Phil Libin, CEO at Evernote, visited Start-Up Chile. Here are my notes on what he said!


Alan Van Toai is the awesome founder behind SimpleCrew, the mobile app for street teams. He is currently in Chile enjoying his once in a lifetime opportunity with Start-Up Chile. You should follow his adventures on Twitter, or maybe on his blog. Or both? Enjoy!


Today, we had the distinct pleasure of hearing from a personal hero of mine, Phil Libin, the CEO and co-founder of Evernote. Here are my notes from the presentation:

Suitably Epic Quest
After two successful exits, Phil and his founding team set out to build a company with a “suitably epic quest” that they could make it their life’s work.

You Can See By The Product, The People That Made It
When you look really closely at a product, when you “hold it up to the light,” you see a reflection of the people that built the product. You can see if it was inspired, if they made it with love, and if they’re passionate about it.

Make a Beautiful Company, and a Beautiful Product
Following the logic from before. Phil spoke about building a culture of design, and designing the culture.

At the High End, Tastes are Global. Achieve a Level of Quality that Transcends Local Tastes
Toyota and GM have different vehicles localized for different markets, but BMW and Mercedes are the same everywhere you go.

For low- and mid-level products, peoples wants and needs can be unique to their culture. But everyone around the world likes the same great stuff.

“I love the economist. It is very important to me to be seen reading the economist.”
A funny little joke Phil made. He was showing an Economist cover that depicted Facebook, Amazon, Google, and Apple as giant squids battling it out in the deep sea. He spoke about how it was misguided, because in fact, it’s a spirit of collaboration both accidental and intentional that drives the internet industry forward.

Entrepreneurship is not a zero sum game. It’s less like sports, more like music.
In start-ups and entrepreneurship, people often make sports and war analogies. These comparisons are usually misguided, because businesses aren’t a zero-sum game. When someone wins, it doesn’t mean the other has to lose.

In that way, a start-up is more like music than sports or war.

Much more fun, happier, and sane to think about what you can create, instead of who you can destroy.
In the same train of thought as the non-zero-sum philosophy, Phil championed the idea of not worrying about “disruption”. You shouldn’t worry to much about who to take value from. The value that Facebook’s created is thousands of times greater than it’s predecessor. The value Ford created with the Model T was infinitely greater than the value of the horses and buggies that preceded cars.

100 People You Go Back To
Phil had the chance to speak with Steve Ballmer, and in their conversation, Steve shared with Phil and idea that suck with him. In life, you’ll tend to go back to a close network of maybe 100 people. As you move on to new projects and new adventures, you’ll typically meet more people, but will still have your set tribe of 100 or so people that you create your reality with.

Microsoft has Two Great Products: Excel and Xbox
I’d never thought of this one, but as Phil said it, it’s reality rang true. Word processors seem unnecessary in the modern age (I agree), and Windows and Windows Phone are hardly the most refined in their class on the market anymore.

But the spreadsheet is still the most robust spreadsheet system, and XBox is still a terrific gaming console. Interesting point.