Marissa Mayer and new trends

Marissa Mayer’s Startup Goes Subscription Route, Reflecting Broader Shift in Tech

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Marissa Mayer built her career at big companies reliant on digital advertising, initially at Google and later as CEO of Yahoo. But in her first startup, Sunshine, Mayer has opted to go in the opposite direction. Sunshine plans to charge consumers for subscriptions to generate revenue for its products, which will start with a contact management app and evolve to include appointment scheduling, event hosting and other apps, she told attendees of The Information’s Future of Startups Conference.

“We think that consumers are getting more and more open to paying for services and recognizing if you actually add value to them, paying a few dollars a month on a subscription model makes a lot of sense,” she said in the interview. Her thinking reflects a shift in attitudes more broadly in Silicon Valley away from a reliance on advertising, although Mayer acknowledged how challenging it is for companies like Facebook to change course now.

It’s really just one data point showing the increase in the SaaS business model rather than a application buy or advertising model.

Here’s another article on the company:…

Sunshine has been focused on using sophisticated technologies, like AI, to improve the common applications people use every day.

Or, as Mayer puts it, “if technology can drive a car, how come it can’t just organize my contacts, make scheduling easier or do some things that seem a lot more straightforward?” She says the goal with Lumi Labs — or now Sunshine, as it’s called — is to make those everyday apps better and more frictionless.

So, applying AI to mundane tasks we take for granted as having to do manually.

Given that Sunshine Contact’s feature set is not exactly breaking new ground, the app will need to try to impress on how well it’s able to perform the tasks at hand.

“I think that the artificial intelligence that we’ve deployed in the app really comes through when you look at the quality,” explains Mayer. For example, she says, other apps’ approach to deduplicating contacts is often fairly basic — only recognizing that there were two “Adam Smiths,” but not digging into the details to realize they were different people.

“They don’t take a confidence interval and signal and evidence-based approach,” Mayer says. “So I think you’ll see the A.I. in the in the quality of the merges, the quality of things like name completion, and nickname identification.

While I think Mayer’s company will have a tough slog in front of it, even with her name attached, it is interesting to see how AI and SaaS are trends gaining traction.