(source VentureBeat) – San Francisco, CA – Earlier this summer, Evernote chief executive Phil Libin received an e-mail that caught him completely off guard. Sitting at the top of his inbox was an invitation to join the board of San Francisco’s near century-old San Francisco Opera. His first reaction was to laugh. “It seemed so out of left field, but then I thought, ‘This is so crazy that it just might work,’” Libin recalls.
This kind of “left field” entrepreneurial thinking has served Libin well. Evernote, his digital note-taking application, has raised over $250 million in venture financing in its five-year run and is a shoe-in for an eventual initial public offering. Libin has come a long way from the Bronx, where he was raised by Russian parents, who are coincidentally both classically trained musicians — though Libin himself is not an opera aficionado.
Still unsure that the e-mail was genuine, Libin shot off a response. To his surprise, he was immediately put in touch with Jennifer Lynch, the Opera’s industrious and creative-thinking development director. Lynch took Libin out for coffee to ask for his ideas and share recent changes in the Opera’s budget and marketing plan.
That Libin was selected to join the board was no mistake; he was painstakingly vetted by a recruiting firm, Calibre One, hired by Lynch to track down young technologists with a penchant for the arts. Calibre One handpicked Libin, along with Gil Penchina, an angel investor and former CEO of Wikia, and Karthik Rau, the CEO of a stealth startup called SignalFuse.