The Department of Product


Thursday, 26 January, 2023

Microsoft’s earnings, a new way to send internal updates, how to plan features asynchronously and how Spotify does product discovery

Hello product people,

An essential – but often dreaded – part of building products in larger organisations is when it gets to that time of the week where you need to send an internal update about your product’s performance. It’s a joyless task, but without it, stakeholders are left in the dark. Now, a new product promises to do it all for you. Broadcast allows you to quickly draft internal updates with AI and share them on a regular cadence in your Slack and email. From weekly team recaps to ongoing product updates, the tool is designed to help product managers and others waste less time on status updates by integrating directly into tools including Notion, Asana, Github, Gmail and more.

Another product released this week to help you stay – or at least look – productive and engaged is this rather creepy new eye tracking tool from Nvidia. Eye Contact works by tracking your eye movements during video calls and fixing your eyes at the camera, even if you’re not looking directly at it. The technology will no doubt be useful for execs and other professionals who want to glance from a script occasionally and maintain eye contact. The results are pretty impressive but the reception so far has been mixed

Meanwhile, Microsoft reported its earnings this week. It was a mixed bag for the tech giant with overall revenues up 2% and hardware revenues in personal computing down 18% year on year. For specific products, Microsoft 365 revenues were up 5.2% year on year to $11.65 billion and LinkedIn revenues grew 9.8% year on year. What’s impressive though, is that sheer breadth of product offerings Microsoft now boasts. A glance at the company’s product release document shows just how many different sectors the company’s products operate in – with many of them market leaders.

One market the company has seemingly decided to opt out of, though, is the metaverse. Last week Microsoft confirmed that they would shut their metaverse AltspaceVR and shelved plans for Hololens 3. With Meta investing over $36 billion in the space and Apple’s rumoured VR devices on the horizon, it’s clear that Microsoft is deciding to sit this one out. Instead, the company is extending a massive bet on OpenAI with a rumoured $10 billion deal inked this week.

Finally, if you’re looking for inspiration for your product’s UX, this handy curated collection of UX case studies from top product companies should help. 

Enjoy the rest of your week!


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Your product briefing


Product process – How to plan new product features asynchronously 

In my view, meeting-heavy processes totally detract the ability to have people in different time zones working together. Meetings also get in the way of deep work, which is needed in teams of builders such as Software Engineers, Designers, etc. Shopify recently banned meetings with 2 or more people for this exact reason. (Department of Product)


Case studies – How Spotify does product discovery

Connecting with your cross-functional product team is often the fastest way to gain context on a new project and understand user needs. These activities tend to foster stronger communication that will enable you to gather the collective experiences of the whole group. (Spotify engineering blog)


Newsletters worth reading – Chartr – data visualisations to make you smarter

Data-driven insights into business, tech, entertainment and society. Chart’s visual newsletter takes 5 minutes to read and it’s completely free. (Chartr)


Tweets to ponder


Dates for your diary – Q1 2023


UX – How to use antipersonas in design

Antipersonas represent people who could misuse your product in ways that negatively impact target users and the business. Formalizing a description of the 8 aspects of an antipersonas can help a design team mitigate such risks. (NN Group)


New product launches – Amazon launches a $5 per month Prime add-on for drugs

After years of openly flirting with disrupting the health care industry, Amazon went all out on Tuesday in its debut of RxPass, a new subscription service that provides Amazon Prime members with unlimited prescription medications for an additional $5 monthly fee.


New product features – Instagram launches ‘Quiet’ mode

Meta launched a new quiet mode for Instagram users, which is basically a Do Not Disturb setting specifically for the app. It turns off notifications and sends an auto-reply to people trying to DM you. While quiet mode can work for anyone, it seems particularly aimed at teens — likely as part of an ongoing attempt by Instagram to stop harming young people. (Mashable)


Skills – How engineers can get better at software estimations

When we have compared our estimations to reality and made appropriate adjustments to our technique so we are reasonably sure of being (probabilistically) accurate, one says that we are making calibrated estimations. (Two Wrongs Blog)


Other product news in brief

After Discord acquired Gas, a new hot German startup targeting teens with a similar value proposition has bagged $2.5 million. Slay bills itself as a positive social media network for teenagers.

Tiktok is choosing viral videos with the help of an internal boost button. The company is also reported to be working on a new podcast feature.

Netflix’s CEO Reed Hastings is stepping down as CEO after 20+ years.

Coinbase’s chief product officer Surojit Chatterjee is leaving the company with a cool $105 million payday after exercising stock options at the peak of the pandemic crypto craze.

Twitter ended support for third-party apps. Twitter deliberately revoked API access and eventually released a statement confirming the policy change.


Product Jobs

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


Technical product manager, Brightcove (US / remote)

Brightcove is video that means business, helping customers experience the incredible potential of video. As a Staff Product Manager of Brightcove Architecture and API, you will be driving product development in and for a truly global environment.


Product manager, Able (US / remote)

Able is a purpose-driven company focused on making the overall population fitter, healthier, and happier by providing a 360-degree personalized approach to weight care for tens of thousands of people worldwide.


Senior UX writer, Amazon Buy with Prime (US / remote)

We’re looking for a talented, word-wise Senior UX Writer to join our highly collaborative content marketing team, supporting a product with high exposure. In this role, you will have the exciting opportunity to help shape and deliver on the next big thing at Amazon.

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

Product Briefing – November 9, 2023

GPTs for everything, Google Maps gets Immersive, Netflix’s QR codes
Plus: Slack’s CEO exits, How to use conjoint analysis, a new tool for reading API documentation

Product Briefing – November 2, 2023

Google Slides’ superpowers, a Sublime second brain, Pinterest’s PMF
Plus: Tech salary report, how to manage API integrations, Spotify, Instagram and LinkedIn MAUs in context

Product Briefing – October 26, 2023

Discord monetization strategies, Slack ditches X, Spotify growth
Plus: 50+ product analytics tools, Microsoft impresses, Google Meet gets appearance enhancers

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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