Former Yahoo Inc. CEO Marissa Mayer on Wednesday announced the launch of her new startup – Sunshine, a consumer apps company. Mayer, also a former Google employee, will be making a return to the limelight, having stepped down from her role as Yahoo CEO in 2017 when the company was sold to Verizon in a $4.48 billion deal.
At the launch of the new startup, Mayer unveiled the company’s first product, Sunshine Contacts – an address book app that helps users organize their contact list using artificial intelligence. The app uses AI technology to merge users’ duplicate contacts, fill incomplete information, and regularly keep contact data updated. The app integrates with the iOS Contacts app and Gmail. The app would be freely available to all iOS users with an invitation.
Mayer said the idea behind the Sunshine Contacts app is to have the app become the brain running users’ contacts. With the app, there’s no need for users to manually update changing details of their contacts such as a new residence, new place of work, new mobile number, among others. She said she wanted Contacts to be a living, changing thing.
The Contact app would also allow users to share updated information about themselves to others or keep the information updated for others. Now, you can change certain details in bio and share it with others within the app, and this information will be automatically updated on their end.
Mayer’s new choice of a venture is a testament to a career that has been well-spent in the tech scene. She first started as a product leader in Google, where she learned the rope of what would catapult her to more prominent roles in the tech industry. It was at Google that Mayer met Enrique Munoz Torres, her co-founder in Sunshine. She partnered with him in many projects while at Google, including the now-defunct iGoogle, which allowed users to customize the Google website on their homepage.
When Mayer left for Yahoo in 2013, Torres also went with her to clinch the new role of senior vice president on search and ads. Mayer recalled that it was at Yahoo that the idea of the Sunshine startup crossed their minds. When they left Yahoo in 2017, their thoughts were still focused on putting the concept to reality until this year when it materialized.
Sunshine, based in Palo Alto, California, has raised a $20 million seed investment round from internal and external investors. Some of its investors include Felicis Ventures, Unusual Ventures, and WIN Ventures.
Sunshine Contacts is just the first in a long line of products that would be released in the coming months as the startup grows, according to Mayer. She said the startup aims to build apps geared towards family sharing, scheduling, event planning, and small group communication.
Mayer said that although the app would be free at launch, the company plans to adopt a freemium business model in the future. She noted that consumers are comfortable paying for apps that provide them with value. So, users of Sunshine Contacts would all be too happy to join the app community and pay for top-notch functionalities they would be getting.
The company promised to keep users’ data private and not sell them to third parties, as has become the norm among tech companies today. Mayer said she disagreed with business models where firms profited off users’ data. She concluded that Sunshine would not place targeted ads on their products using users’ data.