Big tech Q4 results, Amazon hand-scanning, Apple mixed reality headset, New Microsoft business platform, Clubhouse’s moment, Understanding competitors & more

Welcome to a new edition of el producto

$41.1B: In 2020, mobility tech companies raised $41.1B in VC across 908 deals, entailing a 0.7% increase in total deal value YoY. Early-stage deals suffered a 38.3% drop in fresh capital and completed 29.5% fewer deals, while late-stage deals raised 18% more capital over 8.6% more deals compared with 2019

$38B: Alibaba has received more than $38B worth of orders for its $5B bond sale; the company is offering notes with 10-year to 40-year maturities; represents the largest bond offer by an Asia-based firm since Tencent’s $6B issuance in May 2020

$5B: Tencent Music is planning to raise as much as $5B in a secondary listing on the Hong Kong stock exchange; a listing is expected as soon as this year; Tencent Music raised $1.1B via the New York Stock Exchange in 2018

$2B: Singapore-based superapp Grab secures a $2B loan from unnamed entities; the five-year loan means Grab has a cash reserve of more than $5B; investment services firm Moody’s has concluded Grab has enough funds available to continue operating at a loss for at least three years

$1.1B: Uber ($104.6B market cap) to acquire Boston-based alcohol sales and delivery platform Drizly for $1.1B in cash and stock; Drizly does not employ or contract drivers, but enables liquor stores and other establishments to make adult beverages available via the app and provide delivery service; Co-Founder and CEO Cory Rellas will stay with Uber; Drizly previously raised $120M

$1B: Unified data platform Databricks raises $1B Series G for a $28B post-valuation; supports structured, semi-structured, and unstructured data for analytics, machine learning, real-time apps, more; customers include CVSHealth, Grab, and T-Mobile; raised ~$2B to date

$445M: Social gaming company Huuuge raises $445M in public float, marking Poland’s largest gaming listing to date; the valuation will make Huuuge the second-largest company on the Warsaw Stock Exchange behind “Cyberpunk 2077” firm CD Projekt; Huuuge is slated to debut on Feb 19

$120M: India-based B2B equipment marketplace Zetwerk raises $120M Series D; the company connects manufacturing OEMs with SMEs; has raised $193M to date

100M: Snap says its Snapchat Spotlight feature has reached 100M MAUs; the TikTok-like feed of vertical videos launched in November 2020; Snap is encouraging creators to post to Spotlight by giving away a total of $1M/day

£75M: UK-based fleet management firm BigChange raises £75M (~$102M); the company offers enterprise software for overseeing mobile workforces; has raised ~$104M to date

$55M: New York City-based virtual events company TouchCast raises $55M; the company emerged in 2013 with tools for online video conferencing, including media widgets and interactive elements; now focuses on mixed reality, enabling speakers to appear in virtual venues with multi-camera sets, large screens for presentation materials, more

$55M: Cloud storage firm Box ($2.9B market cap) acquires Netherlands-based e-signature service SignRequest for $55M; the company’s tools can be integrated with Google Drive, Salesforce, and more; Box plans to launch its own digital signing service — built on SignRequest — this summer

$27M: HubSpot ($18.7B market cap) to acquire The Hustle, which produces content for young professionals, in a $27M deal; HubSpot develops inbound marketing software; The Hustle generates most of its revenue from advertising; also sells premium subscription access to research product Trends; previously raised $1.3M

11M: Chromebook manufacturers shipped ~11M units in Q4 2020, compared to 2.5M for the year-earlier period; HP led with 3.5M units; Lenovo came in second with 2.8M, representing annual growth of almost 1.8k%; Dell, Acer, and Samsung rounded out the top five with 1.5M, 1.4M, and 1M units shipped in the quarter, respectively; manufacturers collectively shipped 30.7M units last year

4.5M: Sony has sold 4.5M PlayStation 5 consoles in 2020; both variants of the console have been in short supply since they launched in November

