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Amazon’s fitness band, Nest Hub for Hotels, Y Combinator demos, Apple TV+ AR, Facebook Shops, Ant Group IPO, MVP checklist, more

Welcome to a new edition of el producto

🎰 The week in figures

$3.5B: Ant Group generated ~$3.5B in profits over two consecutive quarters ending in March this year; the details were included in Alibaba’s FQ1 earnings (Alibaba has a 33% stake in Ant Group); the fintech firm operates Alipay which claims over 900M users in China; Ant Group filed for a dual IPO in Hong Kong and Shanghai; the company says it will use the money it raises to expand its cross-border remittance offerings and R&D efforts

$1.5B: London-based international money transfer firm WorldRemit to acquire remittance company SendWave, which focuses on sending money to African markets; terms undisclosed, but a Bloomberg source indicates the cash-and-stock deal is worth $500M; the combined entity could be valued at $1.5B; CEO Breon Corcoran said the post-deal company would be viewed more like Venmo and PayPal

$1.5B: Chinese EV company Xpeng Motors raises $1.5B in NYSE debut; the firm sold 99.7M American Depositary Shares at $15 apiece after announcing plans to offer 85k shares priced at $11 to $13; Xpeng trades under ticker symbol XPEV; before IPO, the company had raised ~$1.7B

$360M: Delivery Hero acquires online grocery firm Instashop for $360M; the deal is a record for a Greece-based business; Instashop raised $7M to date

$118M: Mural, which provides a collaborative visual workspace for enterprise, raises $118M Series B; the whiteboard-like solution features tools for creating diagrams, collaborative design, training, more; claims to have added 1M-plus MAU since the start of the year, and tripled ARR over the past 12 months; raised $142M to date

$100M: Redis Labs, which offers open-source and commercial versions of the Redis database, raises $100M Series F at a $1B-plus valuation; claims 8k paid clients including Gap and Mastercard; CEO Ofer Bengal said the funding puts the company in position to go public in two years; raised $247M to date

$100M: New York City-based data science platform Dataiku raises $100M Series D; the company was previously valued at $1.4B but has not disclosed its latest valuation; the firm offers collaboration tools for data scientists

1k: Salesforce notifies staff of job cuts one day after the firm reported its first quarterly revenue exceeding $5B (29% up YoY); the company said it was redirecting some employees and cutting positions that no longer mapped to its business priorities; the cuts would affect ~1k of Salesforce’s 54k workers

3: Three of the world’s 10 most valuable tech unicorns are based in China; ByteDance-owned TikTok is valued at $140B; ride hailing firm Didi Chuxing is worth $56B; TikTok rival Kuaishou is worth $18B; the list also features six US-based firms, including SpaceX ($46B), Palantir ($20B), and Airbnb ($18B)

20.4%: Q2 smartphone sales fell 20.4% YoY, according to Gartner data; Samsung saw a decline of 27.1%, while its market share has also dropped to 18.6%; Apple’s sales fell 0.4%

📰 What’s going on

Y Combinator Demo Day: Crunchbase breaks down some of the top themes, including country-specific platforms, proptech, and the search for the next Shopify

Amazon announces Halo, a display-free fitness band and accompanying app; the water-resistant band, which promises up to seven days of battery life per charge, runs $100; the app subscription is $4 per month; features a heart rate monitor, temperature sensor, an accelerometer, and can measure body fat percentage; also uses a microphone to detect user emotions

Amazon launches Room Decorator, an AR shopping tool that enables customers to visualize multiple products, including furniture and room decor, in a given space; available for the iOS app and desktop web; Amazon previously launched a similar feature for its iOS app called AR View, but it only supported one product at a time and required the shopper be in the room used for visualization; Room Decorator can save 3D models of the user’s home for visualization while away from home

Amazon-owned Audible introduces a lower-cost tier offering its own original content; Audible Plus, which costs $8 per month, lets users listen to Audible Originals and exclusive podcasts; additionally, the company has announced plans to consolidate its existing Gold and Platinum plans, rebranding them Audible Premium Plus; starts at $15 per month for one audiobook credit, or $23 per month for two

Google to update Nest Hub with hotel-specific features including automated check-in and check-out, concierge requests, wake-up calls, local business and weather information, more; when Hub is in hotel mode, guests will not have the option to sign in with personal accounts; the software will wipe all user data at checkout

Google starts featuring short videos in Discover (part of Google’s iOS app and the Android OS); the videos are being curated from India-based TikTok competitor Trell, as well as Tangi (built by Google’s Area 120); unclear how widespread the rollout is, or what indicators Google relies upon to show such videos to users

Google releases Chrome V85; offers new tab management features, such as the ability to collapse and expand tab groups; promises up to 10% faster page loads; in coming weeks, users will have the ability to edit and save PDFs (with edits) and resume editing

Apple plans to add AR features for Apple TV+ subscribers; full plans unclear, but the company will offer movie and TV show bonus content via mobile devices; the AR tools are expected to roll out next year; follows reports Apple will launch an AR headset in 2022

Apple has acquired VR startup Spaces; terms undisclosed; Spaces, which was spun out of film studio Dreamworks in 2016, had built VR-based entertainment experiences; it later pivoted to developing VR tools for videoconferencing services such as Zoom

