Marissa Mayer’s startup just rolled out photo sharing and event planning apps, and the internet isn’t sure what to think

Marissa Mayer’s startup just rolled out photo sharing and event planning apps, and the internet isn’t sure what to think post thumbnail image

When Marissa Mayer co-founded a startup six years in the past in Palo Alto, Ca., expectations had been sky excessive for the previous Yahoo CEO and early Google worker. When that startup, Sunshine, revealed that its first app centered round subscription software program for contact administration, individuals questioned if one thing extra bold may be across the nook. As we speak, after Sunshine launched two equally mundane options – occasion organizing and picture sharing – web commenters had been decidedly mystified.

I used to be additionally baffled final week, when Mayer walked me by Sunshine’s new choices. Although there are AI elements to all that Sunshine affords, it’s onerous to grasp how Sunshine’s new picture app enhances picture sharing because it exists as we speak, and the identical could possibly be stated of its new occasions app, which appears very very similar to one thing that was designed 20 years in the past and, like different apps, encourages customers to share pictures tied to occasions organized on the platform. (The pictures are hosted on Shine’s servers and “accessible indefinitely,” stated Mayer, including that customers can share albums and ship invitations simply by textual content, iMessage, e mail and different communication and sharing platforms.)

It’s tempting to dismiss the 15-person outfit as out of contact. However Mayer could also be onto one thing with Sunshine, and that’s nostalgia. Whereas most Silicon Valley startups give attention to the most recent new factor, America is getting older, because the U.S. Census Bureau declared final yr. Mayer says Sunshine is tackling issues for individuals “of all ages,” however concentrating on a barely older demographic that gravitates towards the acquainted can be a wise transfer. Older Individuals now account for a report share of spending. They’ve the time to socialize and take photos. Sunshine’s interface is even steeped in the identical purple hue that was lengthy related to Yahoo, which she famously led for 5 years starting in 2012.

Requested if the design alternative was intentional, Mayer appeared shocked for a second, calling it “purely coincidental.”

Mayer sees the necessity for one thing easier, definitely. “There are lots of corporations that target that bleeding and vanguard of AI,” she stated. “However we expect there’s lots of issues that may be finished with AI that simply assist with on a regular basis issues, issues that all of us expertise day-after-day, and are sometimes ignored.”

She talked about, for instance, that earlier than launching occasions and picture sharing, Sunshine  rolled out a birthday app as “form of an adjoining space to addresses and contacts.”

She declined to debate buyer numbers, however the product is paying homage to an app run by entrepreneurs Michael and Xochi Birch referred to as BirthdayAlarm.com. The birthday reminder and e-card web site will not be precisely design ahead, however with greater than 50 million registered members at one level, it has made the couple — who earlier bought a social media firm to AOL for $850 million in cash — many thousands and thousands extra {dollars}.

Mayer is mates with Birch and says she was “undoubtedly influenced by Michael. He talked about the truth that [BirthdayAlarm] was a quite simple app and bought lots of traction early on.”

Sunshine seemingly didn’t see that form of traction from contacts administration, an space the place customers have largely steered clear owing partly to privateness considerations. However maybe easy and free (for now) picture sharing and occasion planning will change the sport for Sunshine, which raised a $20 million round in 2020 and is essentially self-funded, per Mayer.

Within the meantime, Mayer has different methods up her sleeve, together with, ultimately, video sharing. “I’ve bought a listing of all of the various things that we thought shall be within the first model and can hopefully come out quickly after,” she stated final week. “We all the time knew we’d be a portfolio firm. The core thesis has all the time been to take the mundane and make it magical.”

The staff “considered naming it Mundane AI,” she continued. “I generally assume which may have been a greater identify.”

Disclosure: TechCrunch is owned by Yahoo.


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