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Evernote cuts 47 employees and shuts down 3 offices (evernote.com)
412 points by jasondc on Sept 29, 2015 | hide | past | favorite | 448 comments

I was an Evernote Premium customer and enjoyed multi-device syncing and private notebooks. I had my own account, paid for out of my own pocket for a year. The company I worked for also decided to used Evernote and I could see our "Team" notebooks, right along with my stuff. When the company stopped using it, not only did I lose the "Team" notebooks, it took all of my personal data with it. I lost everything.

Support acknowledged it was a bug and told me that there was nothing they could do. They didn't even offer to let me have a few months free to catch back up and re-create my notebooks.

I sound like a cynic when I say this, but the root cause of failures like this is a principle fundamental to Evernote: data owned by an application, rather than data accessed by an application.

If all your data exists in a file hierachy that you can browse, edit manually, and back up, then you have the safety of relying only on foundational systems for the survival of your data, and the power to use your data as you please with tools of your choosing. But if the application owns your data—if it stores it behind the scenes and never exposes it to you directly—then your data is exactly as fragile as that application. If there’s a bug, your data can disappear. If the company goes under, your application can rot to unusability. If the product is discontinued, the same. If the company kills a feature, you have to do without it. Or, most likely of all, the company could start publishing buggier and buggier updates, and you’ll have no choice but to use buggier and buggier software.

It seems like a clear choice to me: if the data is anything I value, I must have direct access to it, regardless of what tools I use to manipulate it. The only data I let websites or applications own is data I’d be OK with losing.

I fully agree, but as a vendor that only implements bring-your-own-storage, I can tell you it's not much fun from the supplier standpoint. Our no 1 support request is something along the lines of:

"I've deleted my diagram, can you restore it for me?"

"No. We don't store your data, we never even see it"

"What a useless service, just get my data back or I want to speak to random escalation person"

99% of users don't care about privacy, architecture, etc. They want it to just work (TM). They want us to be able to undo their deletion, find their data when they forget where they moved it.

So it's users pressuring suppliers in the wrong direction, it's not all one way traffic.

(Disclaimer: I work at Google, not speaking for the company, etc)

We can do both. Google stores, backs up, secures, and generally ensures your data is safe, and you can click a button to download it all if you think you can do any of that better.

This is probably too hard to ask every company to do the same, as it would exclude smaller companies who don't have the resources (this takes a lot of time and development!). So it makes sense for them to offer a different feature set, and accept that it's not going to be suitable for some people.

> We can do both. Google stores, backs up, secures, and generally ensures your data is safe, and you can click a button to download it all if you think you can do any of that better.

It doesn't really secure users' data, since Google is able to read that data. Were it truly secure, it would all be encrypted with a high-entropy keys known only to the users.

People without backups could always choose to store their keys with Google, but people who want their data to actually be secure would be free not to.

> We can do both. Google stores, backs up, secures, and generally ensures your data is safe, and you can click a button to download it all if you think you can do any of that better.

This is exactly the right solution, and credit to Google for providing it.

> This is probably too hard to ask every company to do the same, as it would exclude smaller companies who don't have the resources (this takes a lot of time and development!).

I'm surprised you say that; it doesn't seem to me that 'dump this user's dataset to JSON/XML/whatever' should be very hard to do. Admittedly I've never worked on anything at Google scale. What am I missing?

> What am I missing?

To pick a few things I can talk about - sufficient replication to not lose data, data security that actually works (small companies can't - and shouldn't - afford disk shredders and internal access audits), targeted obliteration of customer data on request (including getting it out of the backups without rendering the backups worthless), and making sure that your exported data dump which contains massive amounts of personal information is only ever released to the correct user.

Doing any one of these things in isolation is not all that hard, because you can trade off against the others (for example, it is dead easy to do a data dump if you don't care about data security). Doing all of them at the same time is a large, expensive development project that would sink any startup.

Just for info, the last time we ran stats on which cloud storage our users pick it was:

Google Drive 53%

Dropbox 4%

OneDrive 1%

I don't think you're having a problem selling the idea :).

And where did you got that data from? Because where I live dropbox is far and ahead in user-base compared to Google Drive. That's the feeling I'm getting, mind you, I don't have any actual data... But even the apps I (2do, 1Passwd, etc.) use have support for Dropbox while none of them has support for GDrive.

I got that data from our SaaS application that offers storage using those 3 providers. Our target market is much more business over consumers, I suspect the figures look different in the consumer market.

Oh cool.

> This is probably too hard to ask every company to do the same, as it would exclude smaller companies who don't have the resources (this takes a lot of time and development!)

What's hard about "Backup to google drive / dropbox / icloud"?

I've seen single-developer applications do this. If a company of 10 people can't do this, they need to question the competence / diligence of their team.

Users no more expect vendors to lose their data than they expect banks to lose their money. I suspect we'll eventually end up with some sort of standards body making sure you do backups.

I don't quite follow your point. We didn't lose their data, we never had it.

I've probably put the comment in the wrong place in the tree, sorry.

The analogy then is having the bank tell you to take your deposit home and hide it under your mattress. That mental model just doesn't fit into people's world-view.

> 99% of users don't care about privacy, architecture, etc. They want it to just work (TM).

This is the sad Catch 22 we live in where privacy is jeopardized at the cost of ease of use

Do you think there is any value in educating the customer further? Periodically (5mins) reminding the user with a small notification to save (and backup) their work? I agree it can become a UX Nightmare (e.g. MS Paperclipguy), but having a checkbox "do not remind me again" could possibly go a long way as well.

We autosave to their cloud storage. The case I'm talking about is where they manually delete files on their cloud storage and expect us to restore them because we're the app vendor that originally wrote the files.

> So it's users pressuring suppliers

So may be managing data by product supplier is NOT the wrong direction?

It's about expectations. Users expect supplier to store and manage their data. If bring-your-own-storage became mainstream, users would know that it's them that manage their data and wouldn't have these expectations on the supplier.

Yeap, it's a 1990s model. I had a discussion with a software salesman... I was explaining to him that, what is valuable is not the software it's the data I will have put in his software in 5 years from now and if I don't have raw access to this data, I don't want his software.

He didn't understand a word.

Oh he most certainly did. Companies don't want to give you data for exactly that reason - if they can convince you to start using their software, you'll quicky be stuck with them.

At the moment, people are implicitly trading their personal data for services and convenience (communication, transportation, etc). Yet our data has value not just aggregated across millions of users and trained to sell ads; it has value to us as individuals: third party platforms can disappear, get hacked, act dishonestly, or change their business model.

There have been advances in systems that reclaim or duplicate ownership of third-party data back toward the user, personal API/quantified being the most recent. I think the missing link is not the technology, but rather a social movement that promotes the value of data access and ownership. This might be one silver lining to recent data breach and hacking scandals.

or is the problem just a poorly designed data model by Evernote? So for instance, i have had a github account since 2009, and i access both my personal repos and my repos that belong to my employer using the same accountName. When i joined my current employer, i no longer had access to my prior employer's repos on github, though my access to my own repos (both public and private) remained unchanged. And when they switched from github organizations to hosted github (more similar to the OP's situation) all of my repos in my personal github account remained intact and my access wasn't affected in any way

Sure, GitHub is better designed, but it also follows the principle of data freedom espoused by twhb and nsrivast. That may have come naturally by virtue of Git, but they also provide an API with no restrictions that can be used to move other things like GitHub Issues.

@nsrivast: a movement is exactly what we need. EFF is great, but they have a lot of things on their plate, and are not always consumer friendly. I've been working on core ideas for a Users First movement, because the web, contrary to the ideal results of a free-market, has been putting users last. Much of that has to do with users being the product not the customer. Your ability to "organize & visualize information for efficient teaching & understanding" would be invaluable!

@twhb: you have no email address on your account. please contact me if you are interested in helping articulate such a movement.

I am interested.

Github took the intelligent approach of separating identity from authorization. You have your own identity, which doesn't change. On top of that, you have a set of authorization permissions which can be updated, added to, and deleted from. Changing authorization permission X doesn't affect authorization permission Y.

Evernote seems to instead have lumped identity and authorization together. And had only one set of authorization permissions: all of your stuff. So when the permissions change, they all change.

This approach is nothing more than laziness. It's not just "not thinking ahead", it's completely ignoring 40 years of practice in the field.

Although you can't browse it, you can instruct Evernote to keep a local copy of all your data, allowing you to keep incremental backups. You can find (and change, if you want) the database folder under Tools/Options, General.

