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Wunderlist founder wants to buy his app back from Microsoft (venturebeat.com)
284 points by mpweiher 11 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 177 comments





If you are looking for an alternative todo app that is in it for the long haul, check out Todoist. We have been at it longer than Wunderlist (12+ years), and we will never sell out. As I like to put it, death is my exit strategy. For more thoughts about this, check out https://doist.com/blog/no-exit-strategy/

I’ve been a huge Todoist fan and premium subscriber since 2013. At the time it was hard to find anything that got task management right and worked on every platform.

One question: are you still innovating/investing in the core to-do experience, or is all your effort being put into Twist? Todoist is fantastic (I continue to evangelize it and have converted a few friends already) but it is starting to feel like it could use some love. The last big update I’ve noticed is dark mode support, but there are improvements I could see. It’s still by far the best option, I just think I got used to a more regular update cadence and some of the novelty has worn off.

Sorry if this comes off as critical in any way, I sincerely encourage everyone who reads this to give Todoist a try! The ability to add labels, projects and dates with text saves a lot of clicks :)


Most of the company are working on Todoist, and we have a big update coming in October. For the past two years, we have worked on an initiative called Todoist Foundations, which is redoing and rethinking some of the design and tech debt we had (e.g., the web app has been rewritten to use React and Redux).

I understand the frustration, but it was critical for us to spend time on improving the core.


Todoist user here, personal use only at this stage.

Just as a counter to the comment you replied to, if an app has matured I personally prefer fewer updates as far as new features go and prefer updates only for bug fixes, especially in enterprise software.

For what it’s worth, we’re currently looking for task management software at work (steel fabrication industry) and I’m looking to potentially evangelise Todoist.


> ... redoing and rethinking some of the design and tech debt we had ...

> ... it was critical for us to spend time on improving the core.

Bravo! Ensuring the foundations are solid (and in this instance, going back and doing this despite the product's success) is a great sign that you believe in the product's long-term development. Not just milking it while the sun shines. As a customer, that encourages my faith in the vendor.

EDITED: formatting.


Hey, thanks for being active in the comments! I really love Todoist, and I used to be a paying subscriber except I had a bug that I couldn't quite get support to even understand, let alone fix!

I like to leave Todoist open in a permanent/pinned tab. Often, when I open that tab, the pre-filled date for "today" in the new-task-entry area is stale, yesterday or a few days ago (right now it's 5th September). I assume because that's populated on page load and never updated?

What will happen is that I enter a task without setting a date, meaning I want it for today. It then saves that task as ONE YEAR IN THE FUTURE minus one day. The task then gets forgotten and not done :(

Also, I cannot get Siri to understand "todoist". I've tried every pronounciation, even "2-doyst"!

I really love Todoist, but that one bug hits me so often!


I hope this gets improved in the October release. If not, please feel free to reach out over email (it’s in my HN profile).

This is great to hear, actually. I'm also a premium subscriber, and I don't need a ton of new features, but improving the core speaks to another ten years of stable development.

Can you please copy the Wunderlist UI? Specifically the way tasks have a nice clear outline around them. Todoist’s all white with text design makes it hard for me to get the same feeling of todos on a virtual paper list that I get from Wunderlist. The items blur into each other.

My only issue with Todoist is that it seems to crash instantly on my LineageOS device when attempting to sign in with email. I'd love to use it otherwise :(

Thanks for the reply, that’s awesome to hear. Can’t wait to see the update :)

I've been using Todoist for 5 years and even though they're still my favourite solution in the market I don't think they're innovating in any way. I always have half a mind to create my own app implementing features no todo app has yet.

Tbf, I have tried to reach out to Amir but he seems to busy to reply (?).


Can somebody please explain the advantages of a todo app, like Todoist, over say a calendar app like Google Calendar? Everyone seems to love them, but cannot give me a good reason _why_, other than "I use it to jot down little tasks which I don't think a Calendar app is suitable for." I'm a current subscriber to Todoist, but just don't see why I should pay when Google Calendar seems to do everything I need (and more)? As an ADHD sufferer, the reminder system in most todo apps only remind you once about 30 minutes prior to the task due and that's it, instead of being able to delay a reminder and remind me again 5 minutes before a task is due, 1 minute, or even 5 minutes after a task is due.

It's part of a process. I'm following more or less GTD.

When I realize I have something to do and it doesn't need to be done right away, I log it in my task inbox. Everyday I start the day by reviewing the inbox and qualifying it - is there a due date, how long will it take, is it important, etc. Then I plan my day by peaking things based on the triage. Once a week I review the entire list of tasks.

