Evernote's Phil Libin has bold ambitions: He wants to change the way we work.
Of course, he has a vested interest in making this happen. Libin's cloud-based service, with over 100 million users globally, is a popular digital hub, where consumers and workers can keep all their stuff for a project, a trip or for just staying organized.
Libin's bigger vision, which he'll describe Thursday and Friday at the fourth annual Evernote Conference in San Francisco, is to eliminate files altogether.
According to Libin, our use of documents, spreadsheets and presentations is antiquated and based on technology from the 1980s, when the world was moving from actual paper to computers. To make the switch more palatable, technology tools offered "familiar metaphors" that evoked physical items, Libin says.
Technology has since evolved dramatically. Connected devices are everywhere and high-speed Internet is ubiquitous. But we're still using the same software (a lot of it from Microsoft) that was designed for the days when we printed things out and mailed them in envelopes or fed them through a fax machine.
Libin says he still uses Microsoft Excel for complicated math and financial modeling. But for the 99 percent of Excel files that have no math in them, like lists and schedules, he insists there are better options.
"We no longer need these archaic concepts of slides and files and docs and folders," Libin said in an interview. "We need to be thinking about a new set of metaphors. We're trying to reinvent the basic concepts of productivity."
Evernote, in its current form, is a Web service and mobile app that lets users write notes that save in the cloud in real time, take pictures and create voice recordings all in one place, accessible on any device. There's a free option or a paid service for $5 a month, which includes the ability to search across all notes and files, save bigger images and scan business cards.