Fintech funding rounds, Apple & Google virus-tracking initiatives, Facebook’s app for couples, Innovation frameworks, Customer feedback loops & more.

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🎰 The week in figures

$36B: Digital payments platform Stripe has reportedly raised $600 million in new funding and is now valued at nearly $36 billion.

$21B: US VC firms raised $21B in Q1; four funds raised more than $1B each during the period, including $3.8B from Tiger Global and a $3.6B fund from NEA; 9 new funds raised a combined total of $1.1B; VCs invested $34.2B last quarter, compares with $35B in Q1 2019.

$8B: Online brokerage firm Robinhood is raising ~$250M on an $8B pre-money valuation led by Sequoia Capital.

$1B: Airbnb secures a $1B credit line from Black Rock, Eaton Vance, T Rowe Price, and others; the first-lien debt gives the backers priority over Airbnb assets should the company default; follows a $1B investment from Silver Lake and Sixth Street Partners.

10K: TikTok-owner ByteDance is hiring for 10k roles around the world; roughly a third of the jobs are for researchers or developers; ByteDance is aiming for a headcount of 40k people by the end of 2020.

35%–50%: Facebook’s advertising cost-per-thousand fall to all-time low, seeing decreases between 35%-50%.

19%: iPhone shipments in China reached 2.5M units last month, up 19% YoY; Android devices fell to 21M units, down ~22% YoY; manufacturing in China stalled in February, but started to rebound in March.

?: Uber has pulled its 2020 financial guidance in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic; the firm previously said it anticipated losses of $1.4B to $1.2B for the fiscal year, but has not provided new figures; the company also notes it expects an impairment charge of $1.9B to $2.2B because the value of some of its investments have declined.

📰 What’s going on

Apple and Google are partnering on contact-tracing. They’ll enable third-party smartphone apps from health authorities that can notify opt-in users of potential Covid-19 exposures. The apps will use Bluetooth rather than GPS, which will allay some but not all privacy concerns.

Apple launches a dashboard to show how people are socially distancing; known as Mobility Trends, it comprises anonymized user data gathered from Apple Maps; lets users search by country or city; follows a similar tool from Google.

Apple is developing over-ear wireless headphones with swappable parts; the company is working on a fitness-focused model and a premium version which uses leather-like materials; the headphones are said to have a somewhat retro style; unknown when they will launch.

Lime acquires assets from electric skateboard startup Boosted; Boosted co-founder and ex-CEO Sanjay Dastoor says Lime has bought all of the company’s IP and may be in control of its Mountain View HQ; Dastoor also says the company will likely file for bankruptcy protection, but won’t formally dissolve for some time; sources say a deal for Yamaha to takeover Boosted fell through earlier this year; follows an earlier report that Boosted had cut most of its staff and was pursuing strategic options.

Microsoft signs a partnership with the NBA; financial terms and duration of the deal undisclosed; starting with the 2020–2021 season, the NBA will uses Microsoft’s Azure cloud to offer fans enhanced online experiences; full plans unclear, but an NBA spokesperson notes the league could offer games in local languages, overlay chat features, and more.

Amazon introduces an Alexa long-form speaking style; intended for use with news reports, articles, and other content within Alexa skills; promises to sound more natural when speaking dialogue or moving from one paragraph to the next; Amazon is also rolling out 10 additional Amazon Polly voices for developers across six languages; includes US Spanish and Canadian French.

TikTok introduces Family Pairing, a feature to let parents and guardians control settings on their children’s accounts; lets users set time limits, disable direct messages, and activate restricted content mode.

Google announces a gallery view and Gmail integration for its Meet teleconferencing service; G Suite users can now launch or join a Meet conversation via Gmail, and Meet’s gallery will soon show upto 16 users in a grid; the firm is also adding filters to mitigate background noise, and more.

Google launches a dedicated website in India featuring updates on the coronavirus outbreak; the company has also made adjustments to Search and YouTube to provide authoritative info and content about the pandemic; additionally, Google Maps is now showing the locations of 1.5k food and night shelters for those in need.

YouTube is testing Chapters, a feature that lets users go to certain parts of a video; video creators specify the timecodes for each chapter; Chapters are now appearing for some YouTube viewers on select videos.

Facebook (quietly) released a new app called Tuned; a multimedia messaging app designed to help couples talk to each other.

Facebook introduces a care reaction and an updated heart reaction for its main platform and Messenger; the care features an emoji character hugging a heart; the new heart reaction pulsates; Facebook is rolling them out globally next week.

Ride-hailing firm Ola offers its software to the Indian government in an effort to combat the coronavirus outbreak; Ola says its tools can be reworked to track vehicles and people; it also notes its image recognition software for verifying drivers can be adapted to confirm whether people are wearing masks; Ola notes its systems are already being used by the state of Punjab to track produce from 1.7M farmers, as well as monitoring their vehicle movements.

Lyft introduces delivery services, allowing customers to order groceries, restaurant meals, and medical supplies; drivers will be paid based on time and distance traveled; the service is launching in select cities including Atlanta, Orlando, and San Francisco.

👩🏾‍💻 Good reads

The Role of Technology. 10 years ago Marc Andreessen published Why Software is Eating the World. But most companies seem to have not really understood his warnings. Most have not transformed in any meaningful sense, and in particular, most have not embraced technology as the business enabler it is.

7 Innovation frameworks to navigate disruption: Apple, Netflix, Amazon, & more. CB Insights analyzes 7 innovation frameworks from some of the most prominent thinkers in business, technology, and culture.

Howard Marks’ latest memo. Howard Marks (@HowardMarksBook) is co-chairman and co-founder of Oaktree Capital Management, a leading investment firm with more than $120 billion in assets. Warren Buffett has written of Howard Marks: “When I see memos from Howard Marks in my mail, they’re the first thing I open and read. I always learn something.”. The memo includes some of the smartest questions you will see related to these wild times.

COVID and forced experiments. Great analysis by Ben Evans on how tech trends are changing and what may stick around.

Creating customer feedback loops: tools, examples and best practices, by Product School.

Airbnb’s Brian Chesky talks about how he’s managing through the crisis.

Build your team’s resilience — from home. By HBR.

💻 Upcoming online events

Webinar: PM in a Startup Setting with Alexa Product Lead, by Product School, Sunday, Apr 19, 8:30PM GMT, Free

P24: A multilateral event, dedicated to raising support for healthcare workers globally. 48 sessions from product/tech/design during a 24-hour non-stop live-stream, Thursday, Apr 23, 8am GMT.

Strengthen Your Team with ProductOps by ProdPad, Thursday, Apr 30, 3PM GMT, Free

Webinar: Consumer Behavior Shifts Post COVID-19 with former Amazon Sr PM, by Product School, Thursday, Apr 23, 7:30 PM GMT, Free

🙂 #alwaysbekind

During the upcoming weeks (for as long as the Covid-19 crisis goes on) I will keep dedicating my evenings to offer free consultation / advice / coaching / casual chats to any impacted professionals that would like to reach out. Don’t be a stranger, reach out by DM if you are interested, and let’s help each other. We are all humans after all, and we are all on the same boat.

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el producto is a curated selection of Tech&Product happenings within the last few days from a curious and frequently skeptical Product leader perspective. Free forever. Sign-up here.

Written by

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

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