‘The Goal is To Be the Last Task Manager on Earth’: Wunderlist 3 Q&A

By David Knight |

Ahead of the launch of Wunderlist 3, 6Wunderkinder CEO Christian Reber and Benedikt Lehnert, the chief design officer, sat down with Silicon Allee to discuss the new product.

SILICON ALLEE: Tell us what’s new with Wunderlist 3.

CHRISTIAN REBER: Last year, we were facing a new challenge in iOS 7, a big redesign to meet the most modern design standards, and I had to make the decision: do we invest a lot of time into creating this new interface, or do we invest time into fixing critical things that the users requested? And the users requested primarily things like building a better snyc, making it faster and more stable and making the apps more lightweight. So we started designing, and we just realised that if we want to build an amazing product we should work on the architecture as well.

And so we invested a few months and built the third version [of Wunderlist] which is incredibly lightweight, incredibly fast, incredibly stable. It contains the new real time sync, which is a remarkable change – everything you do happens simultaneously, whether you get a list change or you share and collaborate on lists.

That’s a big improvement. Next to that, we have rewritten the entire backend, the entire API, every single client. We are working on Window phone and Windows 8 apps. It is just an incredibly massive release containing lots of new things.

SA: What do you feel is the most important part of the new product?

CR: There is one thing that for us is critical in this release, it feels like a natural extension to us. Wunderlist in general is a to-do app; it’s made for people who want to organise things, whether it’s your favourite movies, your shopping lists, books you want to read, places you want to visit etc, you can just organise all sorts of lists. We realised that people actually want to share those lists on social media for example, and share checklists like how to move to Berlin, how to move to the US, how to renovate your garden, how to set up a GmbH.

We realised that so far, over the last years, we have built a tool only for the creators of lists, the organisers, and we would have a much broader audience if we became the home of all the world’s lists. That’s the key message we are telling ourselves, that we want to make Wunderlist the platform for all the world’s lists. So starting with this release, you will be able to share lists on Facebook, Twitter, etc. If it’s your favourite restaurants in Berlin, people will be able to discover them, and over time we will improve it.

Whenever you search for how to do something, or your favourite movies, or whatever, you will be able to search for those things in Wunderlist.

BENEDIKT LEHNERT: Why it makes sense for us specifically, is that the core of Wunderlist is organising the things you have and want to do, and actually doing them. That’s productivity in the end. There is so much knowledge out there that helps you do the things that you want to do, quicker, better and more efficiently, that is currently not usable. Making that knowledge usable, sharing lists and saving lists as your own which you can act on, that is what we are about. That is why it made so much sense for us. Other products are more a repository. Wunderlist is all about getting that knowledge into your own life and acting on it.

We just make the collective knowledge that is captured in lists all around the world, usable for every user.

SA: Syncing is hardly a new technology – why have you waited until now to introduce it?

CR: It’s not brand new but it’s incredibly complex to build. We have worked on the architecture for quite a few years. In the end you build a to-do app, but what you are really building is cross platform technology for all the most modern clients, and they all have different requirements. It needs to also be able to support third party apps. We would have loved to have done this with Wunderlist 2 already. But there aren’t many services out there that support real time the way we are doing it now.

This architecture for us is a starting point There are tremendous advantages which the users will see after the launch, meaning we will be able to ship on a bi-weekly basis, for example, and new features will come with incredible speed.

BL: I really want to stress that there are not a lot of companies or products that do the same thing Wunderlist 3 will do, real time sync across all platforms. The entire platform is real time; it is not just parts of it that sync in real time. Everything you do in Wunderlist with your team or as an individual happens in real time. We compared a lot of services and there are only a handful that we see as being on the same level in terms of complexity and ability to scale and be super fast.

SA: How will the new product affect Pro and Business users?

BL: People use Pro as individuals, mostly freelancers, students, professors, that collaborate a lot. What we see in terms of the business model, where the revenue comes from – and we are extremely happy in terms of the revenue we are currenlty making – is coming through business.

With Wunderlist 3, we are introducing one little change – we are giving Wunderlist Pro features to our free users with limitations. We made a conscious decision as a team that we want to give the best product on the market to everyone.

SA: Would that not remove some of the impetus for free users to go Pro?

CR: Maybe. You are primarily talking about how we grow, but I think we have nailed new users, we are at 8 million and we are happy with the utility. It is not a social or viral product necessarily. So we figured that out, and now we are focused on retention. We want to get more users being daily active users and the next level will be monetising users.

SA: How will you do that?

CR: It’s not a priority right now. We want to build the best product on the market and we think by doing that we will grow crazily in terms of activity, and we will also convince business users.

So right now retention is the big call, getting more users into the product, make them more active, make them love it, and from there on launch so many pro and businesses features that it will just naturally grow.

SA: How do you see your competition?

CR: We still have a hard time finding a direct competitor. There are companies who do it in the business space really well, targeting large corporations and give them project management software, and then there are consumer apps which help you manage your grocery shopping lists etc. I think for us, the true goal is to be the last task manager on Earth. We can only achieve that by having the best integrated product of all time, meaning that you can integrate it with every single product API, it works on every device, your data is everywhere and it is always safe, you can use it on your watch, in your car, that’s the bigger vision behind it. We don’t want to be only a utility, I think that’s the bigger goal. And I don’t see any company which is trying to do the exact same thing.

SA: So it’s about keeping up with the Internet of Things?

CR: This is probably the key thing in the way we have looked at building the architecture, it is exactly what we wanted to achieve.

SA: So what can users expect from Wunderlist 3 beyond what has already been announced?

CR: The most exciting things include the API, that will unlock incredible opportunities. You will be able to bring Wunderlist to your TV and see what are the most active tasks or lists being worked on. So the API in general is a massive opportunity to connect with other products, like Evernote for example. Another thing I am excited about is the new Windows platform.

Other new features will include calendar integration, group lists, the simple ability to take five lists and merge them into one group. In general, every single feature that users want will come over time.

BL: We don’t know any company of our size and as young as we are that has launched a product on that many platforms, including an entirely new API.