Notion is an all-in-one productivity software for knowledge workers, note-takers, and personal organizers. It is growing fast in popularity due to its flexibility and usability. The default setup is such that the interface shows a minimalist, clean-surface background; however, you can design your own space, and the tools are intuitive  to work with. You can link different media sources seamlessly, and the toggle list function enables you to synthesize information easily.
Notion has captured the attention of millennials and Gen Zers, joining tech’s unicorn ranks in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. That said , the highly praised note-taking app experienced a huge failure in its early days. In fact, Notion 1.0 didn’t have much to it: it only supported note-taking and a collaborative internal wiki page. Within two years of its launch, the company was practically dying.
The founders, Ivan Zhao and Simon Last, decided to get away—someplace where they could focus on reshaping the service with little distraction. They arrived in Kyoto, Japan. “Neither of us spoke Japanese and nobody there spoke English, so all we did was code in our underwear all day,” Zhao said in an interview. He would spend more than eighteen hours redesigning the service.
In 2018, Notion 2.0 was launched and received positive reviews. It became the #1 Product of the Month on Product Hunt and was featured in the Wall Street Journal. In 2020, it raised $50 million from Index Ventures and other investors. The funding round valued Notion at $2 billion, which Forbes, reporting the event, described as “a sky-high sum for a company that had previously raised less than $20 million and which, according to a source familiar to the matter, had only recently reached annualized revenue of $30 million.” That year, Notion’s user base quintupled .
Notion soon went viral on TikTok. The company had reached $2 billion in valuation, but it wasn’t prepared for a sudden influx  of Gen Z users, who, it turns out, love a minimalist note-taking app. Each TikTok video led to thousands of unexpected signups, and on January 4, 2021, the service couldn’t handle the traffic and went down, causing panic among users. It happened again in February, and the startup spent the following months overhauling  its infrastructure to prepare for the next surge.
Initially cautious to accept investment offers, and having selectively raised relatively small amounts, CEO Zhao and the team decided to pick up the pace. The app’s popularity and the online culture forming around it intrigued investors, and in October 2021, the company raised $275 million in a funding round led by Coatue Management and Sequoia. The investment valued Notion at $10 billion—not counting the new money poured in.
The company now boasts 20 million users, and Notion’s most popular subreddit has over 200,000 subscribers, which is ten times the number of Slack’s.
This success might be in part due to the pandemic pushing more work online. As uncertainty around the impact of COVID-19 unfolds, record-high inflation is straining the US and world economy. The jury is out on whether Notion will continue on its growth trajectory. But its explosive growth tells us that it got it right with the market, both aesthetically and functionally.