The Takeaways: Week 4 of 2022

A periodic review of articles, newsletters, and podcasts that I found interesting, inspiring, or otherwise worth remembering.


Deb Liu, Lenny's Newsletter. The inside story of Facebook Marketplace (January 18, 2022)

In 2012, I was the only PM who was a mom. I used to joke that because I had three kids, and there were six women PMs, on average we each had half a kid—but I had to go home and take care of all of them. I was a member of multiple mom groups, where people bought and sold all sorts of things. Kids generate a lot of used goods, many of which are insanely expensive to buy new. I also had friends in Asia who talked about how meaningful buying and selling in groups was to them, and how Facebook was the place to connect for commerce. This put me in a unique position and allowed me to see what others in the company couldn’t.

Immediately upon launch, we also noticed that search numbers were incredibly low. Our Research team showed buyers two test phones: one with Marketplace and one with a different local classifieds service. They then asked them to “find an iPhone to buy.” On Facebook, users immediately started to scroll, whereas on other apps, they searched. This led us to realize that people on Facebook had learned never to use the search bar except when searching for people. We addressed this by putting a large search button next to the search bar, which our designers grudgingly allowed. This changed the trajectory of the search participation rate, and even when we removed the button, searches remained at the new, higher level.


Mike O'Malley, The Aporetic. Colored Me (August 30, 2012)

This [document, the 1884 marriage license of Patrick O’Malley and Hester Holland, archived in the Suffolk County, Virginia courthouse] is the form Plecker or one of his clerks would have seen, and I assume “refiled,” in 1940. I can reasonably conclude that Plecker or one of his clerks simply decided that Patrick O’Malley, being Irish, was not white, and that Hester (my Father knew her as “Esther”) Holland must have been the product of some tangled skein of intermarriage that made her also non-white in the State’s eyes.

James Robert Watson, There is Always a Better Way: 300 Essays. A better way to display museum hours (2017)

There's gotta be a better way. Considering the increase of information clutter and the desire to find answers quickly and easily, the principles of information graphics might work well here - providing the information in a visual, easy-to-understand format.