Online Notebook Smackdown: Evernote Vs. Springpad
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Morgenthaler Ventures of Menlo Park, CA. Springpad, meanwhile, is making do on a $4 million June 2008 Series A round from Cambridge, MA-based Fairhaven Capital. Evernote is located in the world capital of Web startups, while Springpad is that loneliest of beasts—a consumer-facing Web company in the Boston area (it’s one of only two Web startups in all of Charlestown, as far as I know). Such details shouldn’t matter to users, but they may be of interest to veteran startup-watchers, or to people who like to bet on underdogs.
So, the choice between the two cloud notekeeping services really comes down to what you’re looking for. To use some possibly unflattering similes, Evernote is like a really efficient file clerk at an old-time newspaper who spends all of his time in the morgue, organizing and indexing drawers full of clips. Springpad is like a big dog who wants to be at your side everywhere you go and do everything you do. Put another way, Springpad is like Archilochus’s fox, who knows many little things, and Evernote is like the hedgehog, who knows one big thing.
Jeff Janer, the CEO of Spring Partners, stopped by Xconomy last week to show me some of Springpad’s latest features, and I asked him how he describes the differences between his product and Evernote. “We’ve gotten lots of press about being a serious Evernote competitor,” he said. “We do overlap significantly with them on just capturing notes. But we’re very different in the context of what you do after you save it. They are a personal organizer, a search index for your stuff. Our aspiration is to be more of a personal assistant. Because it’s structured data that most people are saving, we can append information to it. If you’re capturing a note about Blu-Ray players, we can show you a price comparison or link you to reviews on CNET. It’s not just ‘Capture and organize,’ but ‘How can we help you out?'”
Which approach will give rise to the stronger business is, in the end, hard to say. For Evernote, the path to riches is simple: the company just has to sign up millions of premium members. But that could be tough if it has to compete with free alternatives like Springpad. For Spring Partners, the challenge is very different: the company has to turn each stored note into a lead generation opportunity for an advertising partner. Given the variety of activities most consumers are engaged in all day long, there ought to be lots of possibilities here, but exploiting them will involve a lot of sales and business-development work on top of the old-fashioned programming.
Personally, I’m more of an Evernote guy. But then I’m an alpha geek. I think Springpad’s “addressable market,” as the MBAs like to put it, is probably bigger than Evernote’s, since it includes almost any consumer with a computer and/or a smartphone. In the end, my guess is that there’s room in this market for both foxes and hedgehogs.
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