Evernote: From nought to 100 million users in six years

Evernote: From nought to 100 million users in six years

Summary: The note-taking application company has hit an important milestone with the help of its Skitch and Penultimate acquisitions.


A strategy of invention and acquisition has moved Evernote into the major league of application vendors: the note-taking software company has announced that it has reached 100 million users.

Evernote only took five years to get to its first million users, a goal it reached in May 2009. It hit five million users around a year later, in May 2010.

As well as growing organically, the company also made some crucial purchases along the way, picking up the annotating and sketching application Skitch in 2011 and the handwriting app Penultimate in 2012.

While its core note-taking app remains Evernote's most popular product, Skitch added 16 million users and Penultimate 10 million to the company's customer base.

CEO Phil Libin said: "There are two ways to look at this, on the one hand, there are more than 100 million people whose lives have been touched... by something we made. On the other hand, there are still about 7 billion people who've never used any Evernote product."

Evernote is headquartered in the US, but has built up a significant user base outside its home turf: it now has 35 million users in the Asia Pacific region, and 31 million users in EMEA. In contrast, Evernote has 27 million users in the US and Canada.

The company has raised some $250m in venture and other capital to date, and Libin is expected to take the company public in the next couple of years.

At the company’s developers' conference in San Francisco last year, Libin made it clear that his aim was to grow the company to a billion users as quickly as possible. And earlier this month the company announced a tie-up with LinkedIn which will allow that the business social network to combine its Rolodex app with Evernote's products.

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Topics: Collaboration, Apps, Enterprise Software


Colin Barker is based in London and is Senior Reporter for ZDNet. He has been writing about the IT business for some 30-plus years. He still enjoys it.

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  • Awkward Interface?

    I started using Evernote some years ago, and persevered for a while, but then dropped it as I found the interface awkward and far from comfortably intuitive. It may have improved by now, but since changing to Windows Phone, Windows 8 and OneDrive on my home and work Desktops, there's just no need for it. Alternatively I have iOS and iCloud on my iPad, iPhone and MacBookPro which will support the same functionality. Is it Android Users who run Windows who make up the bulk of the users, or has it acquired a dimension that I'm not aware of?
  • How many years?

    'Naught' is '0', not 1 million. If May 2009 was their 5-year mark @ 1 million users, and they just announce reaching 100 million users in 2014, doesn't that make it a 10-year period?
    Yes, the exponential growth is impressive over that last 5-6 years, but 'naught' (not) the exaggeration.
    • Hmmm. Nought and naught.

      Nought is the digit zero, and naught is the word, nothing. You could argue that it could be either but in fact 'nought to 100 million' is, I think, correct usage.
      But you are quite right to point out that the growth is not quite as fast as I portrayed. The company began in 1998 with its first beta and 1999 with its first finished product.
      Either way, I did not know much about Evernote before I started researching this piece but I intend to find out more now. Interesting company.

      Colin Barker
      • Growth rate

        Interesting company, and a pretty good product (albeit with plenty of room for improvement). If they keep improving their product and subscriber growth at the current rate, they shouldn't have any trouble meeting or exceeding your original growth rate. :)

        Of course, they may need to watch out for Google's Keep. It's pretty rough in comparison, but Google tends to rapidly improve products... and it's hard to compete with 'free'.
  • Good Product

    Evernote is a good product that has plenty of room to improve.
  • Evernote is a great product

    They are continuously building upon it and making improvement. I love the fact that the company has a 100 year vision for the product. I have almost 20,000 notes in Evernote and it is used daily from my iPad, iPhone and computers (Mac and PC).

    I know there are other competing products that people are very happy with but I've never had cause to look at them hard.

    I think many of the strengths of this app aren't apparent until you start adding a lot of information into it and find out how much it simplifies your life.