Instead, the founders wanted to create something much bigger. It would encompass all of your notes but also your interests, your viewing history, your works-in-progress. “Imagine if you had a Google search bar but for all nonpublic information,” Xu says. “For every piece of information that was uniquely relevant to you.”
That’s what Moody and Xu were actually trying to build. So they kept tweaking the approach until it made sense. At one point, their app was going to be called NSFW, a half-joke that stood for “Notes and Search for Work,” and for a while, it was called Supernote. But after a few meetings and months, they eventually landed on the name “Mem.” Like Memex, a long-imagined device that humans could use to store their entire memory. Or like, well, memory.
Either way, it’s not a note-taking app. It’s more like a protocol for private information, a way to pipe in everything that matters to you — your email, your calendar events, your airline confirmations, your meeting notes, that idea you had on the train this morning — and then automatically organize and make sense of it all. More importantly, it’s meant to use cutting-edge AI to give all that information back to you at exactly the right time and in exactly the right place.
The most ambitious version of the product will require a huge amount of work and a lot of technology that either doesn’t exist or only barely works. It will require partnerships with huge tech firms that may be reticent to share their data, trust from users who have to compile it all together, and a user experience that is infinitely flexible without being too complicated or overwhelming. But if Mem can accomplish its goals or even come remotely close, it could become the most powerful productivity tool on the planet. It could maybe even help shift the way the internet works.
“There’s all this data in the world about us,” Xu says, “and none of it we can actually use, right? It’s all trapped inside of Google’s servers or Facebook’s servers, Netflix, YouTube, all that. What we want to do is actually put that in your hands.”