Calendars work for meetings, but for a more advanced system it doesn't.

I used to be on Wunderlist, migrated to ms to-do, the "my day" feature is awesome.


Hey, as a fellow ADHD sufferer, I totally agree that fine-grained reminders and the "remind me again in X minutes" functionality is huge in a productivity app. I find that a reminders-based app needs to have a fairly specific level of forcefulness, or basically the ability to "nag" you. Too often, and it becomes noise. Too forceful, and I find myself hating the experience and it backfires.

That said, I'm actually getting a lot of mileage from a new one I'm trying "Due" (iOS/mac only. unfortunately). Really lightweight reminder system with a great snooze feature at its core. Recommend giving it a shot.

My current system is two-tiered. I have a traditional to-do manager (Omnifocus) for more abstract project tracking, and a lighter weight app (Due) for reminders. Not having it all in one system, or integrated between the two is kind of a plus for me in some ways. When I get a reminder, I don't have to "load" the full context (and emotional baggage) of the overall project/task in order to make a decision. It becomes more reflexive, with the easiest options being to just do it or pick another time for the reminder.


One thing a calendar app wouldn't handle as well is tasks that don't have due dates, per se.

The other reason I use a task list is for tasks that have subtasks. E.g. I have to renew my driver's license but to do that I need to file a foobar form and print out a proof of address etc..

You may be interested in my app that has subtasks as calendar events: https://getartemis.app

Not to plug my own product here, but I'm working on a todo list + calendar app (https://getartemis.app) because I think I am the same way as you (even though I don't have diagnosed ADHD specifically) with regards to todo list apps. I want to know exactly what I'm doing at all times, as it's too easy to procrastinate with a todo list ("I can just do it later..."). Google Calendar doesn't have the same advantages of tracking even though it works well for knowing what to do when; it can't for example, track that you're working in a specific project with its own subtasks, as each event/task in GCal is discrete and has no semantic connection to another.

Additonally, why can't I say, for example, that I want to work on a project for 10 hours a week, and my calendar automatically schedules it for me, to work on an hour and a half each day, based on some preferences like morning, afternoon, evening time periods? These are some of the things I want to address with my app.


I keep many lists in Wunderlist and I hardly ever set reminders or due dates.

When I develop, which unfortunately isn’t very often now, I usually try to split a project/task into smaller manageable chunks. This makes it easier for me to estimate and track work and feel like I am doing progress when I check things off. You can see an example here https://twitter.com/amix3k/status/1138363500147937281?s=21

I use a todo list for prioritization. I'm not good at letting a calendar run my life, because I can't be sure I'll be in the mindframe to do a given task well and happily ahead of time. A todo list lets me track tasks without committing to times.

Thanks for your work on todoist. I've used it religiously for almost 2 years and I can't imagine using something else now. There are a lot of softwares out there where I use more than one (IDEs, browsers, music players, operating systems), but nothing compares to todoist for me.

Todoist is currently the best option out there. I have a Premium subscription and recommend it to everyone, in spite of the free alternatives (which on my campus includes MS To-Do, since Office 365 is provided for free).

Having said that, it's not perfect. You need to be prepared for some frustrating bugs in the web app. That includes having been unable to log in on my laptop for several days. Todoist gets updated too frequently relative to the ability to test for and identify bugs. Finding that a pile of my tasks were marked done was not a moment of joy, and having items scheduled for the wrong day wasn't a great experience either. That Todoist is easily the best option is a function of the low quality and excessive prices of the competition.


Hmm, these are some serious issues, and they should not be common at all. I hope you have reported them to our support team (support@todoist.com).

Yes, I've been reporting most bugs as I encounter them.

(Just realized amix is Amir Salihefendić. I thought it was a Todoist employee, though rereading the OP it should have been obvious.)


Please add a sound option when ticking off items. This is honestly the only reason I am with Wunderlist over the other TODO apps/sites. Such a small feature but gives a lot of joy!

Love the Wunderlist sound! Check out this sound design study about it:

https://medium.com/@lexkon/sound-design-studies-wunderlist-3...


This sounds like a perfect case for a UserJS

I still use Todoist, but mostly as a note-keeping app. I prefer Trello now as the Kanban board makes organizing and updating tasks much easier than the folder/list structure of Todoist.

Moved off from Trello to Restya, probably the best looking and working kanban out there. Restya(https://restya.com/board) is an excellent free Trello alternative, especially if you want to have Kanban and Gantt in a single solution. Here is the comparison between Restya and Trello https://restya.com/board/comparison. We are very happy with the services provided by the Restya team and would recommend them to all who want to buy their products or use their development services.

