User Journey Mapping, WhatsApp privacy, Alexa Custom Assistant, Future MacBook Pros, Windows 10x, Checkout.com and Grab Financial funding & more

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$4B: Sequoia Capital has purchased a stake in app automation platform Zapier via the secondary market; Sequoia purchased the shares from Zapier’s founders, valuing the firm at more than $4B; Zapier, which was part of YC S12, has previously raised $1.3M seed

$1.75B: Zoom ($111B market cap) raises $1.75B via new stock offering; Zoom’s stock has risen 362% over the past 12 months as more people have turned to remote work and learning

$1.4B: UK-based broadband satellite operator OneWeb raises $1.4B; OneWeb, which emerged from bankruptcy in November, currently has 110 satellites in orbit; it’s aiming to launch another 540 by mid-2022

$450: UK-based payments company Checkout.com raises $450M Series C on a $15B post-money valuation; the firm offers a suite of remittance handling services to online merchants; has raised $830M to date

$360M: China-based fitness app Keep raises $360M Series F; the company has a $2B post-money valuation; Keep offers online fitness classes; claims more than 300M users; has raised ~$614M to date

$310M: China-based self-driving startup WeRide raises $310M; the company is developing driverless systems for third-party automakers; WeRide raised $200M Series B in December

$300M: Singapore-based Grab Financial (a division of superapp Grab) raises $300M on a $3B post-money valuation; Grab Financial says it will used the investment to establish a challenger bank in the city-state

$300M: UK-based fintech firm Rapyd raises $300M Series D on a $2.5B valuation; the company offers an API platform for integrating payments services and more; has raised $470M to date

$140M: Webflow raises $140M to a $2.1B valuation; allows users to build and design websites without coding

$115M: Tel Aviv- and London-based ride-hailing platform Gett raises $115M; founded in 2010, Gett initially competed with Uber and Lyft but has since pivoted to focus on ground transportation for corporate clients; Gett claims operational profitability and says it is hitting budget targets; raised ~$1B to date

20%: About 20% of the 18.5M Bitcoin in existence appear to be in lost or stranded wallets; currently represents ~$140B inaccessible to owners; individual investors with hundreds of millions worth of Bitcoin cannot withdraw funds due to forgotten passwords

11%: Dropbox to cut 11% of its global workforce, 315 people; the company previously committed to maintaining all positions through the end of last year; Dropbox also announced COO Olivia Nottebohm would leave the company on Feb 5

How tech stocks started 2021

Winners:

  • Doordash + 45% to $207
  • Asana + 25.7% to $37.14
  • Airbnb +23% to $180.50
  • Tesla +20% $845
  • Intel +19% $59.25
  • Zoom +13.6% $383.24

And the losers:

  • Alphabet -1.2% $1,173.05
  • Apple -2.85% $128.91
  • Amazon -3.97% $3,127.47
  • Microsoft -4.2% $213.02
  • Facebook -10% $245.64
  • Twitter -15.4% $45.79

Source: Koyfin

WhatsApp postpones privacy policy changes after a misinterpretation of the changes led to user confusion and churn; WhatsApp had planned to institute the new policy on Feb 8, but will now wait until May 15

Facebook launches redesign of its Access Your Information tool, which provides options for deleting posted content, profile information, etc; the company also expanded the data to eight categories with subcategories; also now features a search function

Amazon announces Alexa Custom Assistant (ACA), an enterprise product that lets companies build their own voice assistant; Fiat Chrysler is the first to adopt the tech, with plans to build a branded assistant that uses a custom wake word; Amazon is making ACA available in multiple countries including the US, Canada, Brazil, France, and Germany

Amazon launches a mobile-only Prime Video service in India; the offering, launched in collaboration with carrier Airtel, lets users stream up to 6GB of standard definition content for ~$1.22 per month; Netflix has offered its own mobile-centric service to Indian customers since 2019

Amazon-owned Ring begins rolling out end-to-end encryption for its video doorbells, indoor cameras, and more; it will block other features such as the ability to view footage via Echo Show; users have to activate the setting

A leaked near-final version of Windows 10X reveals a lightweight operating system focused on web apps; the company originally conceived the OS for dual-screen devices but changed course to target laptops with a Chrome OS competitor; the centered Start button functions as a launcher and doesn’t feature the Live Tiles of Windows 10; the user can pin Progressive Web Apps to the taskbar; launch details undisclosed

Google closes its $2.1B Fitbit acquisition; EU antitrust regulators approved the deal last month with conditions intended to protect Fitbit user data and competition in the wearables market; in his announcement of the closure, SVP Rick Osterloh said the acquisition was always about devices, not data

Apple is considering a podcast subscription service through which users would purchase access to individual shows; despite helping to create the podcast industry at the turn of the century and still operating the world’s most widely used podcasting app, the company has not profited from podcasts to date

