The Department of Product


Thursday, 19 January, 2023

Revolut’s new cultural makeover, a new writing tool from DeepL, alternative business models for product teams and why Netflix’s data-driven obsession is bad for viewers

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Hello product people,

Over the years, fintech startup Revolut has gained a bit of a reputation as a tough place to work, with some former employees reporting a toxic work culture. Now, as the company seeks to obtain its full banking licence, it’s making an effort to address past cultural criticisms with the creation of a new ‘CultureLab’ team. The new team will work on introducing ‘values-based behaviours’ and will include professionals such as behavioural scientists and psychologists. The company, which is valued at $33 billion, was notorious for its interview process, which included a test in which candidates were asked to sign up 200 new customers if they wanted to be considered for the next stage. An interesting customer acquisition strategy, to say the least.

Speaking of which, another fintech has found itself in hot water this week over its acquisition strategy, with more serious allegations than a questionable interview growth hacking exercise. Frank, a student financial aid company, was acquired by JP Morgan for $175 million back in 2021. But a new lawsuit alleges that its founder faked nearly 4 million customer accounts. JP Morgan only became aware of the allegedly fake accounts when it sent a batch of marketing emails to 400,000 customers – and 70% of them bounced. Frank has since been shut down.

In other product news, if you’ve got important documents, proposals or emails to write, you might want to check out Write. Developed by neural network DeepL, the new product is pitching itself head-to-head with Grammarly and is designed to help writers finesse their prose before pressing send.  We used it to sense check this newsletter, and you can try it out for yourself here.

Meanwhile, Microsoft is the latest big tech company to announce significant layoffs. With around 10,000 employees thought to be impacted, CEO Satya Nadella warned in an internal memo that “These are the kinds of hard choices we have made throughout our 47-year history to remain a consequential company in this industry”. It’s understood that the layoffs will hit the company’s hardware division hardest, with laptop sales plateauing and HoloLens’ ongoing search for product market fit. 

Finally, for most remote-first teams, a digital whiteboard is a must have, but this new whiteboard goes one step further to optimise for async teams with recording features.

Enjoy the rest of your week!



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Your product briefing

Strategy – Alternative product business models and the rise of the micro subscription

Once Apple, Netflix and Spotify set the price for all the music in or movies in the world at 9.99, everything else is often judged relative to that. iCloud storage at $1.99 seems a decent price compared to all the music in the world.

Product teams – and especially B2B SaaS product teams – are all too familiar with subscription pricing, but it’s still rare to see many businesses outside of the major entertainment companies opt for micro subscriptions.

Perhaps this is inevitable given the larger budgets up for grabs in a corporate B2B context, but it’s still potentially worth exploring what micro subscription opportunities might be available for your product. (Department of Product)


Process – How to avoid groupthink in the product development process

Groupthink occurs when highly cohesive teams lose sight of individual thoughts and opinions. Dissenting ideas or disagreements are consciously avoided or unconsciously ignored because of the desire for unanimity and to maintain harmony. In most cases, product teams actively plan and strive to create a collaborative environment. But does collaboration mean we have to all agree? No. (NN Group)


Tweets to ponder

Meta Product leader Dare Obasanjo on the perils of Netflix’s data-driven approach to product


Interview – Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella talks OpenAI and how it will transform products

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella discusses the company expanding access to OpenAI tools and the growing capabilities of ChatGPT at WSJ’s Journal House during the 2023 World Economic Forum. (Wall Street Journal)


Tools – The Top Rated Headless CMS according to the Jamstack community

6544 developers were asked about their favorite CMS, and Storyblok got one of the highest satisfaction scores in a list of 19 CMSs. A faster, more intuitive, and more powerful content management platform. Try it for free. (Sponsored)

New product launches – Sprig launches new prototype testing tools

Import interactive prototypes in just one click and launch a Sprig Concept & Usability Test to collect actionable user insights. With Sprig’s 1-click integrations with 12 of the most popular design tools, it’s never been easier for product managers and designers to capture actionable user insights on concepts and prototypes ahead of launch day. (Sprig)


Technology explainers – NoSQL vs SQL explained

Essentially, we have two types: (relational) SQL and (non-relational) NoSQL databases. They in turn also divide into more subtypes. The main difference between the main two is how they operate and what data management solutions provide. (Hackernoon)


Resources – 400+ generative AI tools to help you stay productive

SaaS AI Tools is your source for new AI tools & daily AI news to help supercharge your creativity to the next level (Product Hunt)


Process – What is ProductOps?

ProductOps solves problems for product teams that single teams and individuals cannot solve. In this sense, ProductOps is an internal platform product. It is about collective leverage. Like any product, it requires product management and strategy. It also involves a lot of systems thinking, service design, operation’s chops, learning design, and experience shepherding change experiments. (John Cutler)


UX – User onboarding best practices

A great user onboarding experience shortens the time it takes for users to understand the value of your product, and get to their first “Aha” or “Wow” moment ( a moment of sudden realization, inspiration, insight, recognition or comprehension). (UX Design)


New product features – Hinge tests $500 per month ‘motivated dater’ feature

Subscribers who upgrade to the new tier will essentially move to the front of the line for profiles they like and will be seen faster by those users. They will also receive more accurate recommendations for other profiles that Hinge thinks would make a good match. (Gizmodo)


Other product news in brief

  • ChatGPT is coming soon to Azure OpenAI services
  • Okta’s chief revenue officer is leaving the company at the end of the month
  • Nielson is launching a cross platform measurement product, allowing users to track content across V and apps
  • TikTok launches a new talent manager product
  • Google is reportedly working on Air-tag like location trackers
  • New startup House of Blueberry raises $6m for digital fashion in the metaverse
  • Global smartphone shipments are at their lowest in a decade
  • Apple unveils a revamped HomePod with Matter support



Product Jobs

The latest product jobs from the Department of Product Pallet board.


Senior Product Manager, Capchase (US)

Capchase is a fintech company that provides financial solutions to startups by allowing access to funds as they grow.


Product Manager, Reframe (US)

Reframe is a healthcare app that includes a recovery program and tools to assist users in quitting drinking.

All yours, all free. Enter your email to receive your briefing.

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Google Slides’ superpowers, a Sublime second brain, Pinterest’s PMF
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Discord monetization strategies, Slack ditches X, Spotify growth
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Product Briefing – October 19, 2023

Netflix’s $8 billion quarter, Figma in limbo, Synthetic UX research. Plus: YouTube’s major release, a new way to manage your calendar, the Web Technologies Report 2023

Product Briefing – October 5, 2023

Google Docs’ new competitor, AI wars, App industry benchmarks
Plus: Airbnb’s ML patent, DoorDash’s swipe for restaurants and Uber expands to returns

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