Hard to accept this as an alternative given the terrible UX. Admittedly been about a year since I last demo'd it but at that time, most platforms still lacked basic drag and drop, even for ordering. This whole "we'll pretend every platform in a web browser from 2005" approach to UI is very debilitating.

My personal recommendations are OmniFocus and Things. Obviously this is going to favor Mac users and people who care a lot about UX.

As a second tier alternative, I'm interested in where MS ToDo is going. They have been iterating fast and making lots of important improvements. It already feels better than Wunderlist anyway. That is its heritage so no surprise there.


I am unsure what drag and drop you are referring to, but Todoist should have full support for this. E.g., you can drag a file and add it as a task on both our Mac and Windows apps.

Todoist has Drag n' Drop, just not in every view. Yes, it can be a pain, but it also makes sense to limit those abilities in an automatic generated list.

I hope this is the cards/kanban update!!?!! Have been holding out ages for this. Love the app, its my favourite and i have tried them all, my main point of value is that the platform is so stable. Thank you! Missing features 1) task start date (and option to hide those that have not started / in future), 2) sequential task linking, 3) heading sections that are not actually considered as tasks i.e. : just hides the button, should change task 'class', if that makes sense in an OOP manner, better subdivision of projects 4) My day view in to do by microsoft is great - a quick add / starring system to highlight priorities for the day would be great, p1,p2,p3 are not really that useful, but could be converted like to-do, to a 'today' type thing... may just change a filter for displaying p1-3 for top three priorities for the day instead of importance of the task (love the custom filters) 5) Why is there no calendar view 6) google calendar integration - the tasks need to be better synced, i lack confidence in the 2-way sync with google 7) completing a task should remove the task from google calendar... I could keep going, todoist is the best task manager out there. Ps repeat after completion is essential in task management i seriously wonder why so many apps lack that feature. 8) habit tracking... a bubble 'streak' format integration for repeating tasks... would love that... basically i think the app is missing views, it requires more clarity when you have a lot of tasks. My 2 and a few cents. Looking forward to the new version!

I used Todoist for years, upon discovering it and following its development on your blog almost a decade ago. Sadly I ditched it a few years back upon discovering the power of start dates, I'd jump back in a heartbeat if you ever added them.

What did you end up using?

Remember The Milk, similar advanced search and filtering syntax as Todoist, but has start dates.

I switched to Todoist after the death of Google Inbox (since I was using my inbox as a to-do list) and surprisingly it was the closest replacement for how I was using Inbox (with browser plugin), even more so than other email clients. I've been really enjoying it.

How well does the Linux version work?

There are 2 unofficial and open source Linux clients:

- http://todoistlinux.hakimouake.com/

- https://github.com/KryDos/todoist-linux

There are also various command line clients, e.g.: https://github.com/sachaos/todoist


Third-party apps are great and all, but if you're using GNOME, add a Todoist account in Settings -> Online Accounts and use gnome-todo for a truly native experience.

I've tried this a couple times, but Gnome Todo crashes on launch whenever I have my Todoist account set up.

You also miss out on the Todoist search functionality if you use Gnome Todo.


There is no official client, but their API is public and documented. I use Todoist https://github.com/sachaos/todoist as my daily driver. It has offline support and the integration with peco is sublime.

Wunderlist is a list-app first. Taskmanagment is just an extension. Todoist on the other quite sucks for lists, because task-managment realluy is all it's about.

Which is kinda bad, because I'm searching for a good list-app for a good time now. Todoist is a good daily driver, but not a good app for notes in list-form.


They haven't had a lot of feature development in recent times (as far I can tell), but doesn't workflowy fit that perfectly?

I've only started to move away from it in order to do task management better, but still use it for shopping, inventory, checklists etc and it's a really smooth experience.


Feature request : Could you add a "Sections" sub headers inside projects. So I could divide a project into it's phases. Helps to mentally categorize the different milestones of a project and the associated tasks. Check Chaos Control for an example.

I tried todo-ist for a while but kept having sync issues between mac/iphone. So many times I would open my app and not see my data up to date until I killed/re-opened. Gave me a mini heart attack and switched back to wonderlist for now.

"Death is my exit strategy".

That made my day. Also, it's parenthood's only strategy.


Your no exit strategy article just had a huge impact on me in so many ways, thanks!

Holy cow, your Android widgets "Add task" and "Show tasklist on home screen" are what I've always wanted. Thank you so much!

todoist seems nice. It is an app that does one thing and does it well. If you want to do more than just tasks, check out my app: https://circles.app It creates tasks too, and you can assign tasks to your family members. But you can also create and share notes, lists, links, files, photos, etc.

