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TaskClone

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TaskClone last won the day on January 26 2016

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  1. Evernote is already a frequent case study. I'm sure this whole episode will spawn many more.
  2. Just wanted to update that while it was a painful period for us, Evernote's engineering team did fix the sync/webhook issue created with the new apps. My company and clients are grateful it's over notwithstanding it would have better if it never occurred. I continue to believe in 18 months, biting the bullet will be judged the best decision for Evernote. I wished they had done a much much better job of communicating and not feeling they need to be so secretive about roadmap. If they told us more about roadmap I don't think it would impact their competitive situation one bit.
  3. I agree, but I think the pivot has been harder for Evernote than others. Evernote gave away so much for so long. Others also had a clearer strategy to go after enterprise so they could give away more at the personal tier to get adoption rates up. I remember when Mailchimp decided to essentially ditch the transactional aspect of their business and go up-market. They initially grandfathered clients, then decided that wasn't enough revenue and stopped the grandfathering. What a debacle. Probably better for their profit margins, but they lost lots of loyal long-term clients (including us). I'm sure they knew their demand curve quite well and didn't care. It was a business decision and I was disappointed, but I run a business, so I get it. Poor communication is usually the kicker that hurts most. I just compared Evernote's pricing to Dropbox's. Dropbox is more expensive. I know people don't usually compare the two, but look at the feature set. This is why I say their real issue is an identity issue. At the end of the day, for the mid-level managers, freelancers and small business owners that use Evernote, is their $100 a year worth of value? Think of the opportunity cost of that money. Where that $100 would go otherwise. For those who use Evernote for more than a note-taker, the answer is most likely going to be yes. As for competitors, first Evernote has to iron out the bugs/glitches and demonstrate there is a future. Once that is done, there is plenty of market for them and others based on simple user preferences. They've survived Microsoft offering a feature-equal, free product that is on many of their customers' computers for free. Look at the task app market (the other market I'm in). There are literally dozens of quite similar players with no one winning on features alone. Everybody's productivity seems fiercely personal. As you say though, "Time will tell".
  4. I agree about MS. Since they got their new CEO, they've gotten smarter about many things and one was to invest a bit in OneNote. I was actually a OneNote user until I decided I wanted to build TaskClone and found OneNote didn't even have an API (they built it in 2014). However, they did aggressively go after Evernote in that period, publishing pages like this - https://www.onenote.com/import-evernote-to-onenote. That focus has again waned. I can tell you that marketing works. In the weeks after Evernote's "relaunch", we saw a significant spike in new Evernote users and I bet some of them are paid. When nobody is talking about you and you get few referrals, you're dying. Most folks who see Evernote's relaunch in the press have no idea this forum even exists. What their actual demand curve looks like, none of us knows. If they get the value prop right, I'm confident enough people will pay (and I think they and their investors are confident of that too). I believe their identity problem is the bigger hurdle. I hope to help them solve it.
  5. They don't have many luxuries. Like a parent that is willing to spend money for years with no direct return. Like an in-built ecosystem. Like an R&D division (the Azure cloud and Graph API) that adds handwriting recognition, integration with Outlook and other features built for other purposes, but easily added to OneNote. Like sales and support teams with existing relationships with enterprise and now SMB clients. What Evernote should have to compete with this is the ability to focus and iterate quickly. That competitive advantage has not been there for years. We'll see if recent changes fix that. MS has recently taken their eye off of crushing EN entirely, focusing rather on the more lucrative effort to embed themselves in verticals (education) and use OneNote like Teams; to sell more Business Office 365 subscriptions. MS has no problem with oligopolies anyway.
