Airbnb IPO, Netflix shuffle, Shanghai’s driverless taxis, Google Maps updates, Digital business archetypes, Pinduoduo’s success model, Uber subscriptions, more

Welcome to a new edition of el producto

🎰 The week in figures

$2T: Apple becomes the first US company to pass a $2T market cap during intraday trading, almost exactly 2 years after becoming the first US company to pass a $1T market cap; oil company Saudi Aramco has reached the $2T milestone twice; Apple, now the world’s most valuable company, plans a 4:1 stock split on Aug 31

$225B: Ant Group (formerly Ant Financial) is aiming for a valuation of ~$225B in its upcoming dual IPO; the firm, which is expected to raise $30B, is set to list in Hong Kong and Shanghai in the coming weeks

$11.2B: Robinhood raises $200m by D1 Capital Partners, getting a valuation of $11.2B. Robinhood was valued at $8.6B in July

$4.1B: Edtech startups across the globe have seen a surge in demand since COVID-19 was declared a pandemic and many schools moved to distance learning. For January to July of 2020, Crunchbase tracked $4.1B in global VC funding for education technology, well above same periods for prior years

$830M: JD.com healthtech subsidiary JD Health raises $830M Series B from Hillhouse Capital; JD Health operates a healthcare platform, offering telemedicine appointments, pharmacy deliveries, and more; since the start of the coronavirus outbreak, the one-year-old company has carried out 1.7M COVID-19 tests

$100M: Germany-based travel services firm Omio (formerly GoEuro) raises $100M from Kinnevik, Temasek, Goldman Sachs, and others; the company lets travellers find and book flights, trains, and buses across multiple markets; has raised ~$400M to date

$74M: Lambda School, a startup that offers online computer science classes and gets paid after its students get jobs, has raised $74 million in a Series C round led by Gigafund; operates on an income share agreement model in which students don’t put up any money upfront, but do pay a percent of their salary after finishing the program

$50M: Grafana Labs, developer of open-source platform to monitor metrics, applications and other assorted data sources, raised $50 million in a Series B round led by Lightspeed. Brings total funding for NY-based Grafana to around $75 million

37%: Stocks of Apple, Microsoft, Amazon, Alphabet, and Facebook collectively rose 37% over the first seven months of 2020. On Monday, the Nasdaq hit a new high; here’s where the big names stand now compared with where they were on Feb. 19:

  • Alphabet -0.6%
  • Amazon +47%
  • Apple +42%
  • Facebook +20%
  • Tesla +100%
  • Netflix +25%
  • Spotify +81%

📰 What’s going on

Automattic, WordPress’s parent company, launches their internal remote-team collaboration P2 to the public. Automattic, with more than 1000 remote employees, is a pioneer in remote working since the company started in 2005. P2 helps organize files, projects, and conversations all on one screen, meaning teams can collaborate from anywhere, asynchronously. CEO Matt Mullenweg says Apple locked his company’s App Store account, preventing further updates and security fixes; Apple demands WordPress offer in-app purchases for its premium WordPress.com product

Netflix starts testing a shuffle feature, allowing users to generate automatically suggested shows and movies; recommendations are based on previous watch history; the button is currently appearing to some users within the TV app; unknown if or when it will be on other platforms

Zoom announces coming support for Echo Show, Facebook Portal, and Google Nest Hub Max; Facebook plans to launch a Zoom app for Portal next month, as well as apps for BlueJeans, GoToMeeting, and Webex; Amazon plans support later this year, starting with the Echo Show 8; Amazon and Google’s implementations will integrate with calendars and voice assistants

Airbnb confidentially files for IPO; the company hasn’t determined the volume or pricing of the offering; the company saw its valuation peak at $31B in 2017, but that fell to $18B for a $1B round in April

Airbnb announces a global ban on parties and a maximum occupancy of 16 people for all platform listings; the company said people had, during pandemic lockdowns, treated rental units like bars and clubs; noted that 73% of the platform’s properties had already established rules prohibiting parties

Instagram starts showing posts from accounts a user does not already follow; known as Suggested Posts, the feature kicks in once a user has seen the latest relevant content from those they follow; users can still opt to view older posts instead

Instagram starts rolling out profile QR codes worldwide; first launched in Japan last year the feature lets users access a specific user profile by scanning the corresponding code; QR codes are replacing Instagram’s Nametags

China-based AutoX launches a driverless taxi service in Shanghai; known as RoboTaxi, it’s starting with 100 vehicles in Jiading District; Didi Chuxing launched a self-driving cab service in the city in June