Alphabet ($1.3T market cap) Q4 beats: $56.9B revenue, up 23% YoY($53.13B expected); $22.30 EPS (adjusted, $15.90 expected); $46.20B ads revenue, up from $37.93B for the year-earlier period; $6.89B YouTube Ads revenue ($6.11B expected); $3.83B Google Cloud revenue ($3.81B expected); $196M Other Bets revenue

Amazon ($1.7T market cap) Q4 beats: $125.56B revenue, marking the company’s first $100B-plus quarter ($119.7B expected); $14.09 EPS ($7.23 expected); $12.7B AWS revenue, up from $9.95B in the year-earlier period, but short of the $12.83B expected

Spotify ($64.5B market cap) Q4 beats: ~$2.2B revenue, up 17% YoY; lost ~$150M, compares with ~$252M losses in Q4 2020; 345M MAUs, up 27% YoY; 155M paid users, up 24% YoY; now has 2.2M podcasts on its platform

PayPal ($295B market cap) Q4 beats: $6.12B revenue, up from $4.96B for the year-earlier period ($6.09B expected); $1.08 EPS (adjusted, $1 expected); $2.77B total payment volume, up from from $199.4B for the year-earlier period ($267.9B expected); $47B Venmo total payment volume; total active PayPal accounts rose to 377M; total active Venmo accounts rose to 70M

Snap ($86.9B market cap) Q4 beats: $911M revenue ($857.4M expected); $0.09 EPS (adjusted, $0.07 expected); 265M DAU; $3.44 average revenue per user; $113M net loss, down 53% from the $241M loss in the year-earlier period; the company said it expects to lose $50M-$70M (adjusted EBITDA) in Q1; analysts had expected profit in the guidance; the stock dropped following the report

Pinterest ($48B market cap) Q4 beats: $706M revenue ($645.6M expected); $582M US revenue, up 67% YoY; $123M international revenue, up 145%; $1.57 average revenue per user; 459MAU; the company expects full-year revenue to grow +70% this year

Next week’s earnings:

  • Lyft (Tuesday); Expected revenue: $561.9 million -45%; EPS: (1.21)
  • Twitter (Tuesday); Expected revenue: $1.187 billion +17.5%; EPS: 0.16 up +6.6%
  • Uber (Wednesday); Expected Revenue: $3.59 billion -11.8%; EPS: (0.55) compared with a loss of 64 cents a year earlier

Amazon expands hand-scanning checkout tech to more of its brick-and-mortar stores; known as Amazon One, the system lets users pay for items by hovering their palm over a scanner; the tech is now in use at six locations, with plans to add it to two more Amazon Go stores in the coming weeks

Apple is developing a mixed reality headset with 8K displays and ~a dozen cameras for capturing the real world and tracking hand movements; Apple reportedly discussed pricing as high as $3K and shipping ~250k in the first year of availability; internal images of a late-stage prototype from last year featured swappable headbands

Apple rolls out iOS/iPadOS 14.5 beta to developers, featuring app tracking transparency controls and more; also adds an option to let users automatically authenticate device unlocks if they have a connected Apple Watch; a user’s watch must be nearby and already unlocked

Apple adds an iCloud Passwords extension for users of Chrome on Windows; lets users access passwords created while using Safari on iOS and macOS devices; also saves passwords that can be found in Safari on Apple devices

Apple’s long-rumored EV will include autonomous driving features; the company is near to securing a partnership with Hyundai, which will see the vehicle being produced at a Kia assembly plant in West Point, GA; follows reports Apple will invest ~$3.6B in Hyundai-Kia

Microsoft unveils Viva, a Teams-integrated platform designed for businesses with remote workers; features four modules: Connections (for communications including company news items and town halls), Insights (where individuals can see their productivity data and managers can see anonymous aggregate data), Learning (for house training materials and more), and Topics (an AI-powered content resource); some features available now

