Fintech funding spree, New Apple products, Amazon podcasts, Facebook Business Suite, Oculus updates, US Chinese apps ban, Looking at Alipay success & more

Welcome to a new edition of el producto

🎰 The week in figures

$40B: Nvidia nears deal to acquire Arm from SoftBank for $40B-plus in cash and stock; SoftBank acquired Arm for $32B four years ago; sources said the companies had been in exclusive talks for weeks and could finalize a deal within a few days

$5B: China-based TikTok rival Kuaishou plans to raise as much as $5B via an IPO; it’s aiming for a valuation of ~$50B; Kuaishou is looking to list on the Hong Kong stock exchange as early as Jan 2021

$3.4: Cloud data platform Snowflake raises $3.4B in NYSE debut after pricing shares at $120 each for a ~$33B market cap; Renaissance Capital said it was the largest software listing on record

$3B: Alibaba is considering a $3B investment in Grab; Alibaba will be the round’s sole investor; it will likely acquire some of Uber’s shares in the Singapore-based company; Grab, which started as a ride-hailing business but now offers a range of logistics and financial services, was last valued at $14B. Additionally, GoJek and Grab have resumed acquisition talks

$1.5B: EQT Partners to acquire Madrid-based property classifieds site Idealista from Apax Partners for ~$1.5B; Apax valued Idealista at ~$278M for a minority stake purchase in 2015; Idealista operates in Italy, Portugal, and Spain and employs 750+

$700M: Montreal-based financial services company Nuvei raises $700M in the Toronto Stock Exchange’s largest-ever tech IPO; provides a payments platform serving retail, travel, and other sectors

$650M: Swedish fintech firm Klarna raises $650M on a $10.6B valuation led by Silver Lake with participation from GIC and others; operates a digital payments platform; raised ~$2B to date

600M: ByteDance-owned Douyin, the Chinese version of TikTok, claims 600M DAU, up from 400M at the start of 2020; ByteDance says the platform has generated $6.1B for its 22M creators over the last year; the company says it will invest $1.5B as it seeks to double that figure over the next 12 months. TikTok says it now has 100M users across Europe; the app is available in the UK, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and Russia; TikTok recently revealed it has 100M users in the US

$500M: Fintech Affirm raises $500M Series G led by GIC and Durable Capital Partners; offers in-store POS systems and customer financing services

$500M: Red Ventures to acquire CNET from ViacomCBS for $500M; the deal includes CNET, GameSpot, and ZDNet

$485M: Fintech company Chime raises $485M Series F at a $14.5B valuation from ICONIQ, General Atlantic, others; offers consumer accounts with no minimum balance and no overdraft or monthly fees; promises rapid availability of direct deposits

$450M: Virtual fitness app Zwift raises $450M; the funding values the company at more than $1B; offers digital environments and leaderboards for use with stationary exercise bikes and running machines

$272M: Delivery Hero acquires the LATAM operations of Spanish on-demand delivery company Glovo for $272M; the deal represents 8 markets: Argentina, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras, Panama, and Peru; Glovo exited 2 LATAM and Middle East markets at the beginning of this year to focus efforts on growth markets; post-deal, Glovo serves 14 markets total

$110M: Fitness startup Tonal raises $110M; the company offers a connected wall-mounted resistance workout system; has raised $200M to date

110M: China has more than 110M 5G customers; China is the world’s largest 5G market by user numbers; more than 93M 5G-capable devices have been sold in the country this year

70k: Amazon Music adds 70k podcasts, including some originals; podcasts are available for free to ad-supported and premium subscribers; the company has signed exclusivity deals with some shows, such as “Disgraceland,” which will be limited to Amazon Music next year

4k: Salesforce ($221B market cap) Co-Founder and CEO Marc Benioff says the company will hire 4k people in the next 6 months and 12k total over the next year; Salesforce announced 1k layoffs at the end of last month following the company’s first $5B-revenue quarter; currently employs ~53k

📰 What’s going on

Uber is selling its European freight unit to German logistics firm Sennder; sources say the deal is worth ~$1.1B; Sennder will absorb Uber’s freight operations in Amsterdam; as part of the arrangement Uber will take a minority stake in Sennder

Microsoft is working on an Office 365 platform that will offer a suite of additional third-party apps and services; known internally as MetaOS, it will host apps for messaging, gaming, digital payments, and more; additionally, Microsoft is developing universal features that will work across the apps; unknown if or when MetaOS will launch

Google to launch its Groups redesign (based on Material Design) as the default for all users beginning this week; features updated collaborative inboxes, labels instead of tags, more; the mobile version allows users to change membership settings and simplifies searching and browsing

Google announces the Series One video conferencing hardware bundle for Meet, in partnership with Lenovo; designed for conference rooms; includes the Meet Compute System, a Smart Audio Bar, and a 12MP Smart Camera or 20.3MP Smart Camera XL; the cameras automatically frame participants and detect how many there are without using facial recognition