Any where I can find more info about circles before creating an account? Your website (at least on mobile) has almost no information about what I am signing up for.

Or the other 10,000 todo apps. It seems to the be the choice for first projects for new developers.

Why todoist and not omnifocus? I have tried over and over to get into omnifocus and failed.

OmniFocus has too many knobs to tweak. That’s an anti-productivity pattern imho.

Also OmniFocus has platform lock in.


Todoist is great. Cheers!

Love the stuff and also lack of exit strategy. If a owner and ceo truly belived in her/his company they would never sell it. It's like a child.

At some point most parents are ready for their children to move out and do their own thing.

Meh, give me a self-hosted or open core version and maybe I'll consider switching from taskwarrior

Bold negotiation tactic. I'm a fan. I've often found myself at Best Buy explaining that I'd gladly buy a new computer if they can ship all of the hardware components to me for free and I'll assemble them myself.

That way, Best Buy doesn't make any money and I spend hours of my day (which, by the way, I bill my employer hundreds of dollars per hour for during the work week) assembling something that I'll have to do all the maintenance and upkeep for myself! Everybody wins!


Self-hosted != free

It’s more like going to Best Buy and just buying a computer. End of analogy. Because that means you now own the computer and Best Buy can’t one day prevent you from using it or stop you from getting your data out of it.

Btw, I use Todoist and don’t need all my software to be self hosted. But I understand why some people do want that.


I don’t understand your point... there are lots of paid self-hosted apps?

I'm not sure I agree with your analogy. I enjoyed the Todoist client when I tested it, but if there exists a hackable, self-hosted version with even a subpar UX, I'll choose it over the freemium/hosted option du jour. Point being, even if the cool CEO who's in the comments says he won't sell out, he still is YADS (yet another data shepard).

Todoist is fully hackable via our API https://developer.todoist.com/sync/v8/, and your data isn’t locked in.

The self-hosted solution isn’t an excellent option for a todo list as integrations, plugins, and apps are critical. E.g., we actively maintain over ten apps and plugins and integrate with 100s of others (e.g., Zapier).


Microsoft has a directly competing product, so I don't see why they would ever want to sell Wunderlust. They would essentially be creating their own competitor, in return for a fraction of the money they had paid to acquire Wunderlist earlier.

then again I doubt that the microsoft empire stands or falls with a to-do list app and it might just be good PR to sell it back instead of letting a well-liked product rot given that they're on an alleged "we love the community" campaign now.

Good PR--sure. $100M worth of PR? I don't think so.

Not to mention that even the full purchase price of $100-$200m doesn’t make the Microsoft CEO even raise one eyebrow one millimeter.

Please make this a reality.

To-Do is a joke compared to Wunderlist. It suffers from the same fate as all MS-built iOS apps: random logouts. I can't convince anyone to use MS apps because the first time they get logged out after an update they just stop using the app.


And God help them if they somehow have a work/school and personal Microsoft account and don't remember which one they used.

Is this somehow worse with MS accounts than with Google or Apple accounts?

Yeah, I can't even log into my MS account to do MSDN stuff. Microsoft support: "Use any non-microsoft browser". I ended up creating a "personal" and "work/school" account as part of the process, and I think I have to pretend it's the personal account when I log in. I get the feeling I was creating two accounts - a live account and one related to the MSDN side of things, and they are linked in some way. Why...just why? Why can't I just create one account, and don't come up with this specious personal/private distinction. I wonder if they're making decisions on products etc based on what sort of users they think they're dealing with. Personal MSDN customers?

Microsoft accounts are definitely a mess.

I had a Microsoft account from a long time back: me@company.com

Years later the company decides to adopt the whole office365 thing and so company.com is now 'managed' by MSFT for email, etc .... so I have a me@company.com 'company' account as well as the 'personal' one.

I'm sure there are a lot of complicated edge cases around all of this which make moving forward really tough for MSFT without breaking things, but the current status quo is confusing and very user hostile.


Its compounded by the fact that we all had Lumias (I still like the UX over anything out today) and some used existing hotmail/live accounts while others created new ones, even though they had existing ones. At this point they have no idea what they used any more for what and it's often a hassle when they switch phones or get logged out.

On first glance, I would think no.

But in my experience even though I have 5x as many Google accounts as Microsoft ones (across several organizations and institutions) I spend almost no time confused on whether I'm logging into an account that I created, was created for me, was merged with another account, or is an institutional account that was created with a personal email.

