How Too Much Innovation Might Just Kill Evernote

If you’re not evolving in Silicon Valley, you are basically dying, as a startup.In a cut-throat digital world where players have to be constantly on their toes to survive, this piece of advice is pretty much a no-brainer.

However, there can actually be too much of a good thing. Take Evernote, for example. Once a great productivity tool good enough to be recommended to everyone, it now faces several problems, though not on the scale of Twitter. The problem with Evernote has to be feature overload. Too many features and standalone apps crammed into the Evernote package, made it hard for users. To be really honest, the current interface of Evernote is just so confusing, I don’t even use it anymore; I’m scared of it.

Evernote has separate apps for taking notes, recipes, sketches and drawings and even documents. Honestly, most of them were features most users didn’t even need. So many features got bolted on in fact, that it became difficult to explain to new users exactly what Evernote was and does. Take a look at what Phil Libin, ex-CEO of Evernote had to say to a VentureBeat reporter in an interview.

What winds up happening at Evernote conferences is that people go and they say, ‘Oh, I love Evernote and I’ve been using it for years and now I realize I’ve only been using it for 5 percent of what it can do,’ ” Libin said. “And the problem is that it’s a different 5 percent for everyone. If everyone just found the same 5 percent, then we’d just cut the other 95 percent and save ourselves a lot of money. It’s a very broad usage base. And we need to be a lot better about tying it together. And I think we have. We’ve got a few things we’re launching over the next few months to help with that.

Remember that this was in 2013, and even then, Evernote had shown signs of being spread too thin to be of real use to users. Fast forward to 2015 and Evernote had laid off 13% of its workforce and closed three international offices in September. In December, they shut down less used apps like their Pebble watch app and the drawing app Skitch. In 2016, Evernote shut down its lifestyle store, which sold physical goods like Moleskine books and branded coffee mugs among other products.

Once a tool with too many feature, apparently Evernote is now focusing on streamlining itself. However, the one question that remains is whether this is enough to bring the company back to its former glory. Will this move be a day late, dollar short to save Evernote? Well, only time will tell.

Meanwhile, though, Evernote could just be the first unicorn to crash and burn, simply because they over-innovated and clamped on too many features. Though far from being dead, the story of Evernote shows and warns us about the dangers of spreading your offerings wafer thin. They may crack and break any time.


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