🎰 The week in figures
$100B: The valuation of TikTok-owner ByteDance has risen to more than $100B following recent private share trades; ByeDance’s worth has climbed more than 33% since a major funding round in 2018; the China-based company is reportedly considering an overseas IPO.
$17.7B: SoftBank ($88.4B market cap) reports a ~$17.7B annual loss for its Vision Fund (VF); overall, SoftBank had an operating loss of $12.6B, and a net loss of $8.9B; represents SoftBank’s worst figures in its 39-year history; the fall in Uber’s share price accounted for $5.2B VF losses, while $4.6B came from WeWork; VF has invested $75B to date, with those investments now worth $69.6B. Alibaba co-founder Jack Ma stepped down from SoftBank’s board.
$2.7B: Israel-based remote working firm Monday.com has seen its valuation rise 42% to $2.7B following secondary share sales; the company was valued at $1.9B upon its last funding round in 2019; Monday.com provides a suite of online collaboration tools.
$2B: China-based games company NetEase has applied for a secondary listing on the Hong Kong stock exchange; the firm is looking to raise as much as $2B, with the IPO happening as early as June; NetEase first listed on the Nasdaq in 2000; the report notes several Chinese businesses including Baidu and Trip.com are looking at alternatives to American listings.
$1.4B:Alibaba says it will invest ~$1.4B in an AI-powered IoT system for its Tmall Genie smart speaker line; full plans undisclosed, but Alibaba says it will develop proprietary tech and more content for Genie devices.
$510M: China-based online grocery firm MissFresh E-Commerce is raising ~$510M led by Tencent; the company is valued at $3B pre-money.
$500M: Verizon closes its acquisition of teleconferencing firm BlueJeans; the deal is reportedly valued at $500M; BlueJeans will be overseen by Verizon’s business unit.
$350M: Augmented reality unicorn Magic Leap has reportedly received a $350 million lifeline, a month after slashing 1,000 jobs and dropping its consumer business. Previously, the Florida-based company had raised a whopping $2.6 billion in known funding.
$100M: MasterClass (San Francisco, CA), online celebrity-taught classes raises $100M E. The financing brought the company’s valuation ato $800M.
$100M: Facebook’s Oculus crossed a revenue milestone, surpassing $100 million in content sales in its online store.
50M: Google Meet has been downloaded more than 50M times from the Google Play store; it had 5M downloads in March; Google made the enterprise video conferencing software freely available to all users last month.
39%: Expedia says its Q1 bookings fell 39% YoY due to the coronavirus outbreak; it recorded $2.2B revenue, down 15% YoY; CEO Peter Kern notes sales have started to pick up this month.
16%: Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) says it will cut jobs and lower exec pay as part of a $1B cost-cutting plan; HPE will also simplify its product lineup, address its real estate strategies, and more; comes as the company reports a 16% drop in quarterly sales
📰 What’s going on
Google introduces new accessibility features for Android; includes Action Blocks, a tool that lets users set one-touch home screen buttons for tasks such as calling a specific number or playing music; the company has also added an update to Live Transcribe, allowing a user’s smartphone to vibrate if someone nearby speaks their name.
WhatsApp is testing a feature to let users add contacts via QR codes; currently available in beta for iOS and Android, it allows users to display their own QR code, as well as scan others; Instagram has a similar feature.
Facebook introduces a safety feature for users in India, allowing them to block those they are not friends with from viewing or downloading their full-size profile or header photos; the company say the changes are in response to user concerns — particularly young girls — about their images being misused.
Facebook introduces its Shops e-commerce platform.
Facebook is making an AI-fueled push into e-commerce. It has a new neural network that can automatically recognize the attributes of nearly any products you put up for sale from furniture to fashion to cars.
Facebook and Spotify extended work-from-home. The music streaming site will allow employees to work remotely through the end of the year, while the social media giant is planning for much of its workforce to never return to the office.
Coinbase says it will transition to a remote-first firm, allowing most staff to work from home on a permanent basis; the company notes it will still provide office space for those who want it.
The chief executive of Monzo is stepping aside to make way for a more experienced banking executive to take over. Tom Blomfield, who co-founded Monzo in 2015, said he will take on a new role as president of the digital bank where he could focus on the bigger picture. Monzo is facing a 40% drop in valuation at its next funding round.
Amazon launches a restaurant delivery service in India; Amazon Food is available in select parts of Bangalore, where it has reportedly been in testing since earlier this year; the launch follows announced layoffs from rivals Swiggy and Zomato.
Apple releases iOS13.5. The new iteration makes it easier to unlock your phone when wearing a face mask. If you swipe up once from the bottom of the screen while you’re wearing a mask, you’ll see the option to enter your passcode right away. 13.5 also incorporates the exposure notification system jointly developed with Google for contact-tracing apps. This enables iPhones to share anonymised device identifiers and wireless proximity data with iOS or Android phones, then alert users to potential exposure.
iOS 14 will feature an AR app called Gobi; full features unclear, but Gobi will work with traditional QR codes, as well as a new proprietary format; an update to Find My will also add sound and haptic feedback when searching for devices.
Apple is acquiring older shows and movies for Apple TV+; it’s unknown what the company has licensed, but it’s yet to purchase any big franchises or blockbuster movies; Apple TV+ has relied upon original content so far.
China-based ride-hailing firm Didi Chuxing plans to test a freight delivery project; full details unknown, but the company is hiring up to 600 van drivers in Chengdu and Hangzhou.
London-based VC firm Entrepreneurs First (EF) names Benedict Evans as a venture partner; he will advise on EF’s global portfolio; Evans previously held a partner role at Andreessen Horowitz.
👩🏾💻 Good reads
Startup founder tech guide. STRV has put together a free ebook sharing their experience on building and scaling digital products. Includes popular frameworks, languages and tools, plus an overview and high-level comparison of the various options available.
The next social era is here: Why now is the time for social products again. Until now, we’ve been in a Social Ice Age with few new startups emerging since 2012. But Covid-19 is exposing huge white spaces for new products. James Currier and Josh Elman break down why now is the best time to start a social/communication company.
How the biggest consumer apps got their first 1,000 users, by Lenny Rachitsky. Top 7 strategies to acquire your first 1,000 users:
- Go where your target users are, offline
- Go where your target users are, online
- Invite your friends
- Create FOMO in order to drive word-of-mouth
- Leverage influencers
- Get press
- Build a community pre-launch
Forever employable: Advice on building invincible careers by Strategyzer’s Jeff Gothelf, Tendayi Viki & Alex Osterwalder.
Three tools to master to build an invincible company. You can find these tools and many others in the latest book by Strategyzer folks (which I am currently reading — and already applying lessons) The Invincible Company.
How Facebook’s VP of Product finds focus and creates conditions for intentional work. “I spend a lot of time making sure there is real clarity of intent before digging into product specifics and implementation.”
[Podcast] Growth in Turbulent Times — Andrew Chen and Brian Balfour on the a16z podcast with host Lauren Murrow.
💻 Upcoming online events
ProductCon, May 27 (day-long event), Free
[Virtual] ProductTank Rotterdam kick-off event, co-hosted by Christina Zacharia and Lucia Collara, with guests Stephen Culligan (Head of Glofox and EME ProductTank coordinator) and Janna Bastow (co-founder ProductPad and Mind the Product), May 27 18:30 CET, Free
Trends and Benchmarks in PM 2020 Launch Event — Global PM Insights, May 28, 2020 12:00 CET, Free.
Reflecting on Strategic Alignment, by ProdPad, May 28th, 17:00 CET, Free
Additionally, check out this Best Product Conferences in 2020 list put together by Product School.
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.