Skip to main content

5 Minutes on The Verge: Evernote's Phil Libin

5 Minutes on The Verge: Evernote's Phil Libin


Phil Libin is the CEO of Evernote, a cloud-based memory assistant and "second brain" app for keeping track of photos, text, links, and other digital ephemera.

Share this story

phil libin 1020
phil libin 1020

Phil Libin is the CEO of Evernote, a cloud-based memory assistant and "second brain" app for keeping track of photos, text, links, and other digital ephemera. He took some time to talk to The Verge about his favorite apps, what he's reading, and the future of the "quantified self." Follow him on Twitter at @plibin.

What was the last time you were really stunned by a development in technology (e.g. launching Spotify for the first time, using the original iPhone, seeing sports in HD)?

The first time I ever flew in my personal jetpack was really great; I remember the feeling of freedom and just outright delight. Of course my first spaceflight was pretty extraordinary as well. Wait, none of those things have happened yet? Yeah, I guess the iPhone was nice.

What's your primary phone?


What platform has most driven Evernote's adoption? Has it changed over time?

iOS and Android account for most of our first-user experience, although most of our users wind up also downloading our Mac or Windows versions and using Evernote on a mobile device and a laptop. iPhone, iPad and Android usage has really surged recently, although they're all growing really quickly so none are gaining significantly over the others. I'm reasonably optimistic about the new Microsoft devices, Windows Phone and Windows 8, because I'm a giant nerd and want to see cool new hardware succeed.

Pinterest and Tumblr have really taken this idea of social sharing, saving, and curating to a much larger audience. Why hasn't Evernote gone there?

Evernote is private and personal. We've never really chased the social market and indirect business models. We want a billion people to fall in love with Evernote, trust us as their lifetime second brain, and use us every day to have happy and productive personal and professional lives. I think we're already the largest such service that's ever existed and we've only reached maybe 1% of our potential.

"I think the 'quantified self' stuff is going to go mainstream this year."

What’s most exciting to you about technology at this moment? Most disturbing?

I'm easily excitable by technology. If I had to pick one word to describe myself, it would be "enthusiast". I'm excited by electric cars and by the rapid advances in life sciences. I think the "quantified self" stuff is going to go mainstream this year. I love Uber and Kickstarter and Karma and Nest. I'm disturbed that SWTOR may be good enough to get me playing MMOs again, but then I remember that this is the eternal temptation and that I know how to stay strong...

Are you planning to integrate more social elements into the website and apps?

Yes. The core of Evernote will always be private, but we are adding many great ways to share and collaborate with your trusted social graphs.

What are your top five most-used, non-Evernote apps, any platform?

For some definition of "top" and "apps": Uber, Expensify, TripIt, Swordigo (although I'm at the final level boss, so it's about to fall off the list), um, Excel (although I am the final level boss, so it's going to stay on the list for ever).

How many Evernote notes have been created in total?

More than two billion, counting notes, images, pdfs, etc.

How would you characterize the typical Evernote employee?


You've released a lot of products lately, from Evernote Hello to Food. Is a to-do / task management app on the roadmap?


What books are you reading now?

Just finished Reid Hoffman's The Startup of You. Reading Christopher Hitchens' Hitch-22 now.

What's the best movie you've seen lately?

I am ashamed to say that I have not watched a complete movie in the past 12 months. Going to make a plan to change that right away.

Read more 5 Minutes on The Verge