An introduction to Teresa Torres’ popular framework by the good folks at ProdPad.

Facebook’s ideas. Mark Zuckerberg proposed to create “dark profiles” for people who were not on Facebook, according to a book about the company’s history by Steven Levy; the idea was to let users create profiles on behalf of others; the book also claims Zuckerberg verbally accepted a $1B takeover offer from Yahoo, but then-CEO Terry Semel tried to renegotiate the deal.

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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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