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Evernote makes $800,000 per Month (mashable.com)
123 points by kingsidharth on Dec 9, 2010 | hide | past | web | favorite | 66 comments

Evernote is a genius utility that was not completely obvious to me until a few months ago. Here's my take:

You can store anything in it, and does text recognition on photos for later searching. My scanner is hooked up to it - I scan everything and dump it in there. Receipts, statements, bills, correspondence, contracts, whatever.

You can dump any document into it, tag it, put in a notebook, whatever.

It works across my complete tech stack: Iphone, Ipad, MacBook, Imac and web when needed.

Switching to a new computer/device is completely painless. Install the app, login, your environment is duplicated from the cloud. Perfect every time.

I have tried every task and todo system under the sun, as well as note takers, folder sync systems, etc. Instead of worrying about where all the files are, whether they are syncing or backed up, blah blah blah, whether they can connect to another pc to get the sync, etc.

This is a really strong blend of all of the above. You can implement a GTD system if you wish, etc. etc. etc.

All my "stuff" is with me wherever I go now.

I also use omnifocus for project stuff, fwiw. Works across my entire tech stack and syncs really well too.

you don't worry about having such a large cache of personal information in such a weakly protected storage location? Would you even be able to detect any ongoing intrusion?

I crossed that chasm a long time ago with gmail.

I doubt his home computers are any less weakly protected than Evernote's servers.

You think his computers accept logins from anyone on the internet that types in his url, with a password that can be reset using his email and/or a security question?

This part jumped out at me:

"The longer you stay, the more likely you are to become a premium user. While less than 1% of active users sign up for premium content in the first month, approximately 20% of active users (7.5% of total users) are paying users by month 29"

There's a lot of discussion on HN about whether "Freemium" is good or bad, for Evernote at least it sounds like it's a win if their best route to getting paying customers is to entice you to use the product for an extended period of time.

This kind of survivor bias will be true for mostly any subscription business. Users that weren't getting much value from your business will drop off. Given a reasonable segmentation of free and paid users that will mean a larger percentage of active users will be paid.

When I see news like this, all I think is that a proportion of Evernotes users must be quite dissatisfied with their services and would switch if there were a better alternative. Then I think - perhaps I should make a better alternative.

I store some of my stuff in Evernote, but it's not convenient for writing. It's too cluttered and distracting for that. I'd like to make something with the storage facilities of evernote, but a much less distracting writing interface.

This is the biggest mistake most of the people make. If it worked that way, every weekend app released here would be making tons of money. (We have better apps here as weekend projects than out there in market).But this is NOT app v/s app game. This is business v/s app. And you can't take down a business with an app. You need to create a business.Sure you can build a better 'app' then Evernote or make a better burger than McD's (one of the best in my country at least) but you can't make a better business, the day you do - you are in game.There are many other dynamics too. But just a quick note.(Note to self: write a detailed essay about that)

Great point. A mistake often partly based on not understanding marketing well. I hear things from clients similar to "Our ad looks like their ad—how come we got zero sales?" If you're still asking questions like that, you don't understand what you're doing yet.

Are you implying business primarily comes down to distribution?

I think that's what Catch (formerly Snaptic) (https://catch.com/home) is trying to do, to be the alternative to Evernote. There are probably a few others as well.

Considering now many to-do list websites and apps there are out there, I'm surprised the isn't more competition for this kind of note-storage app.

Yep I've moved largely from Evernote to Catch because having stuff work properly on my Android phone ended up being the deal breaker, Evernote's first Android client couldn't be used in offline mode at all. If Catch had a decent desktop interface then it would be basically perfect, but I can live with the web client for now.

I think the current Evernote Android client will do offline if you're a paid Evernote user. I don't know though, I'm still only using the free service so far. I'm not ready to commit to a note service yet

I've actually had a note (in Evernote) for a while now to "find replacement for Evernote or write my own."

Every time they release a new version I see item after item that's of no interest to me. I really just want a simple place to store to-do lists, notes, etc. and have it available on every machine and phone I use.

They do a lot more than that now, but yet you still can't edit a to-do list with checkboxes on the iPhone!

I'm working on a (hopefully) potential solution to this right now. It may take me months upon months to complete, but if I ever finish it, I think you'll be somewhat impressed.

Doesn't Remember the Milk do exactly what you want? (not a user myself, but a friend is and he likes it a lot)

Check out SimpleNote.

