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Evernote's John McGeachie on business expansion, the shift to mobile and an update on two-factor authentication

Darren Murph
04.25.13
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Evernote Business has only been around since last summer, but it's already having an impact on how teams far and wide keep track of what's on the collective mind. The division's vice president John McGeachie sat down with us for a bit at The Next Web Conference this week in Amsterdam, giving us an inside look at how the company has evolved, what it has learned and where it hopes to go. Specifically for Evernote Business, McGeachie affirmed that there's a greater need for educating users as compared to individuals just testing the waters on its free service. "It sort of takes a while for people to figure out how to best fit Evernote into their workflow," he said, "but once that starts happening, people see that it adds an amazing amount of value to all of these different areas." He added: "That's basically how our whole marketing strategy works. We're really just listening to how people use Evernote, and then put that back out there [as use case scenarios]."

In that sense, Evernote's quite unusual. Many startups have to maintain a focused product just to convince a new audience to try something foreign. Evernote, on the other hand, is deliberately open-ended, and it's the company itself that's now learning how to evolve based on direct feedback. "Our best source of new users that stay and really use the product is from understanding how someone they know or someone they can identify with uses it," said McGeachie. He did, however, acknowledge that the huge amount of flexibility does mean that the learning curve is steeper. "We see a lot of people download the app and use it once, and they aren't sure what to do next, so they go away. But a lot of them come back and reengage because they read something or run into someone they know who uses it, and it clicks."

On the topic of integration, embeddedness and independence, McGeachie told us that the Evernote Business department isn't actively going out and recruiting companies to use its product. Instead, it's waiting for companies to come to it, and there are offices all over the world to then answer questions and facilitate use. Given that this is a subscription-based product, riling someone up and convincing them to get onboard doesn't do much good if there isn't an innate desire to be a user in the first place. He also noted that integration with other services is something Evernote "is just starting to explore with Business customers," and while he wouldn't go so far as to name names, he did acknowledge that some users are yearning for tighter links with the workflow management and calendaring services that corporate mandates they use.

Evernote's John McGeachie on business expansion, the shift to mobile and an update on twofactor authentication

From there, we pivoted to talking about Evernote's usage patterns, and where it's users are now coming from. "The usage has definitely shifted towards mobile devices," McGeachie said, "to about 60 / 40 when looking at mobile versus desktop. BlackBerry and Windows Phone are used less than the other two; I don't know that there's a huge difference between iOS and Android. In terms of features, they tend to leapfrog one another."

As you'd expect, we brought up the topic of security following the company's (very public) hiccup in March, and McGeachie gave us a more specific rollout date than what we'd heard before. "Two-factor [authentication] is coming very soon," he said. "Obviously, we pushed that very high on the priority list. You'll see that very shortly -- I don't have exact timing, but you should see that within the next month or two."

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