  6. I agree with this assessment. I think Evernote has never solved its identity crisis. It needs to do that for business adoption and broader paid consumer success. Being a Swiss Army Knife has not been a good marketing strategy. As much as SaaS companies want to go enterprise like Asana has done, you have to articulate solving a clear business need better than alternatives. Evernote doesn't do that. Neither does OneNote. Their core value proposition is much more personal than business. There's a business connection, but it's indirect for most. I think they needed the revenue enhancement for more than chasing business expansion though. I think they needed it to justify the investments that are paying for the work they're doing now. Everyone knew they needed to give away less and earn more. Evernote was the poster child for that. The way it was done just left an awful taste for many. I also thought they would take a more gradual approach over a few years that coincided with feature improvements, but seemed the urgency was too great.
  7. Definitely think that move made the average user realize that all was not well. Those keeping up with the company's struggles could see that coming, but the form it took was curious. You usually try to do that stuff along with a major upgrade on bring features from higher plans downward. It sorta cushions the blow. I assume they owned too much of the market already for grandfathering to be feasible. They have far more analytics about their demand curve than we do, so I assume they made the decision that was warranted. I took it as a race to be profitable enough to justify the existing investors' patience or pay them off. I may never know, but I always speculate that too much VC money makes you chase a home run when a solid double of a company would be just fine. Many go out trying to steal third instead. Evernote has had enough of a user base to not flame out entirely, but that provides only so much runway to get it right.
  8. Can't really disagree with that. If you're going to punch me in the gut, tell me first. I won't want to hear it, but it's better than the alternative. I'm on the developer side and I guarantee you every time Evernote or OneNote sneeze, we catch a cold. Right now, syncing doesn't work the same with their new apps. It sucks and impacts our bottom line. However, OneNote is no better. They made a change and now their API delays indexing (i.e. recognizing) notes created within the last 30 minutes. Imagine creating a note and the service that looks for that note can't find it for 30 minutes. Trust me, I feel the pain as none of this stuff gets communicated and half the time they wouldn't know unless we told them. My primary point is that I've seen this so much, it's to be expected (not necessarily accepted). Again, Evernote is not the only company that does this. After their layoffs, I expected this sort of cost cutting to focus on what they considered "core". They also suffer from this thing in tech where if you let anyone know what's coming, you've somehow worsened your competitive position. Shock and awe is preferred over predictable releases of known priorities and known tradeoffs. That's unfortunate, but not surprising. I will say, it seems like some last minute changes were made before release. The syncing issues we face now did not occur on earlier builds that we beta-tested. Something happened along the way.
  9. Interesting. Which wrong turn was that?
  10. Understand your opinion, but I know it's common to see this sort of thing. Although I doubt they didn't do QA and some performance testing. Just doesn't catch everything and I bet there was plenty that wasn't tested along with some basics that were. I seldom see a major release, let alone a rewrite that doesn't suffer from significant issues for 30-90 days. A rewrite of software in use by tens of millions of people across multiple platforms seems destined to have some of this. What companies are you aware of that stuck the landing on their first major rewrite with 10 million users of a complex software on one platform? On 4?
  11. Your expectations are, of course, perfectly reasonable. Which is why their poor communications about some of the missing features was doubly troubling. No one expects an upgrade to be a downgrade. I've been a position where we added code to make future changes possible. It slowed everything down. That sucked. It was the right business decision and wouldn't pay off for over 12 months. They have to make a business decision whether it's worth it to lose some folks for a greater purpose. They may have miscalculated the extent, but I think they made that decision.
  12. I run a company that interfaces with Evernote. I can attest that people leave and return all the time. I have the data logs to prove it not to mention dozens of conversations with clients. Whether Evernote will benefit from losing the most aggrieved customers is a total unknown. However, it is common for companies to not pursue a strategic opportunity to grow for fear of alienating a small, but vocal group of long-term customers. That tension exists all the time. Evernote is smart enough to know that as long as it's viewed as "note-taking" software, it's future is limited. They have fought against that label for a long time and I would guess that most of their best customers don't think of it as just note-taking software. I don't. That said, they may want to move in a direction that clarifies that (hopefully not with Work Chat), but that new direction may bother some. For the record, I don't think that's the major issue here. I think the major issue here is some of the compromises needed to create a unified base across platforms given the limitations of the tools available. Combine that with the limitations of beta testing such widely used software and POOR communications.
