The Department of Product


Thursday, 14 September, 2023

Uber’s secret task rabbit and DuoLingo’s new Music app Plus: Retool AI, permissions simplified, Meta’s powerful new LLM

Thanks to Height for supporting today’s Briefing. Height is a new project management tool for product teams and they’ve just launched 2.0 which gives product teams AI super powers. You can find out more here.

Hi product people 👋,

For SaaS product teams, one of the more complex parts of building zero to one applications is implementing permissions. Figuring out which roles to choose and how much granularity to offer can mean the scope of a v1 implementation is difficult to define. This week we came across a new product that’s designed to help product teams implement permissions with as little hassle as possible. Permit is a full stack plug and play tool that allows product teams to decouple policies from code by introducing permissions on the front end, backend and via no-code drag and drop elements. 

Other practical tools worth knowing about this week include a new update from development platform Retool. Retool AI allows product teams to integrate AI features directly into their products using any AI model or LLM, without having to build them from scratch. In practical terms, this means smaller product teams can keep up to date with big tech by implementing AI features quickly. Use cases suggested by Retool include document summarisation, ML-powered image labelling for ecommerce and chart visualizations. The company’s CEO says the implementation of Intercom’s customer service chatbot combined with Retool’s access to LLMs upped the bots success rate from 20% to 60%.

Meanwhile, Uber is rumoured to be launching a competitor to TaskRabbit. A developer found code hidden within Uber’s iPhone app for an offering that’s reportedly codenamed “Chore”. According to the code, a “tasker” can be hired for a minimum of one hour to perform the chore, but Uber hasn’t confirmed or denied the rumour.

Finally, if you’re conducting a UX audit of your product, this new tool will do the work for you – and summarise it all in neatly generated PDF.

Enjoy the rest of your week!


Essential reads for product teams

Latest from the Department of Product Substack

  • 📈Chartpack: R&D spend – what are companies spending R&D budgets on and how can you set up your teams for innovation?

  • The AI Memo –  a round up of new research papers, product announcements, important AI companies and key AI concepts worth learning, curated by DOP.

(Department of Product)

UX – How to use analytics in UX

Integrating analytics into UX work helps make data-based decisions and focuses effort on projects with the most impact. (NN Group)

Strategy – Product vs. distribution: which one is more important?

I had a realization yesterday over coffee with a friend. The topic? The age-old debate: product vs. distribution – what’s more important? But as we delved deeper, it became clear—there’s a seismic shift in the startup playbook that many aren’t noticing. (Greg Isenberg)

Today’s newsletter is supported by Height

Project management is necessary, but it’s often tedious. Meet Height, the AI project manager bringing the power of LLMs to your tasks. With Height:

  • 🧠Get suggestions for strategy, design, and more

  • ✏️ Fast-track drafting copy and release notes

  • 🐆 Catch up on what you missed faster

Try it now

Tools you can use

  • Ignition – link your product roadmap to revenue

  • Carbon control – measure your website’s carbon footprint

  • Trickle – transform your screenshots into searchable gold

  • YouTab – turn every new tab into a personalised dashboard

  • D3 – embed beautiful data visualisations into your product

Case study – The inside story of how Meta’s product team launched Threads

It took a small, nimble engineering team working alongside Meta’s infrastructure teams to take Threads from zero to 100 million people in record time with no major downtime. (Meta Engineering)

Skills – How to create ‘presence’ when you’re speaking

New product features, launches and announcements this week

Duolingo is rumoured to be expanding its offering to include music. The new product is under wraps at the moment but the company has started hiring for key positions to help develop it. If the new product follows in the footsteps of DuoLingo Math, it’ll likely be a niche learning service for folks to focus on one skill set.

Gmail is developing emoji reactions that would allow users to quickly respond to emails.

WhatsApp is testing a new feature that could open it up to other messaging apps. A new screen called Third-party apps is currently blank but it’s understood the new feature is in testing ahead of the EU’s new Digital Markets Act legislation which will require major messaging apps to be cross compatible. The company is also rolling out its Telegram-inspired Channels product to over 150 countries. 

Instacart has launched a series of AI-powered suggestion features that will allow store owners and users to curate products. The conversational search models will allow users to ask open ended questions like “what’s nutritious for my kids’ lunch’? The company is prepping for its upcoming IPO where it’s rumoured to be targeting a $9.3 billion valuation.

Meta is reportedly working on a new LLM that will be more powerful than GPT-4. Advocates of open source LLMs are rejoicing at the reports that Meta’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg is in favor of an open sourced model but critics have warned that open sourcing such powerful LLMs opens up a minefield of legal problems relating to copyrighted works and disinformation campaigns, should bad actors decide to leverage the technology for their own ends.

📈 Product data and trends to stay informed

An Apple iOS App Store user generates 7.4x more monthly revenue than an Android Google Play Store user, according to this analysis. For product teams, launching on iOS might make more economic sense. 

X / Twitter competitor Bluesky has hit 1 million users. The product is currently invite only. 

Of those who have used Generative AI tools, 28% use them weekly and 9% use them daily. Full report on consumer habits by Deloitte

Microsoft predicts its AI software business will reach $10 billion in revenue – faster than any other business in the history of software. CFO Amy Hood says the company’s 160 million user base for 365 and the positive feedback received for copilot so far means they’re confident they’ll reach the milestone.

new type of influencer is on the rise in India: hyperlocal weather reporters.

Airbnb listings have dropped almost 70% in NRC since new restrictive rules were implemented. However, Airbnb says NYC accounts for just 1% of its $8.5 billion total revenues.

Other product news in brief

Crypto company Binance’s US CEO is leaving the company as part of cuts impacting a third of its staff. 

Dennis Austin, the co-creator of PowerPointhas passed away.

TikTok is planning a rival music subscription streaming service to Spotify.

Sunset chandelier by digital artist outrunyouth 
All yours, all free. Enter your email to receive your briefing.

Product Briefing – November 9, 2023

GPTs for everything, Google Maps gets Immersive, Netflix’s QR codes
Plus: Slack’s CEO exits, How to use conjoint analysis, a new tool for reading API documentation

Product Briefing – November 2, 2023

Google Slides’ superpowers, a Sublime second brain, Pinterest’s PMF
Plus: Tech salary report, how to manage API integrations, Spotify, Instagram and LinkedIn MAUs in context

Product Briefing – October 26, 2023

Discord monetization strategies, Slack ditches X, Spotify growth
Plus: 50+ product analytics tools, Microsoft impresses, Google Meet gets appearance enhancers

Product Briefing – October 19, 2023

Netflix’s $8 billion quarter, Figma in limbo, Synthetic UX research. Plus: YouTube’s major release, a new way to manage your calendar, the Web Technologies Report 2023

Product Briefing – October 5, 2023

Google Docs’ new competitor, AI wars, App industry benchmarks
Plus: Airbnb’s ML patent, DoorDash’s swipe for restaurants and Uber expands to returns

Download your template

Enter your email below to get access to the product roadmap templates.

Check your email to access your resource

Download your template

Enter your email below to get access to the product roadmap templates.

Check your email to access your resource

Download your template

Enter your email below to get access to the product development models.

Check your email to access your resource

Download your template

Enter your email below to get access to the product development models.

Check your email to access your resource

Share This