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Evernote powers up relationship with Korea

U.S. mobile app start-up opens local office in Seoul


Evernote, a U.S. mobile app start-up, is diving into the Korean market to provide local support in Korean for local users and deepen relations with its developers, its chief executive said Wednesday.

As an initial step, the California-based firm opened a Korean office in southern Seoul on Tuesday, following the establishment of a Beijing office last month, according to Phil Libin, founder and CEO of Evernote.

“We come to Korea because we think Korean designers, developers, partners and the Korean innovation and spirit are important in making a global company,” he told The Korea Herald at the Seoul Digital Forum. “With the help of Korean employees, users and partners, we want to make something great for the world. Korea is one of the top centers for entrepreneurship.”
Phil Libin
Phil Libin

Stressing that the company is not in Korea merely to sell products to Korean people, Evernote plans to hire designers, engineers, developers and testers to make new items in the country, said Libin.

“We’re in Korea to build worldwide products,” he said, adding that while its Korean office has just one worker, that number will grow quickly.

“(The Korean office) is not a data center yet but may become one in the future,” said the Libin, who co-founded the start-up in 2007. “It’s really everything from providing local support for Korean users in Korean and also with developers’ relations. We want to encourage them to build something with our application program interface.”

Evernote, located in Silicon Valley, services an application that enables users to store and bring up any notes, recordings, photos and videos saved on any platform, including wireless gadgets and personal computers anytime the user needs them. It now has the service available in 16 different languages.

“Everything you put into Evernote is private,” said Libin. “Our business model is not to monitor but make users happy.”

Stating that the company’s biggest competition is the popular mobile app “Angry Birds,” the U.S.-based firm is currently engaged in active discussions with mobile carriers in Korea such as SK Telecom and KT to form an exclusive relationship with one of them.

Evernote has established an exclusive relationship with NTT Docomo in Japan ― enabling Docomo users to get the premium version of Evernote for free on their handsets while working together on cloud computing services.

“If we have a close relationship with the carrier partners, we could test the service on their devices ahead of time,” he said. “Hopefully the partnership will take place soon in a couple of months.”

Libin also said that merger and acquisition of Korean venture firms is being “considered very strongly,” indicating that the five recent acquisitions were done with companies that had products Evernote used and loved.

“The sense I get from talking to Korean entrepreneurs is that not a lot of them are starting companies to primarily make money,” he said. “They start to make a particular thing they want to create in the world and we would like to help them create it so I think it’s quite likely that we will acquire a Korean company in the next year or two.”

By Cho Ji-hyun (sharon@heraldcorp.com)
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