Microsoft bought this tech startup for $200 million only to shut it down four years later
When you’re a trillion-dollar company, a million dollars is like a drop in a bucket. In 2015, Microsoft bought the to-do-app Wunderlist for a reported price of $100 million to $200 million. Wunderlist was founded by German entrepreneur Christian Reber.
Wunderlist’s API runs on Amazon Web Services. However, instead of porting Wunderlist’s codebase over to Azure, Microsoft decided to rewrite everything. A few years later, the software giant launched its own Microsoft To-Do app. At that point, it was clear to Reber that Microsoft was about to shut down Wunderlist.
So in 2019, Reber offered to buy back the popular task management app from Microsoft to avoid it being shut down. In a tweet, Reber said, “Still sad Microsoft wants to shut down Wunderlist, even though people still love and use it,” says Reber on Twitter. “I’m serious Satya Nadella and Marcus Ash, please let me buy it back. Keep the team and focus on Microsoft To-Do, and no one will be angry for not shutting down Wunderlist.”
Still sad @Microsoft wants to shut down @Wunderlist, even though people still love and use it. I’m serious @satyanadella @marcusash, please let me buy it back. Keep the team and focus on @MicrosoftToDo, and no one will be angry for not shutting down @Wunderlist. pic.twitter.com/27mIABncLF
— Christian Reber (@christianreber) September 6, 2019
Microsoft instead rejected Reber’s offer. The giant shut down Wunderlist four years after its acquisition saying that all of its features are now available in Microsoft To-Do. Reber has moved on. Since then, he has launched two new startups.
At the height of the pandemic in 2020, Rebel launched Pitch, a Berlin, Germany-based software startup that dubbed itself as a Powerpoint killer. In May 2021, Pitch raised $85 million in venture funding led by Lakestar and Tiger Global. Existing investors Index Ventures and Thrive Capital also chipped in. The new round valued the company at $600 million.
But Reber is not done. He recently launched a follow-on app called Superlist, a task and project management app that aims to help people collaborate in a hybrid-working world. Co-founded with four other entrepreneurs, Superlist is designed to help users scale a project from one person to 100 or 200 people.
On Monday, Superlist announced it has secured 10 million euros ($11 million) in a seed funding round led by venture capital firm EQT Ventures. Total investment in the company now stands at 13.5 million euros. The startup will use the fresh funding to double the size of its team from 20 to 40 by the end of 2022, with a focus on hiring developers, designers and product leads.
Reber told CNBC In a statement that there are either enterprise products like Asana and Trello or personal to-do list apps like Things or To Do. “What we wanted to do was build the de facto standard application to collaborate on personal projects and in business,” Reber said.
“I feel like nothing really nailed the bridge between both,” he said. “You either get like very cluttered software that is basically optimized for project managers, or you get like these very personal to-do apps that make it impossible to collaborate.”
“The global productivity management software market is projected to reach $102.98 billion by 2027, so there is a real opportunity for a tool that harnesses team members’ individuality and focuses specifically on the challenges of the modern workplace,” said EQT Ventures partner Ted Persson in a statement.