Notion Story (Notion Founding Story, Founder, How Was Notion Built, Valuation Total Users, Revenue)

Discover the success story of Notion, the all-in-one workspace tool that has become a go-to for personal productivity and team collaboration. Read about its founding, how it was built, its valuation, total users, and revenue in this comprehensive breakdown.
Minimalist Avatar of Blog Author Giorgia Dalla Valle
Giorgia Dalla Valle
July 15, 2024

Notion is an amazing all-in-one workspace tool that has taken the world by storm. With a free plan, you have a comprehensive, intuitive, customizable productivity tool that can work as your digital brain, help you organize your life, track your finances, and a lot more. But what Notion Lab Inc Story? Keep reading to discover the incredible success story of Notion.

What is Notion App?

Notion is a software application that provides an all-in-one workspace for note-taking, task management, and project management. It allows users to create and organize notes, databases, wikis, tasks, and calendars, all within a single tool.

Who Created Notion?

Notion was founded in 2013 by Ivan Zhao. The app was launched in 2016 and initially gained popularity among Silicon Valley startups before expanding to a wider audience. The company has since raised over $67 million in funding, with its most recent valuation at $2 billion in 2020, attaining official status as a unicorn in the world of startups.

How Notion Started

In college, Ivan Zhao studied cognitive science, a bit of computing, and a bit of philosophy. He was also really into fine art and photography. In his friend circle, mostly made up of artists, he was the only one who knew how to code, so he started building web pages for everyone.

Doing that, Ivan realized how his friends, being creative, could potentially build their own sites if they only knew how to do that. "Computing as a media, they don't know how to speak that media. With Spotify as a tool, everybody can play the music."

In the early stages, he was thinking about how to help other people create their websites.

Ivan Zhao and Co-Founder and COO Akshay Kothari met up when Ivan put out a post on Hacker News saying that he was a designer looking for a job. He wanted to hire the co-founder as a designer, but in the end, they didn't collaborate. They kept in touch, and after he sold Pulse to LinkedIn, Ivan started Notion in 2013. At the beginning, the co-founder joined as an investor and only joined full-time five years later.

The First Version of Notion was a Web Page Builder

Ivan Zhao deeply believes that everyone can be a creator and computing devices are built for creation, not consumption.

The prototype was a web page builder and then later built to be a web app builder.

The first prototype of Notion was a web page builder.

"People don't wake up wanting to build software. People just wake up to do their job," says Akshay Kothari. It took Ivan a few years to realize that people don't want to build apps.

At the time, Notion's evolution was still unclear, and also they were building on a technological foundation that wasn't stable, so they had trouble and needed to rewrite all the software with a better foundation.

Ivan admits that the first version of Notion was more about what he wanted than what people wanted.

At the time, the team was about four or five people, and they were about to run out of money. So Ivan decided to go somewhere small, interesting, and quiet to focus on coding. He decided to move out to Kyoto to complete the app. Notion 2.0 changed the face of the app forever, introducing the database feature.

The Tipping Point and Version 2.0

According to Kothari, the tipping point for Notion was to move away from asking people to build software to providing them with simple templates that allow them to do their job.

While people can still use the block to build their own system and app, the marketing approach changed in the direction of allowing users to do their job faster and easier. Notion launched officially in 2016.

Ivan was looking for a sales counterpart to push Notion into the market so he could focus on the product. As the company had grown to eight people, Kothari ended up joining as COO in the fall of 2018.

In four years, Notion grew from eight people to 500.

For Zhao, Notion is art combined with technology, and it should feel like an extension of your body, as you know how to use your hands.

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How Many Users Does Notion Have?

The company has more than 30 million users today. Back in 2019, Ivan Zhao (Notion's CEO) told the world that Notion had achieved 1 million users and has around 4 million customers right now.

Why is Notion so Popular?

There are several factors that have contributed to Notion's popularity. To start, Notion is intuitive,free, flexible, and in its simplicity allows users to create incredible dashboards. It’s not just note-taking; with Notion, you can build almost anything you want, customize it according to your taste and style, or even publish it to the web.

Another factor was the pandemic. In 2020, as the switch to smart-working and the need for team workspace to collaborate offline, definitely helped Notion's popularity across companies and businesses. In that period, the app quintupled its user base.

Another factor is related to Notion's "aesthetic" capabilities, such as the features of adding your personal cover, icon, images, and more. Some features that Gen Z seems to love. TikTok has a part in that, and with its viral content brought thousands of signups for Notion.

We can also add that the no-code tools movement (tools that allow users with no coding experience to build platforms, websites, apps, or designs) has become more and more popular, and where people may have used a blog or small website, they turn to Notion for their all-in-one digital homepage.

The Reddit community of Notion has 150,000 subscribers, nearly ten times the number of Slack’s. Other non-English communities are also populating the web, from Korea to Africa, showing that people truly love Notion and that the app has done something really exceptional that captures the people's heart and mind.

How Much is Notion Worth?

Notion's valuation is over $20 billion.

What is the Revenue of Notion?

Notion did not share revenue numbers, but it is estimated to make $67.2 million each year.

How Big is Notion's Team?

Notion was founded by Ivan Zhao. The company grew to 4-5 team members, around 8 when version 2.0 was launched, and now has about 500 employees.

Notion Lab Inc Statistics

Who Uses Notion?

A lot of companies and teams trust Notion and use their platform to manage their business. Some of the most famous are Adobe, Reddit, Pixar, Headspace, Figma, Loom, CodeAcademy, TypeForm, Buffer, Blinkist, Privateaser, Sandbox VR, Apploi, Workwell, Cocoon, Vertex Ventures, Zeit, Ironhack, Makespace, and Brightback.

For individuals that use Notion, we have some YouTubers like Abi Abdal (4.15M subscribers) and Thomas Frank (2.9M subscribers). Solopreneurs like Dan Koe and Justin Welsh also use Notion.

In general, Notion's audience is large, and its all-in-one workspace is flexible and customizable, meaning it appeals to a large audience, from those who work to improve their personal productivity and organize their day-to-day life to students who want a customizable note-taking app, to small businesses, creators, writers, freelancers, and educators.


Overall, Notion is an incredibly versatile and powerful all-in-one workspace tool that has captured the hearts and minds of millions of users around the world. With its intuitive interface, flexibility, and customizable features, it has become a go-to tool for personal productivity, project management, and team collaboration.

If you’re interested in powering up your workspace, take a look at our Premium Notion Template.