el producto #182

Uber to acquire Postmates, Spotify Premium Duo, H12020 unicorn report, New European payments system, Startup toolkit, Facebook updates news feed ranking, more.

Welcome to a new edition of el producto

🎰 The week in figures

$3.3B: British startups working in deep tech (quantum computing, genomics, AI, etc) raised ~$3.3B in 2019; compares with ~$2.7B the year before; the UK led Europe in deep tech investments last year, though France and Germany both secured more than $1B each

$3B: China-based grocery delivery firm Xingsheng Youxuan (XY) raises ~$300M on a ~$3B valuation; the investment comes from Primavera Capital, Tencent, and others; expected to be its last funding round ahead of an IPO; XY operates across 400 Chinese towns

$2.6B: Uber is in talks to acquire delivery firm Postmates for ~$2.6B; a deal announcement could come as soon as next week; Postmates has been in talks with several potential suitors since last year, but has also made plans for an IPO; it was last valued at $2.4B

$1.7B: Wall Street data analytics firm Dun & Bradstreet raises $1.7B in NYSE listing for a market value of ~$8.8B; the company returns to public markets following its $5.4B acquisition by a group of investors in 2018, which took Dun & Bradstreet private; the firm claims its database contains comprehensive information on 360M business; it serves 135k clients

$1B: Data analysis firm Palantir is raising ~$1B Series D; the company has already secured ~$550M from Sompo Holdings and Fujitsu; Palantir has raised $3.3B to date; reports indicate this will be the last funding round before an IPO

$750M: Zuoyebang, a China-based edtech firm, raises $750M Series E led by FountainVest Partners and Tiger Global with participation from SoftBank’s Vision Fund and others; the company offers a range of online learning services to school-age children; has raised ~$1.3B to date

$560M: According to research firm CNG, the cloud gaming market in China is expected to be worth more than $560M by 2022; for comparison, it’s predicted to reach a valuation of ~$140M this year

$500M: Lululemon buys home-fitness tech start-up Mirror for $500M

€60M: Germany-based fintech firm solarisBank raises €60M Series C; offers banking APIs to enterprise customers; has raised ~$175M to date

25M: Microsoft aims to serve 25M people with free online classes and job hunting resources by year’s end; the classes focus on skills applicable to 10 in-demand positions, including software development and data analysis; Microsoft of subsidiaries LinkedIn and GitHub provide the course content; some of the curricula focuses on Microsoft products

📰 What’s going on

Spotify launches its $13 a month Premium Duo plan in the US; offers ad-free listening for two accounts based at the same address; also includes a shared playlist featuring music that both listen to regularly

Estonia-based ride-hailing firm Bolt launches a dockless e-bike service in Paris; costs €2 (~$2.20) for a 20 min ride; Bolt says it plans to launch in more European cities over the coming months; Bolt already operates a scooter-sharing service across 21 markets

Uber launches a taxi-hailing app in Tokyo in partnership with local cab companies Ecosystem, Hinomaru Limousine, and Tokyo MK; Japanese regulations regarding professional driver licensure prevent Uber from launching ride-hailing services in the country; the company has focused on Uber Eats in Japan

16 EU banks expect to launch a new European payments system in 2022 to compete with Visa and Mastercard; BNP Paribas Deputy COO Thierry Laborde said the system, based on a pan-European infrastructure, would strengthen the continent and reduce dependencies; will cover online, in-store, peer-to-peer, and other payments

Apple launches a website for Apple Card, enabling users to check statements, make payments, etc; previously, those functions were accessible only via the Wallet app on iOS, or by calling Goldman Sachs support

Facebook updates News Feed ranking to prioritize original reporting and demote content that isn’t transparent about authorship; the company is using AI to analyze numerous articles on a given topic and determine which is most cited; currently limited to English; News Feed remains limited to displaying news items from outlets the user follows and those followed by friends

Facebook will shut down Lasso on July 10; the TikTok-like app launched in 2018 and has been available in the US and several Latin American countries; follows the launch of Instagram Reels in Brazil, which lets users create 15-second music-based videos for sharing via Stories