I use a password manager for all of them. The only difference I can think of is the UX flow on Microsoft's sign-in page.


People use them less frequently, so they don’t type the credentials as often?

The company I now work for has decided to separate out admin accounts in Windows. Fair enough, except it's not like a Unix system where you can quickly context switch. Trying to administer Office 365 with two separate Office 365 accounts is an absolutely nightmare!

Sorry, maybe I am missing something here. For local admin, I agree re context switching etc. But for O365 admin, we have a similar setup and I admin O365 through a separate container tab or Powershell where you need to connect to Azure separately anyways. Seems straightforward to me.

The company I now work for has decided to separate out admin accounts in Windows

Do they know that doesn’t work?

If you do a run-as then you are as vulnerable to PTH as you would be if you just logged in with the admin account anyway... you need to go full PAW these days.


Could you expand on this? we have a similar set up for our domain admin accounts and I heard it was the safest way to do things. What do you mean by PAW?

A PAW is a "privilged access workstation", i.E. a dedicated, hardened machine just for the purpose of admin tasks. Due to the specialized tasks it needs to run, the workstation can be

- cut off from general purpose Internet etc.,

- a non-mobile device,

- etc....

See for instance Microsoft's documentation: https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/windows-server/identity/sec...


Pass-the-hash is a common attack on Kerberos - it doesn’t care if you are logged in as an admin or have merely done run-as an admin. See https://microsoft.com/pth for more.

For PAW see https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/windows-server/identity/sec... conceptually I like to explain it as a client-side bastion host


Argh. It’s infuriating. I’ve had to start using Office after managing to avoid it for most of my career, and every day it makes me sign in with 2FA on Mac, iOS and the web. For. Every. Single. App. It’s so boring and stupid.

That sounds like an infuriating and interesting bug. Any idea what would cause that across Microsoft iOS apps? Do they just aggressively timeout sessions?

It's not just ToDo and not just on iOS.

I'm a heavy OneNote user and I can't get OneNote on the web to stay logged in more than a day.


If it's a work or school account it can be related to cache lifetime settings your admin sets on the accounts. At my company it's set to an infuriating two days, so every Monday I have to log back in with 2FA again...

That's ridiculous. Apps should stay logged in for as long as the app is installed on your phone or until you log out/change the password.

This is actually for personal accounts. (Specifically family)


It does this on Win10 apps as well, inside, before, after. "Please log in"

This is the source of much frustration in my use of the Outlook and Teams apps on my phone.

I don't understand what's a joke in to-do? I migrated in the early days of the buy-out, and sure at that time features were lacking. But the app today is at feature par with wunderlist. Honestly couldn't do without the "my-day" feature now that I'm using it, can have multiple accounts (pro/perso) in the same client.

Apart from a basic anti-microsoft stance is there anything substantiating the hatred?


> It suffers from the same fate as all MS-built iOS apps: random logouts. I can't convince anyone to use MS apps because the first time they get logged out after an update they just stop using the app.

If you had read the rest of the paragraph you would see a legit complaint.

Another legit complaint is that you can't see who marked a task as complete in ToDo, while you can in Wunderlist.

But the reason it's a joke compared to Wunderlist is the logout thing, there is no legitimate reason to not have persistent login across updates (at least on iOS) and the fact that MS hasn't figured this out yet is just embarrassing. It's a todo app, I shouldn't need to login in the first place, but if you're gonna make me login, don't log me out.


I loved Wunderlist, and after the announcement of the acquisition I went looking for alternatives. It turns out, I didn't _really_ need "sub-tasks" or collaborative comments on my TODOs. All I really needed was shared lists, dependable reminder push notifications, and perhaps some location-based/geofencing features.

This is all covered by the stock iOS Reminders app. I use Fantastical as the 'GUI' instead of Reminders, but basically use my e-mails CalDAV server (Fastmail) to manage my lists now, and have retained the reliability and subset of features that I needed. It's been great so far, and it's virtually free as part of your standard email/calendar service (Gmail/Calendar, Fastmail, etc.).


If you are looking for something more sustainable (free software), with the same client for desktop and mobile, please check out organice: https://github.com/200ok-ch/organice

It’s using Org syntax, but has a mobile friendly interface. Synchronization is done using Dropbox or Google Drive, so you can also have shared projects and todos. The app is written in React and Redux, has a AGPL license and has a free public instance at https://organice.200ok.ch


I tried to use To Do this summer and gave up after a few weeks. Across Windows and iOS: notifications mostly don’t fire, apps kept reloading content every time I opened them (aka no cloud = no functionality). In the end, I gave up and just resumed using a combo of Reminders and Notes.

