Chris O'Neill replaces Phil Libin as CEO of Evernote

Steven Loeb · July 20, 2015 · Short URL:

Libin has been in charge of company since it was founded, but is stepping aside as it looks to IPO

Big things are in store for note taking and archiving company Evernote, but, in a surprising development, the man who has led the company since its founding all the way back in 2004 will not be the one to oversee those changes.

The company's founder and long-time CEO Phil Libin revealed in a blog post on Monday that he is stepping down from his position, though not away from the company entirely.

His replacement will be ex-Googler Chris O'Neill, who most recently ran the business operations at research unit Google X. Prior to that he was managing director of Google Canada. In all O'Neill had worked at the company in various positions for 10 years.

Libin detailed why he felt that he should relinquish control of the company, namely that he felt that someone else would do a better job of helping it achieve its true potential.

"Eight years ago, a bunch of us came together in California to build something important. We saw an opportunity to change what people expected from productivity tools. Smart investors thought we were crazy. They were right, but so were we. Few teams ever get a chance to see their dreams become critically valuable to others, to play a tangible part in shaping an industry, and to measurably bend the world around them. We’ve done it, but there’s still a lot of bending left to do," he wrote.

The company has has 150 million users worldwide, up from 100 million a year ago, and "each of these individuals is raising their hand, looking for a different way to get work done," he said.

"The need is massive. Evernote’s potential is enormous. We’ve proven the potential. Now we have to fulfill it."

To Libin, O'Neill is the right person to lead Evernote up against "entrenched behemoths that dominate this space."

"He believes in what we’ve built and has the leadership experience to bring Evernote to all the people and companies that are sick and tired of outdated tools. Chris can help us achieve Evernote’s potential, so we can help billions of people achieve theirs. It’s what he does, and it’s exactly what we need."

What Libin does not say is why he feels that this is the right time for such a transition. It likely has something to do with the company's seemingly inevitable IPO.

When I interviewed Libin back in 2013, we discussed the company's potential plans in this regard, in which he said the company had plans to go public in 2015 or 2016 at the earliest, since "by then the markets will have settled down and made peace with technology companies."

He said he took the idea of going public seriously, and that he did not want to rush it, calling it a "moral obligation," a line that he has used many times.

Now, though, it looks like the company is finally ready, and for Libin that meant it was time to bow out.

“I’ve always said that I wouldn’t be the company’s last CEO. And I realized years ago that I didn’t want to be the CEO when the company went public,” he said in an interview with Re/Code. “I realized I wasn’t passionate about being the CEO who will take this company public and that I should find someone who will be passionate about it.”

When Re/Code asked Libin if O’Neill will be the CEO that finally takes Evernote public, Libin's response was, “He better.”

Libin's role with the company going forward will now involve him staying on as executive chairman, as well as him "doubling down on making great products" at Evernote.

Founded in 2004, Evernote has raised $290 million in funding, most recently a $20 million round in November of 2014. Investors include Nikkei, CBC Capital, Eastlink Capital, Salesforce Ventures, Sequoia Capital and Morgenthaler Ventures.

VatorNews has reached out to Phil Libin for further information regarding his decision. We will update this story if we learn more. 

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Our goal at Evernote is to give everyone the ability to easily capture any moment, idea, inspiration, or experience whenever they want using whichever device or platform they find most convenient, and then to make all of that information easy to find.

And we’ve done just that. From creating text and ink notes, to snapshots of whiteboards and wine labels, to clips of webpages, Evernote users can capture anything from their real and digital lives and find it all anytime.

Evernote is an independent, privately held company headquartered in Mountain View, California. Major investors include Sequoia CapitalMorgenthaler VenturesTroika Dialog, and DOCOMO Capital.



Phil Libin

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