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Photo: Courtesy of Notion

Notion, a San Francisco-based startup that’s developed a cult following for its cloud-based collaboration tool, raised $50 million in new funding at a $2 billion valuation.

Why it matters: The entire round happened after the coronavirus pandemic spread to the U.S.

  • Index Ventures led the round, and was joined by existing investors.
  • Notion says it's been profitable for the past 18 months.

“I think the velocity of how fast this moved is, I think, something nobody could have predicted,” Notion COO Akshay Kothari tells Axios of the company’s decision to raise funding once the Coronavirus crisis hit.

  • “I think a lot of potential recruits would want to join a stable company, and a lot of our customers would want to use Notion knowing that it’ll be around for a long time,” he adds.
  • According to Kothari, after rebuffing Index Ventures and others for more than a year, the startup called up Index’s Sarah Cannon on Wednesday of last week, and was finalizing the deal by Friday.
  • “The Notion team is visionary, the market is the 1B people that use Microsoft Office, and the engagement looks like Slack,” a source familiar with Index Ventures’ thinking tells Axios.

By the numbers:

  • Grew from one million to four million user in the last year, and saw China-based user signups grow threefold since the virus pandemic started.
  • According to Forbes, the company reportedly has an annualized run rate of $30 million.
  • Notion says its latest funding gives it 10 years of runway.

The big question: “I think long term were most likely an enterprise product,” says Kothari. Can a startup that’s entirely grown on word-of-mouth take on enterprise customers?

Go deeper: Tomorrow's workplace apps are pretty, cloud-based and collaborative

Go deeper

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Higher education expands its climate push

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

New or expanded climate initiatives are popping up at several universities, a sign of the topic's rising prominence and recognition of the threats and opportunities it creates.

Why it matters: Climate and clean energy initiatives at colleges and universities are nothing new, but it shows expanded an campus focus as the effects of climate change are becoming increasingly apparent, and the world is nowhere near the steep emissions cuts that scientists say are needed to hold future warming in check.

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The pandemic isn't slowing tech

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Thursday's deluge of Big Tech earnings reports showed one thing pretty clearly: COVID-19 may be bad in all sorts of ways, but it's not slowing down the largest tech companies. If anything, it's helping some companies, like Amazon and Apple.

Yes, but: With the pandemic once again worsening in the U.S. and Europe, it's not clear how long the tech industry's winning streak can last.

Texas early voting surpasses 2016's total turnout

Early voting in Austin earlier this month. Photo: Sergio Flores/Getty Images

Texas' early and mail-in voting totals for the 2020 election have surpassed the state's total voter turnout in 2016, with 9,009,850 ballots already cast compared to 8,969,226 in the last presidential cycle.

Why it matters: The state's 38 Electoral College votes are in play — and could deliver a knockout blow for Joe Biden over President Trump — despite the fact that it hasn't backed a Democrat for president since 1976.