Why I'm worried about an Evernote IPO

There have been renewed murmurings over the last few weeks about Evernote, the undisputed leader of general purpose note-taking apps, going ...

There have been renewed murmurings over the last few weeks about Evernote, the undisputed leader of general purpose note-taking apps, going public. As an Evernote Premium user, a design researcher, and an advocate for socio-economic change, I am deeply concerned by how this story seems to be developing.

To be clear, let me preface all this by saying that, in my humble opinion, Evernote is not only the best app of its kind, but that it is in a league of its own. No other note-taking app is as robust, as open, as broadly available, and as usable as Evernote. It has found the sweet spot that trades off function, usability, and cost; there is no other app anywhere near it in that trade-off space.

However, it's not perfect. And those imperfections, along with these concerning statements made by its management, make me wonder if I'm right to let myself become so dependent on it.

Many media outlets and bloggers have been writing about the possibility of an Evernote IPO, including WSJ, Mashable, and re/code to name a few. I've read many others, and they all read basically the same.

Based on these articles and posts, it seems that the notion of an IPO is being driven purely by economics and a desire for continued (indeed, even accelerated) growth. The corollary here is that nowhere in the discussion of the IPO so far has any attention been paid to the user community, and to how Evernote's function is fulfilling the needs of those users. Most importantly, there remain significant functional differences (and even bugs!) in the various platforms - especially for those users like me, who use Evernote on multiple platforms.

So, on the one hand, we have Evernote’s management calling for continued and accelerated growth.  Growth is by definition unsustainable.  What’s more, the greater the unconstrained growth of something, the more likely it is to fail catastrophically eventually. And on the other hand, we have what I see as a fairly reckless disregard for the mechanism by which that growth is expected to occur - by providing functionality to users.

Sure seems like a recipe for disaster to me.

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The Trouble with Normal...: Why I'm worried about an Evernote IPO
Why I'm worried about an Evernote IPO
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The Trouble with Normal...
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