I do agree with your other points, although there are significant limitations to using the filesystem for storage in an application like Evernote. Perhaps a good compromise would be to use a publicly available database engine like postgres (although I'm sure they derive advantages from their proprietary format beyond the mere fact that it's proprietary).

This is reason #1 why I like DEVONthink for the Mac. It uses exactly this model. I'm sure equivalents exist on the other platforms, but I'm not all that familiar.

I have been an Evernote Premium user for a long time, and since the company seems to be having a rough time, I recently looked at getting all of my data out of Evernote. What a nightmare.

I loved Evernote. I loved the fact that Phil Libin said he wanted it to be a 100-year company. I don't know all the details, but the fact that he seems to have given up... what a letdown. I'm working on getting my data out. Once I'm done, I think I'm going to let my subscription lapse.

At risk of sounding like an Evernote apologist, I'm going to repeat a question I asked to another commenter elsewhere in this thread:

Why do you consider it a "nightmare" to get your data out of Evernote? You can select one, several, or all of the notes in a notebook and export them in either HTML or XML format, with all metadata (tags, etc.) and embedded media included. That seems pretty good to me, and it's certainly easy. If you wanted something more sophisticated, Evernote on the Mac has exceptionally complete support for AppleScript, so you can code up whatever kind of fancy extraction you need.

I'm not asking to be argumentative; I've always considered Evernote's support for extracting data to be pretty darn good, and clearly superior to many competitive apps/services, so I'm curious to know what additional functionality you would require before you'd say it's not a "nightmare" to extract your information.

If I put plain text into a note, I'd expect to get plain text out. You put plain text in, and you get something that still have to extract the text from. That isn't what I'd consider "pretty good".

My point doesn't apply so must just the plain text. It's everything. You put it in in source format, and you get .enex out. It's not so cut and dry.

Going in, it's one step. Coming out, to get it back in the same format you got it... it's multiple steps, and manipulation with other tools.

I use DEVONthink too for the same reason. The only thing DEVONthink lacks is cross-platform support. It's a pity that it's not available on Linux or Android.

To be fair, it lacks a lot more than that when compared to Evernote. Evernote is a bundle of great ideas, done horribly catastrophically badly.

1. Evernote has dual-language OCR of PDFs and images (and a few others crappy formats that normally shouldn't be used like .docx, .xlsx, etc). That's a great idea. DevonThink doesn't even have Japanese support (their licensed OCR only supports Western languages).

2. Uh... OK god dammit that is really the only feature that keeps me using Evernote's horrid apps. Shit.

OneNote has 0CR from images. It works fairly well.

This is a great point. There's an analagous situation in finance: would you rather have a single mutual fund own all your investment money, or do you want a brokerage account with some active management? The latter is definitely more complicated but gives the user more control, accountability, visibility, etc. While it makes sense for a Whole Product to want to hide this complexity and liquidity from the user, any long-term user will very likely want it after they've learned to use the product.

Actually I'd say a large percentage of people would be very well served by a globally diversified index fund for all their equity holdings...

And perhaps the analogy is still useful. I'm ok with that situation because I understand and accept the logic of indexing. If the fund I owned changed their prospectus and decided to start active management, or significantly increased their management fee, or whatever, I could pull my money out and invest it elsewhere. Similarly in software there are definite advantages to having a dedicated steward for a given type of data, but it's much better if there is some way to take your data back should you decide to put it elsewhere.

With Evernote, it is possible to export all your notes in a variety of formats, including XML, which can then be imported into other note taking applications if you wish. So to me, the bare fact that the application controls the data isn't necessarily an issue. What was becoming an issue was the fact that they didn't appear to treat it with sufficient respect. I hope we'll see that start to change now.

Thus... I use https://github.com/Jermolene/TiddlyWiki5 for the most vital information. It's more tedious, local (a simple file) and run in a browser.

> is a principle fundamental to Evernote: data owned by an application, rather than data accessed by an application.

Close, its a principle fundamental to modern cloud-based companies.

Offer the cloud storage for free, for 0 privacy and the permission to read, copy, access, and sell your data to third parties

> Close, its a principle fundamental to modern butt-based companies.

> Offer my butt storage for free, for 0 privacy and the permission to read, copy, access, and sell your data to third parties

Moreover, data loss is not a possibility, it's pretty much a certainty, because it's backed straight in the business model. At some point investors need to get their money back, and what better way to do that than have the company acquired? It's such an effective way that a lot of people starting their companies do that hoping that they'll get bought by a big corp. That the product gets subsequently shut down doesn't seem to bother anyone (except the customers, who at this point really should know better than to do business with a startup unless they're prepared for the moment said startup shows them the middle finger and disappears).

Completely agree with this and I think the model of an application that accesses data is the only one I will trust going forward. Great example of this is Scrivener. I can have my files locally stored or in the cloud, but Scrivener just accesses, not owns the files.

And this is why iTunes is a much better software than iPhoto.

>I sound like a cynic when I say this, but the root cause of failures like this is a principle fundamental to Evernote: data owned by an application, rather than data accessed by an application.

No, you don't sound cynical at all. I think It's perfectly reasonable to think that and it seems to be shaking out that way. It does seem pretty douchey to pontificate about your views on applications and data access in the form of a "this is why I don't use applications of this type" and then launch into an example of exactly what happened to someone who just said "I lost all my data with this service." It's kind of like "no shit. Thanks for telling me after the fact, professor."

> root cause of failures like this is a principle fundamental to Evernote: data owned by an application, rather than data accessed by an application

Not really. It's not like MS Word reading your .doc find can't corrupt it leaving you hanging if you don't have a backup. Catastrophic data loss isn't cured by the "data accessed by an application" model.

At least you can backup files. Applications, not so much... I'd add that data should be stored in a standard open format, so that an application failure won't prevent you to 1. keep your data (because backups) and 2. use your data (because open format)

It's better because you can back things up, but people tend to have a bad track record on backing things up unless it's part of their job description.

> an application failure won't prevent you to 1. keep your data (because backups)

My point is that you don't inherently get backups just by having control of the data file. It requires extra action on your part. If you don't backup, an application failure can easily destroy your only copy.

I recently lost nearly a days writing - but apparently they only do a back-up every 8 hours, and I was off by one (I don't write in Evernote anymore, lesson learned).

They did try to placate with 3 months free (after being a paying customer for years), but I'm just amazed that with the ~$300M of VC they've raised, they still haven't caught up to the real-time sync of Google Docs of 8+ years ago.

Hopefully their new focus (i.e. sync) is aiming to at least match that. I'd have moved by now if I could find something that was both highly cross-platform (Mac/Win/iOS) and lighter (Markdown pretty please).

Somebody here at HN suggested using Zim wiki a while ago http://zim-wiki.org/

I've been using it ever since. It stores data in plain text files (dokuwiki markup) and in addition the folder structure is mirrored in the note hierarchy. Zim is open, cross-platform, can include Latex-formula, and is extendable with plugins written in Python. I really also like that it is a proper desktop application instead of some webapp that changes UX every now and then, usually to worse, and that is dependent on network connection. After learning the keyboard shortcuts it is really a pleasure to use. Five stars * * * * *

I keep my Zim notebooks (separate NB's for Work and Personal things) in Dropbox for easy syncing between two desktops. Other Win7 and other Ubuntu.

edit: Added mention to Latex, as it might be of interest in this crowd.

I used a lot of Evernote as well, but what killed it for me was how slow the mobile client was.

I didn't "switch" as much as I've started (inspired by Luhmann's Zettelkasten) a personal wiki of sorts in markdown files. I've been using 1Writer for iPad (as a separate app from Editorial and iaWriter, where I usually compose text), which already lists the files in a folder on the left-hand side of the screen.

I also have a script on a Linux server that watches for changes in that folder and auto-commits to a local git repo under increasing "version numbers".

instead of dropbox, there's syncthing: https://syncthing.net/

Thank you for the Zim plug. This will meet my needs nicely.

I made the switch to Simplenote, and I've had a great experience so far. The main "sacrifice" is that you can only store plain next.

It was created by Automattic, Matt Mullenweg's company.

Simplenote was actually created by Simperium (YC S10) [1], a company founded by Fred Cheng and Mike Johnston and acquired by Automattic in 2013 [2].

