The Department of Product

Briefing

Thursday, 01 June, 2023

Notion's new Projects and WeWork gets 3D video calls. Plus: goodbye YouTube Stories, FigJam's new iPad app and AI natural selection

Hi product people ūüĎč,

Notion has set its sights firmly on the enterprise market with a new product launch called Projects. The release is an evolution of the company’s existing project management capabilities with some new functionality added to sharpen its appeal. New Project-specific features includes AI autofill which automatically extracts information teams need and keeps it updated as project progress, page level notifications and improvements to subtasks and dependencies. The release also marks the launch of a brand new template gallery from top companies including this daily standup template from Mixpanel which is super handy for product teams. Notion is still a relatively small player in the enterprise project management market and the company will be hoping it can take a slice out of Jira, Asana and Google’s pie.

Not to be outdone this week, Google Docs also took the time to¬†launch a couple of new features¬†worth knowing about as it continues to play catch up with Notion and co. One feature which caught our eye is called ‚Äėvariable chips‚Äô. Here‚Äôs how it works: just like a variable in programming, users can set the value of a variable (think client name, contact number etc), and then use and update that in multiple places at once.¬†

In other news, Zoom earnings impressed with the company posting an increase in revenues to $1.1bn, up 3% year on year. The company also announced improvements in monthly churn, down from 3.6% to 3.1%; a stellar number in the middle of a downturn which, for B2C comparison, is lower than the average monthly churn for Netflix. 

What got us more intrigued this week though, was not Zoom calls, but a new communication experience called Project Starline. Developed by Google, Project Starline uses 3D immersion technology to make users feel like they’re in the same room as the person they’re talking to. Early reviewers have been shocked by how realistic the experience is, but questions remain about how broad the appeal of such powerful hardware might be in the long run. Project Starline has signed up with partners including WeWork to test the hardware in its co-working spaces and Salesforce. You can check out a demo of it in action here.

Finally, if you’ve ever wanted to mix things up and present an internal presentation as your own unique animated Pixar clone, this thread is for you.

Enjoy the rest of your week!


The Department of Product Briefing

Essential reads for product teams

Free webinar –¬†How to develop an API product strategy

‚ÄčHosted by¬†Square’s¬†Lead Product Manager, Abhishek Bharadwaj, in this live session, we‚Äôll explore:

  • ‚ÄčHow to develop an API product strategy – where APIs fit into your wider product strategy and how integrating with third party APIs can add new functionality to your product

  • ‚ÄčAPI terminology – essential terms product teams need to know when integrating with APIs¬†

  • ‚ÄčAPI monetization – how to turn your APIs into revenue generators

  • ‚ÄčTools you can use to better understand how APIs work and build your product’s API docs

(Department of Product and Sendbird)

Tools you can use 

  • Comprehensive¬†– a pay transparency tool to check salary benchmarks

  • Muse¬†– a new team canvas for planning, sketching and strategy

  • Tab Close¬†– automatically close leftover tab links from Zoom, Figma and more

Practical guides –¬†Learn about Mastering User Retention

Get this guide by Amplitude Analytics, industry leader in product analytics. (Sponsored)

Podcast –¬†How LinkedIn does product reviews with CPO Tomer Cohen

Tomer Cohen is the chief product officer at Linkedin. Since joining in 2012, Tomer has served in key leadership roles, helping launch and scale new innovative member and customer experiences. (20VC)

AI research paper –¬†Why natural selection favors AIs over humans

Natural selection operates on systems that compete and vary, and that selfish species typically have an advantage over species that are altruistic to other species. This Darwinian logic could also apply to artificial agents, as agents may eventually be better able to persist into the future if they behave selfishly and pursue their own interests with little regard for humans, which could pose catastrophic risks. (Center for AI Safety)

Skills –¬†How to find and foster product sense

Product thinkers have structured opinions on the products that they like and those they don’t. This structured thinking is a tell, even when it leads to the same conclusion as more emotional reasoning. (Stay SaaSy)

User testing in real life

An HBO Max user shares their real world frustrations at their human check security implementation Рwith amusing results

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New product features, launches and announcements this week

Figma has launched a standalone Figjam iPad app Рvery handy for workshops and brainstorming sessions.

Arc Browser has launched a new version of Boosts. If you’ve not heard of it before, a Boost allows users to customise every website they visit, changing font types, colors, CSS styles and more. Boosts can also be shared with other users. It’s a beautifully executed new feature but does it undermine the role of product designers?

WhatsApp is introducing screen sharing for Android users.

MoviePass has relaunched with a new subscription service and pricing model in the US. There are now four tiers with prices ranging from $10 to $40. The tiers use a new credit system that incorporates a variable cost model.

Genealogy company¬†MyHeritage¬†has launched a new app called ‚ÄėReimagine‚Äô. The app scans all of your older photos of loved ones and enhances them through colorization, resolution improvements and animations which can ‚Äėbring your memories to life‚Äô.¬†Watch it in action here.

Microsoft has unveiled a new data analytics product called Fabric which it says is designed for the AI era. The new product integrates deeply into Azure Cloud products and Microsoft 365. 


ūüďä Product insights and trends to stay informed

Adobe’s strategic pivot to a subscription model led to a ~4x increase in revenues. The company reported $17.6bn in revenues in 2022 , the vast majority of which was subscriptions.

Snapchat now reaches 90% of 13-24 year olds and 75% of 13-34 year olds across the UK. Snapchatters open the app an average of 50 times per day.

Just¬†14%¬†of US adults¬†have tried ChatGPT¬†and¬†42%¬†of US adults have heard ‚Äėnothing at all‚Äô about it.¬†

IPO filings are up 18% year on year vs the same point in 2022. 

An estimated 20% of Belarussian tech workers have left the country as the country’s once-thriving tech scene continues to decline due to political instability.


Other industry news in brief

YouTube Stories are being discontinued as the company focuses on Shorts instead.

Starling Bank CEO Anne Boden is stepping down from the company after steering it to profitability.

TikTok’s CEO will now also oversee ByteDance’s other wildly successful app, Lemon8. 


Recommended newsletters

ūü§Ė¬†Future Party¬†– Want in on trends that drive the future? Join over 200k driven professionals who read TheFutureParty ‚Äď the daily newsletter that dissects the business of entertainment & culture all in a quick and witty package.¬†Subscribe for free.

ūüŹ¶¬†Concepts of Finance

One financial concept for tech workers explained simply and clearly. Delivered to your inbox every week. (Substack)


Charles Darwin hosting a YouTube live stream on the dangers of AI and natural selection
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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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Product Briefing – Jun 15, 2023

Netflix’s gamble pays off and Reddit starts an API war. Plus: a new tool for translations, Intercom charges per query and Google Meet gets easier on the go

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