I had a similar experience, but without the Windows element.

I paid for Wunderlist, but dropped it because it evolved into something more convoluted than I wanted. I went back to the stock iOS apps.

I didn't even know what Microsoft ate Wunderlist. I guess that's why I got an e-mail about Wunderlist out of the blue after I hadn't used it in what seemed like years.


Given how unrealistic reviving Wunderlist is (almost everyone of the original employees is working on other things inside Microsoft or has left), this ought to be a PR stunt, right? He might as well start from scratch at this point.

This might provoke strong responses from hacker / programmer crowd, but...

Relatively speaking, building a small team of capable engineers is much easier than getting a business, especially in a competitive space like TODO lists, to 13+ million users (their numbers in 2015 at the time of Microsoft acquisition).


I don’t know why this should be controversial. Plenty of good products fail and shoddy ones succeed. It’s clear engineering merit is not the primary factor in success.

I find the complete 180 to be true. Very easy to get a business into a competitive space, but it’s hard to build a capable team of engineers. If you have both money and a solid idea to generating revenue (business plan) then you have solved both problems easily, relatively speaking. Engineers come together with the universal language.. money. Something startups don’t have.

They said getting a business to 13million+ users, not getting a business into a competitive space alone. The point is the users are where the money is and getting to that many users is the most difficult part, neither gathering a group of engineers nor entering a competitive space.

Like Lyft? Throw money at customers and they come flocking. Same with engineers. It’s making that model profitable that’s the hard spot

I think it speaks to how companies buy teams not products most of the time, and it's often tragic for the app itself.

Or alternatively, they buy a competitor to sink it before they become too powerful or falls in the hands of another larger competitor.

Wunderlist the app was never a great example of technical prowess. From the first day it just was marketing and simplicity.

Today they likely would start from scratch anyway, the old app is now decade old or so. The real worth is all in the brand. Bringing back a somewhat beloved app, innovate it a bit here and there, this will bring them some attention and money, maybe enough to sell it again some years in the future.


I think he is quite focused on Pitch at the moment to start from scratch.

I don't understand, why Microsoft is porting features from Wunderlist to their To-Do instead of just shutting down To-Do and add small shiny MS logo to Wunderlist? As far as I can see, WL is more feature rich and has better user base, no?

Wunderlist still runs on AWS. To-Do runs on a Microsoft back-end, including all security features needed for their enterprise (O365) customers..

This would make a great case study for migrating a full stack AWS app to Azure. They're constantly trying to convince their customers to migrate to full stack Azure, here's their chance to prove it's doable. Dog food and all, I'm sure they'll find some pain points they could fix.

Not doable. Most azure services are not "compliant" for o365. Especially not in gov clouds. Exchange has its own totally separate backed which existed before azure. The port of wonderlist is to exchange.

Still, moving product to new servers and improving security sounds to me easier than rewriting it.

It isn't just a change of server, it's an entirely different back-end infrastructure. To Do is a modern UI on top of Exchange tasks.

Speaks in part to how much vendor lock in there is with cloud providers that this has been such an involved migration.

Probably grooming it for enterprise use cases/customers

This is an odd form of public shaming. Satya ought to respond to him on Twitter that it's a deal if he'd be willing to pay 50% of the price they paid him for it. A shame back if you will.

I am still awe at how bad MS is at making Windows apps. To Do is a poster child. I think Visio uses less RAM, is extremely laggy, slow to load, crashes many times a week and has awful layout for pen input.

>I am still awe at how bad MS is at making Windows apps.

They've gotten better at being bad. Before, apps crashed but at least they were full featured, had two or three ways of doing the same thing - so you could get shit done.

Now, stuff from MS is generally slower, still crash prone, looks fancy but is bare-boned, updates remove the few useful stuff and replace em with half baked alternatives or nothing.


Yesterday HN had a front-page article about how making your app do less was the key to making it more useful.

This is a meme I’ve never understood.... how is it more “useful” if it is less “full of stuff to use”. When people equate streamlining experience with feature removal you get this kind of frustration.


I'd understand the reasoning if the removed features could possibly make more sense in a separate app or some kind of optional add-on module, or if perhaps the point is really about the user interface not being overwhelming — and yet Microsoft manages to take apps with perfectly straight-forward user interfaces and twist them until the one or two features that an app has are uselessly hidden behind one or two hamburger menus.

Anybody using Remember the Milk for their todos ? I used it and loved it.

> Anybody using Remember the Milk for their todos ? I used it and loved it.

