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Evernote tries converting personal users to business subscribers

Two thirds of Evernote users already use the online notes service for work, mostly unofficially. Now the company is trying to get IT departments to embrace -- and pay for it.

Evernote CEO Phil Libin speaking at LeWeb 2012.
Evernote CEO Phil Libin speaking at LeWeb 2012.
Stephen Shankland/CNET

PARIS -- In an attempt to bridge from individual users to corporate accounts, Evernote has launched version of its cloud-based document repository for business customers.

Evernote Business costs $10 per employee per month, CEO Phil Libin said at the LeWeb show here. It combines features of Evernote's premium personal accounts with central services business customers might need, such as the ability to share documents with all employees.

Evernote lets people store and edit documents with a wide range of media types -- audio, Web pages, photos, and of course text -- and synchronize it with the cloud, personal computers, and mobile devices. In the company's vision, the business offering will help employees find information they need -- even before they know they need it.

"For companies, it's a way to discover the knowledge they have locked away and really unlock that knowledge," Libin said. "We want it to feel like it's completing your thoughts. Automated discovery of what your teams know is part of the design."

LeWeb 2012 logo

For those who already have Evernote accounts, the business version will merge data, with business notes highlighted in different colors to distinguish between them. Employees who leave the company lose access to the business notes but keep access to their own notes.

Effectively, Evernote is trying to capitalize on the "bring your own device" (BYOD) trend that sees personal technology making inroads into work computing chores.

Evernote, with 45 million users, already has made inroads with the approach.

About 66 percent of Evernote users use the service for work, Libin said. But 85 percent of them use it unofficially, without corporate IT's blessing.

Evernote last week raised a new $85 million, a secondary round of funding that saw the company's valuation increase some from the earlier $1 billion valuation. "This one was a bit higher than that," Libin said.

The company wants to build itself into something solid before going public, and right now it's in the "Goldilocks" zone of having lots of users but also being able to try new things, Libin said.

"In a big public company you get punished pretty severely for taking risks," Libin said. "Once we've worked that out of our system we can go public...We're trying to minimize the drama" and "build a 100-year company."

So when might it hold an initial public offering?

"I would guess no earlier than three years from now," Libin said. "We're trying to put it off. This is the most fun period in the company.