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Microsoft Acquires Calendar App Sunrise for North of $100M (techcrunch.com)
288 points by jonas21 on Feb 4, 2015 | hide | past | favorite | 111 comments



Very interesting.

A key feature of Sunrise is ""Users can access their calendars from Google, iCloud, and Microsoft Exchange, as well as connecting to a wide range of other third-party apps. "

Microsoft clearly understands that data-portability is becoming a major feature / factor in purchasing decisions.

Google, on the other hand, keeps trimming portability - particularly with MSFT.

In august, for instance, they killed Google Calendar Sync which made for simplified syncing with Outlook Calendar. (1)

If portability is what's driving this acquisition and strategy I am excited to see what's coming next.

(1) https://support.google.com/calendar/answer/6054804?hl=en


I'm an Exchange user with a Nexus 4, and the most recent Android update has really made my life tough.

First, they removed the normal email app, forcing me to use Gmail. I really dislike the Gmail app.

Next, they removed the normal calendar app, and replaced it with Google Calendar. I preferred the old one, and I don't use Google Calendar, I use Exchange.

And of course, I lost about 80% of my contacts (also stored on my Exchange account).

I've since switched to Nine[1] and turned off Sync on my exchange account (via Android settings), and that's fixed a lot of my problems. I can't recommend Nine enough.

Its frustrating. I liked the old "vanilla" Android. I just want an OS that stays the way I configured it, instead of changing its interface and removing applications at random.

Anyone else have this experience? What's the option? Cyanogen? I just want a phone that works; I don't want to spend my whole life on this.

[1] https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.ninefolder...


I was in a similar boat, and switching to WP8 solved most of my calendar issues (and a lot of UI issues, as well). It also has very good support for multiple email accounts of different types. Not surprisingly, it has excellent Exchange support, but that's no guarantee it will be painless, due to the many bizarre configuration options offered to Exchange administrators:

1. There's no guarantee that autoconfiguration will work, especially if your address is user@example.edu but your server is exchange.example.edu.

2. You may be required to lock your screen with a password.

3. You may be required to allow remote wiping of your device (by your email provider, seriously?).

4. You may be required to enable ActiveSync in an out-of-band operation.

To make matters worse, error messages from any of the above tend to be completely meaningless.

But once you get past those hurdles, it's actually a pretty nice experience.

If you need to access calendars from other systems, you might be able to import or subscribe to them in your Microsoft account (live/outlook/onedrive/yahoo.com) online. I was able to integrate the school calendars of my children this way. It's not intuitive, but it's a set-and-forget task.


Exchange compatibility is a bit hit and miss right now though: the full suite of Activesync policies is not available, meaning that a lot of nifty functionality that I tended to rely on back in the day (SMS sync to email inbox is one...) don't work anymore. I'm hoping WP10 brings that stuff back.

As a sidenote, this is the first time I have ever seen the solution to anything be "switch to WP8". Neat!


If there's anything that still is a horrible UI on WP8 it's the email app. It's wretched folder interactions are useless. More than any other "base app", the email app needs updating. Of course the new email app MS pushed to Android/iOS is gorgeous, but not for us WP8 folks. We're not good enough.


I think that really depends on how you use email, and since original WP was all about simplicity, the app is tailored more for a simple use (I just read email, don't delete/sort or anything else)


Yeah, deleting is really a power user feature


There is deleting and sorting (moving to another folders) and is any more time-wasting than other apps I've used. I have no idea what is he talking about.


At the risk of being tarred and feathered. Did you consider a blackberry z30. I was given one through work and I wouldn't go back. Solid battery life, awesome inbox and phone capabilities. Browser is Essentially safari and the apps aren't too bad. You give up the App Store or google play but the upside is it just works.


Or, and this is going way out on a limb, maybe a Windows Phone since the GP is an Exchange user?


The two apps you mentioned are open source. You could just grab them, build them and load them. Here are links to some of the code you'll need: https://android.googlesource.com/platform/packages/apps/Emai... https://android.googlesource.com/platform/packages/apps/Cale... https://android.googlesource.com/platform/packages/apps/Exch...

I've never built them outside of a whole platform build so you might (read: probably) will hit issues. This could be a fun project for someone and it sounds like there is demand.


