The Department of Product


Thursday, 06 April, 2023

Tinder's super subscription and goodbye Spotify Live. Plus: a new product to collate feedback, Amazon's drone woes and a tool for the async-first teams of the future

Hello product people 👋,

With Clubhouse’s struggles to stay relevant and Twitter’s Spaces team taking a hit in the recent round of layoffs, the live audio graveyard welcomes another entry this week: Spotify Live. Originally spun out from the $62 million acquisition of startup Betty Labs, the company has confirmed that Spotify Live is officially shutting down. Spotify says it remains committed to delivering live experiences for its 400 million+ users, but it seems they haven’t yet figured out exactly what form that might take.

Streaming rival Tidal is hoping it has though. This week, it placed its own bet on what it thinks the market wants out of a live music experience with the launch of a new feature that allows users to host live DJing sessions.

Onto more practical matters, this week, we came across an intriguing new product which allows you to aggregate feedback from multiple sources. We all know how difficult it can be to figure out what your users think about your product when you’re wading through reviews on Google, Trustpilot or ratings in the App Store. Essence is a new product designed to help product teams collate and aggregate this feedback from multiple sources before deciding what to actually do about the feedback you’ve collated. 

In GenAI news this week, the folks at Meta have signalled their intention to capitalise on the AI wave by using it to do what Meta does best: create ads. In a week where Bing also declared its intention to introduce ads in Bing Chat, Meta’s CTO Andrew Bosworth confirmed its plans for commercialising proprietary generative AI to help advertisers improve an ad’s effectiveness. Not to be too distracted from its Meta-vision, the company also confirmed that it plans to use GenAI to enable 3D world building inside the metaverse. 

It’s the physical world that’s giving Amazon a regulatory headache though. As it struggles to get Prime Air off the ground, a new piece in Wired outlines just how difficult it is to get the necessary approvals for drone deliveries.

Finally, if you secretly dream of a world where all meetings are banished, this new tool wants to help you achieve an introvert’s utopian future by shifting teams to an async-first model.

Enjoy the rest of your week!

Essential reads for product teams 

Design – A case study on Wikipedia’s improved search functionality

The Search Improvements project, with the help of structured content, aims to provide a more inviting and more efficient way to search and find content on the Wikipedias. (Wikimedia Design Blog)

Process – How LinkedIn measures developer productivity and happiness

Over the years we’ve created several metrics and dashboards for measuring developer productivity. They were owned by teams building developer tools and focused on tool performance rather than measuring the developer experience of those using them. (LinkedIn engineering)

Tools you can use

  • FigGPT – a Figma plugin for UX writing

  • Beam – designed for high performing product teams to work 10x faster

  • Taskade – a next-gen mind mapping collab tool for teams

Data science – How Lyft’s recommendation engine works

Lyft’s data scientist Jinshu Niu explains how the transportation company’s recommendation engine works, including how it solves problems across 3 core areas: the design challenges of overchoice, the cold start problem for new modes and dynamic business and UX goals. (Lyft Engineering)


Nubank’s CPO on why product is 90% science and 10% art and why execution is overrated, strategic clarity is under-appreciated 


Skills – How to build models to forecast subscription products

Subscriptions are more predictable and easier to forecast, making it more straightforward to develop and execute growth plans. That said, we’ve seen many businesses build forecast models in a way that leads to significant inaccuracies, bad investments, and flawed goals. The most common mistake is using churn rate (instead of retention rates) to predict paid cancels, leading to wildly inaccurate forecasts. ( Reid DeRamus)

Tweets to smile at

Twitter avatar for @reathchris

a$ap congee @reathchris
“designers on a zoom call fighting about the size of a logo” via midjourney tag yourselves i guess


Predictions – How will LLMs change the make up of product teams?

These teams will look less and less like they do now, and shift more to being roles that are filled by product designers and managers and require a large degree of empathy and understanding of the user. (Jack Pearkes)

New product features, launches and announcements this week

Tinder’s chief product officer Mark Van Ryswyk has confirmed that the company still plans to roll out its $500 per month Tinder subscription. Tentatively called Tinder Vault, Ryswyk said in an interview with Fast Company that their product teams are still ‘in learning mode’ about how the high end subscription could impact the free and lower priced paid tiers.

Facebook Messenger has launched multiplayer games during video calls. Titles include Words with Friends, Exploding Kittens and Mini Golf.

Netflix is reportedly working on a new way to play games on your TV, using a phone as a controller.

Expedia has launched a new plugin for its iOS app which lets you book hotels, transportation and activities to do on your next trip.  

💵 Questions to ask yourself before introducing a subscription model

If you’re considering introducing a subscription model into your own business, consider the following questions:

  • Audience – is your audience willing and able to pay for a subscription-based service?

  • Maxi or micro value – firstly, is your offering valuable enough for someone to pay $X per month for ongoing access? And if so, is the value a maxi or micro value add to your user’s lives? Maxi value is health insurance. Micro value is Apple TV. Tinder clearly sees finding love as a maxi value add for some audience segments.

  • Differentiation – is your product sufficiently differentiated to prevent customers getting a free or similarly priced alternative elsewhere?


Insights and trends to stay informed

With a potential TikTok ban looming, Instagram may be the main beneficiary of such a move. In India, Instagram replaced TikTok as the country’s top social media app following a ban there.

Just 4% of American teenagers who own a VR headset use it daily.

Fintech app installs have jumped 6% YOY in 2023 with global mobile payments projected to surpass $2 trillion by 2023.

Facebook continues to boast 2 billion users a month and investors still believe in Meta with the company’s stock now up 73% year to date.

Tesla set a new quarterly delivery record, shipping ~423k cars in the first 3 months of 2023.

Apple’s new classical music app debuted at number 1 on the App Store – before plummeting to 51 shortly afterwards. Classical music represents just 0.9% of the on-demand audio market.

Amazon has now sold 200 million Fire TV devices. 

Other industry news in brief

Twitter alternative T2 hires Discord’s head of engineering as CTO and will now oversee the development team at the new company.

Google Assistant’s VP of engineering is leaving the company as it doubles down on development of its LLM, Bard. 

Bob Lee, the Chief Product Officer at MobileCoin and creator of CashApp, was fatally stabbed in San Francisco in the early hours of Tuesday morning.

Prompt: man and woman made from solid gold dating on Tinder in the style of a Stanley Kubrick movie

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