Airbnb IPO, Apple Fitness+ launch, User story mapping, Uber sells its self-driving and flying taxi units, DIY user testing, Disney+ growth & more

Welcome to a new edition of el producto

$920M: Hyundai has acquired robotics firm Boston Dynamics from SoftBank for ~$920M; SoftBank purchased the company from Alphabet in 2017

$730M: CISCO ($187.5B market cap) acquires UK-based cloud communications firm IMImobile for ~$730M; IMImobile offers customer interaction tools to enterprise customers

$155M: Scale AI, which provides a platform that augments data for AI model training, raises $155M Series D at a $3.5B valuation; claims Airbnb, DoorDash, and OpenAI as customers; charges according to the volume of data processed; the company more than doubled its ARR YoY in Q3 and has reached breakeven; raised $278M to date

$133M: UK-based Exclaimer, which provides an email signature management platform for Microsoft 365 and Google Workspace, raises $133M; enables business clients to create and distribute signature templates, with customizations for teams and individuals; also offers predesigned templates with drag-and-drop customization

86.8M: Disney Plus now has 86.8M subscribers, up from the 73M disclosed last month; Disney initially projected the service, which launched in Nov 2019, would hit 90M by its fourth year. Disney also announced Star, a Hulu-like streaming channel for some non-US markets; available with a Disney Plus subscription, the service will offer content from ABC, FX, 20th Century Fox, and more; Star will launch Feb 23 in Canada, New Zealand, and parts of Europe; Disney is also launching Star Plus in parts of LATAM in June 2021, which will also offer some content from ESPN

€85M: Sweden-based fintech firm Tink raises €85M; the startup operates an open banking platform, connecting 3.4k financial institutions including PayPal, BNP Paribas, and others; has raised ~$212M to date

$75M: Wellness app Calm raises $75M on a $2B post-money valuation; Calm co-CEO Michael Acton Smith says the company is looking to grow its operations through M&A deals; has raised $217M to date

$70: Hibob, provider of a HR information platform geared for remote and collaborative work, closed a $70 million Series B round

£37M: UK-based startup financing firm Outfund raises £37M; the company offers revenue-based funding to growing businesses

$40M: UK-based fintech firm GoHenry raises $40M; the company offers a prepaid debit card for children; adults can add money to card that children can then spend online or in brick-and-mortar stores; has raised $70M to date

29M: Amazon plans to train 29M people in cloud computing-related work by 2025; will partner with nonprofits, schools, others; last year the company committed $700M to upskilling 100k of its workers in the US; the new initiative will build upon that program to retrain non-employees in the US and other countries; Amazon said courses would include entry-level skills

12.6M: HBO Max now has 12.6M activations, up from 8.6M at the end of September; the figure includes AT&T customers and cable subscribers with eligible accounts

113%: Airbnb jumps ~113% in Nasdaq debut; the company priced shares at $68 apiece for a $47B valuation, and are now at $139.25; the company has now an undiluted market value of ~$83B; the company’s revenue dropped 19% YoY last quarter, but it still turned a $219M profit;

85%: DoorDash debuted in NYSE at $189.5 per share, 85% up; the opening gave DoorDash a $57.8B market cap; SoftBank and Sequoia are DoorDash’s largest shareholders, with 20% and 16% stakes, respectively

Twitter acquires video chat and screen-sharing app Squad; terms undisclosed; Twitter VP of Product Ilya Brown said Squad’s team had a deep understanding of interactive audio and video conversations, which Twitter was looking to provide; Brown said Squad’s team members would join Twitter’s product, design, and engineering teams; previously raised $7M

Twitter launches sharing to Snapchat for iOS users; the option is available under the share menu; the company also announced it would test sharing to Instagram with a small number of users in coming days; shared tweets link back to the original tweets on Twitter

Uber expands package delivery service Uber Connect to 2.4k new cities and towns in the US; the company also debuted package pickups; Uber launched Connect in April; Uber has refocused efforts on ride-hailing and delivery to reach profitability (adjusted) by the end of next year

Personal aircraft company Joby Aviation to acquire Uber’s flying taxi unit, Elevate; includes Elevate’s tech and engineering staff; financial terms undisclosed; Uber will invest $75M to help Joby develop a flying taxi service and will partner with the firm at launch

Autonomous driving tech company Aurora to acquire Uber’s self-driving unit, Uber ATG; Aurora will not pay for the transaction: Uber will transfer ATG and invest $400M for a 26% stake in the combined entity; Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi will sit on the board; investors valued Uber ATG at $7.25B for a $1B round last year

Airbnb launches nonprofit Airbnb.org to provide emergency shelter for evacuees, refugees, frontline COVID workers, more; Airbnb said ~100k hosts had already offered to make units available for the effort; the company will partner with multiple organizations, including the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies

Netflix rolls out Kids Activity Report, a dashboard for parents and guardians to keep track of what their children are watching; includes data on the types of content being viewed, suggestions for other shows and movies, and more

Microsoft to launch a beta version of cloud gaming for iOS, via web browser, in the spring; will be available to Xbox Game Pass Ultimate customers; Amazon and Google previously announced their respective game-streaming services would be available on iOS via browser, as Apple’s App Store policy would require every title have its own store listing

