In search of things new and useful.
Saying Farewell to my Favorite Feature
Earlier this week, we got the inevitable news that support for the Sunrise Calendar was coming to an end. This was very bittersweet for the team there, and for me since I was a very avid user and early investor and board member of the company.
I’m particularly sad however because I must now say farewell to the single most helpful productivity product I have ever used. That product is the “Meet” scheduler that is available through the web version of sunrise, as well as through an alternative keyboard on mobile. In honor of this moment, I thought I’d share why I found this product so brilliant and perfect, at least for me.
As a VC, I am scheduling a lot of meetings. Most of these meetings are scheduled with a single-party, and it’s a good mix of meetings with people I already know vs. folks I’m connecting with for the first time. I have a few other particular needs:
- I’m cheap. I don’t want to pay for something
- I’m picky and my schedule varies significantly from day to day. I need control
- I feel like it’s a little awkward to pass someone off to an assistant, especially if that assistant is a bot
- I care about the time of the person on the other end. I want it to be easier for them too, not just for me
The Other Solutions:
I don’t want to bash other solutions, but they don’t work for me. Some products allow you to create a link surfacing a sanitized version of my own schedule. This is tricky because it ends up being more time consuming for the person on the other end and makes it hard for me to manage the nuance of my schedule. For example, if I have a 10AM meeting in the office, I know that I can take a 9AM meeting in the office, or an 8:30AM meeting elsewhere. I like visiting companies in their own space, so it’s hard for me to build in that kind of logic if I just expose my schedule. The other solution is an AI based assistant. Having been on the other side of this, I also find that these assistants don’t handle nuances very well and the back and forth is kind of a pain. They are also no instantaneous. On a number of occasions, I’ve been scheduling something with someone using a virtual assistant, and by using Meet, I end up scheduling the meeting before the assistant even gets around to contacting me. I appreciate that speed.
The Brilliance of Meet:
Here’s how Meet works. It’s a link in my calendar that essentially lets me select a bunch of time blocks that I’d be available for a meeting. I can pick as many as I want. It then generates a link that I can send to the person I’m scheduling with. They click the link, see the list of times, figure out the one that works for them, and boom – it auto-confirms on both ends like magic. One step and done.
If the other person has Sunrise, even better – they will see the proposed times not as a list of openings, but within their own calendar. Even better. This only breaks if none of the proposed times work. But what I end up doing is proposing a lot of times, and I’ve had less than a 5% fail rate.
The beauty of this product is that I can offer a bunch of overlapping times to a bunch of different people. If one time slot has been selected, it automatically disappears from the list of other recipients by the time they click the link. No risk of double-booking. It’s really magic.
On mobile, Pierre and Jeremy were the first founders to show me that they could use the ability to surface alternate keyboards as a way to solve this problem. It would allow me in my email to switch to the Meet keyboard, which would surface my calendar, and allow me to tap the times I wanted to offer, and then generate a link right into my email. Doing this on phone was even faster than on desktop, which was an amazing feet for what is typically a more difficult challenge.
Sadly, I must say farewell to this wonderful feature. Perhaps it will live on in some form on the outlook app (it kind of exists, but not quite) or on outlook calendar for web. For now, I must find another solution for what I know is my very particular use case. But reflecting on Meet reminds me of how special the team at Sunrise was in developing products. Meet was beautiful in its simplicity. It was incredibly practical. And it was the product of a commitment to great, not good user experience. When the team was developing the feature, I remember a number of false starts that I thought was already much better than what existed in the market, but then the team scrapped it and started over. It’s the reason why they built the best calendar app in a category that was very competitive, and it’s the reason why I’m so confident that that group will continue to build amazing things now and into the future.