Notion Is Changing… Here’s What To Expect In 2024

Written by: Matthias Frank
Last edited: April 30, 2024

In this interview, John Hurley, the Head of Product Marketing at Notion, joins us to talk about how he got to work at Notion, what building a wine company and being nearly kicked out of school have in common and what’s on the roadmap for Notion in 2024.

Hurley is in the inner most circle at Notion, so he’s the perfect person to talk to about Notion’s plans for the future. In this episode, you’ll learn:

  • What is Notion’s biggest challenge
  • The key to using Notion successfully
  • What is on Notion’s upcoming roadmap
  • One thing that really caught Notion off guard
  • And of course we have to talk about Offline Mode for Notion
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Listen to the podcast on Youtube or Spotify


Matthias (00:02.421)
All right, so can you maybe quickly tell us what is the two minute John Hurley live elevator pitch?

John Hurley (00:06.51)
Sure. Yeah. Uh, I should be pretty good at giving an elevator pitch, I guess, given, given my job. Uh, but I’m John Hurley, I lead product marketing here at Notion. And, you know, I’ve taken kind of a path, uh, from Cincinnati, Ohio, which was where I was born, uh, where I learned a lot of kind of my principles and.

competitiveness and aspirations to kind of be artistic, but also business sense that I really appreciate a kind of this kind of balanced look at things that matter to me, teams, collaboration, hard work and competitiveness, but also grew up as a son of artists. So creativity and beauty were always really important to me.

And I think those things kind of carried me through my life, where always in competitive environments and high pressure, whether that was sports, whether that was academics, and now in my professional career. And so I always actually thought that I’d be a finance guy working on Wall Street. But I discovered that really entrepreneurship and startups and technology,

was really the best fit for me. I started businesses when I was in third grade. It actually almost got me kicked out of grade school because I was selling things on the playground after school and started businesses through high school and college. And eventually that really set me on the path of joining very early stage startups. In kind of a…

go to market ish role. But really at a time when it was about understanding what are we building? Who are we building it for? Why does it matter? And then how do we bring that to to market? So I’ve always loved this intersection of working really closely with the customer with the product teams, the actual builders, and then using some of you know, what I think are my more natural skills on storytelling and

Matthias (02:03.189)

John Hurley (02:30.126)
the business strategy to create that bridge into bringing products to market and working with incredibly creative teams to tell those stories and build those things that make us ultimately successful in the market. So I’ve had that fortune of doing that at a few different startups and now doing that at At Notion. One other little plug is I have…

I still reserve some time for that competitive spirit in my fitness life and also that creativity and have done a little wine business on the side. That’s my creative and competitive outlets that combine with that business aspiration.

Matthias (03:20.021)
That’s super cool. I definitely want to talk about that wine business later. But first, like, do you still remember what you were selling on the playground in grade three? I would be very interested in that business model.

John Hurley (03:29.294)
I do, I do. It was, there were these books called Goosebumps. I don’t know if they had Goosebumps. They were like kids stories that were like scary stories, basically. And I was selling those and candy. They were called Warheads. They were these sour little candies. And so I got in trouble because,

kids were going home and they were eating candy, staying up all night, reading Goose Bump books and then having nightmares. So their parents would come back and say, who’s selling the candy and these scary stories in my kids? And you know, well, it was me.

Matthias (04:11.381)
I love that. That’s a great business idea. Like I know the warheads, we had those as well, but like the goosebumps, that’s new. But oh, that’s like, that’s a great entrepreneurial spirit already in grade three. But yeah, so maybe like then back to the current entrepreneurial things, like why did you decide on joining Notion?

John Hurley (04:31.534)
Yeah, I mean, I think, you know, for for probably some shared things and inspirations for you and many other people that are in the notion community. One, I was a notion user for many years and kind of experienced the value and kind of the magic of what this kind of modern flexible way of working actually really looked like in comparison to the things that I’d used before.

I think about my career as kind of a tours of duty rather than like climbing the ladders. And I thought about like, what is my next tour of duty after the company that was at before, which was Amplitude, which I had the pleasure of working there from about 50 million to 250 million and taking that company public. It was an incredible tour of duty. I learned so much.

But I thought about like, what’s that next tour of duty? And what are the things that I want to experience in that? And Notion matched up really nicely to those things. How’s that consumer and B2B blend? It has the opportunity to grow to the levels of a company that I would like to experience. And one thing that I thought about a lot was that,

I wanted to kind of play or compete on the main stage. If you think about like a tennis tournament, there’s the grandstands where everybody’s packed in to see the top players. Maybe it’s the longest standing, you know, established players like Djokovic and then the up and comers like an Alcares. And, but that’s the main stage. And.

Matthias (06:04.821)
Hmm. Hmm.

John Hurley (06:28.974)
I think Notion has that opportunity. It’s playing on the main stage, productivity software, the largest software market in history, and competing with the established big players. And that’s super exciting. Like that’s a challenge that really I can wake up every morning and be very excited about, is really competing on that main stage.

Matthias (06:54.165)
Yeah, that’s really cool. I can definitely understand that pull there. So on that main stage for Notion, you do product marketing. For someone like me who doesn’t exactly know what that means, how would you explain that at family dinner when someone asks you?