[1] https://www.crunchbase.com/organization/simperium

[2] http://simplenote.com/2013/01/24/simplenote-supercharged/

I made the switch to Simplenote

I have a problem committing to a program/site that says:

   it’s all completely free
How can they stay in business? Is their business nothing more than data mining my files? Is that something I want to allow? Is that a long term strategy for viability?

Automattic make money from Simperium and they provide Simplenote as a freebie to showcase the technology I guess.

That is very helpful. Now their business model makes sense.

I wonder why they don't even mention Simperium on their home page? It's not even mentioned under Help. It's a secret?

They even have a a perfect opportunity to mention it. E.g. in Simplenote Help they say:

   Q: How does syncing work?

   A: All notes are synced between your device
   they automatically and wirelessly show up
   in the other locations
I guess they want us to hypothesize that magical "Data Fairies" do this syncing?

>I guess they want us to hypothesize that magical "Data Fairies" do this syncing?

No, they hypothetize that the average user wants a high level description, not to read about servers, incremental sync protocols, etc.

They could have added this sentence, more or less:

   The secret sauce underlying this syncing is
   Simperium, a service for developers to move
   data everywhere it's needed, instantly and
One extra sentence would have overwhelmed the average user? Bah.

That doesn't provide any more information to the average user -- which I thought was what was being asked for here. What's "Simperium"? Just a name they don't know to them.

Another vote for Simplenote - does exactly what it says on the tin. In 2-3 years of using it, I had only couple of issues with sync. When I reported them, support was super responsive and the issues were fixed with subsequent updates.

They also offer easy exports of your notes.

If you've never tried, give it a shot - http://simplenote.com

Simplenote is where I keep my plain text notes now (Notational Velocity on Mac and official app on Android). My local copy of notes reside in my Dropbox folder and my (pretty much) entire ~/ is backed up to CrashPlan cloud.

For notes or docs that need diagram etc I use Google Docs. Even my team uses the same (as part of the Google Apps suite).

What I love about Simplenote is that it does what it says - just plain text notes. No gimmicks, no extra load and bells and whistles.

But I have a feeling that they will shut it down soon. They had a paid tier and they removed it some time back. There has hardly been any update I guess and iirc they don't really update their Android app frequently either.

Do they encrypt the notes at client side before sending it their servers? I would love to use a self hosted app that has such a functional and minimal interface and clean sync feature.

> I'd have moved by now if I could find something that was both highly cross-platform (Mac/Win/iOS) and lighter (Markdown pretty please).

I've compromised on OneNote, which isn't lightweight, but has become impressively cross-platform.

I might use OneNote if its search could find text in attachments. But it cannot; it only supports searching the actual text contained in the note itself.

Part of the Evernote value proposition is being able to find things again (although Evernote's search interface is abysmally bad, and offers no way to narrow your search so as not have a huge number of irrelevant matches).

I tried to get back into OneNote last night (after the frustrations brought up by posting in this thread). I appreciate the cross-platform aspect, but I really don't like the interface - especially on desktop. The really weird text-box thing just blows my mind, I just want to write.

You can turn that 'text box thing' off and make it behave like normal page.

I personally have been using git more and more for my note taking. I use RStudio and RMarkdown for my notes and it has been great and easily spread to all my personal devices.

Hmm, that's an interesting solution. You could always combine this with a private github repo and get easy-to-browse note-taking. It does seem like having to manually sync would be annoying though, is it really better than solutions like GDocs?

I use a combination of Sparkleshare, Emacs, Markdown, and an emacs mode named Deft to accomplish this. Deft autosaves my notes as I write them, and then Sparkleshare automatically syncs changes with the git server. It's pretty nifty.

https://www.petekeen.net/git-backed-personal-markdown-wiki (I added Deft later)

You could automate it using something like https://github.com/nevik/gitwatch

I actually use a FREE Private repo on bitbucket.

> I'm just amazed that with the ~$300M of VC they've raised, they still haven't caught up to the real-time sync of Google Docs of 8+ years ago.

I don't understand. EverNote has instant sync across devices. If you are using in web browser or PC client then its even real time. (Android one requires you to click "Done" before syncing apparently because it treats the whole note as one giant text area).

I very frequently switch between typing on my desktop or my tablet whenever i leave my desk but have an idea running in my head. Similarly if someone is viewing my note, they get frequent updates as I type

The iOS and Desktop clients do not instant-sync, or I assume they wouldn't both have sync buttons (or a "Synchronize Automatically" preference, that has "Every 5 minutes" as it's most frequent option).

I'm aware of instant-sync in the web client, but typically (especially in this case) prefer desktop clients to web.

In the unfortunate case I referenced above, I spent an entire morning writing in Evernote (Mac desktop). At lunch I had another thought to add, opened Evernote on my phone, and apparently the same note was already open - so it overwrote all the work I set all day to it's earlier state. There was no way to get it back, as it didn't consider it a conflict and it had no backups due to being less than 8 hours (I went through this with their support team). It's a broken product.

Sync shouldn't even need to be one of their goals - it should be a solved problem by now.

I agree, it needs git style (or even Ms word style) conflict resolution. hopefully they will figure this out soon

The Windows desktop client isn't real time sync at all, it's set to sync every X minutes (configurable) and there's a great big Sync button on the toolbar.

i meant in the context of the whole 8 hours limit thing. Yes its X minutes but not X hours, but that has been cleared up by his follow up comment

Dropbox with Markdown editors ? They exist on all platforms.

This is why I store all my important writing (mostly fiction, journal entries, etc.) locally, on an external HDD AND Dropbox.

after being a long time user of evernote i switched to moo.do it's not a good tool for writing articles, but rather a mix between note taking and a todo app. your data is stored on your google drive, so you can back it up as you like.

it's free too: http://www.moo.do

Evernote is probably the buggiest "professional" software I've ever used. While I never lost all of my data, I lost a few individual notes, and I lost formatting on my notes (e.g. bullet points/numbers) so frequently that I just resorted to using plaintext/whitespace formatting.

I wanted to create a competitor ages ago using markdown. But in the end I just resorted to using notepad and wunderlist.

I've had too many problems with evernote in the past. Random formatting and data lost. Support always being hopeless. I threw in the towel.

> I lost formatting on my notes (e.g. bullet points/numbers) so frequently that I just resorted to using plaintext/whitespace formatting.

So glad to see that I wasn't the only one. OneNote got the list formatting right in its original version (2003!), yet Evernote has steadfastly refused to do anything about how bad their own implementation is.

That is incredible. I'm sorry that behavior like that exists and that service providers can be so terrible at what they do.

It also sounds like an implied admission, on the part of evernote, of not having working backups ? I would think that they would have found some way any way to get your data back to you given what just happened.

That might just mean that they delete all backups when the account gets deleted for privacy reasons.

Depending on the backup tech, that can be kind of difficult. I can't run arbitrary SQL against the database backups I've got stored in tarsnap. Nor against tape, etc.

For that matter, isn't the (or one) reason for having a backup so that errant deletes don't obliterate everything?

Deleting the encryption keys for that customer's data is an effective way, and arranging your key storage such that keys can be deleted from backups is more doable.

At least in the EU there is a regulatory obligation to design your backup system such that data can (eventually) be deleted if the user so requests.

Fortunately there is no strict time limit on completing this process so a design that looks like "and after X months it will have aged out of our backups" appears to be considered reasonable. You are still responsible for making sure your backups are safely destroyed.

On the other hand some data needs to be kept for many years due to legal reason. I don't think it would be possible or even legal to have all your data deleted upon your request.

In those cases, just get it back from the NSA! They have a copy of everything.

I was always under the impression that nothing really gets deleted online.

That only applies to things you want deleted.

In the short term you're absolutely correct.

In the long term everything suffers from "data decay". It's just too hard to keep old files around forever.

E.g. there were comments I made on Usenet many years ago. Google has previously attempted to preserve those, but they seem to be fading away into the ether. That's okay by me.

the files are mostly there... its just too troublesome for the companies to access the files for one user

It is, in fact, really hard to be ablet to delete data from an online service, while also not raising the chance of losing it accidentally. But if you treat it as an engineering goal from the start, it's possible. (Disclaimer: I work for Google, and we work very hard on this.)

My account once decided to throw away several dozen notes for no good reason (I had deleted a bunch of conflicting changes over several months, and when I emptied the trash, it wiped all the corresponding current notes on the server and all three of my devices). Evernote support couldn't do anything about it.