Yes, have done for years, but they haven't really implemented many features over the last several years (despite the paid users renewal.) I always wonder if they're out on a beach somewhere just spending the revenue money on margaritas, but...I can't be upset with that. RTM just works, and it's still there.


Yes I use it daily, it's got some important distinguishing features compared to the competition like Todoist. For example start dates, do not under any circumstance show me a task until it's ready to start. Why Todoist haven't added this after all these years I've no idea, I have so many regular tasks that this is useful for.

I've been using it since it came out ages ago :)

I'm using one called "Out of Milk". It's great. Is that the one you mean or something else?

I think the one you are referring to is a grocery shopping app. RTM is much more general.

God, I wish Skype would buy their app back.

The tweet from Wunderlist's Christian (https://twitter.com/christianreber/status/117061566332663808...) reminds me a lot of Taskade YC S19 (https://www.taskade.com) and what they are trying to do in the productivity and collaboration space.

What's the point of buying it back, if he can just start another similar company and siphon off many active, disgruntled users? Yeah, you don't get to keep the already registered userbase, or the brand, but I think former users would flock to it if they knew the original people were in charge of this product.

Is there something in the contract that they can't start a competing product within X years, but could do a buyback?



>... but I think former users would flock to it if they knew the original people were in charge of this product.

So maybe such tweet is how you let them know that something's cooking? Followed by "they won't sell it back, we'll build a new one!". We'll see.


Did he sign a non-compete?

Rebuild something new/better.


This is what the guy from meh.com did. Sold his woot com to some large corporation saw they turned it into junk and he launched meh.com

The large corporation was Amazon.

meh.com is glorious, first time ive seen it.

Possibly but it for sure expired at this point. The reason not to rebuild is because Wunderlist is great as it is. It is feature complete, I cannot think of a single new feature I would want to add to it.

I gotta think that's the standard operating procedure and part of the deal for getting bought out ($$$) is the founders can't run off and just clone it.

Same feeling with the founder. It's pity to see Wunderlist go. Transferring all the details from one todo app to another can be very annoying, not to mention the extra efforts to get used with a new app. Glad to find TickTick! The data transfer is super easy. It's kind of an all-in-one toolkit, while still remains clear and simple to use. Not sure if I would switch back to Wunderlist even if they purchase it back ;) https://ticktick.com/

I would start using WL again if this happens. 100%.

EDIT: I can't believe how much positive press MS To-Do has gotten. It's a featureless rip-off of WL that could have been built in a month.


Always been a huge fan of Wunderlist, used it for my iPhone development project, 1st time using a to-do list app and really loved it!

Here is one guy hoping/praying it comes back!!!!


This behaviour will hurt microsoft in the long term in negotiating future deals. Founders often have very emotional connections to their company

There maybe a window opportunity in the todo space at the moment for a GTD oriented app. Look at thing that is only available for iOs. There's only NirvanaHQ coming close and it's not moving much at the moment.

I think that it's a good sign that we see more and more founders who publicly admit that their creation is not between good hands after acquisition. Let's hope Microsoft makes this thing happen.

Call me cynical but if they wanted it to be in good hands ... maybe don't take the money and run?

Dude in one way or another cashed out and now wants to have his cake and eat it too.

We get so many "founder sad about how things turned out after it is sold". If the founder hands over the keys IMO to some extent they're "responsible" for what happens next.


Every founder has personal reasons to accept to be acquired, example here: https://twitter.com/christianreber/status/117064572184398233...

Also I don't think you are cynical. Don't take the money and continue to push the product seems to be a better solution, especially for users. I just appreciate that founders are more transparent about the fact their service is failing after being acquired. And yes, they have a big part of the responsability, but according to me it's a better signal than just heard the typical story of celebrating an acquisition, join a tech giant and remain silent. I like to see that people keep the bounds with their product even after this. Also it's more honest for other entrepreneurs in the same situation that becoming rich will be at the expense of your creation.


What if he just builds a new app from scratch? Would probably be cheaper, but he'd have to be careful to show no design or copyright has been infringed.


Could it be that todo apps are kind of hard? What else explains the lethargic pace of improvements for Microsoft’s own todo app?

I don't know much about todos. But I know Microsoft. They're passionate about fucking up every good thing they own. My uncle once told me, Too many spoons in a pot makes the soup sour.

Microsoft upgrades things to death.


It sucks seeing MS kills Wunderlist. I’m always a huge fan of it. Simple, intuitive.

How much do y’all think they would let him buy it back for? $10mm?

It blows my mind that todo list app can be worth $200 million... Then again a chat app is now worth several billion... I don't have any idea of how this works.

