Swipe to Unlock

Neel Mehta , Aditya Agashe, Parth Detroja

Swipe to Unlock



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How does Spotify choose which songs to suggest to its users? What factors influence the Facebook algorithm? Why does Amazon change its prices every ten minutes? At one time or another, we have all wondered how these things work, but you don’t have to be a tech expert to find the answers. In Swipe to Unlock, three product managers at Google, Facebook and Microsoft answer some of the most frequently asked questions, and analyse real cases to illustrate the mechanisms that regulate the technology that has become part of our daily lives.

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Analysis and key concepts


How any Google search works: from keyword density to the Page Rank algorithm


How does Spotify pick songs and Netflix pick films for each user? Using collaborative filtering


The key factors that influence Facebook’s algorithm: interaction with the creator of a post, other people’s interest in that same post, the type of post and how recent it is


A Mac computer is more difficult to hack than a PC, but is not immune to viruses


Why most are apps available for free download: the freemium economy


How does Facebook earn billions without charging its users a cent?


The documents we archive in the “cloud” are not actually in a cloud, but in massive buildings known as data centres


How Amazon monetises through user data and why they change their prices every 10 minutes


The strengthening of their international presence, data use, domination of the world’s photos and mobile data: why Facebook bought Whatsapp


When a messaging app is an operating system: how WeChat became the “official” app in China




Take-home message

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Many useful tips to:

  • Help find the answers to some of the most common questions about technology and how it works. 
  • Acquire the tools to understand, analyse and make sense of technology.
  • Understand why companies use certain technologies, and how they monetise them.
  • Learn the skills to be able to evaluate the potential success of any given technology.
  • Learn to launch an app or bring structure to company business strategy.

Neel Mehta is a product manager at Google. He has worked for Microsoft, Khan Academy and the US Census Bureau, where he founded the first fully-funded tech internship program in the federal government. He is also a John Harvard Scholar.

Aditya Agashe is a Product Manager at Microsoft. Before taking on this role, he was founder and CEO of Belle Applications. He studied Computer Science and Business at Cornell University, and graduated Cum Laude as a Rawlings Presidential Research Scholar.

Parth Detroja is a Product Manager at Facebook. He has also worked at Microsoft, Amazon and IBM as a project manager and marketer. Detroja studied Applied Economics and Management at Cornell University and graduated Summa Cum Laude as a Merrill Presidential Scholar.

Publishing house:

Createspace Independent Publishing Platform