They also took like two weeks to respond to my problem ticket. I'd submitted it on New Year's Eve, so I anticipated having to wait a day or two, but that was pretty ridiculous.

Thanks for pointing that out. If a company shuts down their account I suppose it's actually a feature that copies of their notebooks be deleted from every employee's system. Though the glitch is when personal notebooks are deleted.

I think a middle ground would be a two step deletion, no?

Step1 : Delete from everyone's machine but keep a backup for X days to allow people to file complaints etc.

Step2 : Delete Backup

That's why I create backups of my Evernote databases regularly. You never know.

This is a hilarious comment coming from a user named "rsync"

rsync operates rsync.net, an online backup company. They have a longstanding professional interest (and expertise) regarding these issues.

he runs rsync.net

Evernote is notoriously bad at keeping notes. http://jasonkincaid.net/2014/01/evernote-the-bug-ridden-elep...

Although nowhere near to your situation, I lost important meeting notes after a conference call. After making some formatting modifications (cut/copy/paste) to organize the notes, I found myself not being able to restore any text by undo-ing some of the inadvertent changes I made. Having been burned by a feature so basic to document editing as Undo, my next steps were basically to export all of my business notes and stop using the service for any work related activities. If not for this incident, I would probably keep using it.

I had a similar experience. After two or three times losing large amounts of work, and finding absolutely no way to get back to an older revision in the free version, I stopped using the product. I may have gone to the premium service if it hadn't been so buggy.

I've had the same experience. If they'd literally done nothing but make sure the product doesn't lose data in the last two years since they last CEO announced a refocus on quality they'd be in a much better spot. With people's data you don't really get a second chance. Evernote seems to treat dataloss as "well, you know, it's only a couple of kbytes we lost of yours" - while to the customer what they lost has disproportionately more value than the amount implies.

As for me, I'm now a lifer anti-customer of Evernote.

Once my Evernote underwent a dramatic sync error, resulting in duplicates of all my notes. Evernote support's only help was to suggest I use Time Machine to recreate my notebook. They couldn't move the notebook back in time or anything like that.

That's horrid. This is exactly the kind of thing Evernote should be prioritizing above all else.

It is a good example of why it's so important to keep your own incremental backups though. I wouldn't be comfortable relying on EN as much as I do if I didn't sync and back up my entire note store. (Similarly, although I trust Google's reliability far more, I still keep and back up a local sync of my email.)

While it sounds excessive that a company has so many worldwide offices to even have 3 to close, good luck having them focus on important problems with their software if any of those 47 layoffs included developers. This kind of fatal flaw that can result in data loss makes it sound like they prioritize new features and marketing above the product itself.

Hi Jason -

I work at Evernote and would like to look at your support ticket with our management team to figure out what happened. Will you please let me know your ticket number?

Thanks in advance. Please know that we're here to help.

What I end up doing is storing my evernote project folder in dropbox. Funny enough evernote detects this and warns me, but I know dropbox won't loose my files.

Does this imply they do not have backups? Or did they offer some other explanation?

The reasoning I lost the data was actually a permissions issue, I think. I was an individual person, paying a Premium subscription and when the company I worked for signed up something happened to where they owned my notebooks. The company stopped using it, there went my stuff too.

This doesn't help OP but I am new to evernote and naively excited about it. One thing I like about it is that I can export my notebooks to an XML text format that contains the encoded images. So it seems to me that I can put my notebooks into git and not worry about losing anything. This thread is making me think I should investigate whether that is automatable; I was assuming it would be.

> So it seems to me that I can put my notebooks into git and not worry about losing anything

most of the point of paying for evernote is they should remove the worry about losing anything. Their entire point for being is to record your notes. And keep them safe and accessible. If there's a statistically noticeable chance that they will lose some or all of your data, they have no substantive value.

I disagree. That's not the attraction for me. The attraction for me (personally) is that they have nice image capture and processing software that allows me to link diagrams and math from my paper notebooks to electronic documents with a quick picture taken on my phone. They're a private corporation and not one that is too large to fail; I wouldn't rely on them to not lose my data, I would use something like git for that.

Exactly. A big part of Evernote's appeal to me was that, synced across three devices and the cloud, my data would be safe even if my house burned down.

Then Evernote decided to delete several dozen of my notes from their server, and helpfully synced that change to all my devices.

I'm currently looking for a replacement that suits my needs. Microsoft OneNote looks promising, now that it has Mac/Android support.

This is insane. Although I believe Evernote is one of the few products that allow you to export your data.

Exporting your Dropbox data is just dragging your files out of the dropbox folder or just turning off synching. I mean it doesn't include your event log or old stuff and you have to have separate client applications for the things Evernote does (like web clippings etc) but yeah, Dropbox. I have not lost any data with it and I was able to recover data I did lose through their amazing deleted item retrieval tool.

Any product that doesn't allow you to export your data is broken.

how do you export? Last time I checked I could only export individual notes, which is obviously not a working solution given that I have thousands of notes.

In the desktop app, select all notes, click export, or... right click on "Notebooks", select export.

It lets you export in ENEX format, which is fully re-importable back to Evernote, or as HTML web pages.

While it reimports everything into Evernote it doesn't keep the notebooks or stacks you've setup.

Really annoying if you're importing in to another account.

Out of curiousity, What made you choose Evernote over Google Drive? Doesn't Google Drive offer the same features? I haven't used Evernote and use Google docs to store my notes instead.

honestly it was mostly presentation. Evernote has an interface that made it easy for me to take notes, update, attach pictures, store all of those notes in a notebook.

GD feels just like a filesystem to me. At that time. Now I actually use GD for this.

Sounds very similar to the dropbox for business issue that happened a few years ago. I wonder in what universe these storagey providers think this is possibly ok.

I haven't experienced this so far but after reading about your experience, I just took backup of my evernotes.

CloudHQ will migrate to Google Drive, Dropbox or etc. for free.

> Evernote’s strength is in its core: notes, sync, and search. That’s where we’re going to focus.

Well, like many others, I've been wishing Evernote would drop all the auxiliary stuff and focus on their core product. Hopefully that's exactly what will now happen. Evernote has become an absolutely critical part of my life. Even though I use it for business (along with everything else) though, I have no use for the majority of the new features they've added over the past few years. Of course, not every feature will be useful to everyone, and just because I don't use something doesn't mean it shouldn't exist. However, when you see significant bugs languish for years while niche features get priority, it suggests a problem. I really hope this signifies a change in direction (as opposed to a milestone in the current, downward, one).

It would also be a huge plus if it didn't take 5 seconds to load every time I opened the app. Not sure how a company with so many competitors can survive long-term with its product in such a state.

Agreed; Google Keep has become my preference for immediate note taking. I think a major factor in Evernote's long-term survival is the friction of switching to a competitor (in conjunction with getting a lot of early traction with power-users).

I'll use Keep for everything the moment they add attachments, rich text and a clipper. It's already pretty close to what I need..

That plus folders or some sort of hierarchical organization would meet all my needs perfectly.

That'd be great. I'm using tags as a poor man's hierarchy for now. I do this on Pinboard too. Ex. #travel #travel-nyc #travel-nyc-Brooklyn.

FYI, in Pinboard it's possible to combine tags for filtering, like this: https://pinboard.in/u:kr4d/t:chicken/t:soup/t:recipe/

I really like that feature in the web app. Do you use a mobile app that supports multi-tag filtering too?

I'm not sure TBH. I tried in Pinner for iPhone, but the app is quite buggy so I'm not sure if it's supposed to work or not.

i don't trust them with my notes after google notebook went away.

Google notebook was amazing! But at the very least, they did export all notebook notes to Google docs, so it wasn't like they completely binned all user data.

agreed, it wasn't the worst outcome

What I find missing is a native Windows client. For me, "immediate" note taking means that I just hit ctrl-alt-N (or click Evernote icon in a tray), and I am immediately writing. In Google Keep, you basically need to visit a webpage, which is just not immediate. Or you use it only on mobile device?

You can install keep as a native looking desktop app by using the google app launcher, then you can open it like any other app.

Click to open a browser vs click to open a thick client... Is this really a problem?

I love Google Keep as is.

I've gone the other way (Keep to Evernote). I need a cross platform solution, and with any significant amount of data the Keep webapp is practically unusable on my iPad. If they had released a native iOS version, I probably wouldn't have switched.

> If they had released a native iOS version, I probably wouldn't have switched.

You mean like this?


I recently switched from Android to iOS, and I deeply miss Keep.

