6Wunderkinder, the Berlin-based developer of cross-platform productivity app Wunderlist, today announced a step up in its ambitions as a “productivity platform” for a global audience: it has hired American Chad Fowler as its new CTO. Fowler, well known as an expert and leader in Ruby on Rails, had been the SVP for technology at troubled daily deals provider LivingSocial — a position he resigned from suddenly in January with the news that he was moving to Berlin. Now we understand why.
The move is significant for 6Wunderkinder because it coincides with the company gearing up to launch an API for Wunderlist — expected sometime in Q2 — as well as a “pro” version of Wunderlist — which will be out some time this quarter. Although the app is already used as a bridge between work and consumer productivity, Christian Reber, the CEO and founder of the startup, says that the professional version this will be 6Wunderkinder’s first major foray into paid enterprise content to start monetizing its service, which is currently available as a free web and native app on multiple platforms.
It’s another step in the growth of the startup. In December 2012, 6Wunderkinder shifted to making its Wunderlist app available across a number of native platforms — in addition to remaining as a web app — which Reber says has resulted in the company seeing a bump of 500,000 more users in the last eight weeks. It now has 3.5 million active users on 8.5 million total downloads, and some 20 million tasks have been amassed on the service in the last two months. Overall some 100 million tasks have been logged, a spokesperson says.
In his new role, Fowler will be tasked with making sure that Wunderlist remains stable as it continues to grow. The plan is to release more apps in future that will complement Wunderlist, with the API being a link through to the company’s wider ambitions to act as a holder of data that can be used both in those apps as well as those of others.
Fowler’s previous company, LivingSocial, has been one of the beneficiaries, and then later casualties, of the rise and fall of daily deals. With layoffs hitting the company last year, some people see it as suffering from a “brain drain,” with Fowler leaving one sign of that. Fowler sees it differently.
“This move is not about getting away from LivingSocial, which is definitely what some of the people in the U.S. think,” he told TechCrunch. “I was a Wunderlist user and was contacted by them. My wife and I had lived in India ten years ago.” And although he says it’s long been a plan of his to learn German, he speak Hindi. “We always wanted to come to Europe and Berlin is one of our favorite cities in the world.” He says that the default language at 6Wunderkinder happens to be English.
LivingSocial is the social commerce leader behind LivingSocial Deals, a group buying program that invites people and their friends to save up to 90 percent each day at their favorite restaurants, spas, sporting events, hotels and other local attractions in major cities. LivingSocial has an extensive user base of more than 85 million, and is headquartered in Washington, D.C.