Robinhood has removed trading limits for all stocks; the online broker suspended some trades last week amid a surge in activity for GameStop, AMC, and other so-called meme stocks; Robinhood subsequently reinstated trading, but with volume limits

Facebook to send notifications to iPhone users to inform them about how the company uses data for advertising; Facebook and Instagram users will see a full-screen popup urging them to opt into personalized ads; Apple’s coming iOS changes will require users to opt-in for such data sharing; Facebook has said the change would damage its ads business, limiting the company’s ability to target ads and measure efficacy

Facebook adds a Messenger feature for Oculus Quest and Quest 2 headsets; lets users read and send messages in a VR environment; supports voice typing, as well as offering pre-composed messages; users can also choose to launch an Oculus Party via Messenger

Oculus launches App Lab, enabling developers to distribute apps outside the Oculus Store without requiring users to side-load; a user can search for, download, and purchase such an app, and it will appear in the user’s library; also enables developers to distribute updates; developers can share links to their apps

Instagram is developing vertical scrolling for Stories; the feature would let users swipe up to transition to the next Story; Instagram already uses vertical scrolling for Reels and its standard feed; the platform confirms it has built an early prototype but says it is still yet to decide whether to make the feature public

Instagram is preventing some users from sharing their feed posts to Stories; the company notes its testing the change in select markets, saying it has received feedback from users who want to see more original content in Stories; unknown if or when it will roll out wider

Google releases Chrome v88; includes a fix for an actively exploited flaw, the full nature of which is currently undisclosed; Google says it is withholding details of the bug until a majority of users have updated; Chrome v88 is rolling out now for Windows, macOS, and Linux

Google launches its News Showcase initiative in Australia; the program sources high-quality news content from publishers, prominently displaying it within Google News; featured publishers receive compensation; comes as the company is in dispute with the Australian government over a proposed law to force Google and Facebook for sharing news snippets across their platforms

Google announces the shutdown of Stadia Games and Entertainment, the internal studio the company established to develop first-party titles for Stadia and to work with outside developers on Stadia platform integration; the studio opened its first location, in Montreal, in Oct 2019; the unit has not yet released a title; Stadia VP and GM Phil Harrison said the shutdown would not impact games planned for near-term release

Google is exploring options for limiting Android apps’ abilities to collect data and track users; the company reportedly seeks a solution less stringent than Apple’s coming App Tracking Transparency, which enables users to control which apps collect data and track, but also inhibits advertisers’ ability to target campaigns and measure efficacy

Xiaomi showcases a concept smartphone with a curved screen on all four sides; described as a “quad-curved waterfall display,” the device does not have any ports or physical buttons; the company says it has built working models but has not committed to releasing such a product

South China Morning Post profiles the rise of China-based Clubhouse-like apps; Justin Sun, founder of cryptocurrency platform Tron, is an investor in audio social platform Two, which launched last year; rival service Dizhua lets users remain anonymous; Yalla is aimed at users in the Middle East, though it too is headquartered in China; Clubhouse is not officially available in China after Apple removed it from its Chinese app store last year

Clubhouse’s moment arrives. Casey Newton profiles audio social platform Clubhouse; Newton notes the audio quality is mediocre but posits the live nature of the service makes for serendipitous conversations; Newton also suggests Clubhouse works because users can hold talks on an ad-hoc basis, unlike a podcast where they would typically be expected to publish multiple regular episodes

Five unusual things Marty Cagan said about Product Management that I can’t stop thinking about. Louise Lai shares some insightful quotes by one of the most notorious voices in Product Management world

The competitor landscape. Cláudia Delgado shares a useful method (and template examples) to analyse our product competitors

The hidden world of pricing: Uber, Trulia, Etsy, Superhuman & more. A study of nearly 2,000 companies shows that pricing has an extremely high 72% correlation to startup failure. NfX shares frameworks, tactics, and hidden truths Founders need to know about pricing — and how, when done correctly, it can dramatically lever-up growth

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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