The Department of Product


Thursday, 06 July, 2023

Spotify CEO's $60m body scans, Threads and Penpots. Plus: a new tool for SaaS pricing and Google Calendar gets shared events

Hi product people👋,

After the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) provisionally ruled that Adobe’s proposed takeover of Figma could lead to a ‘substantial lessening of competition’ in the design tools market, there is a risk that the deal may get blocked. But until we know for certain, there’s a new open sourced Figma alternative worth knowing about. Penpot is a free Figma-like design tool and can even be self hosted if you’re that way inclined.  

Speaking of product alternatives, Meta has officially launched its Twitter alternative, Threads. With over 10 million users already signed up, Meta’s Chief Product Officer Chris Cox previously explained that the product would cater to folks who want a text-based social platform that’s ‘sanely run’. Despite a massive install base of over 2 billion+ users, Meta has historically struggled to get spin off products to work. Threads originally launched back in 2019 but closed 2 years later and more recently the company shut down Instagram’s IGTV and Live Shopping App.

Spare a thought for this (excellent) Slack competitor also named Threads who have had to make it clear this week that they’re in no way affiliated with the new product. I wonder how much Meta will offer to acquire that domain.

Meanwhile, Spotify’s CEO has announced a fresh round of funding for his other company you might not have heard about. Neko is a body scanning start up that uses a proprietary combination of 3D scanning and machine learning to perform diagnostic tests that detect diseases such as cardiovascular disorders and skin cancers. After raising an additional $60 million, Neko’s CEO says the future of healthcare lies in prevention of disease and early detection – and not in adding more funding to existing healthcare models.

Other products worth checking out this week include this interesting take on document collaboration. Take Turns is designed to end the disaster that is collaborative document editing and instead neatly packages it into a simpler experience where you ‘take turns’ to edit documents, one turn at a time. Perfect for dealing with internal stakeholders or third parties. 

Finally, if you’re struggling to get into the swing of things and engage your brain during the summer months, this collection of mental models and frameworks should help.

Enjoy the rest of your week!

Rich at DOP


The Department of Product Weekly Briefing

Essential reads for product teams


The latest from Department of Product

New this week:

(Department of Product)


Product strategy – The 7 types of unfair advantages 

A lot of people equate unfair advantages to competitive advantages. While related, they are not the same. ( 



Tools you can use

  • SaaS pricing model explorer – explore and get inspiration from 1000+ pricing models

  • Balance – a time tracking app to help with work life balance

  • WorkViz – visualise team productivity and get automated daily worklogs from team members

  • Micro Analytics – a free, privacy-focused alternative to Google Analytics


UX – How to design the perfect ‘back’ button

Users expect the “Back” button to take them back to what they perceived to be their previous page. The notion of perception is the key factor here, since there’s often a difference between what is technically a new page and what users perceive to be a new page — which can create discrepancies between where the user expects the “Back” button to take them and where it actually takes them. (Baymard Institute)

Talks worth watching-  GitHub’s CEO on engineering productivity

Technical explainers – What exactly is Low Code?

Low-code is a visual development approach that allows users to create applications and software with less code, using drag-and-drop interfaces and pre-built templates ( 



New product features, launches and announcements this week

Google Calendar has launched a new feature which allows users to share events and invite large numbers of people at once – without having to add a contact’s email address.

Peloton is introducing new gamification features to boost engagement called Lanebreak. Users can switch lanes using the resistance knob and listen to remixes of David Bowie. Chief Product Officer Tom Cortese say the new feature has been informed by user feedback. 

Microsoft Teams is rolling out a new feature that will filter out profanities. The feature will filter out offensive swear words from live captions and the transcript. 

DoorDash has introduced a bunch of new features, including a new feature for delivery workers called ‘Earn by Time’ which guarantees an hourly rate of pay plus 100% of tips. For users, a freshly designed universal search bar will allow users to search across grocery and restaurants. 

Proton has launched a new password management product called Proton Pass. The new product is an open-sourced alternative to 1Password which has recently been criticised for bugs introduced since the launch of a new version last year.

📈 Product insights and trends to stay informed

Just 6% of Microsoft’s revenue is derived from Search advertising vs. 57% of Google’s, neatly demonstrating why Microsoft is able to take risks with genAI-powered Bing results. 

Snapchat+ now has over 4 million paid subscribers to its micro subscription – just one year after launching, proving that there is a market for social media subscriptions after all – so long as they’re sensibly implemented.

Up to 30% of online reviews are fake – and US regulators are plotting a clampdown that would ban paying for reviews.

Gen-Z is addicted to virality – and pop stars are the target. The latest TikTok trend sees concertgoers throw random objects at pop stars to create viral videos. Adele reacted to the trend by issuing a stark warning to her audience.

92.4% of finance apps were susceptible to data extraction by malicious screen readers according to a new study.

Tailwind is the fastest growing CSS framework used by developers, but it’s still only used by ~0.1% of websites.

Tech leadership updates 

Twitter’s CEO has warned that the company needs to be ready for ‘hand to hand’ combat to bring back advertisers who fled the platform following Musk’s acquisition.

Yahoo’s CEO says the company is now profitable and plans to return to public markets.

OpenAI’s CEO Sam Altman is under fire after a new lawsuit alleges the company stole personal data from “millions of Americans” to train ChatGPT.

Common Spaces collection – 100 unique pieces hand made in VR and refined by hand on iPad by digital artist Sasha Belitskaja
All yours, all free. Enter your email to receive your briefing.

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’

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