The Department of Product
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
Hi product people 👋,
Shopify has estimated that an average meeting at the company costs between $700 and $1600. Earlier this year their CEO announced that the company was to take a hardline approach against meeting-heavy culture. And to raise awareness of the cost of meetings, the company has rolled out a new Chrome extension that employees can add to their browser before booking a meeting. The extension calculates the cost of a meeting before you book so that participants can assess whether it’s worth booking at all. Unfortunately for us, the extension is currently private but if you want to implement something similar in your own business you can use this tool instead.
Other products we came across this week include a new document creation tool which claims that our minds ‘have been taken captive’. And to address this, the beautifully designed MyMind allows you to save, search and create artifacts for everything you want to remember, without the unnecessary distractions of social features and collaboration.
Meanwhile, Spotify earnings impressed this week as the company announced that it now has over 220 million paying customers up 17% year on year and 3 million more than analysts expected. MAUs were also up 27% year on year to 551 million, 21 million more than expected with revenues of 3.2 billion euros, in line with expectations. Product highlights worth knowing about include the rollout of DJ which CEO Daniel Ek called a ‘personal favorite’ and the promise of further AI-powered features. Last year the company acquired London-based Sonatic, a startup which specialises in synthetic voice creation from text and a recent patent application by Spotify suggests the company could be planning to use this technology to offer podcast summaries and audiobook narration.
But alongside the earnings, Spotify also announced a hike in prices which coincides with recent similar price increases for other products including Stripe, YouTube Premium, Netflix and Google Workspaces. For a masterclass on how to increase your prices, check out this guide.
Finally, if you’re looking for ways to make your product demos more engaging, this product has you covered.
Enjoy the rest of your week!
Essential reads for product teams
New this week from the Department of Product Substack:
🧠 Knowledge Series #4 – How to use browser developer tools
We explore an area that often confuses non-technical tech professionals: browser developer tools. And more importantly, we’ll delve into some of the ways you can practically use browser developer tools in your day to day role.
⬇️DoP Deep – Unpacking Roblox’s new monetization strategies
What is Roblox? How does it make money? What are some useful, practical lessons to learn from Roblox’s approach to monetization?
(Department of Product)
Older adults (ages 65+) have unique needs that must be considered when conducting usability tests. Creating a comfortable environment and building trust with your participants is especially important for this demographic that may have less experience when it comes to using technology. (NN Group)
Adam Mosseri is the Head of Instagram, where he is responsible for overseeing the engineering, product, and business teams and leading Meta’s efforts on creators and Reels.
Tools you can use
Herding – a sleek but no frills bookmarking tool that lets you organize your findings in your own structure
Sequence – flexible SaaS pricing that changes as you scale
Loops – minimalist email sender for modern product teams
Undesk – a virtual office and productivity tracker in one
Lyft Maps has a relatively small team — building for the car required lean development (to start our team just had one engineer per platform). Earliest development began with explorations of the Android Auto and CarPlay framework, working side by side with Google and Apple to better understand feasibility. (Lyft Engineering Blog)
Summer reading list
A summer reading list of books curated by tech investment firm Andreessen Horowitz. Books include:
Stephen King’s novel Fairytale
Investigative journalist Oliver Bullough’s Moneyland which investigates how the world’s elite launder money
Ryan Holiday’s Discipline is Destiny on the power of self control
Elon has an exceptional talent for tackling hard physics-based problems but products that facilitate human connection and communication require a different type of social-emotional intelligence. – Ex Product Lead Esther Crawford on the ups and downs of her time at Twitter
New product features, launches and announcements this week
Instagram is launching creator subscriptions in Australia, Canada, the UK and more. Subscriptions allow creators to offer their followers paid access to exclusive posts, live streams and more.
Google is making it easier to add alt text to images used throughout Workspace applications, in a boost to accessibility.
GitHub has made its Chat AI feature publicly available. In a blog post outlining the new chat feature, GitHub’s VP of product Mario Rodriguez says the functionality works a lot like ChatGPT for engineering but is ‘contextually aware’. First announced back in March, the tool’s goal is to save developers time by enabling them to execute complex tasks with simple prompts.
Threads has launched a Following tab which shows users a chronological feed of posts from people they follow.
ChatGPT has launched custom instructions which allow users to save presets that will be used in future responses.
Product data and trends to stay informed
Netflix’s ad model seems to be working. Ad funded plans now make up 19% of all new sign ups. The company’s recent earnings showed the crackdown on passwords was boosting new sign ups with 6 million net new accounts but revenues up only 2.7% driven by cheaper ad-funded plans.
TikTokers are making $7000+ a day by pretending to be non-playable characters (NPCs) from video games and eating digital donuts.
2 billion logged in users are watching YouTube Shorts every month, up from 1.5 billion last year. YouTube’s ad revenues are up 4% year on year to $7.67 billion.
A Latin American music app has seen its user base double to 13 million monthly active users. Trebel is free so long as users watch ads.
Snapchat is still growing, with 397 million daily active users in the second quarter. The company said it will reach 405 million in the current quarter. But investors weren’t happy. Full earnings report.
Tech leadership updates
X’s CEO says the new brand is ‘the future state of unlimited interactivity – centered in audio, video, messaging, payments/banking – creating a global marketplace for ideas, goods, services, and opportunities”.
Alphabet is promoting chief financial officer Ruth Porat into a new role that will oversee the company’s “Other Bets” investments and work more closely with policymakers.
Bolt’s ex-CEO Ryan Breslow is the subject of a new SEC probe into allegations he misled investors.
Airtable AI and a new browser
Plus: Meta’s paid sub plans, Airbnb’s trouble in NYC and how to measure engineering productivity
Google Docs’ Grammarly clone and Salesforce margins improve
Google Maps’ new rival and ChatGPT usage declines. Plus: NYT bans LLMs, a new tool for multi-user collaboration, TikTok shuts off its algorithm
Slack’s major redesign and Square’s blockbuster earnings. Plus: a beautiful tool for knowledge, APIs explained and RIP Cortana
Snap’s Dreams, Peloton’s churn and Jira’s new competitor
Uber’s profitability and hidden blue checkmarks. Plus: a new tool for disputes, Meta’s Reels rakes in billions and retention benchmarks
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
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’
Spotify CEO’s $60m body scans, Threads and Penpots. Plus: a new tool for SaaS pricing and Google Calendar gets shared events
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