Evernote Bought Four Companies Last Year And (Almost) Nobody Knew About It

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It may seem strange to think of productivity app Evernote as a platform, but with 20 million users and 9,000 apps built on the client, the three and a half-year old startup is a veritable apps ecosystem. Beyond this developer ecosystem, the company released five of its own simple and unique Evernote-based apps in the past year: Hello, an app that helps you remember people, Food, an app that helps you remember important meals, Skitch, an app that lets you communicate visually, Peek, an app that utilizes the iPad cover for a novel take on tutoring, and Clearly, an app that makes content easier to read within Evernote.

To support all this app building, Evernote, which has a $95.5 million coffer from Sequoia CapitalTroika DialogDoCoMo Capital and Morgenthaler Ventures, has been quietly acquiring smaller companies from its talented developer pool.

Evernote CEO Phil Libin tells me that the company has scooped up four companies in 2011, including the beloved Skitch, a company called Notable Meals (which turned into “Food”), Readable (which became “Clearly”), and a startup called Minds Momentum — which will eventually morph into the company’s upcoming To-Do List app. Exciting! (No seriously, half of my Evernotes are basically makeshift To-Do Lists. This is as exciting as it gets here in Tech Town folks.).

Libin said that all of the acquisitions were relatively small, for under $10 million in stock and equity, and that Evernote’s acquisition appetite will only increase in 2012.

But don’t go about thinking that “flipping to Evernote” is a business model, Libin says he’s looking specifically for entrepreneurs who are interested in adding intelligence and data to Evernote but don’t want to cash out, “We’re not buying people to give people an exit, we’re buying companies to give people a start. Selling your company to Evernote is the beginning of 80 hour work weeks.”