You know that binder full of dog-eared recipes…the file cabinet stuffed with documents you can never seem to find when you need them…the desk concealed by sticky notes scrawled in a hurry months ago? Imagine if all of those documents, notes and reminders could live in one place, neatly organized into notebooks that you can share and access from your mobile phone, tablet and computer. Welcome to Evernote. To date, the application has generated over 1.2 billion notes, stored more than 1 Petabyte of data, and gained upwards of 45 million users. Its story is well worth telling, which is why we sat down with CTO Dave Engberg to find out how Evernote is helping people around the world remember everything. Forever.
When CEO Phil Libin came to Evernote five years ago, recounts Engberg, he envisioned building a lifetime service that would serve as a supplement to your brain, allowing you to remember anything you want whenever you need. Not just any run-of-the-mill productivity app, Evernote would be a lifestyle application you could access from anywhere anytime. In early 2008, Libin’s vision became a reality.
Engberg describes the Evernote model as an application that stores everything you want to remember and allows you to access it anywhere, from any device. Constant syncing from Evernote’s own servers in their Santa Clara data center makes the application functionally ubiquitous. Says Engberg, the application’s “value grows over time… [and] each person makes it better on their own.” In other words, the more you use it, the more you reap the benefits of all of its features, most of which come at no cost to the consumer.
But who is using it? The answer became apparent quite quickly: everyone. Engberg explains that there was no target demographic in sight during development, and that turned out to be a very good thing. While Evernote wasn’t pre-destined for tech writers, these professionals used it, loved it, and wrote about it. Engberg notes that this unpaid PR was invaluable to the early success of the app. The beauty of Evernote and the reason behind its vast appeal is that it truly can be used by different people in different ways for different purposes. Engberg recalls that clergy were a group of early consumers that took the app and ran with it. “[Evernote] tends to be best for people who know the value of their knowledge,” sums up Engberg. Versatile enough to remember a song lyric and share documents in the office, it’s for people trying to achieve work/life balance.
Inevitably, demand grew. Until about three years ago, Evernote’s services were exclusively offered in English, but Japan was quickly becoming the application’s number two market, with a higher percentage of Japanese citizens than American citizens using Evernote to store notes, attachments, and more. The task, explains Engberg, was to create the optimal user experience for Japanese consumers. Besides adapting the language of Evernote’s services to Japanese, there needed to be a better way to get data from Santa Clara to Japan. Enter NTT Communications. Citing NTT Com’s quality of operations, maturity and professionalism, Engberg is enthusiastic about Evernote’s partnership with the Tier-1 network. “NTT [Communications] is the best and only solution for anyone who’s serious about transit between the United States and Japan,” says Engberg.
With the speed and reliability of NTT Communications’ network behind it and the ingenuity and broad functionality of the application itself, what’s next for Evernote? A focus now is the company’s recently-launched enterprise offering, Evernote Business, geared toward smaller businesses and groups of employees in larger organizations that want a tool that allows streamlined collaboration. Beyond a business offering, Engberg adds, Evernote has recently launched a parallel service in China and is continuing to build apps that apply increased intelligence and processing to users’ Evernote data so that “as your memories grow, they become more useful.”
Today, 45 million people are using Evernote around the globe, and that number grows by tens of thousands each day. It seems everyone is taking note.