Evernote’s secret to grow

In this post I briefly analyse Evernote’s success story. First of all, the app – it’s mission, how it works and how it fits in a bigger picture of the Evernote Family. Secondly, I explore basic facts about Evernote Corporation including valuation, management team and userbase. Finally, I quickly go through growth tactics, value proposition and website analysis.

Evernote App

What is Evernote?

Evernote is a multi-platform app to store everything worth-remembering like notes, photos, articles, webpages, invoices or to-do lists.

Evernote’s mission is to help anyone remember anything.

Evernote is your intellectual brain, it’s a service that lets you remember everything important that happens to you and use that information in a way to make yourself happier and more productive.
Phil Libin, Executive Chairman at Evernote

How it works?

Evernote - ipad and desktop

You start by writing few paragraphs, taking a photo, uploading a document or clipping a website and saving it as a note.

Later, amazing search feature allows you to find anything you saved. You can also organize your notes through notebooks, stacks, tags or geo-tags.

Simple, isn’t it?

Evernote is claimed to be so intuitive because it works the way human brain does.
Just as human memory using app consists of:

1) initial encoding phase (adding a note – listening to lecture),

2) retrieval phase (searching for note – trying to recall something).

Evernote Family

Evernote Family

Beside Evernote – their flagship product, Evernote Corporation offers extremely wide range of related note-taking apps including Skitch, Penultimate, Evernote FoodEvernote Scannable and many more.

The company also runs Evernote Market with physical lifestyle and workspace products from Moleskine, Adonite or 3M.

evernote corp2

Evernote Corporation

Valuation and revenue

Evernote Corporation is valued at more than $1 billion dolars with over $290 million raised from venture capital and private equity investors.

On Quora, Evernote’s revenue was estimated at above $250 million annually with the following breakdown by product category:

  • 70% – premium service
  • 15% – Evernote for Business
  • 15% – physical products

Management team

Evernote Corporation was co-founded by Stepan Pachikov and Phil Libin (CEO from 2007 to July 2015).

Over the last 9 months company hired a new CEO, COO and CFO. Chris O’Neill is a new CEO of Evernote Corporation, formerly for almost ten years in leadership roles in Google (the most recently: Head of Global Business Operations at Google X, which was developing products like Google Glass).


As of August 2015, Evernote has over 150 million users worldwide in 193 countries. Significant growth since 100 million users in end of 2014 and earlier 80 million in the end of 2013.

Evernote’s users breakdown by geography:

  • 25% in United States and Canada,
  • 30% in Asia,
  • 45% rest of world.

Asia is claimed to be the fastest growing region with initial traction in Japan, South Korea, Indonesia and Vietnam.

Growth study

Evernote is anti-social. It was created for you, not your friends.
Phil Libin

Evernote’s growth engine

Evernote’s growth engine relies on four pillars:

  1. Freemium model
  2. Value increasing with time
  3. Design and simplicity of product
  4. Word of mouth

Freemium model

Freemium is about giving a free basic version of a product to most of users while charging for a premium to few people. It is one of the most common business model for online businesses.

Freemium model worked well for Evernote thanks to:

  1. great long-term retention,
  2. product value increase with use,
  3. low variable costs.

Libin stated that these three factors are necessary for making freemium model work for any company.

Value increasing with time

Amazing thing about Evernote is that its value grows the longer you use it. The more notes, websites, scanned docs you save – the more frequently you use it and the more you get from it.

The longer someone is using Evernote, the more likely he / she is to upgrade account. You can see it in stats:

  • Only 0.5% of new users upgrade to premium,
  • 7% does it after one year,
  • 11% after two years,
  • even 25% after four or five years.

Design and simplicity of product

The fundamental thing that I wish I’d of known, is I underestimated the importance of simplicity and design. (…) It really wasn’t about making it more powerful, it was about making it more natural. I think I’ve only internalized that in the past couple of years and it’ll take another lifetime to really master it. Phil Libin

Evernote’s design is minimalistic and focused on the most important things: writing and searching. While writing you can go into ‘Zen Mode’ when all the distractors are removed and you can concentrate on creating a master piece. You can organize your notes into notebooks or tag them, but even without it you are able to find them pretty quickly thanks to powerful search feature.

Write mode - web app

Writing mode – no distractions, beautiful and simple design.


Searching mode - powerful and minimalistic.

Searching mode – powerful and minimalistic.

Word of mouth

We don’t pay money for users. Phil Libin

On its early stage Evernote get coverage in TechCrunch and released early beta to its readers and journalist, which turned into great publicity. Libin called it a spark that started the Evernote’s growth engine. Their goal was to get 10,000 users while in 4 months they achieved 125,000.

Important part of Evernote’s word of mouth growth is its refferal program. What Evernote does is giving users a chance to experience Evernote Premium for successful referring (3 referrals give you three months of Premium for free). Referrals are not rewarded in cash, because it doesn’t fit the natural users behavior – most users are happy with free app but with time some of them convert into paid users.

Another puzzle in awesome growth’s story of Evernote is ambassador programme. In 2013 app claimed to have several dozen of ambassadors – power users who voluntary promote product by writing ebooks, conducting training sessions and referring. It is a part of Evernote’s

Evernote has an ambition to become ‘100 year startup’ and strong lifestyle brand. Evernote Market with its stylish products associated with Evernote is an important step in this process, just as coverage of its closed beta in TechCrunch and brand’s ambassadords.

Additional analysis

Value proposition

Let’s briefly analyze value proposition of Evernote based on Peter Thomson’s case study. He listed the following wants, needs and fears that are addressed by Evernote’s benefits, features and experience.

evernote - value proposition


  • Fast to enter things
  • Single system (rather than several different applications)
  • Share notes with people


  • Remember things
  • Write things down
  • Save information


  • Forgeting / loosing things
  • Being locked in the system.

To answer all these issues Evernote has the following characteristics:


  • Simplicity
  • Speed
  • Easy syncing


  • Sync across devices
  • Includes images / voice
  • Rich meta data


  • Everything everywhere
  • Never forget
  • External brain
  • Remember anything

Website analysis

According to Similarweb, each month Evernote.com attracts between 50 and 60 million visits. The level of traffic was stable over last 12 months. Average user spent on Evernote.com 4:32 min and seen 5.39 pages, bounce rate reached 35%. Weekly trend clearly shows that it is a productive app – with dumps on Saturday and Sunday.

Weekdays are clearly not the best days for productivity apps.

Weekdays are clearly not the best days for productivity apps.

Main acquisition channel is direct (59% of users), referrals (27%), much less search (9%) and social media (2%). Visits come from all around the world, mostly USA (43%), Japan (10%), Russia (5%), UK (4%), China (3%), Korea (2.6%) and Germany (2.5%). Key referrals (top 25% of traffic) include feedly.com, iftt.com, LifeHacker, Nikkei.com and WSJ.