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10:02 am ET
Jun 20, 2013

Lizette Chapman

Q&A With Evernote’s Phil Libin on the Startup’s Fifth Birthday

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  • Evernote

  • Phil Libin

  • By
  • Lizette Chapman
    • Biography
      • Biography

    With 65 million global users using its “remember everything” mobile app, Evernote is celebrating its fifth birthday and planning for its 100th.

    The vision of Chief Executive and founder Phil Libin is clear; Evernote wants to be your prosthetic brain.

    Judging from how it’s used now, it’s got a decent start. Evernote captures notes, articles, images and sound recordings and stores them in the cloud, so users can search and retrieve them later from any device. The original idea–to help consumers remember everything–has expanded to enterprise customers now tapping into and sharing information with their groups.

    The sci-fi loving Mr. Libin who once called it “barbaric” that his prescription eyeglass were not yet able to project anything,  talked with Venture Capital Dispatch about how he is pushing Evernote to evolve into something that seems like it’s reading your mind.

    Phil Libin.

    The following is an edited version of the conversation:

    You’ve described a futuristic world where refrigerators, pedometers, cars, watches, glasses and phones can talk to each other and make our lives better. How do you build that?

    You design for the person and make it work across all the devices. There is going to be a giant revolution in product thinking over the next few years and we are trying to be at the forefront of that. It’s not a technical limitation that’s stopping it, it’s a design limitation. Different devices will do different things. You don’t want a smartphone built into your refrigerator.

    What are you doing at Evernote to lead this change?

    The first step is recognizing that five years from now our product needs to be different. We can’t get to the future just by improving on what we currently have. It’s a new design completely and you have to staff for it and plan for it. We allocate about 20% of our resources to long-term projects.

    You’ve worked with a lot of hardware manufacturers including Canon, Hitachi Sony , Fujitsu to begin pushing the boundaries of what’s possible, like the Samsung concept refrigerator you showed at CES this year. What have you learned?

    I want to be involved in as many design experience as possible. When you design something it’s got to be for as many devices as possible. We are experimenting with Google Glass now so your phone can know what you’re looking at. When you want to get to a world with 10 different devices communicating with each other, you start now with two.

    How do you see the current Evernote experience changing for users ?

    We want it to feel like Evernote is reading your thoughts. It should be anticipating the information you need and presenting it you before you need it.

    Write to Lizette Chapman at lizette.chapman@dowjones.com. Follow her on Twitter at @zettewil 


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