Apple terminates Epic’s primary App Store account (used to distribute Fortnite) amidst a legal dispute regarding in-app payments; Epic retains an account for Unreal Engine; with the primary account terminated, Epic’s iOS apps are no longer available. Meanwhile, Mark Zuckerberg said at a companywide webcast with 50k viewers that Apple has a stranglehold as the gatekeeper for iPhone apps and that Apple charges monopoly rents while stifling innovation and competition. Facebook says it was forced to remove a statement from its iOS app that informed users Apple takes a 30% cut of in-app transactions; Facebook had included the note with its new online events feature, but says Apple flagged it as irrelevant info

Microsoft adds a transcription feature for the web version of Word; available to Microsoft 365 subscribers, it works with live audio and uploaded files; the company says it plans to add a mobile version at a later date

Facebook is testing a new Shop section within its mobile app; the company announced in May that merchants could create Shops, viewable on Facebook and Instagram; the latter recently launched a redesigned Shop section; the Shop section of the Facebook app is limited to businesses, unlike the company’s Marketplace, which allows individuals to sell items

Facebook rebrands its AR/VR division as Facebook Reality Labs (includes the Oculus, Spark, and Portal brands), its AR/VR research division to FRL Research (previously Oculus Research, then Facebook Reality Labs), and its AR/VR developer conference as Facebook Connect (formerly Oculus Connect); the event, virtual this year, is slated for Sept 16

Facebook is accelerating its plans to roll out the News tab to more countries; the company is in negotiations with publishers in various markets but not in Australia, where regulators recently announced plans to require web companies to pay publishers determined fees for content; Facebook plans to launch the News tab in Brazil, France, Germany, India, and the UK within the next year

LG announces a wearable air purifier; the battery-powered mask-like device features fans that automatically adjust based on whether the wearer is breathing in or out; also has replaceable filters; price and launch date unknown

China-based smartphone firm Oppo plans to launch its own short video service later this year; full plans undisclosed, but Oppo exec Jimmy Yi notes internet services are becoming important to the company; Oppo already offers its own app store, browser, and more in select markets

Sony launches an online registration process to preorder PlayStation 5; the company notes it will have a limited number of units at launch, and that registering does not guarantee a user will be able to buy one when they go on sale this Holiday season; Sony is yet to announce the price of the PlayStation 5

TikTok likely to announce a winning buyout bid and terms in coming days; the company is considering an Oracle bid and a joint offer from Microsoft and Walmart; the sources said talks included TikTok’s US, Canadian, Australian, and New Zealand operations, and would likely settle on a price between $20B and $30B

Kevin Mayer, CEO of TikTok, is stepping down less than four months after taking up the position; Mayer, who joined from Disney, sent a note to TikTok employees stating recent political pressures will likely change the nature of the global role he signed up for; TikTok GM Vanessa Pappas will serve as interim CEO

India-based conglomerate Tata plans to launch a super app that combines its existing digital consumer offerings; chairman Natarajan Chandrasekaran says the unnamed app will offer food delivery, grocery ordering, insurance products, and more; expected to launch in December

Cisco acquires speech processing company BabbleLabs; terms undisclosed; BabbleLabs offers AI-powered audio enhancement and noise removal tech; Cisco will integrate the tools with its teleconferencing software and more; raised $18M to date

UK-based fintech firm Railsbank acquires Wirecard Card Solutions (WCS), the British subsidiary of insolvent German firm Wirecard; terms undisclosed; the deal is expected to close in November

Palantir files its S-1 paperwork in preparation for its direct listing; Palantir generated $742M in revenue in 2019, recording losses of $580M

Elon Musk shows Neuralink brain link implant working in a pig; “In the future you will be able to save and replay memories,” said the SpaceX and Tesla leader of Neuralink’s brain-computer link technology

Tony Hsieh steps down as CEO of Zappos; reasons for the departure unclear, but Hsieh had been at the helm of the company for 21 years; COO Kedar Deshpande has taken over as CEO; Amazon acquired Zappos in 2009

Model Zoo launches Say Less (Chrome), an AI-powered tool that promises to help summarize long emails before they are sent; works within Gmail, as well as other text fields

Plant-based meat substitutes company Beyond Meat launches an e-commerce site for direct-to-consumer sales; will feature online-only exclusives and enable customers to test pre-launch products; the company saw grocery sales increase due to the pandemic but has spent $6M repackaging items bound for restaurants to sell via stores; competitor Impossible Foods also offers direct-to-consumer sales

👩🏾‍💻 Good reads

Digital sight management, and the mystery of the missing Amazon receipts: Thoughts about how Amazon hides email receipts and what that might mean for AR glasses: will AR glasses screen-scrape the world? Who owns that data?

The MVP checklist for building 0-to-1 products, by Nidhi Gurnani:

  • MVP is a system of iterations, not a product
  • There is no such thing as the Right MVP
  • MVP owns the problem; the solution is an outcome

[Video] How to get from big idea to a validated business case: an overview of the testing process, by Testing Business Ideas co-authors, Alex Osterwalder and David J. Bland

🙂 #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

Written by

Full-time learner, product stuff, “triathlete” & global traveller. Former product @ Booking.com and @ Just Eat.

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