The f-droid store provides exactly what you described:

https://f-droid.org/repository/browse/?fdfilter=aosp&fdid=or...


That's good info, but I think you missed the part where parent commenter lamented:

> I don't want to spend my whole life on this.


You can get them with cyanogenmod as well, but there's a deeper issue. There's been an outstanding series of bugs with 4.4.3 and 4.4.4 that have prevented exchange from actually connecting running. I haven't been able to even bring up the old email app since upgrading to 4.4.4.


The stock EMail app is on Play Store - https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.google.and.... - does this not work for you or have they blocked installs on Nexus devices?


I had the exact same situation after my Nexus 7 updated.

Bonus WTF: the old email app had a view that combined all your inboxes in one places; the Gmail app does not. So for me (who uses several email accounts, none of which are on Gmail) it was a pretty dramatic downgrade.


Try K-9 mail. It's based on the original Android AOSP Email app and is open source and free on the Play store.

It has the unified inbox view and a number of other goodies. I've been using it for years without any problems.


I'm using cyanogenmod 11 on my galaxy nexus, which still has the email and calendar applications with exchange sync. It looks like contacts sync should work too.


I'd go with windows phone or iphone potentially now they are getting more microsoft support. No chance of the mail app getting replaced on either of those.


I had and used the Nexus One, S and Galaxy Nexus before moving to the iPhone 5 (since it finally had LTE and turn by turn nav). I was tired of shitty hardware design and bad battery life. If you're looking for a pretty controlled vanilla experience where you don't have to do everything the iPhone works pretty well and they're basically the same in terms of features.


Touchdown will take care of Calendar, Email, and Contacts with exchange. It's not as pretty as some of the others, but it's the most feature rich by far. It's basically Outlook for Android.


I am on 4.4.4 (Samsung though). The default calendar and email apps are still on there. Doesn't Nexus remove the default Android browser and replace it with Chrome too?


Nine is just brilliant. Only thing it is missing is alias handling.


That's what you get when you let designers loose over your product.


What? The designers start making incredibly strategic decisions and start cutting out functionality that was used by a margin of the customers that only benefited the competition (and the user)?


Microsoft clearly understands that data-portability is becoming a major feature / factor in purchasing decisions. Google, on the other hand, keeps trimming portability - particularly with MSFT.

I don't think so. It's super easy to export all of your data from Google, whereas there's no way to export your contacts from Office 365 Exchange, unless you use some external client.


That's really just a mismatch between classical Microsoft thinking and your expectations. Exchange is supposed to be a server-only product, invisible to end users. Outlook is the main full-fledged client to Exchange. Office 365 comes with a free Outlook 2013 installation (not sure if on other platforms than Windows), and Outlook has options to export/import/mess up everything you can put in Exchange.

This was never a problem historically because nearly every user of Exchange also had a Windows computer with Outlook on it. With the 365 cloud stuff, however, it means that certain key features aren't available to you unless you first install a slow and bloated desktop email client. I'm a happy office 365 customer yet I only have Outlook for the kinds of features you mention.

I hope they catch up and simply make Outlook.com (and the Office 365 webmail, which is basically the same thing) have all those features too.


> they killed Google Calendar Sync

Just FYI, GO Contact Sync Mod[0] works very well for me as a replacement for Calendar Sync.

[0]http://googlesyncmod.sourceforge.net/


This helps get around lock-in. Smart!


Congrats to the Sunrise team! They built the calendar app I always wanted Kiko to be. Pretty cool to see startups succeed in this space.


My immediate thought was Kiko - I think you guys were the first YC startup that I was actively rooting for, and I still use you as a case study in my presentation on 'Valuation model paradigm shifts'.

And yes, so glad you've had the deserved subsequent successes. It would hurt had you given up, and saw this happen while sitting in a dead-end job somewhere.


What's Kiko? Not sarcasm.



The guy you're responding to is Justin of twitch.tv. He was in the original YC batch making a calandar known as Kiko


thanks for pointing out. i don't remember the name Kiko but the logo looked familiar somehow. 2005, wow.


Ah, gotcha. Thanks.


We can expect something similar to what happened to Acompli: rebranding first, quick release then a probable tighter integration with MS products.

