Evernote’s Product Management Failure. They Just Couldn’t Say, “No!”

The 5% Problem

Interesting angle on the problems at Evernote that considers their ‘5% problem’. Of course, there were plenty of other issues for the business many of which, according to people inside, or once inside, the business would point to, many of them relating to the gigantic inflated egos of the founder and senior team, that came with increasingly large valuations. (I predict that 2016 is going see more than a few of these stories).

The 5% Problem is about Product Management

Users only use 5% of the features in the product. Each user uses a different 5%.

“We were talking about how Evernote was often lumped in with other companies (Dropbox, Box) that let you share and store files online. He noted that Evernote had many, many, many more features than those other companies (though said competitors would probably beg to differ).

“He conceded that Evernote had so many features, in fact, that it could sometimes be difficult to explain to newcomers exactly what Evernote was:

“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.” Worth reading the full piece.

Reminded us of this very entertaining, short, Lightning Talk from Des Traynor at Intercom.

‘Product Management is About Saying, “No!”‘


If you watched that and thought is was worthwhile, treat yourself to the one hour version Des gave the following year at Business of Software Conference USA.

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