Everything about Evernote seems to get slower and slower; I hardly use it at all anymore for that reason. Even the browser plugin to save webpages is glacial, and that was a big reason I started with Evernote in the first place.

"It's traveling to space. Give it time" - LCK

When their competitors can be 5x faster while still traveling to space that's not so hot.

(And it doesn't actually travel to space unless you're on a satellite connection.)

More often than it should. This is a huge problem with current companies and their products - they depend too much on the Internet connection, because a combination of lazy (or deadline-pressured) authors and executives trying to monetize absolutely anything.

The newest version of the Android app is actually a huge improvement here. It's now possible to launch a quick note from the desktop basically instantaneously. (It probably averages 0.3 seconds on my Galaxy S6.) Hopefully a sign of things to come.

What is the auxiliary stuff that they've dropped? (or will drop/reduce emphasis on)

Genuinely curious. I've noted that they seem to have multiple apps in the AppStore doing similar things.

You know, auxiliary stuff like business socks.



Too much VC money sloshing around.

I know that there's a lot of groupthink in the VC community, and so CEOs aren't always selected strictly on merit. But even I, with no executive experience whatsoever, would know not to OK something like that.

As Saint Steven once put it:

   I'm actually as proud of the things
   we haven't done as the things I have done.
   Innovation is saying no to 1,000 things.
Why didn't this dialog take place in a board meeting?

   CEO: thanks for the hundreds of millions of
   dollars you've invested in us. Here's something
   new we've done. We're putting your money
   to good use.


   non-spineless Board of Directors:
   That's great.
   Let's all just go back to your office and help you
   clean out your desk. Then we'll escort you out of
   the building and the rest of us will reconvene to
   discuss finding a better steward for the hundreds
   of millions of dollars we've given you.
Edit: just to emphasize, the quote above was from Jobs discussing focus: http://www.goodreads.com/quotes/629613-people-think-focus-me...

IMO startups that aren't making money and that keep having to do rounds of financing need to, most of all, FOCUS. Evernote board should be chanting: FOCUS! FOCUS! FOCUS!

I'm pretty sure it came from branching out into workspace inventory, like monitor stands, and then jumped into business accessories, like laptop bags and (yes) socks.

The margins are already so thick that they probably only had to sell a few to break even.

But I do think, this is precisely the point they are trying to fix. They all seem like logical moves in themselves, but when you look at them in combination, it's clear an overarching strategy is lacking. From Socks to Evernote Business to Recepie capture..

Oh my god, this has to be a joke. The lines "We've got you covered" and "It's your business" are too bad to be real.

I'm hoping they're dropping the idea of chat. Spending time on that really never made much sense me when their core product is so strong but badly needs some features to better align with modern tech trends such as improved plain text and markdown support.

> ... markdown support

Yes, 1000 times yes! I so wish I could author in Evernote using markdown. Getting any sort of rich text done in a note is extremely cumbersome in Evernote, lists for instance.

I will guiltily admit that Ctrl+Shift+U is hard coded into my finger DNA - I use Evernote for every meeting, every discussion we have, and quickly creating lists (or getting out of list mode) is actually one thing I like about evernote.

I mostly use Evernote on my iOS devices. While I do have a keyboard for my iPad, I am not sure that works there, but I'll give it a go. Ultimately, though, markdown support would be my ideal so that I don't have to learn a new set of key combinations. I already know emacs ;) Plus markdown is easier to use than a key combination like that (IMO of course).

Have you submitted it as a feature request to their support? I get the feeling they just don't have enough people asking for it.

Markdown support has been a common feature request for years, with many feature requests in their forums as well as entire blog posts from fairly prominent bloggers – just try googling "Evernote markdown support".

I've had the strong suspicion for a long time now that they simply aren't listening to these sorts of feature requests that don't tie into their enterprise/business focus – at least since about 2013.

They just tweeted me back saying: "We don't have full markdown support, but check out this post for an update on where our editor is going: https://blog.evernote.com/blog/2015/09/22/the-future-of-writ...

Their official response on the matter is something like:

We do not support markdown but have created an API that lets third party developers provide markdown support.

One really good example is www.marxi.co

I made a feature request quite a long time ago for LaTeX math support. Every few months another person +1s the suggestion. I don't get the sense that they really take the suggestions on the forum particularly seriously.

LaTeX math support would be another awesome feature. I'll go +1 it now as well :)

There was a point in 2013 when if you weren't doing something related to messaging and chat, you couldn't be one of the cool startup kids

I recently switch to jotterpad + dropbox for this reason. Plus, now I can quickly edit my notes on PC with vim.

I don't know what they've dropped, but a few auxiliary features I personally don't use are Skitch, Hello, and Work Chat. I'm sure some people do use them (although I expect few compared to the core product). But everyone uses the editor, and there are significant bugs there that have literally gone unfixed for years. That said, some have been fixed in the past couple months, which is part of why I'm hopeful about this new direction.

Personally skitch is far more important to me than Evernote itself. If they killed off that app I'd be gone in a heartbeat.

Totally, and I definitely get that just because I don't personally use something, it doesn't mean it isn't useful. I don't object to any current features continuing to exist. ("Drop" was poor wording.) I would just like to see them focus on bug fixes and the core experience in general over adding _more_ new stuff.

Skitch has potential but I've always felt the integration was terrible and unfinished. It doesn't feel native at all.

I use Skitch daily... but I don't sync it to Evernote, usually just to screenshot, annotate and dump the marked up image into Slack or an email, I don't use it for anything I want to persist. Other than the sync aspect in the interface I hardly notice it's an Evernote product at all. I could get by with Preview.app and Grab, but Skitch's obnoxious default pink arrows and widely stroked text are perfect for calling out visual errors on projects.

Likewise, I use Evernote Scannable every so often without connecting to Evernote because it's a really good scanner app. Exports and emails images without any fuss.

I'd be perfectly happy if both apps were spun [back] off into their own entities too. Evernote as a note taking company doesn't do anything for me, but they do have other nice products.

I use Scannable _extensively_. Being able to search the text in handwritten documents and whiteboards - without losing the original document to some ridiculous OCR conversion - is absolutely gold. Plain text notes are somewhat less important for me, although I use them a lot too.

I don't care one whit about chat.

I believe they got rid of their Food app recently. I'd be so grateful if they ditched Chat (or at least gave options to remove it from all platforms) and accepted that even if we it for work, some of it use it in a personal capacity that does not benefit from social aspects at all.

I never understood the food app. I figured it was a case of the founder taking "dogfooding" a bit too literally.

I found it useful, the evernote browser exception let's you save recipes without the crap and the food app let's you quickly find them and it kept the screen on while you were cooking.

I wonder if they're experiencing feature creep because they've satisfied users of the core features. I use a program called Devonthink Pro according to this method: http://www.stevenberlinjohnson.com/movabletype/archives/0002... and in some respects my use hasn't changed that much. I use syncing features and some other pieces, and maybe the engine has gotten a little better over time, but mostly I do what I did with it 10 years ago.

I wrote a little more about DTP here: http://jakeseliger.com/2010/11/12/scrivener-or-devonthink-pr... , though I understand that some people use Evernote differently than DTP.

> I wonder if they're experiencing feature creep because they've satisfied users of the core features.

Except for a native linux client :(

I absolutely agree - the core of evernote is what I like and it needs more attention. Usability, performance, ...

But it looks like they found out themselves, eventually... ;)

Evernote is a note taking app in 2015. While slack and hipchat are somewhat iconoclastic, they have network affects and boost productivity. Evernote is competing with apple notes, google docs, whatever microsoft has, every password keeping app, a notebook, a text editor and using a blog. This is something that will likely happen to dropbox and box. You provide storage. Simple math will provide you with the cost of storage in 5 years and it is not a lot. Further, similar to evernote, it solved a problem that had a lot of friction and was novel a few years ago, but is standard now.

Syncing. This is a default piece of all browsers, the 2 main operating systems win/os x, and comes standard on most phones. This is like the browser, you can have it for free so you stay in our ecosystem. Mega GIVES you 50GB of storage completely free NOW, and it is likely more secure. I don't know enterprise as well as I know consumer, but at some point I would imagine the choice is between buying a few SSDs and having an internal server, or setting up your own secure system via VPN. There can't be much room for this.

Microsoft has OneNote, which might be a good cautionary tale in this area. OneNote was once the king of note taking, like back in 2003, and it's still a great product. But Microsoft focused too much on the Business market, I think, dropping OneNote from the Office Home packages, and that kind of killed it outside of the corp world.

