Evernote backing out of Work Chat, but committed to ‘Deep Work’

Evernote Work Chat

Casey Newman interviews Chris O’Neill, Evernote’s newish CEO — he’s been there a year now — in a far-ranging interview, and with regard to Evernote’s push into the work chat marketplace with Evernote Work Chat, it looks like the product is going to be retired as soon as replacement partnerships can be developed.

Casey Newman: So let’s talk about business. Evernote invested significantly in a feature called Work Chat, which allows for collaboration around individual notes. But it doesn’t seem like the company has gotten much of a foothold. How will you tackle the business market? Should we expect the company will orient itself more toward collaboration uses?

Chris O’Neill: No. It’s important to not try to be all things to all people. You have Slack, you have Hipchat. That’s a well-served market. Let’s just politely say, collaboration and chat is well served. So I don’t see it as, we need to try to do everything. If we do well with frictionless capture of ideas, and world-class search and retrieval, I think we can partner with a lot of other players. Collaboration is a fact, but it doesn’t necessarily mean we have to carry all the water. I’d just as soon do some integrations and partnerships to fill out that part of it.

Good timing, especially since the Internet monsters are all paying close attention to Slack’s rise, and tools like Facebook At Work are in beta.

Still, I was intrigued by the discussion around ‘collaboration overload’ and the role of ‘note taking’ in the article:

Chris O’Neill: Our place is as relevant today as it was when Stepan [Pachikov] started the company 10 years ago. Our market’s growing. The globalization of the economy has led to more knowledge workers — that’s good for us. Smartphone penetration continues to grow, albeit at a lower rate. That’s good for us, too. And the other thing, which may sound counterintuitive, is that it isn’t just information overload — it’s collaboration overload. It’s good that we’re working across borders and functions, and silos are coming down. The bad part is that it’s crowding out to time to actually think, and do what some people call “deep work” — the ability to focus on a task for more than 15, 20 minutes at a time. Deep work is the killer app of the knowledge economy, and Evernote is the killer app for deep work. It allows you to capture your ideas and cultivate them.

Casey Newman: That rings true for me. We need one great place to capture the knowledge in our lives, and then I think there’s a lot of opportunity in helping people easily manipulate that and turn it into other things. Whether it’s turning numbers into charts, or turning text into HTML. There needs to be a central repository. And it’s not email, or Dropbox, or Slack.

Chris O’Neill: It’s interesting — Forrester or IDC, they don’t have a category for “note-taking.” But we intuitively know, you have groups like students and knowledge workers that basically take notes for a living. So we think the market is real, and we think it’s big. And we think there’s an opportunity, to your point, to connect it to action.

I’ve been writing a lot recently about content-based work management, so I have to say I agree that ‘note taking’ is a less understood and less examined technology area, one that is at the core of ‘deep work’.

Cross-posted on workfutures.io.

Telefonica’s Tu Go service turns to WebRTC for in-browser calls

The Spanish carrier group Telefónica is big on WebRTC, the technology that allows for plugin-free in-browser voice and video calls, among other things – it uses it for the in-browser Skype rival that’s built into Firefox these days, for example. So it’s no surprise to see the firm turn to WebRTC to power the next generation of its Tu Go service, which extends Telefónica/O2/Movistar’s services from the mobile network to Wi-Fi.

Whereas the desktop Tu Go client has so far been a discrete affair, it can now be accessed from within the browser, as long as that browser supports WebRTC – so far, Chrome and Firefox apparently offer the best experience. There’s no need to download anything extra and, as with the new Reach Me feature in rival Orange’s Libon app, this provides another way to take and make calls using your normal mobile phone number even when there’s no reception (Libon doesn’t require you to be an Orange customer, though).

The service bases its experience on conversation timelines and is designed to make it easy to continue conversations across devices. Tu Go for Web also makes it possible to conduct up to five conversations at once, which sounds technically impressive if somewhat mentally taxing.

One more thing to keep an eye out for: Telefónica is experimenting with integrating Tu Go with IFTTT so, for example, incoming SMSes could be automatically saved in Evernote or incoming calls from specific people could change the color of your home’s lighting as an alert.

When Tu Go came out a couple years back, I said Telefónica had pulled off the rare trick of creating unique value in a carrier-backed “over-the-top” (OTT) app — rather than just trying to cannibalize its own mobile services with an OTT rival. It is using the internet to extend that core service to new devices. It’s good to see the company still playing around with new ideas that this IP-based world makes possible.

Tu Go for Web is available now to O2 customers in the U.K. and Movistar customers in Argentina. It will also soon roll out to Peru, Mexico and Brazil, which are entirely new markets for Tu Go.

IFTTT continues growth with new Quirky channels

The conditional rule setting service, If This Then That (IFTTT) is on a roll with some new channels for internet of things lovers. The site has new options for the connected Quirky products that use the Wink app. So now your connected egg tray, piggy bank, A/C unit or even your power supply can tie into your email or other web services. I haven’t shelled out (heehee) for the Egg minder yet, but if I did I’d set up a recipe connecting it to Evernote so when I’m close to empty I could add eggs to my grocery list.

Evernote CEO to users: We’ll do better

Last week Jason Kincaid wrote about his not-very-pleasant experience with Evernote, the popular note-taking app. Evernote CEO Phil Libin says he’s taking that critique to heart.

The Post-it note goes digital on Evernote


Evernote is partnering with 3M on a smartphone app that will let users “photograph, store and organize pictures of their Post-its,” the WSJ’s Digits blog reports. The app is set to be released Thursday. 3M will also sell packs of Post-it notes with Evernote’s logo and an offer for a 30-day Evernote Premium trial. Evernote CEO Phil Libin said the Post-it note’s simplicity makes it “a hero product for us,” and noted that “Paperless as a concept is stupid. The goal is to get rid of stupid uses of paper.”