Wunderlist Creator Wants to Buy Back the App From Microsoft

Posted on September 9, 2019 by Mehedi Hassan in Microsoft with 16 Comments

Microsoft first acquired to-do list app Wunderlist back in June of 2015. At the time, Microsoft said it’d be bringing Wunderlist’s features into its own apps and services. In April 2017, the company said it’s launching its own app called Microsoft To-Do, which will eventually replace Wunderlist. Microsoft promised to transition Wunderlist users over to Microsoft To-Do, though that new app was seriously lacking in terms of features. The company had also run into some migration issues with the Wunderlist infrastructure, leading to a botched acquisition.

Wunderlist users were obviously quite upset with all the announcements, and although Microsoft has made good progress with its To-Do app in the recent times, some still want Wunderlist to make an actual comeback. Here’s the thing: Wunderlist is yet to be shut down by Microsoft, though it plans to make that happen once Microsoft To-Do has feature parity with Wunderlist.

And now, Wunderlist founder Christian Reber is requesting Microsoft to let him buy back Wunderlist from the company to stop it from shutting down. It’s unlikely Microsoft will let Reber buy the company back, though.

“Want to make one thing clear: I feel nothing but gratitude for Microsoft and everyone involved in the Wunderlist acquisition in 2015. It made perfect sense, definitely the best thing that ever happened to us. The team there is amazing, I’m friends with many of them. I’m just sad that our plans for Wunderlist didn’t work out, but I also don’t want to point fingers at anyone. Acquisitions are hard. Acompli (now Outlook) worked out perfectly. That’s life,” Reber later tweeted.

Microsoft has done a good job with the Acompli acquisition that’s now the Outlook mobile apps, but the company didn’t have the same luck with Wunderlist and calender app Sunrise. The new proposition from the Wunderlist founder to stop Microsoft from shutting down the app could lead to something, but I doubt Microsoft will allow that to happen. After all, it’s probably invested a lot into Microsoft To-Do.

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Comments (16)

16 responses to “Wunderlist Creator Wants to Buy Back the App From Microsoft”

  1. dontbeevil

    still nobody also on the tweet, could reply exactly which wunderlist features are missing in to-do

    • Vladimir Carli

      In reply to dontbeevil:

      I can tell you what mattered for us when we stopped using both. I don't know how Microsoft todo works now but until a few months ago the list sharing features were absent and online sync was terrible. They both still work like a charm on Wunderlist but we can't afford to invest on a service that carries a death sentence.

      • dontbeevil

        In reply to Vladimir:
        • the list sharing feature was added in June 2018 ("few months")
        • didn't have problems with sync, so don't know what to say
        • MS always stated wunderlist will be shutted down after feature parity with to-do, so no point to switch earlier if you miss some features, and you can keep using wunderlist till that day and than reimport everything in to-do

        • Brockman

          In reply to dontbeevil:

          Yeah, I don't understand why people started jumping off the Wunderlist ship as soon as Microsoft announced that To Do was coming. Brad Sams was getting itchy too. Just keep using the app while it is working; then when the ultimate shut down announcement is made, start the migration process. Seemed like a lot of unnecessary hand-wringing.

      • Brockman

        In reply to Vladimir:

        You could have just kept using Wunderlist until there was an actual announcement about an impending shutdown. Instead it sounds like you got scared and pulled the plug way too early.

    • mikes_infl

      In reply to dontbeevil:

      That's what happens when you plan ahead. People think you're jumping ship, or pulling the plug. Worse yet, you may have pulled the plug on the ship! ;-) </humor?yes!

      • Vladimir Carli

        In reply to mikes_infl:

        yea, I guess people who write like that have no idea of what it means running your own business. We use a project management system for mission critical objectives and to communicate with a small group of people scattered around the world. We can’t risk a halt because microsoft may or may not decide one day to close wunderlist, like if they’ve never screwed customers before. Yes, we jumped ship and never looked back again, the best thing decision we could take.

  2. the_real_entheos

    Another great success story of acquisition capitalism. Idle corporate cash is like a standing army, it feels the need to invade because that what it do.

  3. stmorr82zw5zml

    I have zero sympathy for founders like this. I’m so sick of reading their unicorn and rainbow press releases talking about all the team/ product synergies when they decide to sell. Acompli is clearly something of an outlier; normally three or so years (or months) later, the product has either morphed into something unrecognisable, shut down, left to wither and die, or ripped into a dozen pieces to be absorbed into the larger Microsoft/ Google/ Apple/ Verizon/ etc Borg. The founders end up cracking the shits and resigning. What happened to all those beautiful synergies? Meanwhile, it’s the customers who really get screwed, as, after investing significant time into a product solution, they’re forced to repeat it with something else.

    Maybe don’t give into the temptation of a big pay day, and instead focus on what you apparently give two fks about: your amazing product and helping your customers with the issues you created a solution for. Maybe go read more Signal v Noise and less Investment Weekly.

    • lvthunder

      In reply to stmorr82zw5zml:

      How have customers been screwed? Wunderlist is still running today as it was before the deal. Are you sure if Microsoft hadn't bought them that they would have enough money to still be operating today? People sell companies for all kinds of reasons and not all of them revolve around money.

  4. pepesilvia

    The calendar app was called Sunrise, not Sunset </pedantic>

  5. awright18

    It probably has something to do with the either insane or insanely brilliant architecture of wunderlist. Chad Fowler built a team of polyglots that develops the Wunderlist application and there are many many different programming languages and runtimes involved in the application, They also rewrite parts of it constantly, I could imagine it would take many talented people with various skill sets to migrate this to a likely more traditional application architecture in Microsoft To Do.

  6. Vladimir Carli

    Without going into the societal issues around capitalism and acquisitions, in this specific case, someone at Microsoft fucked up big. I own one of those businesses that are too small to have an IT department and we were happy subscribers of both Office 365 and Wunderlist. This acquisition messed up for a year and more our project management due to the uncertainty of the future of Wunderlist and how slow the microsoft todo development has been. How long can it really take to incorporate Wunderlist as a microsoft app? If it's so difficult why didn't they pick this up in a feasibility analysis before the acquisition? From our small perspective, the outcome is that now we use neither of the two. Good job.

  7. jimchamplin

    I’m still totally confused as to why they couldn’t just change the branding on Wunderlist to “Microsoft Wunderlist” and then work on the back end at leisure.

    The whole “we’re going to transition over when the new app is ready” always seemed stupid when they already had the damn software finished.

    PS If the creator didn’t want to see it shut down why did he sell it, knowing it would be shut down? That’s a rhetorical question. We know the answer.