Ben Zotto's Penultimate acquired by Evernote: CNET News Video
CNET News Video: Ben Zotto's Penultimate acquired by Evernote6:48 /
Popular iPad app for taking handwritten notes gets acquired. The founder talks about why he wrote the app and what's next for it.
Speaker 1: Ben Zotto is the founder of Cocoa Box Company that made Penultimate which just got acquired by Evernote for an undisclosed amount. We have Ben here on the Skype and I want to talk to him briefly about this acquisition. First of all congratulations. Speaker 2: Thank you. Speaker 1: So, Ben. What are you going to be doing there over at Evernote now that they have acquired your business? Speaker 2: Well, we're gonna be ready taking Penultimate from a one person shop and putting the team behind it and doing a lot of great things with Evernote technology that happens to be a really complimentary to what panels has already been doing. Speaker 1: But this is really a one person shop. It was... You wrote the thing and ran the business? Speaker 2: I did. I had a... I had some help along the way from some pretty talented (??) independent or freelance workers along the way. All of the sur-product and the product management, engineering and, you know, business offers only. Speaker 1: So, tell us the history. I mean, why Penultimate, how did it start and when and in essential what was the trajectory of the app from (Sentinel?)? Speaker 2: All right. So... So, originally, there was... There used to be an iPhone app, the predated Penultimate. It was really a hobby project for me. I was ... I like the idea of digital handwriting and having ink that looked really much like you might get from a really nice pen and so I sure had it a hobby project but the iPad was announced in January of, I guess it's 2010 now and it sort of dawned on me that really this technology I built is an ink technology, was gonna make a lot of more sense in the form factor of a tablet. It really didn't make a lot of sense on the phone. So, the whole idea all along was it have to be very easy to use because I thought that it's gonna be a mass market problem. Everybody who owned an iPad is gonna wanna use something like this at some point. They're gonna have some need for, is it gonna be notes in class or notes at work meetings or is it gonna be keep and track of... Keep and track of plans for things and kind of at this point, you know, a little a while ago, we're... So, the questions are becoming what ... How do you really hit something of this to the next level, like what's the next step and I've been actually in touch with Phil Libin for a long time. He was an early (stand?) of the app. You gotta get an API, like this is really (??). We got all these great handwriting technology. I integrated with Evernote's API several months ago because as a user, if you will rate, demanding it like this is a natural feed and I did and it went... It was a high quality integration and it was really well received. So, you know, eventually, we kind of realized that really strategically, this is a really a great compliment. The additional value to it, I'm excited about being here because I can take some of the Penultimate technology idea and sprinkle them, you know, into some of the rest of Evernote's ecosystem and wire are some of that through in a way that makes handwriting sort of first class citizen really within the Ever reader system with all the existing kind of products. Speaker 1: You know, such as thing. Last August Evernote acquired Skitch, which was a very useful screen shot and graphing... Graphics application. That product to this day, the integration is coming along but it's moving really slowly. Phil told me in another interview that, you know, on your anniversary they're gonna make a big splash. So, I'm looking forward to that. It strikes me that Penultimate is much more of a natural fit with Evernote and deserves to be integrated far more deeply and needs to be integrated far more deeply. So, how do you navigate that? How do you think you're going to navigate that inside of Evernote and with a user base that if probably when I hear about this news, gonna say oh for God sake, don't change a thing. Speaker 2: Yeah. I think, (??) note that like we're not gonna break it. Penultimate, you know, I think Skitch actually is an interesting model look at and it's ... I think it should be reassuring for Penultimate, you know, Evernote, there's a lot of value here on what Penultimate is and that makes it ... That makes it exciting for me so Penultimate sort of will remain the powerful app that it is today and you'll be able to continue to use it as you do if you like but I think what's really nice is that as you say there's huge opportunities for going really deep with whatever it has to offer and what we're gonna do is start plumbing this really powerful things in and I think that users are gonna be... They'll be please and I think actually many cases surprise by how much more powerful Penultimate gets as we go through this relationship. Speaker 1: For people who have applications of it, I think (??) it into the Evernote ecosystem or say, any other ecosystem, Entrepreneurs who in the small shops have businesses I think deserve to be made part of a larger business. What's your advise on the process of shopping your business around and filling with the CEO and ultimately, joining a larger team with your start up product? speaker 2: Well, I see... You know, Phil is not hard to deal with. He's a good guy. The ... It's, you know... You know, for me, it's... I wouldn't (??), what happened was definitely not a shopping around of the app. It was very clear to me that there was a very natural... I mean we already had an integration, you know I already sort of been talking to Phil over a period of time. It was very... It became very clear that there was a really great strategic compliment there and in the acquisition that where announcing take, it just sort of the next step basically in accelerating ... I mean in terms of, you know, advise to other Entrepreneurs, it's just as with any business, you know, be in touch with people who are in the industry who are related and who are interesting to you, who are doing things that are related, things that are interesting, things that are complimentary. There's always people you can kind of reach out to and see if there's anything interesting there. Speaker 1: All right. Well, listen. Again, congratulations on the acquisition. Are you gonna tell us how much it was for? speaker 2: Not disclosing numbers on it. Speaker 1: I didn't ask in a sneaking up way. Congratulations on it. Good luck there at Evernote. Do not screw it up. Don't screw up Evernote either while you're at it and we look forward to seeing what you do next. Speaker 2: Thank you. It's very exciting. There's a lot of great stuff coming down the pike and it's a really exciting stuff for the product. Speaker 1: All right. Ben Zotto is the founder of Penultimate just acquired by Evernote. Thanks a lot Ben. Speaker 2: Thank you.