It's incredible though that a calendar app is worth >$100M.


It is a lot of money. But then again given this will likely be central to the Exchange/Outlook products it is a bargain.

Microsoft desperately needs to hold onto the enterprise given that they are getting beaten a bit in the consumer space.


They're also getting beaten in the enterprise space.

Most non-tech workers want everything through their phone. Microsoft had almost no presence there until the last year.

To be fair, the bigger obstacle, to me, is I don't want Google or Microsoft to have access to my data--ever. Especially since they are almost always going to be one of the buyers of a tech company I'm involved with, I don't want them being able to see exactly what I do, how I do it, and what my marketing and sales are.


> They're also getting beaten in the enterprise space. Most non-tech workers want everything through their phone.

No they don't. Most enterprise workers spend all day in front of a desktop Windows PC.


Hopefully without all the security blunders of that:

https://blog.winkelmeyer.com/2015/01/warning-microsofts-outl...


It's not the app itself as much as the users of said app.


I would say it is probably both. calendaring tech is actually much harder than most people believe. both for usable design and efficient implementation. I say that having worked on the outlook.com/hotmail team a few years ago.

and interestingly this is the second calendaring acquisition microsoft has done, having bought jump.com back in 1999.


users, plus relationships with the various services they had integrated into the app (eventbrite, foursquare, evernote, song kick, asana, todoist.....). 100 million is a lot, but sunrise was a well thought out, well executed product


A calendar skin.


I see some comments like 'how can a calendar app be worth $100M?' but I'd suspect those people have never used Sunrise.

When you first download Sunrise you think 'wow, I can actually enjoy my calendar app!'. It's beautiful, fast, works on every platform and with every calendar provider.

Then you integrate it with all of your other services and you see how calendar can rival email as the center of your digital life. If you think about it, we should be checking our calendars to find out what we need to do, not our email.

Congrats to Joey (shoutout to HackNY!) and the rest of the team. This is a great reward for building a great app in an essential category.


Mega congrats to Joey who did a ton of work. I hope he decides to stay in NYC.


Does anyone know what's different/interesting about their calendar? The company home page and app store pages don't bother with a product overview.


Integration with various services like Trello, Todoist, Evernote, Asana etc. in one calendar.

I hope this acquisition means we'll finally see Exchange support on the web.


It's a nice interface to deal with multiple calendars from different sources (like 2 different Gmail accounts). That wasn't as easy to do with the regular GCal. It's quite a bit faster than GCal on the desktop.

Sunrise's Android app is comparable to the GCal app on Android 5.0.


Tried to use it, but god damn!

"Sunrise Calendar will receive the following info: your public profile, friend list, email address, birthday, work history, education history, events, groups and current city and your friends' birthdays, work histories and education histories."

Yeah, not gonna happen.


Wow what drives up the valuation that much, is it a big userbase, lots of investors to pay back, or something else?


It's going to be user base. Microsoft needs users, and so you look at what the users are worth to you and offer that number.


500k-1m users (According to Google Play doesn't seem like much. It seems more like a strategic buy to me, the way Microsoft has been trying to push the boundaries of late with cloud productivity tech


> drives up the valuation

from what to what?


To put it another way, why is a calendar application worth $100 million?


That is a much better way of phrasing the question.

It's almost certainly because of some combination of the following factors:

1. Widespread usage, 2. Interesting, novel, or useful technology, 3. Strategic importance to the acquirer.

It's a bit like asking why the transfer of a soccer player costs $100,000,000. It's because someone is willing to pay it.


did sunrise have wide-spread usage though - i do not know anyone that uses it


They attracted 250,000 users in 7 months after launch[1], and that was iPhone only.

[1] http://techcrunch.com/2013/10/03/sunrise-2-0-brings-icloud-c...


As with Acompli, Sunrise looks nice and has some nice features, but I can't get over the privacy/security problems. I'm interested to see how Microsoft can improve things.


> privacy/security problems

It's a calendar app. This stuff already syncs like crazy as it is. I would never consider a calendar secure, and would never put confidential information in it.


A calendar can't be useful without information on who you're meeting and where. For some people, that is highly confidential information.


Sounds like paper and pen is good for you. :)


That's an idiotic response.

