Evernote has taken its final step after spending more than a decade redefining the productivity app landscape.
On Wednesday, Milan-based app developer Bending Spoons acquired the beleaguered note-taking and task-management app for an undisclosed sum.
Evernote’s original vision was to “overcome the limitations of human memory” by giving users a second brain. But I’m not sure that vision is ultimately what made them gain traction with millions of users.
From my point of view, they benefited from being one of the first widely adopted productivity apps on mobile, giving users access to their notes from anywhere. Plain and simple.
As we all began using smartphones, having all your notes easily searchable in the palm of your hand was a major benefit and created way less friction than carrying around a traditional pen and paper.
Evernote’s simplicity and ubiquity across devices were their key value propositions, attracting tons of productivity enthusiasts and business professionals. For these people, record-keeping was central to their careers. But along the way, Evernote seems to have focused less on delighting them.
Many people have already written in-depth about what made Evernote successful in the first place and where they lost touch (Nira co-founder Hiten Shah wrote a great article about it that you can read here). But here’s a quick summary:
- In 2011, the company began launching a series of products—including Evernote Peek (a personal trivia app that basically turned notes into flashcards on iPad), Evernote Food (an app that allowed users to log meals and other information, like where and who they ate with), and Evernote Hello (a glorified contact management system)—that failed to catch fire
- In 2013, Evernote expanded into the hard goods market, selling company-branded notebooks, styluses, backpacks, and other office and educational supplies—sales were decent in the short term, but the move ultimately damaged the brand’s reputation
- In 2014 and 2018, the company launched Work Chat (a messaging client) and Evernote Spaces (a team-based collaboration tool), both of which proved to be too little, too late for enterprise customers
So, why did they lose sight of the simplicity and ubiquity that made Evernote so successful?
According to TechCrunch, between 2010 and 2015, Evernote raised hundreds of millions in venture capital from investors, including Sequoia, Meritech, and Japanese media company Nikkei—growing their valuation to nearly a billion dollars.
All that money had to be spent somewhere. But rather than focusing on fundamentals, Evernote tried to expand into different markets.
In doing so, they neglected their core audience.
For many people, using Evernote wasn’t simply a way to remember which groceries to buy. For them, note-taking was a way of life—an essential part of their day-to-day work.
As Mark Rabo wrote this week, “there's something to be said for simple, stable, and understandable.”
On their path to being a “100-year company” that could stand the test of time, Evernote lost the plot. They focused more on what could be done than what should.
And, in a weird roundabout way, their new parent company—mostly known for portable photo and video editing apps, in addition to 30 Day Fitness—seems to be following a similar trajectory (the company recently raised $340 million).
Over the next few days, many people will be chiming in with their thoughts on the acquisition. But my advice to Bending Spoons, Evernote, and founders in a similar position is the same:
Understand what initially gave your business traction. (It isn’t always your vision.)
For Evernote, it was the app’s ease of use and accessibility—something we’re keeping in mind as we continue to speak with users and iterate on our new product at Nook.
Rightsize your organization around what you can do well, not what you can simply afford.
Do that, and maybe your company will stand the test of time.
For Evernote, I’m no longer so certain.
Whether you’re a sales superstar, in-demand consultant, busy recruiter, or someone who simply needs to schedule a lot of meetings, one thing’s for sure—you’ve probably booked a lot of them over the past two years.
Hybrid work has forced the majority of our meetings online, and while we appreciate being able to wear sweatpants during normal work hours, the time-consuming ballet that is sharing your availability, finding a time to meet, and adding it to your calendar isn’t quite as enjoyable.
Speaking with everyone from solopreneurs to seasoned professionals, it seems like a lot of people find meeting scheduling software either costly, impersonal, or just plain boring. And Calendly and other alternatives don’t always cut it.
We hear you.
Everyone is different, and so is how they work. Making good first impressions is important, and you shouldn’t have to pay a premium for them or basic customizations and integrations with your meeting booking system.
Nook Calendar’s meeting proposal feature is already used by tons of high-performing teams for selecting and proposing meeting times outside of their organization.
Now, we’re making things even easier by letting you build personal pages with shareable calendar-booking links, right in Nook Calendar. Add them to your LinkedIn profile, email signature, website, or messages when finding a time to meet.
We think it’s the best meeting scheduling software out there, and we’re excited for you to give it a try, so let’s get started.
Here’s How to Set Up a Personal Booking Page in Nook Calendar
First off, if you’re new to Nook Calendar—hello! (If you’re already a Nook user, you can skip ahead.)
You’re going to start by syncing your calendar—either from Google Calendar or Microsoft Outlook—and entering your work email address.
Once you approve any necessary permissions, you’ll set up your People Bar. Search for any connections and add the people you interact with the most when scheduling meetings.
From there, you can add any additional calendars you want to see (add your personal one, if you like, to further prevent any overlaps when scheduling meetings), integrate with Zoom (so you can launch calls straight from your calendar), and choose your preferred display setting—select Match OS, Light Mode, or Dark Mode.
Launch Nook Calendar, and you’re ready to set up your online meeting scheduler.
Now, the fun begins
You’re going to start by claiming your unique URL for sharing your meeting availability page.
Your first name appears by default, but really, it can be anything. We recommend using your full name (e.g., /john-smith).
(You can always change your URL in the future, as long as it’s still available.)
From there, you want to complete your profile.
Your profile pic is automatically pulled in from your Microsoft or GCal account.
But you can add your name, job title, welcome message, and links to social media profiles or professional website, so guests know a bit more about you when booking a meeting.
Then, you can start setting your weekly availability.
Nook Calendar defaults to traditional time blocks—9–12 a.m. and 1–5 p.m. These are the hours someone can book a meeting from your personal page. Adjust them based on your availability.
Your timezone is automatically set to your local time, but you can change it if you primarily work with people in a different timezone and it’s better to visualize that when setting your availability.
Choose which calendar you want to accept meetings in—it can only be booked in one, but Nook Calendar will automatically reference your availability in other calendars you’ve synced to prevent double-bookings when someone schedules a meeting.
Now, it’s time to set up some paramaters.
You can set up your preferred meeting duration in either 15, 30, 45-minute or one-hour increments (or a custom time).
You can also add buffer time to give yourself a break between meetings, or set a lead time of up to 24 hours, so no one can book any last-minute meetings.
And you’re all set! You can preview what the page will look like, then share it with contacts or add it to your LinkedIn profile (we suggest adding it as a secondary URL), email signature, and anywhere else you do business.
Once someone books time in your calendar, you’ll receive an email and get a notification in the Pulse.
If you ever need to make any changes, you can access your personal meeting page in the bottom of the Magic Panel and make any adjustments—either to your weekly availability or personal information.
You can also remove your availability by simply creating events in Nook Calendar and marking them as Busy to block off time and prevent any bookings.
Nook Calendar’s new personal pages for sharing meeting availability are available on Web, iOS, and Android.
If you have any questions or thoughts, we’d love to hear them. Hit us up in our Slack Community or contact us through Support.