Is Evernote A Dying Unicorn? I Don’t think So

in Cloud Computing, Mobile Cloud, Mobile Computing, Productivity

elephant sunsetUnicorn is a term in the U.S. investment and venture capital industry that denotes a start-up company—originally and often software-focused,[1] but now more inclusive of other sectors—whose valuation has exceeded the somewhat arbitrary value of $1 billion. Thus says Wikipedia.

As a long time user and premium user of Evernote I was concerned at some nagging discontent in business circles on the long term future of Evernote with some predicting that the service would be the first dead unicorn.  Now the thought of any tech service I have become reliant on shuffling off this e-mortal coil is bad enough but Evernote is more than just a note taking app, it is my digital brain storing a substantial amount of my data going back five or six years.

Evernote A Sinking Ship or …

The warning signs were flashing up in bright neon back in 2012  when business insider wrote:  “Depending on where you stand, Evernote is either a sinking ship or a maturing company going through a normal transition cycle. But most people we spoke to seem to agree that the company has failed to take advantage of its red-hot growth and make enough money from much of its huge user base — and is starting to show early signs of being an ailing unicorn.”

After the initial start up hiccoughs, minor things like running out of money, Evernote got bailed out and was thrown substantial financial lifelines of the odd $70 million here and the odd $85 million and things started to look rosy and Evernote became a hi-tech success story that others hoped the emulate.

Evernote’s Strengths

Somewhere along the line Evernote lost its muse.  It launched add on services such as Skitch, Food and Hello, all of which have closed or are being closed by the new CEO Chris O’Neill who stated after taking over from Phil Lubin: “Evernote’s strength is in its core: notes, sync, and search. That’s where we’re going to focus.” Thank **** for that, I hear the mass hordes of Evernote users cry.

Hopefully O’Neill will kill off the ludicrous spin off marketplace where you can buy an Evernote branded pen for $75, Evernote branded socks at $85 for five pairs, Evernote branded wallets for $100 and if you had a spare $200 spare change slopping around in your Evernote branded wallet you could buy a commuter bag.

If you have a spare five minutes feel free to browse the Evernote Market and marvel at the depths of stupidity a brilliant company can sink to.

Releasing Staff

O’Neill has started to try and turn the company around inevitably looking at staffing levels and releasing (that’s a kind word for sacking) almost 20% of its workforce. One former employee commented: “It’s a shame because Evernote used to be the place you wanted to go. It was the top-tier company where you pretty much did cutting edge stuff. And little by little, that faded away.”

Evernote isn’t dead – yet.  It has a substantial user base of 150 million business and premium users paying for the service. Although it is probably not worth billions it is still worth millions and by cutting deadwood services and commercial crap like socks the financial base rock should be enough to keep it going.

Business Focus

Another significant thing to a pond life blogger like me is whereas Lubin was a high profile CEO seemingly appearing at every tech event in the universe, O’Neill is very much out of the public eye. As far as I am concerned that is a good sign that he is focused on the business in hand and not his personal profile.

Now, the biggest test of my faith is that my premium subscription will be renewed in a couple of weeks. Will, I be coughing up for another 12 months? Absolutely, without a doubt.  It’s not that Evernote is too big to fail but that at its very heart it is too good to fail. Well, that’s what I keep telling myself. Prove me and millions of others right Mr O’Neill.

Previous post:

Next post: