Evernote CEO outlines strategy to eventually net one billion users

Summary:The note-taking app maker has some big goals, even "crazy" ones, admits the company's CEO.


SAN FRANCISCO---Evernote and its ever-expanding portfolio of productivity apps has grown impressively for a startup over the last five years.

But based on CEO Phil Libin's keynote address at company's third annual developer conference on Thursday morning, Evernote isn't even close to reaching some of its goals yet -- not even close.

According to Libin, Evernote's user base totals 75 million and counting now with at least one million in 16 different countries.

That's fine and dandy, based on Libin's sentiments, but he admitted that the real target is to reach Facebook-like levels and eventually net at least one billion users.

"There's still always room for improvement, even after five years," Libin remarked in reference to updates to the desktop versions of Evernote on Mac and Windows.

Part of Evernote's strategy in gaining ground worldwide is simply stepping over the digital fence and placing physical roots around the globe.

The Redwood City, Calif-based business itself stands at 330 employees scattered across eight offices worldwide. There are also more than 30,000 developers using the Evernote API.

"This new world of connected devices completely changes the focus of how products are going to be created," Libin asserted. "It no longer makes sense creating an app for a device like for your phone."

"We have great people in many of the top centers of innovation worldwide," Libin said, who explained that the strategy is that "we want a little bit of Evernote made everywhere."

The Evernote Trunk, which used to be the showcase for third-party apps, is being retooled as the Evernote App Center.

"The name 'Evernote Trunk,' was way too clever," Libin joked. "Soul-crushingly clever."

Re-launching today, Libin admitted there are actually fewer items and tools for developers, hinting at a "less is more" mantra with a focus on improving specific resources rather than just offering "more."

Much like Nest's newly-announced developer program , Evernote has been on track with ensuring that it is as ubiquitous as possible, working to make itself available everywhere between home and work. This ranges from rounding out the portfolio with varying types of productivity apps (i.e. sketching app Skitch) to unveiling a digital marketplace stocked with high-end physical lifestyle goods.

"That's right, we're a fashion brand now," Libin joked. "No one saw that coming."

Android, in particular, is a big focus for Evernote being that Libin cited Google's mobile operating system as Evernote's launchpad for its interest in wearable technology.

"This new world of connected devices completely changes the focus of how products are going to be created," Libin asserted. "It no longer makes sense creating an app for a device like for your phone."

"The name 'Evernote Trunk,' was way too clever," Libin joked. "Soul-crushingly clever."

Describing it as "probably the biggest revolution that the technology world has seen in decades," Libin explained that the growing interest in wearables reflects that the design focus is shifting from a device-centric model to user-centric.

Libin said simply that for Evernote, that means "we have to make the app for you," not individual phones, tablets, refrigerators, or cars.

Evernote leadership seems to have also realized that its apps can't just try to knock out and replace certain tools -- namely paper.

"Paperless is not the goal. Great experience is the goal," Libin emphasized. "We want to eliminate the stupid uses of paper."

Also introduced on Thursday morning and following the path of its partnership with Moleskine, Evernote has teamed up with 3M for digitally archiving Post-It Notes and making them searchable on Evernote's cloud service.

Libin asked, "What better way to reach exactly the right people -- mainstream people?"

Image via The Evernote Blog

Topics: Mobility, Collaboration, Enterprise Software, Developer


Rachel King is a staff writer for CBS Interactive based in San Francisco, covering business and enterprise technology for ZDNet, CNET and SmartPlanet. She has previously worked for The Business Insider, FastCompany.com, CNN's San Francisco bureau and the U.S. Department of State. Rachel has also written for MainStreet.com, Irish Americ... Full Bio

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