Marisa Mayer, former CEO of Yahoo! Inc.
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Former Yahoo CEO Marissa Meyer announced on Wednesday the launch of Sunshine, a custom app launch that debuts with an address book app that relies on artificial intelligence.
Sunshine is Mayer’s first venture and a return to the limelight after he stepped down as Yahoo̵
At startup, Mayer launches Sunshine Contacts, an address book application that relies on AI to find and merge duplicate contacts, fill in incomplete information, and constantly update that information. The app integrates with the iOS Contacts app as well as Gmail and will be free for all iOS users by invitation.
“The idea is that Sunshine Contacts actually becomes the brain that manages your contacts,” Mayer told CNBC. “We think contacts need to be something alive, changing.”
The application is also designed to facilitate the sharing of contact information with other people or to keep this information relevant to others. One feature, for example, allows users to change the contact information in the app and send it as an update to others who have their information and use Sunshine Contacts.
“While working on contacts, some days I just get upset and worried that there are thousands of people who still have my Google email address or Yahoo email address,” Mayer said before demonstrating the feature.
For Mayer, working on custom applications is a return to form. Meyer built his reputation in the technology industry as a product leader during his tenure at Google.
It was there in 2003 that she met Enrique Munoz Torres, its co-founder Sunshine. There, the two collaborated on a number of projects, including iGoogle, a non-existent Google product that allowed users to turn the Google website into a personalized homepage for their browser. Initially, Meyer opposed the idea of iGoogle, but the presentation of Torres’ project sold it.
“I was the keeper of the Google homepage. My job was to keep it clean and Enrique got up and his idea was just to put a bunch of things on it and he knew I was just going to be like ‘No,'” Mayer said. “The way he sometimes forms his arguments makes me think about things differently.”
Torres followed Mayer to Yahoo in 2013, serving as senior vice president of search and advertising. The two began discussing key ideas for Sunshine in their final year at Yahoo, Mayer said. They decided that the ideas didn’t make sense at the time, but it might be worth reconsidering.
The two left Yahoo when the sale of Verizon ended in June 2017.
“Six months later, Enrique called me and we got together, and he was like, ‘I’m still excited to start the company we talked about a year ago,’ and I was like, ‘Me too,'” Meyer recalled.
Marisa Meyer and longtime colleague Enrique Munoz Torres announced the launch of Sunshine and its first application Sunshine Contacts on Wednesday.
The two have been working on Sunshine since 2018. The company is based in Palo, Alto, California and has raised $ 20 million in seeds from domestic and foreign investors, including Felicis Ventures, Unusual Ventures and WIN Ventures.
“Over time, I developed a great deal of respect for Marisa as a product thinker, and also for Marisa as a person,” Torres said. “Working with Marisa for a brainstorming for this company and a brainstorming for products elsewhere, the ranking was always very fast.”
Sunshine Contacts is the first in a set of planned user applications. They aim for Sunshine to launch apps focused on family sharing, planning, organizing events and communicating in small groups along the way. By improving contacts, Sunshine will create a foundation from which it can build other applications, Meyer said.
“We believe that contact problems are widespread, but many people have learned to settle for the status quo,” Torres said. “This is the class of problems we like to gravitate to.”
Meyer described this type of application as “small-scale sharing”, saying that users have evolved over the past few years. They no longer want mega apps to take care of everything for them, but are open to having more apps that are really good at serving specific goals, Meyer said.
“The mega app that does everything for everyone is something that has become less attractive over time,” she said. “We want to have applications that deal with specific problems.”
Consumers also felt more comfortable paying for apps that gave them value, Meyer said. Although Sunshine contacts will be free at launch, Mayer provides an additional freemium business model where users can pay for additional features in Sunshine applications.
Unlike most consumer technology companies, Sunshine promises not to do business with the data that consumers store in their services.
“The data you provide to us is provided to improve your product experience,” Torres said. “We will not target advertising based on this data, we will not sell it in aggregate form, in individual form, in any form.”
He added: “We don’t think it’s wise to make money from consumer data.”