Portal looks a bit like Amazon's Echo Show, but with a focus on helping you connect with people (as you might expect from the social network).
“Connecting through Portal feels like being together in the same room, even when you’re far apart. And Portal makes it easier to connect more regularly with the most important people in your life.”
The device sits in your kitchen, living room, or bedside. Use it to video chat your long-distance boo, family back home, or start a Houseparty-like group call with your buddies using its smart camera. Unlike other video chat apps you might use on your mobile, Portal is activated with your voice, hands-free.
While much of Facebook's marketing have fixated on video chatting, its audio/voice functionality might be the real killer app. As audio and voice eats into our screen time, Facebook needs a voice play. Other members of the FAANG already have theirs (except for Netflix... that we know of). Amazon has spread Alexa everywhere, integrated into all Echo devices and even their new microwave. Apple has Siri and AirPods. Google continues to roll out different variations of Google Home, including an adorable “donut”.
Funny note: because Facebook hasn't launched their own assistant yet, the Portal is powered by Alexa. Another win for Jeff Bezos. 😮
This is why Facebook Portal is so important for them. However, the device has been met with skepticism:
“Most of us already own more convenient, portable video calling devices. They’re called smartphones. Quality not as great, but will do the job for most people.” – Kurt Wagner
“You can’t watch YouTube; there’s no web browser; WhatsApp and Instagram are nowhere to be found; and you can’t send or receive normal Facebook messages, even if they’re video recordings. If you buy the Portal, you have to really want to video chat with other people on Facebook, and do so from one room in your home, on something other than the phone or laptop or tablet that you likely already have.” – Jacob Kastrenakes
Less than two weeks ago the company announced 50M accounts were compromised amid ongoing concerns about user privacy. It's also rare to see a software-first company successfully expand into hardware. Facebook's smaller archenemy, Snap, attempted this with Spectacles which resulted in a $40M write-off in 2017 (although v2 is looking fresh 😎).
Are you going to buy a $199 Portal? Add your thoughts in the discussion.
Her reviews are split into two portions: her personal review as a consumer, and her professional review as a venture capitalist. We asked her about her favorite products so far. 📸
I launched Thingtesting after falling in love with the new wave of CPG products and brands both as a consumer and an investor. While I test and review new products that pop up on my feed, I do my best to demystify how VCs approach investing in consumer brands. It's a little bit like Product Hunt for brands. 💁
The most common question I get is: “What’s your favorite product?”
There's no easy answer. As a consumer, I've had three so far. Each had a delightful customer experience, were miles ahead of any competition I’d tested, had strong brands, and either provided a lot of value in my life or were simply fun & whimsical - just how I like it:
🏥 Curology is teledermatology for skincare. Fill out a quiz, and get a customized regimen mailed to your house.
Having never visited a dermatologist, or used any acne treatment - my expectations weren’t sky high - but oh my how wrong I was. Since moving to London my skin has been acting weirdly (because of London’s “hard” water). I used Curology every evening for less than 4 days and all problems were solved.
💉 Thriva blood tests you take at home to monitor your health. The product was quick to deliver and I was reminded regularly throughout the service which I liked - but the finger pricking experience is pretty grim. 😂
I find myself competing and trying to get better results test after test, which actually is quite fun (who knew blood tests could be fun..) I also received a test batch of free vitamin supplements to complement my subscription.
🛢️ Brightland delivers modern, elegant extra virgin olive oil grown in California right to your front door. The olive oil industry is absolutely crazy, with producers mixing in cheaper oils and additivies to drive down costs.
I’ve used half of the bottle in two weeks and l-o-v-e it. Super smooth & rich in taste. For a packaging lover like me, the bottle itself just makes the kitchen look better (it’s UV-powder coated to protect the oil from damaging light).
But... there's more. As a VC, I have to look for different things in products. There are a few that stand out with world-class founders as they attack huge markets, build proprietary tech, and cut out out middlemen:
🍺 IntelligentX Brewing Co uses AI to brew the best beer to suit your specific preferences. They’ve now created 18 different recipes and batches of beer, continually adapting it to the changing tastes of people drinking it.
A vast majority of consumer products fail because the wrong product is built, and customer feedback is collected in inefficient ways. Instead of using old-school market research methodologies like focus groups and fill-in surveys, IntelligentX wants to use AI to help make better products.
🌷 Floom sends stunning floral arrangements from independent florists in NY and London. Cut flowers is a $65b market, and the Floom model is smart and scalable compared to many other flower startups; no warehousing, no stock, no returns + high retention especially among business customers.
There’s been a couple of instances in the past years when I wanted to send flowers to someone and failed. Plus, most florists' attempts at ecommerce sites are... catastrophic, to say the least. Ultimately, I ended up choosing to send a book on Amazon as a gift instead. I wish I had known about Floom.
💅 Glossier designs community-driven beauty, with their line of millenial pink products. They've raised $80M+ already, launching dozens of different products and showrooms around the world.
Community-driven business means instant high demand and incredible customer loyalty. Brand + quality + curation + community + retail = success (framework courtesy of Mark Suster). And Glossier nailed it, even offline.
What product should I review next? Let me know in the comments. 🤗