The Department of Product

Briefing

Thursday, 11 May, 2023

Slack's AI bet and Peloton gets a reality check. Plus: Zapier's new no-code feature, a new tool for prudent product pricing and how to use Firefly for product design

Hi product people ūüĎč,

When you’re fully equipped with engineering and data science teams, using no-code at work can sometimes feel like trespassing. Zapier’s hoping to change that with the launch of its latest feature. Tables brings to life a powerful idea: a single unified database that can not only integrate with any tool but can also automate sequences at the same time. In reality, this could mean the creation of handy workflows such as notifying relevant stakeholders after an important release or automatically updating an OKR metrics dashboard once a key result has been achieved. Tables is currently in beta but you can find out more or join the waitlist here.

Other products worth noting this week include Metering. It’s a simple concept: rather than crafting a pricing model that buckets users into predefined groups, Metering simply allows you to build a pay as you go pricing meter that uses real customer usage data to calculate a cost accordingly. With SaaS budgets increasingly under scrutiny and CFOs under pressure to slash costs, you can safely expect financial prudence as a service to become a major industry of its own.

Meanwhile, earnings season continued for many major tech companies. First up, Airbnb kicked off proceedings with the announcement of a major rebrand of one of its core offerings: Rooms. Renting a room in someone’s home has always felt a little awkward but the company is doubling down on its efforts to make Rooms a more attractive proposition. The company’s latest earnings figures, though, failed to impress. Revenues were on par with expectations at $1.8 billion but Airbnb’s guidance predicts bookings will decrease year on year for the current quarter. The stock dropped 14% as a result, its biggest one day decline since 2020. 

Square and CashApp parent company Block also reported its latest figures. Revenues were up to $4.99 billion vs expectations of $4.6 billion and product highlights include Cash App’s MAUs increasing to 20 million in March, up an impressive 34% year on year.

Finally, if you‚Äôre looking for new ways to drive revenue at the exact moment when users are ‚Äėripe‚Äô for conversion,¬†this new product could help.

Enjoy the rest of your week!


The Department of Product Briefing

Essential reads for product teams

UX opinion –¬†Why chatbots are¬†not¬†the future of user interface design

Good tools let the user choose when to switch between implementation and evaluation. When I work with a chatbot, I’m forced to frequently switch between the two modes. (Amelia Wattenberger)

Free mini conference –¬†How to supercharge your product team in 2023

At this free mini-conference, learn from product makers and leaders like podcaster & consultant Jason Knight, Common Room’s Hedan Zeng, LinkedIn product thought leader Aakash Gupta, and others about how they are adapting, fighting headwinds, and coming out on top.¬† May 30-June 1. (Sponsored)

Register for free.

Skills –¬†How to use Adobe‚Äôs new AI Firefly for product design

In a nutshell Firefly is an advanced interactive search engine for stock images, where instead of actually searching, you generate images out of the prompt text. (UX Planet)

 Tools you can use

  • PDF.ai¬†– chat, ask questions and get summaries from any document

  • Clearphrase¬†– transform your tone and tailor written content to specific audiences

  • Pomotastic¬†– an elegant simple, free, web based Pomodoro productivity timer

Interview –¬†Slack‚Äôs new CEO on her vision of the future of workplace conversation

Lidiane Jones, the new chief executive of Slack, is betting that the future of the messaging app‚ÄĒpurchased by software giant Salesforce for $27.7 billion about two years ago‚ÄĒwill rest on the combination of their technologies using generative artificial intelligence. (Wall Street Journal)


ūüöÄ New product features, launches and announcements this week

Slack has announced the launch of Slack GPT which introduces AI natively into the user experience. Features will include: conversation summaries, writing assistance and no-code workflows that automate workflows. As more major products adopt GPT-enabled features natively, smaller startups who built AI feature wrappers look set to get squeezed out of the market.

GitHub has released a new feature which auto-blocks token and API key leaks for all code repositories with GitHub’s Advanced Security license.

WhatsApp has partnered with Stripe to let Singapore-based users pay businesses inside the app. India and Brazil are the only other countries to have also introduced payments on WhatsApp so far.

Blue verified check marks are now coming to Gmail. Businesses who opt in to Brand Indicators for Message Identification will get the check mark.

Uber¬†has¬†launched¬†flight bookings on its core app in the UK as it looks to become a wider travel booking platform. Trains and buses were added last year and the UK GM Andrew Brem told the¬†Financial Times¬†that train bookings have been ‚Äúincredibly popular‚ÄĚ so far, growing 40% every month since they‚Äôve been available.


ūüďą Product insights and trends to stay informed

Audiobook revenue accounted for around 3.8% of the book publishing revenue in 2022 and is projected to rise to 4.73% in 2023. Over 23% of Americans listened to at least one audiobook in 2021.

95% of Chinese internet users consume short form videos. 24% of new internet users used short-video apps as their first online activity. All major streaming sites in China have launched mini drama series video verticals to cater for demand.

Cloud infrastructure spending growth dropped to 19% vs 32% in 2022 but still hit $63 billion for the quarter. Amazon AWS remains market leader with 32% share.

45% of YouTube’s streaming hours in the US are now on TVs.

Use of social media is not inherently harmful or beneficial, according to a large study by the American Psychological Association.

Peloton’s brand awareness for its non-bike products is 4% for Row and 1% for Guide. The company is looking to expand outside of its bike category to capture more market share. This is despite the fact that 57% of all workouts were not cycling related. Full shareholder letter.


Other industry news in brief

Shopify is getting out of the logistics business and has announced the lay off of 20% of its workforce.

Former Coinbase product manager Ishan Wahi has been sentenced to two years in prison for insider trading. 

GM hires former Apple VP of engineering Mike Abbot to lead a new software unit.


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