It isn't the chat app, it's the perpetual access to the contacts list on the phones of all its users that is worth billions.

To do what though?

One possibility would be to build a more accurate social graph. So, let's say you have 500 friends on Facebook, but only 50 of those are people you speak to on a regular basis. This helps Facebook better understand your preferences based on your online interactions and the people who you associate with on a regular basis. You are the average of the 5 people who you spend the most time with, or something. This hopefully means that they'll be able to show you better ads.

People who aren't on your contacts list probably aren't your friends. :)

to drive down advertising costs.

Is it not also true that Whatsapp is (was) a competitor to FB? I mean, if I wanted to get rid of FB, the only other place I know I can reach the majority of my contacts is WhatsApp. Now since they own both I have no non-FB alternative.

Chat app is only worth that with a huge network of users, which is the real value.

Anyone can make a chat app. Making a chat app with 100M+ users takes years of effort and luck.


There are other factors. Valuations in tech now depend on our current regulatory and financial environment:

1- Absolutely no real privacy regulation exists in the US, where people's information can be bought and sold freely. (I know there is regulation, but not real regulatory activity means it's de-facto unregulated)

2- There's no anti-trust activity and companies like microsoft, google and facebook can engage in anti-competitive behaviors of all types: buying competitors and closing them to reduce competition (it seems the case with Wunderlist), operate a market and be a participant in it while undermining other market participants using inside information, create a monopoly or oligopoly with no real regulatory costs (aside from a small % of earnings being taxed as 'fines'), actively conspiring to avoid competition for employee salaries, etc

3- Very low interest rates/net negative interest rates for capital holders with opaque and byzantine distribution of newly minted fiat.

4- Zero consequences for undermining democratic institutions by creating revolving doors between regulatory agencies and the companies they are supposed to regulate.

5- Regressive regulatory compliance costs

While the ones who benefit from such an environment would like to make it seem this is the natural state of the economy, it isn't, it's a very new and very strange experiment.

Also, while capital holders would like people to think that the current state of prosperity is caused by our current system of regulatory and financial application, these same people then agree that the greatest advancement in standards of living for the western world happened during the 1920-1960s, a time when the regulatory and financial systems were very different (like a 90% tax on earnings above $50 mill/year (in 2019 money)). So I'd guess we could advance just as well if not better with something more akin to what was then.

I'm hoping our current conditions will not remain over the next 40+ years and some of these valuations will be more in line with traditional P/E ratios.


It is not a chat app. Its a searchable document and knowledge database. Same goes for note taking apps. Same as GMail. What makes these ultimately valuable(and sticky) to companies is that once they get some use, they become essential searchable databases.

It's far from accurate, but an easy way to think about it is:

200 000 000 users * $1.


They had 200,000,000 users?

Closer to 13,000,000 at the time of acquisition.

They didn’t at the tome of selling it to Microsoft.

I never understood why wunderlist was so successful. Any hints?

- Shared to do lists (e.g. with your partner/spouse)

- Very good platform coverage of clients

- Good UX

I don't think the set of features is too impressive by todays standards, but at the time it was pretty appealing compared to the competition.


Surprisingly (I thought anyway) WL was one of very few which support shared lists effectively.

I bought Things for mac for myself and my partner at the time and was blown away when I discovered a $60 CAD To Do list app couldn't share a list. WL ended up being the best option by a long shot.

These days I use Todoist which can also share lists nicely.


Did he sign a return policy? :-)

You don't usually have to tell this to an adult, but: no backsies.

Your can't have your cake and eat it too. You can't sell your company and keep it too. Basic.


He's not trying to keep the money, the headline says it right there: "founder wants to buy his app back."

Of course you can buy back something that you sold. They just don't have to sell it to you.


"Backsies" is reversing the original deal, not just half. This founder is asking for backsies by definition.

Ok but you can totally do what he's doing. There's some price that would get Microsoft to sell Wunderlist, and if he's willing to pay that much then he will get Wunderlist back. If that's "backsies" then you can absolutely backsies as much as you want.

Yeah, that’s why he wants to buy it back. They will get their money back.

Microsoft would get a fraction of their money back.

The former owners wouldn't pay more than 10-25% of what they previously sold Wunderlist for, at this point.


That's why this feels like a publicity stunt to shame Microsoft.

If you've made millions of dollars from selling something - I don't feel like you have the right to shame the buyer especially if you're only offering 25% back. He should have kept the offer he made private.


Microsoft paid 150 million for it, of which the VCs I'm sure got at least half.

I can't imagine him offering anything close to that. I notice he hasn't said how much he will offer.


Well tell that to Skype :)



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