OneNote is now completely free and available on iOS as well (where it has a full 5-star rating). As much I love Evernote, it's going to be an uphill battle for them. (And not to mention the handwriting experience and integration with the Surface Pen - which are killer features for students)

Nice thing is that the desktop app can sync/save copies locally and does private backups, but you can also save/sync and store data in OneDrive, private server, or corporate internet via a samaba share (Free version only syncs to OneDrive, but IIRC does local backup in desktop app).

Architecturally it's a very impressive product and makes some pretty creative uses of the windows folder hierarchy to get it's job done.

I think OneNote was built with a crashfirst mentality - It is very hard to lose data w/ it. Their QA team is damn impressive too, I've been a follower of theirs for a while.

My only complaint is the lack of true real-time sharing ala google docs's Operational Transform (they didn't exist when it was made), but it does come close. Opening a shared notebook in class and having everyone collaborate on the note was an awesome experience.

It's inking support blows everything out of the water IMHO. It also has a lot of the advanced automation features you can access by integrating OneTastic.

Only real issue I've ran into is that it gets to be a pain to print with as it has some wonky scaling features and the page layout feels like an after thought.

It is also hard to get groups of people to use it effectively because it is basically a WIKI and needs to have the same kind of discipline / habits to make it usable.

If they can do inking support with Operational Transforms, they may be able to have a replay feature without even trying - something that many teachers seem to really want out of the product.

My friend and I love the product so much we've been trying to make our own online version with inking support w/ paper.js share.js, github, and localstorage.

What is inking support?

It has really good pen/stylus support. It has completely replaced handwritten notes for me.

However, although it's amazing compared to a pen and paper it's still incredibly frustrating to work with.

* It can't handle large amounts of handwriting without igniting relatively powerful computers

* It crashes constantly when trying to balance pen input with palm rejection

* Syncing doesn't really work with non-trivial merging and doesn't handle sync errors nor errors in general well -- all of these usually end up with handwriting layered on top of itself

* Syncing is basically out of your control, you can't do partial syncs when you really need a section/page fast, and large notebooks with handwriting can take hours to sync completely. I've basically resigned to splitting my notes into many smaller notebooks.

* Handwriting on the "Desktop" version is a complete joke and so you're constantly switching between the that and the app to get good handwriting and more features.

So it's great, until it doesn't work then it's a nightmare.

OneNote works fairly well on Windows. The main issue I have with it is usability. Performance on Macs and iOS is fairly terrible though, from syncing lag, to input lag, (on an iPhone 6) to long load times.

I used to love OneNote's writing experience - but it sucked hard at syncing data between devices. That was what Evernote absolutely nailed from the get go. They synced data seamlessly before anyone else, and ultimately that ended up being more important to me than the UX. Now, in 2015, I feel like Evernote has scratched the UX itch enough for me that I have no reason to go back to OneNote for the forseeable future. Penultimate provides a decent UX for writing even if not as sophisticated as OneNote, Scannable is brilliant for pulling things in via the camera, and the core note-taking app is perfectly adequate, IMO.

And Android.

I was totally unaware of OneNote until it came with Windows 7 Enterprise at my first corporate job. I couldn't believe how great it was (at least on desktop), but I was too deep into Evernote by that point to make the switch.

I've only really known about OneNote since it came bundled with Windows 8/on the Surface RT I got at work.

It seems like a fairly good product, although I really only use it for bookmarking tabs that Chrome seems to lose when it crashes/updates itself and nukes the "recently closed tabs" list.

Isn't OneNote still popular in education, like students taking notes in class?

It is, and is integrated well with the Surface and the Surface pen. Works great for taking handwritten (or typed) notes and having it sync to my phone/desktop immediately. I use it often to take notes at meetings then I am able to send all the notes/diagrams to others in pdf form when I get back to my workstation.

Big fan of OneNote.

? OneNote has always been in the Office Home & Students version, hasn't it? It's also part of Office 365.

I think they shifted it to a Pro Plus-only feature in Office 2007 or 2010. I could be wrong though.

Edit: Vs. Office Standard. I have no insight into Home or Education versions.

I love what OneNote can do, the ability to record meeting video or capture a whiteboard talk with a smart board is magical. But I can't use it day to day.

Managing notebooks, tabs and pages is a real pain. I end up with a sprawling OneNote notebook that gets lost in the sprawl of OneDrive/SharePoint.

same here, ive been using it for two years now and it so tedious to organise stuff on the metro app that i just dont bother, so everything is a mess atm

How do you mean? According to Wikipedia OneNote was launched in 2003, and has been part of the Home and Student editions of Office 2007, 2010, 2013 and 2016.

OneNote is a great MS product that they've totally failed to market. My wife uses it extensively; the drawing capture features integrate nicely with the Surface.

My working theory regarding OneNote is that it is a peculiarity of Australians. The only people I know that use it are Australian so maybe they have it on the national curriculum there instead of something like 'spelling'.

I think that a single-purpose app or service can survive in a world full of multi-featured competitors, but it needs to be insanely good at what it does in order to do so. Evernote is not insanely good at notetaking, and therein lies the problem.

Agreed, but it is insanely better than anything else I've ever tried.

(I haven't tried that many things, but really I don't know of any decent competitor that runs well on multiple platforms, and does the basic things I need - which is text notes, other file types, and ability to tag and put into a notebook. And on a native app).

Your thesis is correct (single purpose app can survive in a world full of multi-featured competitors by being insanely good at one thing). But I disagree with your interpretation. Evernote is THE multi-featured competitor in notetaking arena. It does too many things, each of them in mediocre manner. Then comes all the "single-purpose apps that are insanely good at one thing only" which disrupt Evernote. Think of Instapaper (Saving webpages), Simplenote (Text syncing), All kinds of TODO apps, they all are good at one thing and do it well. That's why Evernote is not doing well.

MEGA might not be safe anymore. Kim Dotcom doesn't work there, there was a hostile takeover.

Dropbox must have many more corp customers than evernote, no?

I am sure. However, like evernote the difficult problem they solved several years ago is no longer difficult, but quite easy and become much more cheap. Couple that with security and privacy risks and the value proposition changes quickly.

Maybe they are gearing up for a google merger or something. They are doing their mailbox app which looks cool and integrates storage and syncing. However, once again

1. Why would I use a mail client that only interfaces with gmail and outlook?

2. What is the point of the sync, this is default by most mail providers and clients?

3. Why would I want mail storage? I actually don't know what my mailbox limit is, but I certainly would not want to have the amount of .txt documents that could fill that up. Also, this is basic functionality. You can't pull me on your platform, google has the users you want and are better positioned, I still don't understand how you make money as a company.

When did file sync become easy? I agree it's become commonplace with Google Drive and iCloud bringing respectable implementations to market, but I think it's still far from easy.

It's easy from a consumer point of view in the sense that it's readily available and easy to set up. The fact that it is still technically difficult to set up from scratch doesn't matter to consumers (or businesses) when there are multiple providers that hide that complexity for the end user. Hence Dropbox no longer has a competitive advantage from having produced a solid solution to a difficult problem.

Right, except the stories of data loss are an order of magnitude more common with Google Drive and iCloud compared to Dropbox, so even though at the surface level it may be a classic market for lemons, I still think Dropbox has a competitive advantage based on their reputation.

The problem with Evernote is with the way they treat data. I found a really interesting guide hosted on Evernote[1] and I tried to download it. But no, I couldn't, because, they took the pains to block someone from downloading their notebooks and made my life so difficult in the end that I not only gave up on the conversion, but also stopped being their customer. I couldn't even print the damn thing! Ironically, they called it a shared notebook. What a joke!

I refuse to stop paying for any service that doesn't believe in open sharing through widely accepted/popular formats. The internet is alive today only because people believe in sharing information, not holding it back behind such a walled garden.

I refuse to support such companies. Not in 2015 atleast.

[1]This is the notebook in question and mind you, it's a "Shared" notebook: https://www.evernote.com/pub/contentblueprint/thecontentmark...

Ever since I left Evernote, I created a private Wordpress blog and used their sharing bookmark to store notes, snippets and everything else.

I also use Google docs and Apple Notes app for other kinds of data and it has served me well. I understand this wouldn't fit everyone's bill, but it definitely fit mine.

So, adios Evernote! Hope someone replaces you soon!