Think of, for example, medical offices: patient names are PHI. Assuming Microsoft does with Sunrise that it did with Acompli, I could easily see a small medical office thinking, "hey, this calendar is really cool and it's from Microsoft, so it's okay to use".

Should they have read the FAQ and seen that it's not HIPAA compliant? Of course. I can also see easily how Microsoft's reputation in business could lead to the assumption that their new acquisitions are business-grade, in spite of their consumer origins.

To bring it around to my original point, I'm interested to see how Microsoft can improve these apps to the point where they meet the expectations for Microsoft's business products.


> That's an idiotic response.

You're inability to sense the sarcasm makes your entire response idiotic. Typical HN bullshit.


Met one of the founders at a google business growth event. Really well spoken and nice guy. Good for them. Happy for the team :)


I think this was the wrong purchase. Sunrise has no ability to dial conference calls from the calendar, the #1 feature for business users. And based on their response to my RFE, they have no plans of implementing it. I don't understand why they didn't go for tempo calendar. Sunrise looks nice, but the feature set is severely lacking compared to its competitors.

Oh internet warriors, I'd love to hear why my opinion is "wrong" rather than trying to bury a legitimate comment that applies directly to the discussion at hand.


Their development roadmap could easily change after the acquisition. More importantly, Microsoft already has plenty of people who have a lot of experience adding enterprise features to products. It makes far more sense for them to buy the calendar company that is best at the things they don't have, rather than the one that has more of the features they can straightforwardly add.


I would have made a calendar app if I had known it would be worth that much.

Edit: It features the JQueryUI date picker. Funny how such value can come from free software.


I guess the lesson is to build the things that interest you whether an acquisition is coming your way or not. I work at a big company that acquires a lot smaller companies (much smaller deals though) and all the guys we pick up, were just trying to scratch their own itch, and got an acquisition for executing and filling a key hole in our business.

You really just never know.


Just noticed they require read and write access to public and private repositories for GitHub integration. Is it really necessary?


I was pretty sketched by this when I was looking at it over the summer. I'm also curious on their reasoning.

Does anyone on here use the Github integration? What do you get out of it?


hello - pierre from sunrise here we wish we could use a better scope just for milestones in github but unfortunately in order to have milestones and issues in Github API we need to ask for the private repo. https://developer.github.com/v3/oauth/#scopes feel free to ask Github about that too :)


One of my most indispensable apps on iOS. I use it multiple times per day. I hope the excellent integration remains. My guess is that Sunrise will stay on its own or become the next version of Outlook's calendar on iOS (which is fine by me as long as it remains free and usable with my Google Calendar as well.)

Congratulations to the team!


Do they still do this? :

>Upon first launch, Sunrise invites you to create an account, then asks you to add a calendar. The first option, “iCloud Calendar”, brings you to a screen where the Sunrise app itself, in its native interface and code, solicits your Apple ID (iCloud) email address and password. […]

Cause that doesn't sound to appealing... I am already on edge about "logging in with facebook" on 3rd party sites even though that login widget comes directly from facebook and not the site itself. But to flat out make your own textboxes where you ask the user to enter their AppleID and password? That's just wrong.


As danbee said, it's the only way to do it. You should be able to set up an app-specific password via Apple's site first and provide that instead.


I have a feeling this is the only way they can do it with iCloud. All other services take you to a service specific authorisation page.


We need support for CalDav open-source servers, e.g. owncloud, zimbra. Nov 2014 status was "not yet": https://twitter.com/mathur_anurag/status/434729199144689665


We need to make it trivial for anyone to run their own core infrastructure (mail, contacts and calendar). I'm working towards this using unikernels - http://nymote.org/blog/2013/introducing-nymote/


Is the vision that these would be run at home and/or in the public cloud? Home offers more legal protection, but NAT hole punching requires a public rendezvous server. What would be the process of porting the services in ownCloud to Nymote/Mirage, do they need to be rewritten in ocaml?


While I'll always be amazed to see apps like this selling for such huge sums of money, I have to say Microsoft has good taste in apps. First Accompli, now Sunrise. They're basically going down the list of my favorite third-party Android apps.