Especially with Notational Velocity which is a joy to use and OSS.


At the moment, I think you'll probably have to use two different programs for that. I've yet to find a program that does a good job for todo lists, notes, and has a good mobile apps. So far the best combo I've found is Evernote for notes, RTM for lists.

Can't you just use Google Task for it? I do. And I don't need any evernote or whatever. I can edit from web or phone.

I don't follow your train of thought. Why would a stat $800k revenues per month make you conclude that users must be quite dissatisfied?

Because an app with that many users always has a chunk of dissatisfied users.

I must admit I would have never got to that conclusion without this clarification :)

Though it is an interesting perspective. It just says that market is large and like in all large markets there is a niche of users who are dissatisfied because top solution doesn't fit their specific needs. So yes for a startup looking to enter the market, it is great to solve that specific need and then grow from there.

I am probably one of such users. I would need something like Evernote, but more lightweight. I tried ResophNotes, which basically maintains a list of plain text notes, but that was already too lightweight, since I realized that I need at least basic formatting (bold, italics) to structure the text visually.

I wonder if someone could take Evernote API and create text-only client with more polished editor?

Notational Velocity + Simplenote perhaps? That combination works really well for me

That's what I use, but it's still just a list of text notes with little or no formatting. I think hyperlinks exist but that's it, unless I'm missing the other features.

I'm in the same boat, and use this: https://github.com/panicsteve/nv/downloads

This fork of Notational Velocity adds a third pane which shows formatting using markdown.

If you are willing to learn markdown, and it's pretty darn easy, you can add formatting while maintaining raw text format.

I like markdown enough though that I find I write in markdown, and just hide the preview pane that includes formatting. I just don't really need it.

Cool, thanks. Easy after being on reddit for so long. My only complaint is that the last update was in April... hopefully it will stay up-to-date with NV, which apparently hasn't been updated since February anyway.

Have you looked at PlainText?

When I see products like Evernotes, i see geeks like us as the non target market. So many of us will never pay a penny for such service.

Here's a few, "I could solve this in a weekend" solutions:

* Write notes with vim and archive them with git. If using github, you get website publishing for free.

* Write notes with nano and automatically upload to S3 using inotify (Python: http://pyinotify.sourceforge.net)

* Write notes with emacs and mail() it to your gmail account.

* Write notes for future reminder (+dates) with ed. Via cron, parse the dates using GNU date, and mail() yourself a reminder.

If we are the target market, so few of us are willing to pay for the service.

Just my 2 cents...

None of these solutions allows me to scribble notes on my graphic tablet, OCR my lousy handwriting, and make it searchable on my phone.

Beyond MVP, with a couple of extra weekends:

* Rudimentary search is solvable with OSS tools nowadays (Solr, Sphinx, Lucene).

* OCR however, seems fun! I never pay attention much on character recognition software. I wonder how good is this project: http://code.google.com/p/ocropus/

You're unlike me in that you would spend a couple of extra weekends to save $5.

Evernote's OCR ended up being a non-feature as far as I was concerned because you can only search within the OCR'd text, you can't extract it and do anything else.

What about gmail?

  + nicer writing facilities
  + accessible from any computer/phone (like evernote)
  + searchable (like evernote)
  + can save any filetype (but they aren't searchable...)
  + 7GB storage

  - not collaborative (maybe google docs?)
  - can't search handwriting (v. cool - but is it often used?)

GMail is great for, well, email. It is quite bad for saving files and ideas.

Yup, it can save any filetype. However that doesn't mean much if you have to download every file before you can find out what they contain. With 200 different images and documents for example, it is much easier to find the right document when you either can look at the thumbnails or search directly in the content.

I have an Evernote account, but also find it too cluttered. Here's what I do:

Install Dropbox's linux client on my Ubuntu slicehost instance (could be one of the free Amazon instances, now).

Create a home/Dropbox/t/ .

Keep all my active notes as textfiles in there. Have an archive/ subdirectory. Spend most of my time in t/todo.txt.

I'm always logged into the slice with screen running. Terminal 0 is always todo.txt, which is just a text file open in vim with foldmethod=indent: I only unfold my current tasks, and move anything I've done to a fold for today's date.

I can search this with grep (or spotlight from my mac). I can get into it from anywhere, though: blackberry, iPad, or any web browser. The Dropbox clients will all display textfiles natively.

There's not tagging. There's no categories. There's no web clips or OCR. I can get to it from anywhere.