> I refuse to stop paying

I'm not sure you meant that

Hah! You got me :) I meant the opposite, thanks for pointing out!

If you've got an Evernote account, rename that notebook and sync your account. I clicked on the above link, renamed it, then synced in the desktop app. It was now my notebook. I then was able to export it. (That said, I'm leaving Evernote.)

Thanks for the tip!

businessinsider had a great article on evernote here, "Evernote, the first dead unicorn", which really foreshadowed this: http://www.businessinsider.com.au/evernote-the-first-dead-un...

My prediction, the next dead unicorn: Dropbox

They are similar in that they haven't made anything note worthy in a while and their main product is really just a feature of bigger companies apps and services.

Personally, I don't want them to make anything noteworthy. I want them to make something subtle, unobtrusive, and as reliable as gravity. I've been using them 3 or 4 years now and as far as I'm concerned, they're my favorite vendor.

Google and Amazon keep screwing with things because they have a complicated global-dominance ecosystem that they're trying to build. I don't trust them with my files. But Dropbox keeps doing what they're doing with only modest, incremental improvements (that gradually add up). As long as they keep things solid, I'll keep using and recommending them.

I hear ya. But how much $$ have they made from us to keep the servers running? Sometimes it feels like my data could vanish at any time... I've started looking into ownCloud and the like lately as I'm just getting tired of offloading critical storage to something that may prove transient.

I don't know about other people, but I'm paying them $100/year for disk space that costs them under $15. Which is fine by me; I'm paying them for the seamless sync and the reliability.

I tried Google Drive when it was launched. Used it a lot, but had tons of syncing issues. I ended up losing quite a bit of data.

Switched to Dropbox and haven't had a single sync issue since.

You're right that it's a service that is ridiculously simple in what it does, but right now, I can't imagine moving my 10GB+ of data to another platform.

Google Drive is really horrible in comparison to many other services.

Really? How so? I have about 60GB in total stored across Google Drive, OneDrive and DropBox. Other than OneDrive requiring me to login too frequently with the desktop folder syncing app they all work identically. I've yet to have an issue with syncing with any of them after editing documents in multiple machines.

I'm not saying you're wrong I just haven't seen what you might be referring to hence why I asked.

This is going to sound stupid, but I think the major problems with Drive are the line height it uses for items within a directory and the fact that it has relatively short file pagination threshold.

I had thought that Drive was confusing, because I would "create" a Doc or a Spreadsheet in the root directory and then go back to look for it and not be able to find it. I created a Spreadsheet, and named it something starting with 'T'. This put it on the 3rd or 4th pagination request to get more files (these requests were ~1-2 seconds slow) in my root directory. But also the line height of all the files in the directory filled up so much vertical space that it felt like I was seeing most of the directory on page 1, even though it had much more content.

When I look at ~/ locally in Finder, Nautilus, etc. the line height is tight and there is no pagination. I can see everything I have access to instantly or within an immediate scroll. When I use Google Drive every file line item takes up a lot of vertical space and I have to page through results. The result is that I can't see everything and I feel as though things are missing, even though they aren't.

You are not crazy. The whole Google docs interface _is_ completely crazy. It's drives me nuts whenever I go in there and makes be frustrated because of what it could be if only they didn't have a complex about "not looking beautiful enough".

Its material design. It's just bad.

When reinstalling your system, try to install Drive into existing folder with the data. Nope, you have to choose a new folder and redownload everything[1]. While this is tolerable for small data accounts, I wouldn't trust them with couple hundred GBs.

While installing Dropbox it just syncs the difference and done.

[1]There is a workaround but you need to think about it before reinstalling the OS (saving some user data or something).

Google keeps trying to force me to open files in Docs, Sheets, etc., which is very annoying. It also tries to convert Excel files into Sheets.

This drives me mad! Even simple Excel files break Sheets. Google pushes users into using a unsuitable product for what? Short term market share gain?

I actually like and use sheets (it's much better than Excel for simple and/or non-analytical use cases), so when I use Excel for something, it's because I want to use Excel for that thing.

> right now, I can't imagine moving my 10GB+ of data to another platform.

Any Dropbox killer will let you port over your Dropbox folder to its servers.

The issue I have with Dropbox is that their usage / pricing model is totally broken. If someone shares their folder with me, it shouldn't eat into my storage allocation.

i hated that - one of the main reasons I don't use dropbox. Early on I had a bunch of clients all raving about how cool dropbox was - each sharing 200-500meg projects with me. Within days I'm hitting a 2gig limit, being encouraged to upgrade my account just to use a service someone else was forcing me to use. I use DB as little as possible.

Agreed, although it starts getting complicated if you put stuff in there too (do file creators pay? shared folders pay? what if that owner wants to drop out, can they re-elect someone else)? Anything but this method starts to get really complicated.

It's not that complicated. Have the user toggle an "I also claim ownership of this directory" flag before letting them edit it and have it count against their storage after that.

(No idea how difficult it would be to introduce this into their system, but conceptually it's a pretty easily surmounted problem.)

File sync is a feature of the Google Suite, but Dropbox is much better than Google Drive. Dropbox gets a lot of subtle things right. Maybe in the long term you're right, but I'm not so sure.

I think Dropbox Teams is too expensive but I'm paying it anyway because I think it's that much better. (I think that's a sign they set the prices exactly right)

Dropbox problem is that it was obviously better several years ago so its user acquisition was easy.

Nowadays dropbox needs to convince user of other services that it is better. On paper though, dropbox provides less for more money - that's going to be difficult. I share your opinion - they are better. The reason I know is because I have been a client for years and they never let me down even in weird syncing scenario. Syncing quality is #1 feature of a cloud storage, you need to be able to trust it fully.

However, how do I convince a MS user that 1 TB from dropbox for 7.99 GBP/month is a better deal than 1 TB (actually 5 TB since it is 1 TB per user) + Office 365 + 60 Skype Minutes for 7.99 GBP/month ?

Dropbox is undeniably better. It gets synching right and this is so incredibly important. People should be rooting for Dropbox, not hoping for its demise. Everyone else has screwed up synching and screwing up synching means lost files! Lost photos of loved ones! Lost ideas, lost important documents! Dropbox is worth the price because it gets this right.


OneDrive for Business is a great example of screwed up sync. Whomever made the call to release that steaming pile should be flogged. Rumor has it they are finally fixing the broken sync client.

When the MS product guys were pretending that our network/workstation image was the reason that OneDrive sync broke, I took a laptop out of the box, put Windows 8 on it, streamed down Office ProPlus and signed in a dummy user with a small file tree. Then we wrote a script that created a text file and saved it to a directory every 3 hours. Than we left it. The client broke itself after 2-3 days with no user activity.

With Dropbox, I had a laptop in my basement that I forgot about for 3 years. I turned it on, signed into Dropbox, and it magically just worked. So sync issues. No conflicts.

> Rumor has it they are finally fixing the broken sync client.

It's already too late. They've shown they can't be trusted to sync files. It's ridiculous to me to even consider trusting them with my files. Dropbox actually has had a problem in the past but it was a bug they fixed immediately. They care about this so much.

>Everyone else has screwed up synching and screwing up synching means lost files! Lost photos of loved ones! Lost ideas, lost important documents! Dropbox is worth the price because it gets this right.

If they rely on Dropbox getting syncing right to not lose "important files, photos of loved ones, ideas and important documents" then they are doing it wrong.

They should backup anyway, and only then trust Dropbox for plain syncing. Dropbox is not backup.

You are not considering the implications of how synching works. How do you know you lost files? I back up with Time Machine, Time Machine runs every hour and creates a limited set of back ups I can go back to. Meanwhile if there's a synching problem and files get eaten by my file synching service Time Machine will happily assume those files were removed by me. One year later when I go to find some picture of my daughter I took and the file is gone you tell me what backup I go to to restore that file. You have 1 year's worth of hourly backups? I don't.

>You are not considering the implications of how synching works.

Actually it's because I'm considering it that I advocate this.

>How do you know you lost files?

You look for them and they can't be found. And keeping a tally and/or checksum per folder in your backup doesn't hurt either.

>Meanwhile if there's a synching problem and files get eaten by my file synching service Time Machine will happily assume those files were removed by me. One year later when I go to find some picture of my daughter I took and the file is gone you tell me what backup I go to to restore that file.

In your case it's simple, you can just go to Time Machine, as it archives all versions of the files, changed and/or deleted or not.

