The Department of Product


Thursday, 03 August, 2023

Uber’s profitability and hidden blue checkmarks. Plus: a new tool for disputes, Meta’s Reels rakes in billions and retention benchmarks

Hi product people 👋,

An inevitable part of building products is handling disagreements with colleagues. Now, a new indie product is hoping to gamify the process of disagreement handling in your personal (and potentially professional) life. Hand Shake allows users to decide on a dispute they’d like to settle, such as which film to watch or which color to use and create a custom game to settle it. After going viral on TikTok, the app’s creators say its popularity has taken them by surprise and they’re now scrambling to cope with demand.

Meanwhile, earnings season continued this week and Uber took the opportunity to celebrate an important milestone: achieving profitability for the first time. Revenue grew 14% to $9.2 billion and trips during the quarter grew 22% YoY to 2.3 billion, representing an average of 25 million trips per day. Product highlights for the quarter include the launch of a new video ads platform which generated $650 million in revenues and the rollout of membership subscription Uber One across 15 markets. Uber’s CEO Dara Khosrowshahi said the results showed ‘the team’s relentless focus on profitable growth was on full display in Q2’. 

Pinterest also updated investors on its performance this week and the company reported Q2 revenue growth of 6% year on year with an 8% increase in MAUs to 465 million. As expected in the current climate, the company’s product teams took the opportunity to focus on monetization features. Highlights include shoppable content growth of 50% year on year and the launch of new AI recommendations for shoppable products which drove a 9% increase in ecommerce conversions. 

Finally, if you’re looking for a simple way to connect to multiple advanced AI engines, this new API product has you covered.

Enjoy the rest of your week!

Essential reads for product teams

New from the Department of Product Substack this week:

📈Chartpack – Retention and Churn rates in 2023

  • Market analysis and industry benchmarks – what does churn look like for B2B and B2C products?

  • A closer look: 3 companies under the spotlight

  • Understanding generational trends and how to reduce churn

  • Tools you can use for measuring churn and setting prices

(Department of Product)

Design – How to design loading progress indicators

Loading and progress indicators are essential elements of UX/UI design that help users stay informed and engaged during waiting periods. Whether it’s loading a webpage, processing a transaction, or downloading content, well-designed indicators can significantly improve user experience. (Medium)

Tools you can use

  • JiraGPT – search for Jira issues in natural language from Slack 

  • Robopricer – automatic price optimization

  • Krisp – magically mute background noise during calls

  • Hubstaff – manage employee productivity for remote teams

Strategy – Why execution without strategy is wasteful and tragic

Execution without strategy is wasteful and tragic. Just as “Companies that have the best products, most talented people, and fastest growth are precisely the ones for which moats are most important,” companies that are the best at execution are precisely the ones for which strategy is most important. They’re the only ones that have a shot. ( 


Technical knowledge – Large Language Models explained in plain English

To understand how language models work, you first need to understand how they represent words. Human beings represent English words with a sequence of letters, like C-A-T for cat. Language models use a long list of numbers called a word vector. (Understanding AI)


How to communicate better by talking less

 (Stanford School of Business)

New product features, launches and announcements this week

Microsoft Teams has rolled out spatial audio for its desktop app on Windows and macOS.  The new feature is designed to help participants keep track of who is talking by giving each participant a unique sound based on where they are located on a screen. The new feature should also ‘help meeting fatigue and cognitive load’, says Microsoft’s Principal PM Hong Sodoma in a blog post.

X (formerly Twitter) is rolling out a new feature that will let Blue users hide their blue checkmark.

After announcing it earlier this year, Tinder is finally preparing to launch its new $500 per month premium dating membership. Match Group recently acquired a competitor called The League which charges members a $1000 a week subscription for $30m.

Airtable has launched a redesigned home screen and progress bar to help product teams visualise progress.

Uber is developing an AI chatbot, according to CEO Dara Khosrowshahi. It’s not clear what the chatbot would do but if it follows in the footsteps of competitors like Ask Instacart, the bot could bring conversational commerce to travel and food.  

📈 Product data and trends to stay informed

Meta’s Reels revenue is on the rise, reaching $10 billion in ARR, up from $3 billion in October. Facebook’s MAUs were up 3% year on year to 3.03 billion. The company’s family of apps (Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp) now reach almost 50% of the entire global population.

Apple’s credit card reportedly cost Goldman Sachs at least $1 billion in losses after 10 million users signed up for the card – double the projected 5 million.

Twitch’s top 0.5% of streamers generated 76% of June’s viewership figures. In June, Twitch viewers watched 1.7 billion hours of content with average daily hours watched at 56.9 million.

Mobile app spending in Japan rose 13% in Q12023 and is expected to exceed $17 billion this year. Full report on mobile in Japan.

Tech leadership updates

Affirm’s CEO says he sees little appetite in the US for the ‘everything app’ that Elon Musk is attempting to build.

Social commerce DealShare’s CEO will step down but retain a position on the company’s board.

Amazon’s head of AWS says Microsoft and OpenAI are not far ahead and AWS is well equipped to fight back.

Funktor by Erik Swahn. Each Funktor is defined by a sequence of mathematical functions called signed distance functions.
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Product Briefing – August 17, 2023

Google Maps’ new rival and ChatGPT usage declines. Plus: NYT bans LLMs, a new tool for multi-user collaboration, TikTok shuts off its algorithm

Product Briefing – July 27, 2023

Shopify’s $1600 meetings and Netflix’s ad-funded success
Plus: a tool to free your mind, how to use developer tools and a summer reading list

Product Briefing – July 20, 2023

Microsoft fights AI fatigue and Roblox’s vision for a new economy. Plus: a new tool for task automation, TikTok’s new music app and Google Docs gets a notebook

Product Briefing – July 13, 2023

Gmail and Stripe punish no shows and Twilio’s new API. Plus: YouTube gets screen locks, DeepMind’s CEO talks and a note taking ‘studio for your mind’

Product Briefing – Jun 29, 2023

Figma’s new mode and AR gets a niche use case. Plus: Shopify takes a gamble, a new tool for API integrations and Dropbox unifies search

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