When Marissa Mayer co-founded a startup six years in the past in Palo Alto, Ca., expectations have been sky excessive for the previous Yahoo CEO and early Google worker. When that startup, Sunshine, revealed that its first app centered round subscription software program for contact administration, folks puzzled if one thing extra formidable is likely to be across the nook. At the moment, after Sunshine launched two equally mundane options – occasion organizing and photograph sharing – web commenters have been decidedly mystified.

I used to be additionally baffled final week, when Mayer walked me by way of Sunshine’s new choices. Although there are AI parts to all that Sunshine presents, it’s exhausting to know how Sunshine’s new photograph app enhances photograph sharing because it exists at this time, and the identical may very well be mentioned of its new occasions app, which appears to be like very very similar to one thing that was designed 20 years in the past and, like different apps, encourages customers to share photographs tied to occasions organized on the platform. (The photographs are hosted on Shine’s servers and “out there indefinitely,” mentioned Mayer, including that customers can share albums and ship invitations simply by way of textual content, iMessage, electronic mail and different communication and sharing platforms.)

It’s tempting to dismiss the 15-person outfit as out of contact. However Mayer could also be onto one thing with Sunshine, and that’s nostalgia. Whereas most Silicon Valley startups concentrate on the most recent new factor, America is getting older, because the U.S. Census Bureau declared final yr. Mayer says Sunshine is tackling issues for folks “of all ages,” however concentrating on a barely older demographic that gravitates towards the acquainted can be a wise transfer. Older People now account for a report share of spending. They’ve the time to socialize and take footage. Sunshine’s interface is even steeped in the identical purple hue that was lengthy related to Yahoo, which she famously led for 5 years starting in 2012.

Requested if the design alternative was intentional, Mayer appeared shocked for a second, calling it “purely coincidental.”

Mayer sees the necessity for one thing easier, definitely. “There are lots of corporations that concentrate on that bleeding and forefront of AI,” she mentioned. “However we predict there’s lots of issues that may be performed with AI that simply assist with on a regular basis issues, issues that all of us expertise every single day, and are sometimes missed.”

She talked about, for instance, that earlier than launching occasions and photograph sharing, that Sunshine  rolled out a birthday app as “form of an adjoining space to addresses and contacts.”

She declined to debate buyer numbers, however the transfer is reminiscent an app run by entrepreneurs Michael and Xochi Birch known as BirthdayAlarm.com. The birthday reminder and e-card website isn’t precisely design ahead, however with greater than 50 million registered members at one level, it has made the couple — who earlier offered a social media firm to AOL for $850 million in money — many thousands and thousands extra {dollars}.

Maybe unsurprisingly, Mayer is buddies with Birch and says she was “undoubtedly influenced by Michael. He talked about the truth that [BirthdayAlarm] was a quite simple app and bought lots of traction early on.”

Sunshine seemingly didn’t see that form of traction from its contacts administration providing. However maybe the “basically damaged” act of free-for-now photograph sharing and occasion planning will change the sport for Sunshine, which raised a $20 million round in 2020 however is basically self-funded, per Mayer.

Both manner, Mayer has different methods up her sleeve, together with, finally, video sharing. “We all the time knew we’d be a portfolio firm,” she mentioned final week. “The core thesis has all the time been to take the mundane and make it magical.”

The staff “considered naming it Mundane AI,” she continued. “I typically suppose that may have been a greater identify.”

Disclosure: For Millionaires is owned by Yahoo.