Works great, and theoretically free if I ditched Slicehost for Amazon.

I've been using the PlainText iOS app, which integrates nicely with DropBox. This gives the flexibility to use any text editor you want. (I use TextMate)

Me too and I want to kick Evernote's ass

Little bit of a terminology issue there.

They bring in $800k gross. No clue what their net (aka profit) is.

Also of note, Evernote has a $45/year option in addition to the $5/month option. That is a 25% discount so the number must be less than $800k.

I guess something is working out for them. But for that $800k/month they have to support 5 million users.

I wonder how profitable that actually is for them?

That calc is just from paying users. It has ads bottom-left as well so it's likely they get extra ad income in proportion to the number of non-paying users.

Not to mention "a series of confidential, revenue-generating partnerships."

Anyone have any clue what those might be? Bundling agreements with PC manufacturers?

Do you really think that either of these would be higher than paying users? There really isn't that much money in ad revenue these days unless you can control the market and have truly massive (ala Google's 400+ million searches a day).

"There really isn't that much money in ad revenue these days unless you can control the market and have truly massive (ala Google's 400+ million searches a day)"

Backflip studios makes really popular games like Ragdoll Blaster and Paper Toss, and according to their CEO, they have anywhere from 15 million active monthly users. They say in-game ads make them about a half-million a month. Granted, thats is a gigantic install base, but it could scale down nicely to 5 million evernote users, if that is an active monthly number for them. Perhaps they hit the six figures monthly from ads, which is nothing to scoff at, by any means.

Not higher, otherwise they wouldn't try convert you to a paying customer. But it's extra money, and a user could easily click a few ads in a year before buying.

They'd be making a bit more if they didn't spontaneously downgrade my account when it expired without encouraging me to upgrade. I got an email saying it had expired, been downgraded, and please could I could renew? I noticed, though, my account continued to work great on the free level and I wasn't using the quota at all, so I never renewed.

If, though, they'd e-mailed a week or two before expiry, I'd have just blindly renewed for fear of the downgrade.

The business lesson here: give people an opportunity to avoid perceived pain in advance, in case it turns out that the pain, when inflicted, isn't a pain at all ;-)

Crunchbase seems to think they've raised $45.5m so far which strikes me as an awful lot.


I wonder what their growth is like.

OTOH, $800K/month gross is probably less than what your grocery store does.

Walmart Stores U.S. averages $5.7m/month gross per store. Years ago I worked at a tiny CVS that routinely hit 50k in a week.

Revenue figure comparisons are not meaningful if the gross margins are not similar.

For most grocery stores, the profit margin is around 2-3%. In other words, if someone steals a pack of cigarettes they have to sell $200 of groceries to make up the loss.

Software revenue margins (particularly web services) is much higher than the margins enjoyed by your local supermarket.

A corollary from these stats is that their active user base is about 1/3 of the total.

That's pretty darn impressive, if it's accurate.

I don't come out with the same numbers. Seems to me:

Just over 3% of total are paying (160,000 / 5,000,000) 7.5% of total users are active users (that's in the article)

Still, they've built a $10,000,000 business (in regards to turnover, not profit or valuation of course) and that's darn impressive as well.

Ha, I guess one of us misinterpreted the statement:

"approximately 20% of active users (7.5% of total users) are paying users by month 29"

Is it "20% of active = 7.5% of total", or is it "active = 7.5% of total" ?

It seems a little ambiguous. But to be honest, I think a more reasonable number is 7.5% indeed!!

for all the noise that evernote makes about its numbers, 800k sounds a bit paltry... sure, most startups don't even come close to a 10m run rate, but I'd expect better given how proudly and frequently they boast their stats publicly.

evernote is as old as groupon and doing <1/100th the revenue - overhyped much?

Groupon is far and away the exception, not the standard to measure against.

My problem with Evernote is that it came as shovel-ware on a new netbook I bought. Don't know much else about it, but that part defiantly turned me off.

Evernote is one of the first apps I install when upgrading to a new system or reinstalling the OS, so I would actually be pleasantly surprised to find it on a new netbook.

There are indeed a ton of Evernote books in Japan.

I'm always amazed when something that feels like a solution to a non-problem is earning big bucks. I mean, note-taking, really?! That's had a wealth of overlapping solutions, both free, cheap and otherwise, going back ... well, thousands of years at least.

But props to the folks behind it for getting $800k/mo revenue out of it. Wow.

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