Apple plans to introduce 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pros this year featuring Apple Silicon chips and MagSafe charging; the company first introduced MagSafe in 2006, but dropped it when it transitioned its MacBook lineup to USB-C; the report also says the devices will feature brighter, higher contrast displays; the upcoming MacBook Pros will have a design more reminiscent of the iPad Pro and iPhone 12; Apple will likely swap out the Touch Bar for physical function keys, and both models will have more I/O ports

Apple plans its first iMac redesign since 2012 in its shift away from Intel processors; the redesign reportedly will reduce bezel size and eliminate the “chin” below the display

Apple is testing vapor chamber cooling systems for iPhone; Apple is likely to implement the tech in a coming model, though it might not be ready for this year’s lineup; Apple would need vapor chamber tech to handle the thermal demands of 5G and increasing CPU thermal loads

Hyundai is set to sign an EV manufacturing partnership with Apple by March; the companies will make an early product next year, with full vehicle production to begin in 2024

Baidu confirms it has partnered with carmaker Geely to establish an EV joint venture; Baidu will be the majority stakeholder in the standalone firm, though financial terms are undisclosed; Baidu will develop vehicle tech, while Geely will focus on manufacturing; the cars will make use of Baidu’s DuerOS voice assistant, which also has a maps component; Baidu is developing driverless tech, though it’s unclear if the JV will incorporate it

Visa cancels $5.3B deal to acquire fintech APIs company Plaid; the Justice Department filed suit to block the deal in Nov, arguing the acquisition would have terminated a nascent Visa competitor that could provide savings and new online solutions for merchants and customers

Medium acquires Paris-based social e-reading platform Glose; terms undisclosed; users can create bookshelves with notes, enabling followers to read and discuss the same titles; Glose gamifies reading, rewarding users for streaks, etc; the company also operates an education program, which adds class assignments, group reading, more; Medium has raised $132M to date; Glose previously raised ~$3.5M

Snap acquires New York City-based StreetCred, which developed a platform for real-time data on places; terms undisclosed; Co-Founders Randy Meech and Diana Shkolnikov, as well as two other team members, will join Snap to work on map- and location-related efforts; the StreetCred platform will shut down; Snapchat’s Snap Map enables users to see Snaps from specific areas; Local Lenses offer AR effects tied to locations

Sony announces Bravia Core platform, a high-quality movie streaming service available via its new line of Bravia XR TV sets; the company claims the content will be streamed at up to 80 MbPs, promising near-lossless 4K quality; depending on the TV purchased, Bravia XR buyers will get a certain amount of credits to spend on Bravia Core movies

Univision announces PrendeTV, a free, ad-supported streaming service featuring Spanish-language movies and shows; Univision expects to launch this quarter with 30 live channels and 10k-plus hours of on-demand content; Univision competes in the Spanish-language US market with Telemundo, which does not yet offer a streaming service

Axios to launch internal communications tool AxiosHQ next month, starting at $10k per year; launch customers include Delta Air Lines and AT&T; the SaaS provides templates for company-wide communications and analyzes text in real-time to assign a “Brevity Score”; the company will also offer human editing assistance from a dedicated team; sends via listserv and offers engagement analytics

Samsung launches the Galaxy S21, S21 Plus, and S21 Ultra, starting at $800, $1k, and $1.2k, respectively; the 6.2-inch S21 and 6.7-inch S21 Plus have reduced resolution and RAM compared to their predecessors and also lack curved display edges, but their prices are $200 less than last year’s models; the S21 Ultra is the top-of-the-line flagship; Samsung will not include headphones or charging adaptors; all models are now available for preorder and will be available Jan 29

LG showcases the world’s first smartphone with a rollable display; the company says it will launch later this year, though specs, price, and availability are undisclosed

The Trump administration cancels plan to blacklist Alibaba, Baidu, and Tencent; the move would have prohibited US investment in the Chinese firms

The Chinese government drafts legislation to allow the testing of driverless vehicles on public highways; the proposed rules were published earlier this week, and it’s expected they will soon go into force; China has allowed autonomous car testing on city streets since 2018

China-based DJI, known for its drones and camera gimbals, plans to develop driverless tech; job listings also show the company is hiring engineers to work on vehicle electronics, software, and more; DJI reportedly plans to sell a suite of autonomous vehicle tech to third-party car firms

German authorities shut down dark web marketplace DarkMarket, which featured listings for weapons, drugs, etc; the market used CyberBunker for hosting; CyberBunker stores servers in underground bunkers and has served the Pirate Bay, WikiLeaks, and other dark web markets; German police raided CyberBunker’s headquarters in 2019; Europol began the DarkMarket probe while investigating CyberBunker

The 30 best pieces of advice for entrepreneurs in 2020. First Round Review shares their yearly collection of insights

The 4 biggest risks to your ideas. Elijah Calhoon shares a lightweight framework to help you de-risking ideas

A step towards making your company more sustainable. Inspiring article by HBR exploring different strategies and business models pursued by successful companies to become more sustainable

User Journey Mapping. Product School put together a simple guide to User Journey Mapping, including links to templates

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.

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