Three years ago, Evernote made a bold bet that its brand as one of the leading cross-platform note-taking apps could extend from software to physical lifestyle products like notebooks, backpacks, and wallets. Today Evernote admits its bet failed. The Evernote Market, as it's called, will be shut down on February 3rd and the company will stop selling and making its own physical products. Some Evernote-branded items will still be sold through its partners, including the company's Moleskine notebooks, Adonit stylus, and Fujitsu scanner.
It's unclear exactly what killed Evernote Market, but one can guess that a company know for making apps perhaps could not find a lucrative edge in the market for expensive accessories, like a $242 backpack and a $100 wallet. Evernote says it sold 800,000 Evernote Moleskine notebooks, 300,000 Jot Script styluses, and nearly 20,000 ScanSnap scanners. Both the stylus and the scanner are out of stock, suggesting Evernote stopped selling the items prior to the announcement, while the Moleskine notebooks are still available. You can still buy any other item at the store up until Wednesday, the company says.
"Ultimately though, Evernote is a software company."
The closure of Evernote's lifestyle marketplace marks another attempt from the Silicon Valley startup to realign its focus on the core Evernote app — and how it can make more money. Former CEO Phil Libin stepped down from his chief executive role in July to let former Google Glass executive Chris O'Neill take the helm. O'Neill ran business at Google's wearable outfit and arrived at Evernote to help build its sales team and prepare for an initial public offering. In September, Evernote laid off 13 percent of its work force, or about 47 employees, in the second of two rounds of layoffs last year. Then in December, the company killed support for less-used products like the Pebble smartwatch app, Skitch annotation app, and Clearly browser extension.
"Ultimately though, Evernote is a software company," writes John Hoye, Evernote's senior director of partnerships and accessory products, in a blog post. "Building and perfecting the Evernote experience is where we’ll be focusing our future efforts." Hoye says Evernote plans to continue partnering with companies as it does with Adonit, Moleskine, and Fujitsu. Hoye did note how Evernote saw its lifestyle brand as a way to monetize users, pointing out that nearly half of all Evernote Market customers were paying the company for the first time.
"This is how we make Evernote better."
When Evernote launched its marketplace, former CEO Phil Libin told The Verge, "There's always this trade-off perceptually in the public space between focus and stagnation. And which of those two things you wind up being accused of depends on how successful the products are." Libin said physical products were how the company would "make Evernote better."