Evernote hires a Google exec to prepare the company for an IPO

Mashable
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Former Google executive Chris O’Neill is taking over as CEO of productivity app Evernote as the company trains its sights on growing from a budding startup to a large publicly traded company.

Co-founder and longtime CEO Phil Libin announced in a blog post Monday that he will hand O’Neill the reigns next week and transition to the role of executive chairman.

Libin, a serial entrepreneur who has run the company since 2007, revealed that he was actively hunting for his replacement last month in a report from The Information. He also hinted that his successor will likely take the company public in the near future.

O’Neill comes to Evernote after spending nearly a decade in various high-level roles at Google, most recently heading business operations within the search giant’s experimental research division, Google X, for a little over a year. Before that, he was the company’s managing director in Canada after serving as head of retail.

“Chris loves solving the hard puzzles of building great teams more than anyone I’ve ever met,” Libin wrote in the announcement. “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built and has the leadership experience to bring Evernote to all the people and companies that are sick and tired of outdated tools.”

Libin, who is credited with building the note-taking app into a billion-dollar-valued company with over 100 million registered users, said the pressures of the burgeoning startup had started to wear him thin and he had lost sight of his original interests in the products side of the job.

“In the beginning, I got to do only the things I was good at,” Libin told Mashable in an interview earlier this month. “But when you get to a medium size, everyone sort of has to do everything. So I wound up being very shallow but very broad in my responsibilities. That isn’t why I joined.”

And while Libin claimed Evernote generally boasted a steady 5% user conversion rate from its free offerings to its paid service, the company hasn’t reported new user numbers recently, suggesting user growth may have stalled in recent months. It’s unclear how many of the 100 million people registered to the service are regularly active on the app.

Libin has said that he’s been considering stepping down for years but he doubled down on his search as the company nears an IPO.

Reaching Evernote’s next level of growth will take someone who can energize potentially hundreds of new employees and deal with the newfound concerns of a big, public company such as reporting to investors and beefing up sales and marketing operations.

“Chris can help us achieve Evernote’s potential, so we can help billions of people achieve theirs,” Libin wrote. “It’s what he does, and it’s exactly what we need.”

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