>You have 1 year's worth of hourly backups? I don't.

Actually with Time Machine you sort of have.

But, more essentially, you don't need "1 year's worth of hourly backups?", unless you're doing something very important and create new such files multiple times per day (e.g. if you're a business and store customer data, or a new site and you have your news database).

For stuff like "archived projects", "family pictures" or "music collection" just take incremental backups of them, and set your backup program to never delete any files during sync, but just put them in a "deleted" folder.

For stuff that changes fast, like working documents, emails and such, take backups with Time Machine (which happen in "real time"). Every few months take a full backup.

Besides network backup, never backup in just one external disk (and test your backup disks from time to time), and don't keep them in one place.

That is, if that stuff is very important to you. Some people can lose most of it, as it's mainly them hoarding digital BS.

If you're a business, OTOH, backup is PART of what you should do anyway.

Do OneDrive or Google have automatic file versioning? As in: you accidentally corrupt or save over an important file and 15-75 previous versions can be restored via the web interface?

I'm so reliant on this that I'm hacking together an automatic-commit scheme with git and a Linux server that syncs some important folders.

I'm curious: why do you feel Dropbox needs to make something new and noteworthy? Why can't it just stick to its knitting, and continue to offer something that works and people find valuable?

Why can't it just stick to its knitting, and continue to offer something that works and people find valuable?

Because now Google, Microsoft and Amazon offer it at a cheaper price and better integrated with their own products.

The broader answer here is "Dropbox took a bunch of VC money, so 'just doing well enough' isn't an option for them and they have to stop at nothing to grow faster"

> Google, Microsoft and Amazon

For me, the key part of Dropbox isn't first-party support, it's that a bajillion third-party apps have cross-platform support for it where availability of other services is rather more piecemeal.

Dropbox third-party developer here. Their API and developer support is dogshit. They spent years screwing around with photos when they could've built a platform.

> cheaper price and better integrated with their own products

And in a half-assed way syncing.

> took a bunch of VC money

Notes-taking apps have the competition of <div contenteditable="true"/>. There isn't much left to do for a notes-taking app: Everything else is bells and whistles.

Responsibilities should be called here. Dropbox, Evernote, Slack and GitHub are all 4 hosting a massive free service, highly replaceable with cheap alternatives, with low switching costs. I sincerely hope the VCs who invest in those companies have another plan than "Add more features forever".

Can't take you seriously when you say Github is highly replaceable. Try and go hosting your open source project on some obscure hosted code repository, let me know when you get lots of contributors.

Oh, the free part of Github isn't easily replaceable. It's great for hosting open source projects.

But the private repos and the on-site offering - the things people pay for? Fair bit of competition there.

Quality > Quantity.

Open Source projects existed a long time before GitHub, and will exist a long time after the cool kids abandoned it for whatever reason.

Check out this article: http://www.theverge.com/2015/9/22/9372563/dropbox-really-is-...

There was another article recently that said that files are old news and people are using Slack. Granted they are shipping files in that, but people have probably moved on to web hosted versions of documents anyway.

Another prediction: Twitter.

2k+ engineers on staff without notable improvements to the core user-facing product in a while.

Declining signups, declining engagement.

Nobody stepping into the permanent CEO role.

I don't see how this ends well.

Twitter isn't going anywhere, it just might not fulfil the high expectations of the later stage/ public investors. Worst case for Twitter is probably a massive acquisition by Facebook/Google/Microsoft.

Disagree about a lack of improvements. Some recent ones I'm a fan of: better handling of multimedia, better "quote tweet", polls, engagement metrics, and a bunch of UI improvements.

Twitter is expanding its product offerings with Periscope and as of today's press releases is looking to expand past 140 characters.[1]

The curiosity is what becomes of the 2,000 engineers on staff. What is the break down in terms of their roles within the company, i.e. back-end, development, user-experience. When does the twitter back-end become a mature platform and you can start to wean down the number of engineers.

As an aside, I would love an app or system that will trace the origin of a story within the web eco-system. One comment from Re/Code is recounted / repackaged across the entire system.

Also, I was trying to find the original Periscope iterative development post through Google and Bing, no luck thanks to the two sites now integrating news into their search results.

1. http://recode.net/2015/09/29/twitter-plans-to-go-beyond-its-...

Twitter's core product is still useful for a lot of people, it's just never going to be Facebook. It will eventually be bought by someone, probably Google.

140+ char limit is gonna be revolutionary

Brevity is the only thing most Tweets have going for them.

It's so hard for me to imagine a service like Twitter crashing.

I don't expect it to disappear (not completely, not over night).

But they're burning through $130M+ a quarter and growth is stalling. They don't seem to have leadership with a vision of where to take the company from here.

Twitter still enjoys some cache with celebrities, but how much longer will that hold true?

So how will they stop bleeding? Maybe they'll transform Twitter into something profitable, or maybe they'll look to the 2,000+ engineers, and ask why they need so many.

The fundamental problem of the current market is that it's all sustained by VC injections and trivial revenue streams. No-one is prepared to pay for something like Twitter (or Tumblr, or, or...) because we've gotten used to the idea of Stuff For Free. But the model just isn't sustainable, particularly given the ongoing attack on the only (ad) revenue stream that these services do have.

DB is too big to fail. They are just everywhere at this point; I have rarely seen a technology that has managed to find itself into every corner of every industry, and be used by professionals at every technical-level. I have experienced the LEAST technical people asking me to use Dropbox. Dropbox is like if Email was owned by one company.

And why wouldn't they switch to MS or Google Drive? The migration costs don't seem overwhelming. Dropbox won't disappear, but it's not a beast you make it out to be.

Case in point: I'm a big fan of Excel and Word, it's a solid piece of software. But I haven't used it in over a year, all my stuff sits with Google Docs/Sheets. Excel won't disappear (extremely popular in finance with VBA) but for most users there's no difference and little switching costs.

From my personal experience it's 50% time Google Drive and 50% time Dropbox.

Literally the only thing that keeps me paying for Dropbox, instead of completely abandoning it for OneDrive, is that OneDrive doesn't have a Linux client. And much of the OneDrive functionality (for example, the photo organiser) is a hell of a lot better.

I'm an edge case, and the case (Linux support) doesn't bode well for DropBox.

These predictions are fun. Is it time for FC 2.0? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fucked_Company

My favourite question to ask of start-ups: "have you built a product or a feature?"

Is it Steve Jobs that told dropbox founders this?

What about "Have you built a business or a product?"

Building a feature is fine but that means you need to sell out then at some point or grow into new areas. Dropbox is not doing to good at moving into new areas and they are probably too big now to sell out easily.

And they royally fucked up Mailbox after buying it.

That article generated a lot of discussion on HN a couple of weeks ago, which can be found here:


(Note: The BusinessInsider article was a re-publication of the original on syrah.co.)

thank you for noticing! we are currently back on HN with the Startup L. Jackson post so this was weird timing

I believe Groupon is the first dead Unicorn

As I understand the definition that people have been bandying about, Groupon can't be a dead unicorn because they managed to go public. To be a Unicorn you have to be a privately held and venture backed company with a valuation (from your investors) of over $1B.)

While GroupOn went public, and continues to this day, just as Zynga did.

Groupon is still worth a couple of billion despite the beating it's taken from investors. Its revenue and EBITDA have consistently climbed in each year since going public, and there is plenty of cash on hand without a single cent of debt.

As usual, the Motley Fool's analysis is excellent: http://www.fool.com/investing/general/2015/04/07/bull-vs-bea...

GRPN is down nearly 46% since that was written...

That makes the bull side of the argument significantly stronger, especially given that N. American gross billings are up 12% year-over-year in the last quarter.

I have no financial position either way, and I'm not claiming everything is rosy for GRPN but it's very far from being a "dead unicorn" and at least by my analysis the stock is pretty undervalued at the moment.

The lower the stock drops the more it will rocket up!

The Motley Fool does seem to think that way sometimes.

Groupon's problem is with repeat business. I think they're still churning through naive businesses that don't understand the value proposition. If they can't get repeat customers then their upside is limited. I would be very wary of judging Groupon based purely on historic cashflow.

Groupon still has a $2.3B market cap.

My vote is for Fab, which went from $1B to effectively $0.

The public markets [1] would disagree.

[1] https://www.google.com/?q=GRPN

How are you disagreeing? GRPN is at like 15% of where it opened.

That unicorn looks more like an elephant, but I'm no expert.

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