Journalism isn't all about being first, but it sure doesn't hurt. Dailies, blogs, Twitter feeds--they're in the business of breaking news. The rest of us (weeklies and monthlies) vie to snare someone important for the cover, followed by an insightful article inside.
In this game of competition, Inc. fares almost too well. We aim to find entrepreneurs as they are breaking out and introduce them to their peers, as well as to the larger world. Recently, it was pointed out that Inc. was the first magazine to put Steve Jobs on its cover. That was in 1981. More recently, we have been a very early profiler of Evan Williams and Twitter, Elon Musk and Tesla/SpaceX, Tim Westergren and Pandora, Paul Graham and Y Combinator... You get the picture.
This month, we add the names Phil Libin and Evernote to that distinguished list. Mention Evernote, and you'll get one of two reactions: "What is it?" or "I can't live without it!"
Given that the company's backstory is so rich (a brush with corporate death; cult followings here and in Asia) and that its product is so cool (much like a brain, but in many ways considerably more functional), we decided this company deserved a cover story. Then we went a step further and made Evernote Inc.'s Company of the Year. David H. Freedman's profile of the company, "Say Hello to Your New Brain," starts on page 70.
The feature well this month is especially bountiful with stories of entrepreneurial life. "Dear Future Entrepreneur," which begins on page 80, is a collection of photographs of attendees at the recent Inc. 500|5000 Conference, taken by Robert X. Fogarty as part of a series sponsored by the Kauffman Foundation. Fogarty asked his subjects what they would like to say to the next generation of entrepreneurs. Their advice (mine included, above) was written in dry-erase marker on their arms, hands, and faces. "Some of the attendees would say, 'Run away as fast as you can in the other direction,'" Fogarty says, with a laugh. "But they would say it in a way, with big smiles on their faces, that let you know they loved the challenge of growing something of their own."
Last, I'd like to mention Max Chafkin's excellent story on the new entrepreneurs of South Korea ("The Returnees," page 84). Max's focus for 2011 was on how company building is practiced in other parts of the world and how a nation's policies and social history affect entrepreneurism, for good and for ill. I think he's done superb work, made even better by Inc.'s deft and talented deputy editor, Dan Ferrara, who's worked with Max on his explorations of Norway, Argentina, and now South Korea.
It's been a great year at Inc. We hope it was a great year for all of you.