Amazon is now rolling out a Fire TV update that adds a new UI, user profiles, more; the new menu bar features links to the user’s Library, a Home page similar to the previous Home page, a Find page for search and discovery, and a Live page; user profiles enable each user to see personalized recommendations, resume watching even if other family members have watched the same content, etc

Apple to launch Fitness+ subscription for Watch owners next week; the $10-per-month ($80-per-year) plan will provide access to on-demand workouts across ten disciplines, including yoga and rowing; the system analyzes the user’s history in Fitness+ and other apps to inform exercise recommendations

Apple launches Family Sharing for in-app purchases; developers can now allow customers to share single-payment unlocks for premium apps and subscriptions for apps with family members; does not apply to in-app consumables, such as game currencies; developers must manually opt-in to support the feature

Apple launches the AirPods Max over-the-ear headphones; now available for purchase at $550, will ship next week; the device features noise cancellation, advanced acoustics, and up to 20 hours of battery life

Apple plans to launch new MacBook Pros, Mac Pros, and iMacs featuring Apple Silicon next year; includes plans for chips for Pro machines with 64 and 128 cores; the company has previously said it will complete its transition to the Arm-based architecture by the end of 2022

Google launches new content controls, allowing users to restrict ads for alcohol and gambling; the settings feature will initially apply to YouTube in the US, with plans to roll out to Search soon after; the tool will launch in more countries next year

Google’s Stadia adds support for YouTube live-streaming; free and premium users can stream their gameplay

Google makes Apple Music available on smart speakers and displays featuring Google Assistant, including Nest products; enables users to set Apple Music as the default streaming service and to control playback with voice commands

Google issues an open call for contributions to its open-source Fuchsia OS; Google began working on the OS four years ago and launched a website last year to teach developers about the system, but today’s announcement marks the company’s first official unveiling; Google expects Fuchsia will power production devices used for business-critical applications

Google launches COVID-19 knowledge panels for search results in the UK; the company plans to roll the feature out in new markets as vaccines become available; the UK has begun COVID-19 vaccinations; Google displays the panels when a user searches for coronavirus vaccine information, to combat misinformation

Samsung’s SmartThings platform will add support for Nest devices from next month; the move will let SmartThings customers include Nest products in automated routines; Samsung’s Family Hub fridge and certain TVs will also be able to display footage from Nest cameras

Major tech companies establish the Modern Computing Alliance, the members of which will share knowledge and resources to address security and identity, productivity-related issues, performance, and health care; founding members include Google, Intel, and Slack; the consortium will work toward standards, interoperable technologies, more

Several experts share their views on the perceived technical difficulties of spinning out Instagram and WhatsApp; the app has deep backend dependencies on its parent firm; ex-Facebook security head Alex Stamos says it would likely take years for Instagram to separate itself; WhatsApp is reportedly less integrated with Facebook because of its encryption protocols

Volocopter says it will launch the world’s first all-electric air-taxi service in Singapore by the end of 2023; the German company notes it must first complete test flights and gain official certification in the city-state; Volocopter is pre-selling tickets for 15-minute flights, priced at €300 (~$360) each; the firm has developed a VTOL aircraft with space for a pilot and one passenger

Indiegogo founder Slava Rubin, Evan Cohen, and Ross Cohen launch investment discovery platform Vincent in general availability; enables users to browse investments by category and invest via ~50 third-party platforms; Rubin referred to it as the most comprehensive database of alternate investments; raised $2M to date

Beijing authorizes Baidu’s Apollo to test autonomous vehicles on public roads without safety drivers present; Baidu said it would gradually remove drivers over time as incidents requiring human intervention decreased; Baidu operates the 5G Remote Driving Service, which enables remote drivers to take control of vehicles; AutoX launched a pilot with 25 driverless taxis in Shenzhen last week without remote drivers

Chinese regulators have banned TripAdvisor and more than 100 other apps for violating the country’s laws; the Cyberspace Administration of China has not disclosed what rules were broken

How long can a company thrive doing just one thing? Insightful essay by Andy Wu for HBR, in which he explores Slack, Zoom and other best-of-breed applications, and how they push innovation further than “bundled” solutions

User story mapping — templates & examples, by Sasha Andrieiev: “You can create a popular digital product only by researching and anticipating the needs of its users. Not having enough information about what they need can result in a product that has unnecessary and irrelevant features (or, what’s worse, a lack of the ones). Doing a user story mapping is a good way to avoid that.”

How to build customer loyalty using the companion model. How Masterclass and Peloton are winning by creating meaningful interactions.

DIY User Testing (+email template). My Booking.com ex-colleague Miranda Slayter put together a brilliant guide sharing our experience with DYI user testing. A must read for anyone with low resources looking for user feedback and insights

58 Product Owner theses. Stefan Wolpers shares 58 statements attempting to provide an overview of a successful Product Owner’s responsibilities and competencies, including the concept of the Product Owner role, product discovery, how to deal with external and internal stakeholders, product portfolio and product roadmap planning, and the Product Backlog refinement

Finding great Key Results that drive business impact. Nacho Bassino walks us through 3 popular metrics frameworks to avoid using generic, useless, cliche metrics as your goals

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

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