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Marissa Mayer’s startup just launched an app for group photo sharing and event planning, and the internet doesn’t know what to think

When Marissa Mayer co-founded a startup in Palo Alto, California, six years ago, expectations were high for the former Yahoo CEO and early Google employee. When the startup Sunshine revealed that its first app would be centered around subscription software for contact management, people wondered if something more ambitious was on the horizon.Today, Sunshine launches two equally mundane features—event organizing and photo sharing—on the Internet Comment by Definitely is confused.

Last week, when Mayer introduced me to Sunshine’s new product, I, too, was confused. While everything Sunshine offers has an AI component, it’s hard to fathom how Sunshine’s new Photos app can enhance existing photo sharing, and the same goes for its new Events app, which looks an awful lot like a 20 Design s things. A few years ago, like other apps, it encouraged users to share photos related to events organized on the platform. (The photos are hosted on Shine’s servers and are “available indefinitely,” Mayer said, adding that users can easily share albums and send invitations via text, iMessage, email and other communication and sharing platforms.)

It would be easy to dismiss this 15-person team as out of place. But what Mayer may be interested in in “Sunshine” is nostalgia. While most Silicon Valley startups focus on the latest thing, as the U.S. Census Bureau announced last year, America is getting older. Mayer said Sunshine is solving problems for people of “all ages,” but targeting an older demographic that gravitates toward familiar products and away from overly complex products would be a smart move. Senior Americans now account for a record share of spending. They had time to socialize and take photos. Sunshine’s interface even sports the purple hue long associated with Yahoo, which she famously led for five years starting in 2012.

When asked if the design choice was intentional, Mayer seemed surprised, calling it “pure coincidence.”

Of course, Mayer thought something simpler was needed. “There are a lot of companies that are focused on the frontier and frontier of artificial intelligence,” she said. “But we think AI can do a lot of things to help solve everyday problems, things that we experience every day but are often overlooked.”

For example, she noted that before launching events and photo sharing, Sunshine launched a birthday app as a “proximity area for addresses and contacts.”

She declined to disclose the number of customers, but the move is reminiscent of an app called BirthdayAlarm.com run by entrepreneurs Michael and Xochi Birch. The birthday reminder and e-card site wasn’t exactly cutting-edge in design, but at one point it had more than 50 million registered members, boosting revenue for the couple, who had earlier sold a social media company to AOL for $850 million in cash. millions of dollars. Dollar.

Perhaps not surprisingly, Mayer was a friend of Burch’s and said she was “definitely influenced by Michael.” He spoke of the fact that [BirthdayAlarm] is a very simple application and has received a lot of attention early on. “

Sunshine doesn’t seem to see that traction in its contact management product. But perhaps the current “fundamental disruption” of free photo sharing and event planning will be a game-changer for Sunshine, which raised $20 million in funding in 2020 but is largely self-funded, Mayer said funds.

Regardless, Mayer had other tricks up her sleeve, which eventually included video sharing. “We always knew we were going to be a portfolio company,” she said last week. “The core argument has always been to transform the ordinary into the magical.”

The team “thought about calling it Mundane AI,” she continued. “Sometimes I think that might be a better name.”

Disclosure: TechCrunch is owned by Yahoo.


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