The Department of Product


Wednesday, 09 August, 2023

Snap’s Dreams, Peloton's churn and Jira’s new competitor

Hi product people 👋,

Atlassian’s Jira has a special place in most product teams’ hearts but this year we’ve seen a new crop of competitors enter the space in a bid to grab a slice of the lucrative product development software market. This new product is the latest entrant and we’re impressed by what we’ve seen so far. Socratic combines beautiful task management flows with productivity scoring to help teams keep track of work in progress. And a new feature called forecast infuses AI into planning to give teams an estimated completion date based on historical data.  You can see it in action here.

Other products on our radar this week include Relume – a new bootstrapped design tool. The Sydney-based startup began as a component library for Figma but it’s since evolved to include genAI capacities for tasks like writing copy, too. The most powerful part of the product, though, is its web plugins which allow designers to import components from Relume libraries into a CMS. The company’s founder says they’re currently seeing a 90% retention rate and they’re not looking for funding. 

Meanwhile, earnings season continued for some this week and it was a disappointing quarter for fitness company Peloton. In its latest earnings the company reported a net loss of $242 million and also lost 29,000 subscribers, a monthly churn percentage of 1.4%. The company has historically been extremely bullish on retention, proudly boasting of rates <1% but this figure has steadily increased over the past few quarters. In Peloton’s defence, it is understood that an unexpected bike seat recall put a dent in revenues to the cost of $40 million which indirectly contributed to an increase in churn. CEO Barry McCarthy says the results are also a reminder that Peloton is a seasonal business and that he expects hardware sales to grow again as summer draws to a close.

Finally, if you’re looking for ways to communicate your own product’s vision internally to colleagues, check out this memo from way back in 1984 by a product exec who had a vision to invent a new way to present information. The idea became Apple’s first ever VC investment but was eventually acquired by rival Microsoft. The product is now known as Powerpoint.

Enjoy the rest of your week!

Essential reads for product teams

Latest from the Department of Product Substack

🧠How to use AI to build a product strategy (part 1)

In this edition of the Knowledge Series, we’ll explore how you can use OpenAI / ChatGPT prompts in combination with frameworks and AI tools to develop a solid strategy for your product.

Coming up in part 1 of 2:

1. What is strategy?

2. Setting your vision

3. Business model design and monetization: frameworks and AI combined

In part 2, we’ll continue with the second half of this guide where we’ll explore product differentiation, customer segmentation, market analysis and strategy validation.

(Department of Product)

Case studies – How to maximise impact in innovation

As companies mature, it’s easy to believe that the core experience and most user needs have been resolved, and all that’s left to work toward are the marginal benefits, the cherries on top. Cherries on top might add delight and panache, but they rarely cause fundamental shifts in performance and success. (Spotify engineering blog)

UX – What is cognitive load and how can you reduce it?

Understand the different types of cognitive load, and how to minimize it to make designs more user-friendly. (NN Group)

Strategy – Understanding the creator economy 2.0 – a deep dive from Andrew Chen

The future of the Creator Economy continues to be promising, but the approach has significantly evolved and the bar has been raised. Startups will need to provide new functionality, create new forms of monetization, and adopt new technologies that make them more defensible to competition and in-house efforts by creators to replace them. (Andrew Chen)

Tools you can use

  • Reader by Readwise – save everything you read in one place

  • Bloc – turn your knowledge base into a chat assistant

  • Whatfix – add Google Docs style comments to any website, 

  • Supernormal – ditch meetings and go async instead

Design – Who will design the next generation of web layouts?

The web has come along way since design meant crafting UIs in Photoshop and exporting them as sliced GIFs. Flash. SiFR. Table layout. Rebellion and rethinking. Liquid layout. Semantic HTML and CSS layout (Zeldman)

Interview – Amazon AWS CEO 

There’s no AI without the cloud, says AWS CEO Adam Selipsky

New product features, launches and announcements this week

Instagram Threads has launched a new web version of the app after internal testing over the past few weeks.

Snapchat is experimenting with a new AI-powered feature called “Dreams”. Dreams will allow users to develop Dreams with Friends, where (with permission), users can create gen-AI images of friends against fictitious, magical backgrounds. The company’s previous AI efforts (a chatbot) were met with heavy criticism from users at the time. Snap will be hoping Dreams fares better.

X (formerly Twitter) is experimenting with government ID for verification. Human rights campaigners have criticised the feature on privacy grounds.

Microsoft has launched a new free AI-powered design tool in the Edge browser for the first time. The integration allows users to edit photos directly in the browser.

Tinder is ditching its background check safety feature after a dispute with Garbo the non-profit company powering it. According to a report by the WSJ, the break-up was due to a reluctance to pay for the service. Garbo’s CEO said “Most tech companies just see trust and safety as good PR. I’d rather Garbo shift focus to our other efforts than allow the vision of Garbo to be compromised and relegated to a piece of big corporations’ marketing goals”. 

📈 Product data and trends to stay informed

Chip maker Arm’s growth is slowing ahead of its anticipated IPO. Arm estimates it has ~50% of the $200 billion total addressable market for all chips that contain a process. It also boasts that ~70% of the world’s population interact with Arm-based products.

A Gen-Z Google junior software engineer says he is earning $150k and working 1 hour a day.

The erosion of traditional TV is picking up pace. Streaming now accounts for 39% of Americans’ viewing time. A subscription bundle of streaming services will now cost $87 a month, up from $73 last year, due to recent price hikes.

A new study shows that bots are now better than humans at solving reCAPTCHA puzzles. Human accuracy was 50-84% vs bot accuracy of almost 100%.

Music can now be recreated from brain waves. A new study recreated a Pink Floyd song from thought alone.

Zoom has told investors demand for non-video products is growing. Zoom Phone now has ~$500 million in ARR revenue

Other product news in brief

Tinder’s parent company Match Group has appointed former Zynga exec Mark Kantor as VP of innovation. Kantor’s focus will be on implementing AI-powered features.

OpenSea’s former head of product Nate Chastain has been sentenced to 3 months in prison for NFT insider trading.

Ex-Google CEO Eric Schmidt is launching a new science-oriented organisation modeled on OpenAI.

End of an era” by digital artist geren. Their work explores the intersection of tech, surrealism and postmodernism.
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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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