Queue up the chorus of rumors (which are starting to seem non-rumorish lately) of Microsoft eventually enabling Android apps on Windows Phone (and listen for the wailing and gnashing of teeth of loyal .NET Xaml WP devs everywhere).


Congrats Pierre, Jeremy and team!


One reason why: to integrate with Cortana https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Microsoft_Cortana


How exactly do you think that they will incorporate Sunrise with Cortana and why is it any different from what they can do now with Cortana and Exchange calendar?


I just started using this app. I hope that they don't shutdown the service and make it Microsoft only. Keep with the way Skype is going. Fingers crossed.


This acquisition likely had a bit to do with the access sunrise has to so many non-microsoft calendar accounts.


I'm not surprised. The calendar in the new iOS Outlook app is almost 1:1 with Sunrise's UX.


MSFT should integrate sunrise into Outlook(Accompli) and provide it as a stand alone.


While congrats and good for them, it seems that some companies have money to burn.


Best calendar app for android.


I use Sunrise and I hope they dont shut this app down, but I'm pretty sure they will.


Dude, read the article:

> We’ve heard Microsoft will keep the Sunrise apps alive as stand-alone products, while using some of the startup’s technology for its own future products.


What people hear MS will do and what MS says it will do doesn't really mean too much to me. It's the actions that count.

I remember when lots of people told me how great it was going to be when MS bought Virtual PC for Mac (from Connectix) back in the day...

After MS touched the code, it was the first (and only) app to ever give my Mac a kernel panic. Then, it got even "greater" when MS discontinued Virtual PC for Mac entirely. MS bought it and killed a great app for Mac.

Will Sunrise avoid getting borged and ruined by MS? I hope not, but I'm not counting on it, either.


>> "back in the day..."

Times change. Look at some of their recent moves. It would be unusual for them to shut this down entirely. Probably a rebrand and then continued growth is what'll happen.


> It would be unusual for them to shut this down entirely.

Right, but what they have done is shut down development on certain platforms. For example, they'll continue to develop Sunrise for Windows Phone, Windows OS but not for Android and/or make it unusable on Android, Mac, iOS, etc. by degrading the code.

They have a solid history of doing this. There's also a solid history of people telling me not to worry about it and being proven wrong over time. Again, color me skeptical.


Anyone concerned they will pull gCal support to drive customers towards MSFT products?


Uh, this is the Microsoft who integrated Dropbox into Office 365 as a first-class citizen, alongside OneDrive.

They've discovered that one of the ways to success, aside from vendor lock-in, is to make your product integrate with as many other products as possible


Yea I guess I'm still getting used to the new MSFT (partnerships, open source, ec.)


How would that possibly work? Removing Google Calendar support wouldn't drive anyone toward Microsoft. It would just drive them away from Sunrise. People don't choose their Calendar provider based on Sunrise support. They choose their Calendar provider first and might use Sunrise if it supports their Calendar and they like it.


hey – pierre from sunrise here i agree – we will continue to support Google Calendar


Hey, since I've got you on the line, so to speak, is there a fix for Exchange accounts on Lollipop coming? I love Sunrise but can't sync my work calendar to it on Android Lollipop, which unfortunately makes it not useful now.

Reviews in the Play store indicate that I'm not the only one hitting this issue, but I couldn't find anything acknowledging the issue on the Sunrise support site.


What Exchange server are you using?


Pretty sure I'm actually hosted on O365, but I don't think it's relevant. Sunrise doesn't even see the account when I try to add an Exchange calendar. It pops up a message saying something like "There is no Exchange accounts [sic] on this phone". This seems potentially related to the fact that the Gmail app is now handling Exchange accounts instead of the default Mail app.

Here are a couple of reviews that mention this issue:

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=am.sunrise.and...

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=am.sunrise.and...


Actually it looks like this was fixed in a rollout on the 4th. I wasn't seeing that update when I looked yesterday, but it's working now. :)


Isn't Google trying to do that when they kill CalDav support?


I think sunrise (and just about every other app that integrates google calendar) uses the Calendar API, not CalDav.


GCal support is the who point of the product, no?


If they don't, definitely will be switching off. I love that it integrates with my FB events and various google calendars.


There is no benefit for MSFT to do that. If anything they are doing it to get gCal support onto their own mobile offerings.


Given what they did with Accompli, not at all




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