Online notes platform Evernote has landed $50 million in new funding led by Sequoia Capital. That is a significant round for a notetaking and media storage application, yet the most interesting news is not how much the company raised, but what Evernote CEO Phil Libin is saying about the funding.
Libin posted a candid frequently asked questions on Evernote’s blog about the funding. In it he admits that Evernote did not need to raise any money and that it has hardly touched the money it had already raised ($43.5 million to date with a $20 million round last fall). Libin makes the bold proclamation that Evernote wants to be a 100-year company. Will the Internet be around in 100 years?
The only real technology company that has been around for 100 years is IBM. That is, if you do not count car manufacturers like Ford or utilities companies like General Electric. In its modern format, the Internet has been around for about 20 years and widely used for about 15. Evernote has been around since 2006 and has only gained popularity (now with 11 million users) in the last year or so.
So, what makes this company think that it can last for 100 years?
In his blog post, Libin quotes Sean Parker (as played by Justin Timberlake) in The Social Network: “”A million dollars isn’t cool, you know what’s cool? A billion dollars.”
“Well, we don’t think a billion dollars is all that cool either. You know what’s really cool? Making a hundred year company,” Libin wrote. “That’s a pretty big deal; not many companies make it anywhere close, but we sort of signed up for the task when we started talking about earning your lifetime trust. You plan on living a long time, right?”
A Lot of Things Can Happen in 100 Years
There are so many things that could happen in 100 years. Global warming could melt the planet. Nuclear war could … well, also melt the planet. Skynet could take over and let the machines rule the world. Do the machines have need of Evernote?
A hot new startup could make online note-taking easier, more powerful and more intuitive than Evernote or a new technology could make the need for digital archives obsolete.
In its short history, Evernote has shown that it can innovate and adapt rapidly to an ever-changing landscape. It recognized mobile as a big opportunity early and now has applications for almost every major platform. It recognized cloud storage and computing early and the necessity of making its service available anywhere and everywhere through the cloud as an essential practice with parallel thinking to what Google wants to do with its applications.
Unlike a lot of startups these days, Evernote uses its own servers to host and make transactions along its database. That means the company is not beholden to Amazon Web Services or Rackspace or any other data center. That is important, as building its own infrastructure will be key to sustaining longevity. The fact that the company now has a fat war chest and a profitable business model will keep Evernote around in the near-term future, even if the economy reaches Depression-era levels.
Evernote Just Might Have The Chops
Evernote has hired Ken Gullicksen (an Evernote board member and formerly of Capitola Ventures, BilltoMobile and Voltage Security, among others according to his LinkedIn profile) to lead its corporate development and acquisition strategy. Here is what Gullicksen had to say about Evernote in a press release.
“It’s rare to see a company develop so many high quality products, rapidly grow its user base into the millions and become profitable in such a short period of time. This is a testament to Evernote’s leadership and team,” said Gullicksen. “With the right strategic decisions, Evernote is in a position to go from popular app to fundamental technology. I’m thrilled to come onboard and be a part of the company’s next phase.”
So far, Evernote has shown that it is managed well by forward thinking leaders with a cadre of talented developers churning out new features to the platform all the time. The company is already profitable and the new round of funding will be used to compensate long-term investors and employees and then for innovation and acquisition. So far, so good.
But a lot of things can happen in 100 years. Evernote is 1/20th of the way there. Can it continue to grow and innovate uninhibited for another 95 years?