We caught up with Evernote’s Phil Libin after his talk at TechCrunch Disrupt Beijing and delved deeper into a theme that he’s touched upon many times when describing his vision of Evernote’s future — the idea of building a hundred year old company in the age of the acqui-hire and the quick flip.
“We wouldn’t sell it for a billion, or for 2 billion,” Libin told me. “There’s basically no price that we would sell it. There isn’t a price at which I would prefer to sell the whole company rather than, you know like 10% of it at the same evaluation. So, if somebody came to me tomorrow and said, ‘Yeah. I’ll give you $10 billion. I’d go to investors and say ‘You guys give me a $10 billion evaluation and 10% of that amount.’ I would be much happier to sell 10% than to sell the whole thing. So, as long as the secondary markets or the public markets allow us to have the right kind of valuation then there’s really no reason to sell.”
Libin went on to drop his top three tips for building a hundred year old company:
1. Do something that you love enough to devote the rest of your life to.
“If you’re not completely infatuated with the idea with the company, why would you want to spend a hundred years doing it? So If you’re going to attempt something like this, it’s got to be in the field that you feel you can devote the rest of your life too, which is just a good idea anyway whether you want to do it for a hundred years or not.”
2. Make sure that all of your investors feel the same way.
“If your goal is to get the craziest possible person to pay you the most amount of money for your company, you can do that and you can maximize some short-term gain, but then you’ll have a crazy person on your board. And that’s not going to be consistent for being around for a hundred years. You’ve got to make sure you have fully aligned interest with the investors — That they’re along for the ride. And you should be up front while raising, ‘Hey, we want this to stick around.'”
3. Surround yourself with people you want to spend the next hundred years with.
“It’s all about getting the team. So the whole secret of Evernote is we have this fantastic team. Many of the people I’ve been with for 10, 15, 20 years. Others are new. The first two companies we made, we sold. We sort of felt like we build them for somebody else. Then we said, ‘Okay, the third one is the one for us.'”
Evernote just this summer raised another $50 million+ smackers to stick it out through the next century. Good luck Phil!