Facebook shutters Hobbi, its app for documenting personal hobbies; it was built by Facebook’s NPE Team and launched on iOS in February; Sensor Tower estimates it was downloaded just 7k times

Facebook showcases prototype VR glasses that have a much smaller profile than existing headsets; the concept device has a thickness of 9mm, but still promise a field of view comparable to current products; makes use of “holographic optics” and polarization to move light back and forth within its lenses; Facebook has not disclosed plans to launch such a product

Google acquires Canadian smart glasses firm North; terms undisclosed; North says it will end support for its Focals product, which initially sold for $1k (discontinued last December); Google says the acquisition will contribute to its “ambient computing future”

Google to expand free product listings to Search results; Google made listings under the Shopping tab free in April to assist smaller companies during the pandemic, resulting in a significant increase in ad impressions and clicks; soon, free listings will appear in product Knowledge Panels; the “Stores” section will feature more entries

Google announces Smart Fill for Sheets, a tool that automatically suggests content for cells; similar to Smart Compose in Gmail, Smart Fill will detect workflow patterns and propose formulas; also intoduces Smart Cleanup, which promises to remove duplicates and fix formatting issues; both set to launch later this year; Google has also made enterprise data tool Connected Sheets broadly available

Google announces a smart home developer event for July 8; the “Hey Google” Smart Home Virtual Summit will cover new features for Assistant-powered devices

Google is rolling out the AirDrop-like “Nearby Share” feature for Android in beta; enables users to share photos, tweets, and more; options allow the user to change the device display name, control visibility, etc

YouTube TV increases its base monthly price from $50 to $65; effective for new members; existing users will see the price hike at the beginning of the next billing period; YouTube also added 14 ViacomCBS channels, including BET, Comedy Central, and Nickelodeon, bringing its base plan to 85-plus channels

Amazon to push Prime Day, its annual sales event that usually takes place in July, to October, according to an email sent to third-party sellers; this change included, the company has postponed the event 3 times over concerns about coronavirus’ impact on supply chains, more; Amazon gave sellers the week of Oct 5 as a placeholder, but hasn’t finalized a date

Amazon launches a Prime Video feature that lets users in different locations view shows and movies in synchronization; known as Watch Party, it supports up to 100 participants; free for Prime subscribers

India bans 59 Chinese apps including TikTok, Helo, WeChat

Beyond Meat ($8.2B market cap) Founder and CEO Ethan Brown says his company is on track to underprice traditional meat, and that planned increases in production volume in 2021 and 2022 will enable Beyond Meat to be more aggressive in pricing; he also noted that the company’s facilities are less crowded than industrialized meat facilities and require less human contact with the product

👩🏾‍💻 Good reads

5 tips for selling to SMBs. SMB is a segment in its own right; to be successful selling to this audience, you need to remove barriers, understand why and how they buy, and adopt the right mindset to ensure success with this market. After serving SMB customers for nearly a decade, Adam Johnson, SVP of Sales at ActiveCampaign shares his learnings

The Startup Index of Nations & Regions, by USC Marshall School of Business. A ranking of countries on share of billion dollar startups (unicorns)

Startup Toolkit, Joanna Ngai, UX Designer at Microsoft, shares a beutifully curated list of resources for startups, ranging from design, to finance or strategy tools

H1 2020 unicorn data, by Crunchbase. There were 44 new companies that joined the unicorn club in the first half of 2020. This cohort has reportedly added $64 billion to private unicorn valuations along with close to $12 billion in total funding to date–with an average of $300 million raised by each of these new 2020 unicorns

Inside Wirecard. FT has put together a series of articles analysing the Wirecard debacle

💻 Upcoming online events

PMF Connect Sessions: Overcoming Cognitive Biases, with Ken Sandy,
Lecturer/Industry Fellow at UC Berkeley, ex-VP of Product @ Masterclass and Lynda.com, Tuesday, July 8, 12:00 CET, Free

Tech Circus Meets: Jeff Gothelf — Author of Lean UX, by The UX Crunch — Amsterdam, Wednesday, July 8, 19:00 CET, Free

#ProductCon, by Product School, Thursday, July 9, Free

Additionally, check out this Best Product Conferences in 2020 list put together by Product School

🙂 #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