A Cautionary Tale for Startups

  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    Unister is a powerful example of how mismanagement can lead to the spectacular downfall of seemingly successful startups.

  • Facts


    • Unister, owner of 40 different websites, declared insolvency in July after building up a mountain of debt and the death of its two founders.
    • Lucas Flöther, one of Germany’s most experienced bankruptcy lawyers, has been administering the company’s affairs.
    • Rockaway Capital, a Czech investor, has agreed to buy Unister and will take over at the end of January.
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Dringender Tatverdacht gegen Unister-Manager
Unister came to a dramatic end in July. Source: DAPD

When a start-up fails, Lucas Flöther is the man who cleans up the mess left behind. The 42-year-old bankruptcy lawyer has handled some of Germany’s most infamous cases of insolvency, but few compare to the tragic downfall of the once promising online travel giant Unister.

Like many of Mr. Flöther’s cases, Unister was in trouble long before it actually declared insolvency. The company’s co-founder, Thomas Wagner, made a trip to Venice, where he sought to obtain a loan from a mysterious person described as an Israeli diamond dealer.

Mr. Wagner and his partner Oliver Schilling, however, never made it back to Germany. They both perished when their return flight crashed over Slovenia. The company filed for insolvency four days later.

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