Three years after resigning as Yahoo’s CEO, Marissa Mayer has lastly gone public along with her new problem.
On Wednesday, Sunshine launched with its first app specializing in organizing and automating the sensible cellphone handle ebook utilizing A.I. Co-founded by Mayer and a veteran from her tenure at Google and Yahoo, Enrique Muñoz Torres, the app’s focus had been beforehand reported by The Information.
Dubbed Sunshine Contacts, the app seeks to cull double entries whereas updating previous cellphone numbers and emails within the handle ebook by pulling, with consumer permission, contact info from sources corresponding to Apple contacts, LinkedIn, and electronic mail. If a pal leaves a job, as an example, and not has a company line, Sunshine would, theoretically, mechanically detect the change. The providing is at present accessible to iPhone house owners by invitation solely (Coincidentally, whereas I interviewed Mayer, her mom texted to tell her that she’d been left off of Sunshine’s invite checklist). Whereas at present free, Sunshine plans so as to add a paid tier of service someday sooner or later.
The concept might sound easy—and that’s by design.
“In the event you have a look at the grand challenges synthetic intelligence is tackling proper now, there are lots of clever algorithms that may be deployed merely and a simple method,” Mayer says. “In lots of circumstances, [existing tech companies] are engaged on grander challenges, on issues and options that can come to market 5 years from now, or 10 years from now.”
The concept, the duo say, got here whereas they have been nonetheless each at Yahoo. However as Verizon acquired the declining net portal, they realized it wasn’t the precise time and that Yahoo itself “was stepping into a unique path.”
So six months after leaving Yahoo, Mayer and Torres took the thought and began Sunshine, beforehand often known as Lumi Labs.
The last word purpose is to create an ecosystem of apps that enable for what Mayer describes as “sensible, small-scale sharing.” With the contacts app appearing as a base for understanding individuals’s networks and who they work together with, the duo envision extra intuitive methods of organizing occasions, for instance. Maybe sooner or later, an app may mechanically recommend who ought to be invited to a celebration after which discover the perfect time to host the gathering—to keep away from somebody being overlooked. There are different concepts, too: Utilizing picture recognition to pick the perfect pictures at, say, a soccer observe, and utilizing location-sharing and speak to information to recommend mother and father that ought to obtain that info.
Although all of these ambitions require a strong community created from the contacts app.
“All of that’s predicated on us… understanding who our customers would possibly wish to do such actions with,” says Torres. “If we get it proper and begin understanding how individuals relate to one another, then we will begin constructing utility on prime of it.”
As many have famous by now, sensible Rolodexes aren’t a essentially new concept. Additionally, their success depends upon whether or not the irritations of our disorganized contact books are critical sufficient to make individuals search a repair. Till now, customers appeared tremendous with manually coming into their info.
One departure was Bump, a smartphone app that permit customers alternate contact info mechanically by bumping their units collectively. The app was shuttered in 2014 after being acquired by Google.
Having raised $20 million in seed funding from traders together with Felicis Ventures, Uncommon Ventures, Win Ventures, and Mayer herself, Sunshine is actually in its early phases. The corporate has 20 staff, together with some long-term interns.
Mayer had been among the many most high-profile U.S. executives, each as at Google and later at Yahoo. However her ultimate years on the latter have been marked by tumult as her makes an attempt to show Yahoo around flailed whereas its marquee acquisitions like Tumblr soured. Would Mayer sooner or later think about working at one other tech big, in one other govt place?
“I hope we find yourself at a big firm,” says Mayer when requested. “We hope it’s Sunshine.”