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Evernote's quest to change the world through productivity software

Matt Weinberger | Nov. 19, 2014
In early October, Evernote CEO Phil Libin debuted new features designed to make the immensely popular note-taking software friendlier to the enterprise: Work Chat, Context and presentation mode.

Context can't quite tell me every last detail about what I would need to know, in Evernote, as in life. But it would save me a lot of repeat work, especially when doing researching. As a side benefit, Sinkov says, it means that customers get increased awareness of who's working on what, since their content is surfaced alongside your own note. It's potentially a little creepy, but it's also kind of cool to know if you're the only one who's ever thought about whatever problem you're working on. 

Work Chat works similarly, where you can see who's working within which of your shared collaborative notes and drop them a line. Presentation mode allows for real-time collaboration in mid-presentation, making it as much a whiteboarding session that can be screen-shared across geographies as it is a formal sharing of data. 

"It makes a big company feel like a small company," Sinkov says. 

Since presentation mode takes notes and turns them into something shareable (I'm trying really hard not to refer to them as "slides"), it reduces preparation time and lets you share exactly what you'd like to share without having to worry about translating a long report into a short PowerPoint.  

Moreover, none of this hinges on printed reports, or even the possibility of printed reports. By breaking that relationship between "words" and "paper," which is harder than it sounds, it means you can do things like allow for presentations where font size can be changed on the fly, in mid-spiel. And since it's all mobile-native, it all looks good no matter what size screen you're viewing it on.

The challenge, as it is for so many startups, is scale. Evernote has a reputation as a note-taking product first and foremost, and getting enough people to think of it as a full collaborative productivity offering will take some work. The opportunity is huge, but the risk of straying too far from the central mission looms large. 

Still, 100 million users, running apps on every platform from desktop to web to every mobile operating system, is a good place to start. It's just hard to say for how many users this vision of a perfectly passive intelligent enterprise platform will resonate. But Evernote won't stop pushing for a better workplace, because the stakes are a better-connected world that works better together. 

"We know what kind of world we want to live in," Sinkov says. 


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