  13. If it were true that retrieval were hopeless for a significant percentage of desired customers, that would be a massive failure. Slowness is not a failure. In fact, it's often pre-planned. With many new releases of software, developers include additional logging to track any potential issues. Over time as these issues are discovered and corrected, the logging is removed. Ideally this is imperceptible delay, but this is often a feature and not a bug. None of us is really sure what percentage and which users are most upset about the changes, but it's big enough that they've had to acknowledge something. Not sure that makes it a massive failure from the company's perspective. Time will tell. Since I own a company, I tend to take the company's perspective. Customers are prone to hyperbole and "end of times" type reactions. That's fine, but in listening to it, one has to apply a bit of perspective that someone in an emotional state might not be applying.
  14. Oh the drama! I am so glad that Evernote finally bit the bullet and decided to take this risk, I'd give them 4 months to work out the kinks. Productivity switching costs to another service will justify at least that much time. The technical debt inside Evernote was huge (and still is - see below). For those looking to jump ship, good luck. Check out reddit for OneNote users or the many others that come back to Evernote and you might pause on that for a bit. For business reasons I watch OneNote closely too. They have their own issues, mostly their lack of prioritization within the Microsoft ecosystem. Development and focus move in fits and starts as you would suspect with a free product. All this said, I understand the pain. Years of building workflows, learning nuances and not having to deal with the muckiness of change to the core. This must be truly debilitating for many. I can see that. But, Evernote is a business and I want it to survive. To do that, they need to strike a very difficult balance of bringing in new paying customers while losing only a few existing paying customers. Not easy! They tried the Business market. They tried competing with Slack. They tried socks for God's sake. Now, they have to do what was needed all along. Build an efficient, sustainable business built on the core of their competitive advantage. That requires them to focus on getting their core product right to build a sustainable future. I blogged about this years ago and it's what we thought Chris O'Neill would do. Now Ian, actually pulled the trigger and ripped the band-aid. Good for him. Did this effort actually focus the company? So far, not really. Too many competing interests I guess (see the balance comment above). At least he's trying. Did they communicate the change well? Absolutely not. Transparency in fits and starts is not transparency. Evernote has never really learned that in multiple iterations. Transparency is showing your roadmap and financial with the challenge within each. Don't expect that in a competitive environment where NONE of their competitors are doing the same. Was the beta test good enough and long enough? Maybe. With 200 million installs, they could've beta tested for years. I think the real failing was getting more power users in on the known compromises and not being ready for they inevitable challenges that come from such a big change. Will it be over soon? Sorta. I suspect in 120 days, the worst will be over. The features with broadest appeal and ease of implementation will be back. Speed and syncing will be improved, but probably not finished or back to the "old days". Most importantly, the loudest and most hurt by the changes will be gone. This will allow greater focus on the new paying customers that can be brought in. When this episode is over, the change I've been waiting for can fully begin. You see, behind that technical debt on the front-end is years of technical debt on the backend. They started addressing that with the move to Google's cloud. But their API is woefully behind the times and developers are under-supported compared to rivals. I think they know this, but that obviously has to come after the primary product that users see and use daily. Ultimately, I think Evernote became a prisoner of its own freemium success. They showed the whole world the challenges of measuring growth in users instead of revenue. With all those users and the infrastructure to support them, change became even harder. I'm 1000% positive that spending $250M in VC money to just fix the foundation of your existing product did not go over well. Now, they've bitten the bullet. We'll see if it was worth it. I'm betting in 18 months, they'll declare that it was. (Geez, this was so long, probably should've been a blog post instead 🤣)
  15. I work with TaskClone and it doesn't do quite what you're looking for. Unfortunately, Evernote tightly controls what items can be embedded and prevents dynamic information inside of notes. That said, TaskClone provides a way to get Evernote tasks into Todoist and many other task apps. Managing Todoist tasks from Evernote is probably not feasible, but you should be able to link to them.
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