Google’s main app for iOS adds a feature for reading aloud articles; the UI shows a speaker icon alongside the URL box; tapping the graphic loads an audio playback interface, which includes controls for managing audio speed, creating article playlists, and more; rolling out now

Google announces a September 30 “Launch Night In” event, promising information on the Pixel 5, a new Chromecast, and a smart speaker; recent reports indicated the company would launch a streaming dongle

YouTube announces an early beta of Shorts in India; the short-form video feature limits uploads to 15s; provides a timer for hands-free recording, tools for editing clips together, a library of licensed music for lip-syncing and other music-based videos, time stretching and compressing effects, more

Amazon announces 38 new partners have signed on to the company’s Voice Interoperability Initiative, which aims to allow consumers to choose from numerous voice assistants on smart speakers and other devices; new members include Facebook, Garmin, and Xiaomi; 77 have signed on in total; Google has not

Amazon and Microsoft are offering to sell startups’ products and services to win cloud contracts; Amazon entered an expanded AWS cloud agreement with cloud spend management company Apptio in January, and is now selling Apptio’s products to other cloud customers; Microsoft, as part of its Azure contract with email security company Abnormal, will sell Abnormal products to large enterprise clients

Facebook announces a Climate Science Information Center (CSIC), a resource hub it says will connect users with science-based info; modeled on its coronavirus info portal, CSIC will connect users with up-to-date climate facts from a variety of partners, including the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change; Facebook also says it’s working to reduce emissions by its workforce and suppliers to net-zero by 2030

Facebook launches Business Suite, a tool for SMEs to manage communications across Facebook, Messenger, and Instagram; the company plans to add WhatsApp support at a later date; represents Facebook’s first standalone interface for managing its messaging services

Facebook launches Watch Together, a video calling feature for watching shows and other clips with friends via Messenger; works with video content hosted on Facebook; rolling out over the coming weeks

Facebook and The New York Times sign a multi-year deal to develop AR filters and effects for Instagram; promises to create unique experiences aimed at helping users contextualize reports from the publisher

Facebook unveils the Oculus Quest 2, a $300 standalone VR headset offering fast-switching LCDs and a 50% resolution bump over its predecessor; supports a 90Hz refresh rate (limited to 72Hz at launch); available Oct 13; the base model features 64GB of storage, upgradeable to 256GB for an additional $100; Facebook will also offer a battery upgrade

Facebook to launch Oculus Link in general availability this fall; enables Quest and Quest 2 owners to play Rift titles while PC-tethered; the company also plans a new Link UI that unifies Rift and Quest titles in a single library; will also bring other Rift features to Quest

Facebook announces Oculus Move: fitness-tracking software for the Quest and Quest 2 VR headsets; enables users to monitor calories burned, minutes of movement, and goals met while using other apps; provides a dashboard with visualized data

Facebook to launch its first pair of consumer smart glasses next year, branded as Ray-Bans; the product will not feature an integrated display or AR features; Facebook said it was working with Ray-Ban parent EssilorLuxottica to develop the first truly fashionable smart glasses; the company did not disclose features but said the product would give users better ways to connect with those closest to them

Alibaba unveils Wuying, a palm-sized cloud-based computer; full specs unknown, but runs Windows and Linux; promises support for a range of apps and services including development environments, video editing, and more; Alibaba says it will be tied to a subscription plan, though pay-per-use options will be available; will be initially offered to enterprise customers; price and launch date undisclosed

Alibaba announces Cloud 2.0, an all-in-one platform for app development promising code-free workload migration and operation; the company plans to update the platform with IT, IoT, and edge computing solutions; Alibaba also announced cloud computing solution Wuying for personal and enterprise use; the company unveiled Xiaomanlv, an autonomous robot for last-mile delivery

ByteDance plans to establish a new US-based company called TikTok Global and to list it publicly in the US, pending government approval of its creation; the company, in which Oracle would have a stake, reportedly would debut in ~one year. Instagram Founder and CEO Kevin Systrom has had preliminary talks to serve as CEO of TikTok

The Trump administration will prohibit US app stores from offering TikTok and WeChat for download, effective Sept 20; new rules prevent payment processing and fund transfers via WeChat in the US; the regulations also restrict tech companies, including web hosts and CDNs, from serving WeChat; follows an August executive order banning US transactions with ByteDance and WeChat parent Tencent. The rules allow existing TikTok users in the US to continue using the app until Nov 12, but the app store ban will prevent ByteDance from deploying security updates in the US; the WeChat ban will cut users off from loved ones in China. TikTok interim CEO Vanessa Pappas calls on Facebook and Instagram to publicly oppose the Department of Commerce’s order; she said it was an issue of freedom of expression and due process of law; follows a tweet from Head of Instagram Adam Mosseri, who said a TikTok ban would be bad for Instagram, Facebook, and the internet

