Edition 5 - 12/4/2020

My three product tips + The world adapting to Covid-19

Many of us have just hit the 4th week quarantine mark. The initial shock has dwindled and we now readjust to our new realities. In short: Companies and customers are being forced to take on new habits on the fly.

My three tips for product teams adjusting to the new reality

  1. With a lot of companies cutting on ad spending, eCPMs have gone down on a global scale but unfortunately so have CTRs. Junior paid acquisition analysts generally associate the downward movement as an indicator for ad saturation. It's probably a false positive.

  2. OKRs out the window. Whatever your goals were it's now about having runway and working on 4-6 week sprints tops. If you're not agile you're going to have a really bad time.

  3. Startups should invest more time on critical aspects of the product funnel. Churn, Value Prop testing, Onboarding and Retention have never been more important. In my opinion Retention should take center stage, since it's easier and cheaper to retain or reacquire existing users than to rely on a much smaller top of funnel. Let me know if you'd like me to write a “Retention: The smart way” post 😊

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Interesting Product links from around the web

1 hour: Intro to Product Strategy with Gibson Biddle (Netflix's former VP of Product)

“We can build anything but we can't build everything”. Gibson talks about the 4 frameworks he used at Netflix to drive Product Strategy.

iOS 14 new feature coming up: ‘Clips’ will allow users to use certain features of apps without requiring full downloads.

I haven't looked too deeply into how this will be implemented but it looks very similar to Android's “Slices”. Apparently the first batch of apps to beta test the feature will be Opentable, Yelp, Doordash and Sony. A few years ago we pushed towards making the web more “app like”. Now it seems the pendulum is swinging back the other way. In a future iteration I'd be excited to see Apple go for SaaS and implement a Firebase like service to make iOS app development a little smoother… how about some native developer tools?

The world adapting to Covid-19

Apple and Google partner on COVID-19 contact tracing technology

Although I'm sure this was thought up with the best intentions, I'm skeptical of this initiative for the following reasons:

  1. Opt-in means that if not executed correctly, only the tech savvy (which are often more privacy oriented than the average person) will join the program. Fewer data points = limited results

  2. Sapiens’ Yuval Harari has a great quote: “Temporary measures have a nasty habit of outlasting emergencies, especially as there is always a new emergency lurking on the horizon". This is very granular data that would be very welcome by any intelligence agency 👀

  3. On a more technical level, Bluetooth is very spoofable if this were to take off and I were an ill intentioned state actor I would absolutely look into meddling the results. Can you imagine the havok you could wreck on another country's data?

Inside the Strip Clubs of Instagram

Nightlife entertainment goes full digital. Two things came to mind as I read this NYT piece:

  1. The values reflect the benefits of going digital (read:scale). Stripping used to take one dancer (Alexis) 8 hours, now she's made $18,000 in five minute Instagram Live sessions.

  2. Physical goods have a higher perceived value than digital goods. For the average user paying $7 for a Starbucks Frappucino is fine, but paying the same for a frequently used app seems to involve different brain circuits. We've come a long way over the past few years, but it seems like once again adult entertainment will be the driving force in changing internet consumer behavior. Porn was responsible for VHS winning over Betamax, BluRay beating HDDVD and etc…

Zoom goes from 10 million DAU in December to 200 million

  1. Every tech giant has a Zoom clone (Google by itself must have had four at a single moment). What made people choose Zoom over the others? My guess would be that it has the lowest participant friction compared to others. No account creation required, just click and watch.

  2. Every single security and privacy issue is now valid. Must be interesting to see every other feature in the roadmap being reprioritized to make room for all the security issues. Besides the servers being in China (Chinese govt can request access to your conversations anytime), there are several architectural decisions that were made pre-Covid-19 that make would make me think twice about using Zoom for anything confidential. Ex: No end-to-end encryption, unauthorized webcam access to name a few.

Cool things from the internet:


Straight from 2006: Jack Dorsey's early sketch of Twitter.

17 year old built by himself one of the largest Covid-19 trackers in the world. My favorite part is where he admits that he learnt half of the stuff on the fly.

Apple used it's supply chain to product 20 million masks.

Favorite quote of the week:


"The economy is collapsing because people are only buying what is necessary” 😂 - Some random financial analyst

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Have a great week!

Jonathan