Is Evernote Past Its Prime?
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Last week I looked at the sale of a portfolio of apps for $100M by Bending Spoons, an Italian app publisher that took over the OG notes app Evernote last year.
While Evernote wasn't a part of the recent trade it got me curious about where Evernote is now.
If you've been around apps long enough you remember Evernote as the first 3rd party notes app available for the iPhone. If you haven't you probably don't know about it at all because it lost a lot of momentum fairly early and never managed to claw its way back.
Here's my question - was acquiring Evernote a good idea?
Let's have a look at its revenue before and after to answer that.
The easy answer is... Maybe, but not quite.
See, Evernote's revenue has been generally growing - and that's a good thing. Growth has been fairly consistent between 2017 and 2021, going from $6M of net revenue in 2017 to $10M in 2021.
But then something happened in the middle of 2022 and net revenue, what Evernote gets to keep after Apple and Google take their fees, rose to $16M. That translates into a 60% increase year over year.
Bending Spoons took over Evernote in 2023 and increased the subscription price a few months later.
According to our estimates, Evernote's revenue rose to $18M. Just 13% more than 2022...
And that's the maybe.
When a company with a massive user base, the kind that's been around forever gets a price increase by new management they usually revolt. From the acquirer standpoint though, if the app provides sufficient value new users will come to replace the churn.
Looking at the trend we see that. Growth as the prices increased and stagnation since.
Is Revenue Stagnation Okay?
Revenue stagnation is tough. In some cases it's recoverable, but for most apps it isn't because it means the product is no longer competitive enough.
Considering the additional churn caused by increasing the price, it's going to be hard to recover without big product changes that additional paid user acquisition can't solve.
Bending Spoons seems to be making those big product changes where they matter most, introducing AI and better collaboration tools to fight off competition with Notion and Paper, and giving Evernote's interface a much-needed makeover.
What About Downloads?
But there's more - and this is both a positive and a negative all rolled into one.
Evernote's downloads have been on a steep decline in the last few years. And when I say steep I mean steep.
According to our estimates, Evernote's yearly downloads dropped from 9.6M in 2017 to just 1.7M in 2023. And guess which year was its worst? 2023 - with a massive drop of 43%.
The good news is that revenue continuing to grow at any rate when downloads are dropping so low means those who download the app are much more likely to pay. You want that.
But the bad news is that without additional price increases, as time goes on it'll be harder to replace churned users with new users and revenue will drop. Price increases will help in the short term but add more churn, which can't be replaced easily, and you can see where this is going.
In my opinion, the only way to rebuild the momentum Evernote once had is to find that 10x feature no one else has and make it super accessible. I don't think AI is the answer but I hope the new owners can figure it out.
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All figures included in this report are estimated. Unless specified otherwise, estimated revenue is always net, meaning it's the amount the developer earned after Apple and Google took their fee.