Flipkart plans to go public as soon as next year; one source indicated the e-commerce would seek a valuation between $45-50B; the firm would likely list in the US or Singapore; Flipkart is incorporated in Singapore, while parent Walmart is headquartered in the US

Norway-based edtech firm Kahoot acquires Danish startup Actimo; the deal values Actimo at between $26-33M; Actimo offers a business training platform

Polish ecommerce platform Allegro prepares country’s largest IPO. Advisers to private-equity backed group are targeting a valuation of between €10-€12bn

Mozilla launches RegretsReporter: a browser extension for Firefox and Chrome that enables users to report harmful YouTube video recommendations; the extension will not collect data on browsing habits until the user submits a report; Mozilla is crowdsourcing information on how YouTube’s algorithm surfaces inappropriate or irrelevant videos

Sony to launch the PlayStation 5 and PlayStation 5 Digital Edition (no support for physical media) for $500 and $400, respectively, in the US, Canada, Mexico, and several other countries on Nov 12; will launch in remaining markets on Nov 19; features an AMD Zen 2 processor, Radeon RDNA 2 graphics, and an SSD

Collaborative online whiteboard platform Miro launches a $1k startup credit promotion. In order to apply, startups must have raised no more than $5 million in funding, be incorporated less than 2 years ago, be independently owned and operated, have fewer than 50 staff

The EU is considering regulations that would require device makers to make NFC features available to banks and other third parties; the rule would apply to Apple, which currently limits iPhone and Watch NFC access to its own services

🍏 Apple event & updates

Safari 14 rolls out for macOS Catalina and High Sierra; comes ahead of the public release of Big Sur, expected this fall; the update includes improved tab management, a new start page, and more

Apple rolls out iOS 14, iPadOS 14, watchOS 7, and tvOS 14; iOS 14 adds home screen widgets, App Library, picture-in-picture mode, a new Translation app, more; tvOS 14 adds support for HomeKit-enabled security cameras, the ability to pair up to two sets of AirPods, more

Apple adds Music Recognition to its iOS 14.2 beta; available via Control Center, the feature lets users identify songs playing nearby or within apps; Apple owns audio recognition app Shazam; iOS 14.2 beta is currently available to developers

Apple Card to launch in multiple international markets as soon as this year; the code for the company’s 8th beta of iOS 14 mentions GDPR in the context of Apple Card, potentially indicating a pending EU launch

New iPad Air, starting at $600 and shipping next month; runs on the company’s new A14 Bionic chip; Apple embedded Touch ID in the power button at the top of the device for the first time; features a 10.9-inch Liquid Retina, anti-reflective display with True Tone at 2360 x 1640; features USB-C;

New iPad with the A12 chip, up from the last generation’s A10; it’s the first base iPad with the Neural Engine for AI; features a 10.2-inch Retina Display with True Tone; the 32GB model is $330

Apple launches bundled subscription service Apple One; the $15-per-month Individual plan includes Apple Music, Apple TV Plus, Apple Arcade, and 50GB of iCloud storage; the $20-per-month Family plan adds another 150 GB of storage; the $30-per-month Premier plan provides 2TB of storage and adds News Plus and Fitness Plus; Fitness Plus, which offers training for cycling, running, and more, will launch by year’s end at $10 per month

Apple Watch Series 6 with blood oxygen monitoring via red and infrared light; the company is partnering with health networks to conduct studies using the feature, including potential COVID-19 detection; features the new S6 processor, promising a 20% performance boost over the last Watch; coming in gold, graphite, blue, and the new Product (RED) finishes; new Solo Loop strap has no buckles or clasps; will ship with watchOS 7

👩🏾‍💻 Good reads

Amazon’s profits — Great read by Ben Evans explaining how Amazon is “not a loss-making business that will eventually have to raise prices to make money; rather, it’s many businesses leveraging a common platform and a common balance sheet”

The Paradox(es) of Product Management. Thoughtful read by Colin Pal on the frequent contradictions we have to face on our day to day jobs

Embrace a little chaos when innovating under pressure. HBR looks at what strategies are more or less effective for fast-paced innovation under critical circumstances, and identifies two keys for success: 1) abandoning traditional processes, 2) minimise upfront coordination

Rethinking Rocket Internet. The startup builder’s rollercoaster journey from private, to public, to private again, and what it means for its strategy — “Imitation paves the way for innovation rather than replacing it.”

Why hasn’t Apple Pay replicated Alipay’s success? Beyond differences in key markets, HBR finds a strategic difference that has empowered Alipay: while Apple focused on value for customers at merchant expense, Alipay built a platform with merchants’ growth in mind

Remote workshops. Mind the Product shares useful advice and resources on remote workshops, a “new normal” within the “new normal”

🙂 #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

🚀 Like el producto? Forward it to a friend

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.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store