Sunrise Raises Venture Capital

4 June 2013

The Verge:

Sunrise has a lot of options, but for now, it’s betting on simply being the best Google Calendar app for iPhone (and soon, for Android and other services like iCloud). “We believe the owner of the calendar icon on your phone will build a massive business,” says investor Resolute. Unlike “smart calendar” startups like Tempo which perhaps bit off more than it could chew, the first step was simply bringing in events from all the services you use and making it easy to do common tasks like send a birthday text or get directions. The larger vision is to save you time, which people will pay for, Valade says.

Sunrise is a nice app, but my instinctive feeling is that making money in the calendar app market is a lot more complicated than this interview makes it out to be.

Changing user behaviour is hard. Raising awareness about ‘third party calendar apps’ is hard. Making a splash in a landscape which is unwelcoming is hard.1 Monetising calendars which often include sensitive business information that can’t be shared with third-parties is hard. Making people pay for something which comes bundled with the phone for free is frankly impossible.

On the other hand, do you know what is (relatively) easy? Grow the free product into a free product with a lot of users and get acquired, cash in hand. In the piece, Sunrise’s founder floats a variety of monetisation methods in the article, from targeted ads, to premium tiers and subscription models. This indecision about plans for revenue is characteristic of company’s that are looking for an eventual buyout.

1 On iOS, Apple has shown no desire to allow third-party calendar apps to integrate as deeply with the system as their native Calendar does. On Android, you can change the default calendar, but does anybody actually do it?