Mike Johnston had an itch.

Simplenote, his once-beloved note-taking app, had been gathering dust for the better part of two years. Johnston had been spending most of his time building Simperium, a syncing engine for apps that is part iCloud, part Dropbox and kept Simplenote in sync across platforms. Simplenote was once a prime example of Simperium’s syncing prowess, but the app had fallen by the wayside. “Is it a bigger business to sync text notes, or to build the app that powers syncing everything?” Johnston and co-founder Fred Cheng asked themselves two years prior. Simperium won.

Johnston felt a little negligent, since Simplenote had existed for years before Simperium ever came to be, and had a very dedicated user base. He and Cheng built Simplenote in 2008 because they hated Apple’s yellow Notes app and its awkward marker-felt font. The app did one thing, and it did it remarkably well, years before Apple ever uttered the word iCloud. Simplenote made money from a subset of users who spent $19.99 to remove ads and add Dropbox syncing, but the co-founders decided to head in another direction. They went on to join Y Combinator, a startup accelerator in San Francisco, and founded Simperium in 2010 to build a new vision for syncing files.