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. 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.