The Department of Product


Thursday, 08 December, 2022

A tool for hybrid meetings, Slack’s CEO departs, a potential replacement for Google Analytics and microservices explained for product managers

Thursday, 08 December, 2022
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Hello product people,

Slack CEO Stewart Butterfield is leaving the company just 2 years after it was acquired by Salesforce, marking the end of a 9 year long journey for Butterfield since the company was founded back in August 2013. Slack’s chief product officer Tamar Yehoshua will also depart. The news coincides with the announcement that Salesforce CEO Bret Taylor will leave the company in a huge shake up of execs at the business. Salesforce’s recent stock price, like much of big tech, has fallen over 50% in the past year. Slack has faced a backlash following the introduction of an aggressive new pricing model which led to an exodus for many online communities to alternatives such as Discord. Sensing an opportunity to capitalise on the backlash against Slack’s new pricing models, this week, Microsoft Teams also announced a new communities feature that will be included as part of its free tier.

Meanwhile, we are just 6 months away from the first human implants of Neuralink. Or at least that’s what we were told at the latest event from the controversial AI company. Led by Elon Musk, Neuralink held a show and tell this week. Its first in a year, the company demoed the progress it had made over the past 12 months and the demos included monkeys implanted with the chips controlling keyboard cursors with their minds. Animal rights groups have voiced concerns about the treatment of some of the animals used in the research and the company is reported to be facing a US federal investigation into its activities. 

In other news, a voice recognition startup announced $47 million in new funding this week. Deepgram develops voice recognition tech for the enterprise market with real world applications including video transcription, drive through takeaway ordering and customer service operations. The startup counts Spotify, Auth0 and NASA amongst its client list and is understood to be putting the new funding towards research and development in areas such as emotion detection, intent recognition, translation and redaction. Voice recognition still feels like an underutilised area of product development so it’ll be interesting to see what new use cases the folks at Deepgram come up with – and how product teams adapt their service design to incorporate voice recognition.

Finally, if you’re worried about the upcoming changes to Google Analytics and would prefer a lighter alternative to measure your product’s performance, this new analytics tool might be a better choice.

Enjoy the rest of your week!



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Your product briefing


Explainers – Microservices explained for product managers

One of the first introductions product manager might get into the world of architectural design is the concept of microservices. But what exactly do you need to know? (Department of Product)


Strategy – A new way to think about product market fit

The first product-market fit misconception is that it’s binary. You either have it or you don’t. If you have it then everything is incredible, if you don’t then absolutely nothing is working. Annoying people in this camp tend to describe PMF as “people are buying your product faster than you can make it.” (Erez Druk)


New product features – Chrome adds shortcuts to make history search easier

Google is making it easier for users to search for tabs, bookmarks, and history from the address bar with new shortcuts. You can now type @tabs, @bookmarks, or @history to begin searching for websites. (TechCrunch)


Tools – Whereby – a new product for hybrid meetings

Combine multiple co-located groups with remote workers joining from home (or the beach) by setting up multiple groups for your entire team. (Product Hunt)


Newsletters worth reading – CSS weekly

Stay up-to-date with the latest trends in CSS by getting the most relevant and valuable articles and tutorials directly into your inbox. Join more than 33,000 developers and designers and sign up today.


Podcast – Meta’s former VP of VR shares lessons on building hardware products

Hugo Barra is one of the OGs of consumer hardware of the last decade. In Hugo’s current position, he is the CEO @ Detect, building tools that empower people to understand their health and make informed, timely decisions. Before Detect, Hugo spent an incredible 4 years as VP of VR @ Meta with Oculus. Prior to Oculus, Hugo was in China as VP of Global @ Xiaomi, the 3rd largest phone maker in the world. Finally before Xiaomi, Hugo was a product leader @ Google for over 5 years including as VP of Android Product Management. (Twenty Minute VC)


UX process – How to conduct a cognitive walkthrough workshop

A cognitive walkthrough is a technique used to evaluate the learnability of a system. Unlike user testing, it does not involve users and can be cheap to implement. (NN Group)


Case studies – How Facebook designed the ‘like’ button

It was summer 2007. Facebook was three years old and growing at a heady pace. Originally for college students, it had opened to the public the previous fall. Now it had 30 million users. What it didn’t have was a simple way for them to show interest in each other’s posts. The only way to acknowledge a post was to comment on it. Leah Pearlman, one of Facebook’s three product managers at the time, found that inefficient. (Fast Company)


Reports – McKinsey’s Global Payments Report 2022

A deep dive into the state of consumer payments globally and how new forms of central bank digital currency could change the way we pay in the future. (McKinsey)


Twitter threads worth reading

Former Optimizely PM and Chief Product Officer Claire Vo on managing tech debt


Other product news in brief


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