Now Evernote wants to become a productivity platform

Fresh from its $50 million in funding, note-taking and memory service Evernote is preparing for its first-ever developer conference next month, where it will outline its broader strategy and how it plans on becoming a 100-year company by building a productivity platform.

The Evernote Trunk Conference on August 18 in San Francisco signals a new phase for the Mountain View, Calif., company, which has grown to 12 million users and is adding a million new users a month. While the company has offered an API to developers since 2008, it is now finally embracing its role as a platform and is prepared to talk about how it wants to proceed with its ecosystem of 6,000 developers and 600 third-party apps and products.

I talked with CEO Phil Libin about the upcoming conference and where the company is going, and he explained that Evernote is in the midst of a shift, from one primary application that focuses on memory to a broader platform play that looks to increase user productivity. Evernote will pursue some of this on its own and through acquisitions and will look to developers to play a big role in advancing this goal.

I expect us to be a much broader company than where we are now. The idea is Evernote is going to have lots of applications to deal with the external brain and your memories. We’ll go from one app on lots of platforms to a family of products and services that play off a theme of the external brain.

He said a key distinction will be in how it emphasizes productivity. He said while people turn to Zynga or Facebook to kill time, he wants to vie for the other half of people’s time. And so Evernote will be focusing its messaging and its strategy on getting things accomplished through Evernote, anything to do with furthering life’s work, from eating at the best restaurants to working on a research product.

If we think that makes you productive, that’s part of the Evernote experience. Our value proposition has been in remembering. Put into the external brain and you can always get it out. That’s been our core message. But that’s been phase one, get out what you put in. Now phase two is getting out more than you put in, being smarter and having a system that augments your natural intelligence. It’s expanding from memory to a real external brain.

Libin said the company will share more details at the conference and will try to be very transparent to developers to help make clear where the company is headed and what opportunities it finds interesting. The conference will feature a series of interviews with people, including:

  • Gordon Bell, a principal researcher at Microsoft (s MSFT) working on life logging and cloud computing whose ideas helped inspire Evernote.
  • Tim Ferris, an angel investor and best-selling author of the The 4-Hour Workweek.
  • Guy Kawasaki, founder of Alltop and bestselling author.
  • Roelof Botha, a partner at Sequoia Capital who has invested in Square, YouTube, Tumblr, Evernote and other startups.
  • Michael Hyatt, a publisher, speaker and writer on topics relating to leadership, productivity and Evernote.

The conference will also feature sessions aimed at helping developers build off Evernote’s API. And the company will also be announcing the winners of its developer contest.

If you’re interested in attending, the first 50 GigaOM readers can register here and get a 50 percent discount with the promo code “ETCGIGAOM.”