Apple introduces its first third-party channel bundle for Apple TV+ subscribers; offers CBS All Access and Showtime for an additional $10 per month; follows a report Apple is planning to bundle its own services, such as Apple Music and Apple News+

Google adds captions for video and voice messages in Duo on iOS and Android; Google notes it does not retain the content of messages after they have been transcribed; the feature is rolling out now

Google Meet adds the ability to cast video calls to Chromecast-connected TVs, Android TV, and smart displays; a user’s audio and video feed still runs via the device on which the call is hosted; works with Chromecast Ultra, and second- and- third-gen Chromecasts

Google Maps announces plans for more detailed maps; the redesign will make it easier to distinguish between various types of natural features in topographic maps; Google Maps is also introducing better street-level maps for New York City, London, and San Francisco

Google announces Google Career Certificates: a professional training program promising expertise in data analysis, project management, IT support, and UX design; the Coursera-hosted programs take ~6 months to complete; Google says it will treat the certificates as equivalents to 4-year degrees in its hiring practices; the company plans 100k need-based scholarships

Google has hired former Snap exec Nick Bell to oversee Google Images; Bell served as head of content at Snap and helped develop Snapchat Discover; he left the company at the end of 2018 and most recently co-managed startup incubator Human Ventures

Uber launches $25-per-month subscription plan Uber Pass across the US, except in CA. Uber previously offered a subscription plan to lock in ride rates; Uber Pass adds discounted food delivery and micro-mobility rentals

Uber and Lyft are considering franchising their businesses to local taxi companies in CA; such a move would mean the ride-hailing firms are no longer liable for driver benefits; both Uber and Lyft have been ordered to comply with state regulations to classify regular contractors as employees

Uber partners with on-demand prescription firm NimbleRx to offer medication deliveries in the US; currently available in Seattle and Dallas, the service is expected to expand to more markets over the coming months

DoorDash launches on-demand grocery delivery covering 75M people in the US; will offer ~10k items from Smart & Final, Fresh and Thyme, and Meijer; expected to add items from other sellers in the coming weeks

Oracle is working with several of ByteDance’s US investors on a bid to acquire TikTok; the coalition, which includes General Atlantic and Sequoia Capital, is looking to purchase TikTok’s operations in the US, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. Joins Microsoft as potential buyer

Alibaba Q2 beats: $22.23B, up 34% YoY ($21.39B expected); $6.8B net income; the Hangzhou-based company, China’s most valuable tech company, operates two of the county’s most popular e-commerce platforms, which benefited from the pandemic-related acceleration in the shift to online shopping

👩🏾‍💻 Good reads

Tyler Hogge (VP of Product & Strategy at Divvy) is doing things differently in the Product Org — Here’s his playbook. “The main goal for a product manager is not simply to ship software — it’s to deliver business outcomes. Other people might agree with that statement, but very few actually put it into practice”

Interactive ecommerce — the Pinduoduo model. A whitepaper on the 5-year old Chinese mashup of “Costco and Disneyland” (as self-described in their IPO prospectus) which recently became the fastest company ever to pass $100B market capitalization. If you have no time to read the paper, check out this podcast episode on Pinduoduo by Acquired

The ecommerce surge during the pandemic, by Ben Evans. The UK went from 20% ecommerce penetration to over 30% in two months, and the USA from 17% to 22%. “We are in a period of both forced experiment and forced experimentation. In January everyone was online and willing to try anytime online: now we have no choice”

Digital business model archetypes. Simon Torrance reviews 5 archetypes for incumbents to orient. Four out of five are platform-oriented, and such models have much more attractive economics. They focus on exploiting and monetising higher margin ‘intellectual capital’ (encapsulated in software) and ‘relational capital’ (connections between multiple parties) rather than more costly ‘human capital’ (human experts), ‘financial capital’ (money), or ‘physical capital’ (things)

Constrained optimization — a problem-solving mental model for problems that have a lot of potential solutions and a complex set of considerations in play, by Sean Walsh

Founders and Pivots, by Steve Blank. Founders are great at seeing things others don’t — at times it’s a vision, often it’s a hallucination. Taking immediate action (pivot) can lead to troubles, however maturing insights will help

Outcomes as enablers of business impact. Differentiating between outputs, impacts, and outcomes, and why these 3 fundamental questions are key to success:

  • What are our customers trying to achieve?
  • How do they achieve that outcome now?
  • What can we do to make it easier for them to achieve that outcome?

🙂 #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

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

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