Is old friend Evernote starting the long goodbye?

Evernote, the ten-year-old Californian company behind the once-popular note-taking app of the same name might be slipping away from us.

Yesterday, TechCrunch reported that Evernote had lost four key executives.  Chief Technical Officer, Anirban Kundu, Chief Financial Officer, Vincent Toolan, Chief Product Officer, Erik Wrobel and Head of HR Michelle Wagner have all left the company in the last month. The company said all of the posts will be filled by internal promotion with no new staff joining the business.

It’s not good news for the company that was once valued by investors at $1 billion and it highlights the danger in VC valuations based on user numbers rather than profits. These valuations come from the idea that if you have users, you can convert them into profits later – but is theory is vulnerable to market shifts. Some companies with huge valuations get obliterated before the profits ever come.

Evernote claims 225 million users which supported a unicorn valuation of $1.2 billion back in the day, although the company has studiously avoided ever saying how many of those users actually pay for the service. Previous CEO Phil Libin wrote that the company could be worth $100 billion in the future if it continued to build products that people loved.

Fewer people are downloading Evernote than ever before

Once one of the top app downloads, the product hasn’t been in the download charts for years. The company has already closed three of its 10 offices, reduced the workforce by 18% and replaced the CEO. It also sold most of its Chinese business to raise cash earlier this year.

Evernote has been criticised for failing to innovate quickly enough on the core product – although I wonder how far can you with note taking and management? But the underlying problem behind their decreasing relevance is that decent note taking software is now given away free with operating systems and office apps.

Apple’s Notes application which is bundled on all Mac’s and iOs devices and seamlessly synchronise your notes across all devices without needing any real setup. The product has seen significant improvements in recent years and supports many of the features that people used to pay Evernote for.

Google has its Keep product available online and in mobile apps which has integration with the whole suite. And Microsoft has One Note. Increasingly, it seems, there just isn’t a reason for Evernote to really exist.

If you’re an existing Evernote user and worrying about access to your notes should the curtain finally close, a number of sites are already publishing guides on how to download your data and transition to other products.

People of a certain age who remember when Evernote was essential, will no doubt wish the company and its 300 employees well. Younger people I suspect will just think “Who?”



Glenn Elliott is a technology entrepreneur, investor and advisor, MBA drop-out and recovering CEO with 20 years of experience. His bestselling book Build it: The Rebel Playbook for Employee Engagement is published by Wiley. He writes about people, culture, leadership, technology and the future of work weekly at 

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