John Hurley (07:11.63)
Yeah, it’s a great question. And it’s, it’s really a unique position. And that’s what’s so exciting about the position, you get to do so many different things. But the way I describe notion, product marketing, and a lot of, you know, great product marketing teams, is that your role and responsibility is really to help the company understand what products to build, who to build them for, and then

how to bring them to market. And so that can really look really closely to, you know, working with a product team, engineering team who are building actual products and giving them an idea of like, what are the opportunities that we have in the portfolio of products that we’re going to build based on our understanding of the market and competitors and customers. And then we’re the bridge to taking those products, the things that we build and launching them to the market.

helping design the sales and marketing strategies, the messaging, the target audiences that we’re going to focus on that will see the most value from those products and offerings. And so that’s kind of the core responsibility of product marketing. And again, the day -to -day can look really, really different. You can be thinking way upstream of what could we build before we ever write a line of code.

Matthias (08:36.469)

John Hurley (08:38.35)
and sitting with the executive team or a product manager and engineer. Or you could be writing copy for the next, what’s new email or the headline for an ad that’s gonna promote the big message for the company or for that product. And lots of steps in between. So it’s an exciting job.

Matthias (09:00.885)
I can imagine. So, but with a data that’s so diverse, right? If you have to kind of wear so many hats and like shift perspectives so much, how do you personally try to stay productive? Right? Like do you have a specific daily routine? Anything in particular to keep you up and running and motivated?

John Hurley (09:20.142)
Yeah. Um, I mean, personally, I’m a big believer in, uh, in owning my AM. Um, my mornings are sacred. Um, you have to share less energy with the world. And so, you know, that’s a time where, you know, I get to reflect and plan as well as accomplish some of the more complex, uh, tasks that require a lot of focus. Um, um, but you know, outside of that, you know, there’s some pretty, uh,

you know, traditional things that I, that I tend to do, uh, whether that’s thinking about a goals for the entire year, both personally, as well as, uh, for my team that line up to, you know, company objectives and things that we’re thinking about, uh, you know, building and transitioning those into quarterly plans and OKRs. And then I have a weekly routine, uh, that, uh, I,

reflect on the week past on Fridays and I think about the week coming on that Friday afternoon. And I have my Notion templates and recurring databases ready to go so that when I open up my laptop on a Monday morning, everything’s kind of set up for me to think about what means do I have coming up? What are my majors and minors for the week?

Matthias (10:25.397)

John Hurley (10:42.542)
I’m actually do like two weeks sprints for me, for me personally. And that’s how we do it with my team. And then there’s other just like small exercises. I do something called focus cards each quarter. And we do this with the whole team. It’s both a way to align with your manager and peers on, you know, where you’re spending your time. But really it’s best as a tool for yourself. And it’s simple.

Matthias (10:45.909)

Matthias (10:55.669)

John Hurley (11:11.374)
exercise of you have 100 percentage points or you could say $100 and where are you going to place those 100 percentage points over a few different work streams and know that you’ve only got 100%. So, you know, and that list shouldn’t be more than five or six things long. How are you going to allocate your time? So those are just a few tactics, both longer term planning, but also

Matthias (11:19.093)

John Hurley (11:40.654)
Yeah, the day to day.

Matthias (11:43.253)
Oh, that’s really, that’s really cool. I love that, that focus exercise with a different, different skill points. Um, we’ll also talk about like your notion set up hopefully later a little bit, but just because you mentioned it, where, where would you say do you fall on, on a line between like more like simple notion setups where it’s like, you know, like, uh, just like, uh, the most minimal thing that like gets the job done versus like the, the other end of what like over -engineered, like, you know, hundreds of rollups, like automated journaling, calculating your daily activity score. Where would, where would you say your setup fits in?

John Hurley (12:13.038)
Yeah. Um, I, uh, would say I fall squarely in the middle. Um, you know, there are times when I see some of the things that people build in notion and I didn’t even know that was possible. Um, uh, and it’s incredible to see kind of those creations and, uh, extreme optimization. And I think for some people that’s, uh, the right approach, you know, um, they have the capacity to build that and it helps them.

really run their life becomes like an operating system for their entire life. I think I’ve still fallen kind of the like second brain category of people like most of everything both personally and work like it’s in motion. Even in my personal life, you know, I have project and task databases for all the house, you know, tasks that we’re doing.

trip planning and all that kind of stuff. It’s all definitely, you know, in notion and pretty well organized into databases and things like that. And then, you know, on my day to day work, obviously, like notion runs on notion. And so we spend a lot of time in, in, you know, notion and I’ve created my own spaces for myself to work and kind of simplify some things down.

while also plugging into some of the best practices of organization and wide types of setups around, again, tasks, databases and people databases and those kind of central kind of hubs that allow you to kind of create these different workflows. So yeah, but sometimes it’s a simple, I’ll just start from scratch and I’ll just create a blank page and be like,

Okay, if I really have to boil this down, what are my to -dos or what’s the message I’m really trying to work on? And a blank page can be really powerful tool.

Matthias (14:12.245)
Yeah, that’s true. It’s always like finding a system that works for you, right? I think like a trap that we sometimes fall in where we see something that looks really, really cool. And then we forget to think about the fact that the system is always really helpful if we actually use it. So if you build it just for the sake of it, because it’s fun and entertaining, that’s great. But if you’re looking for something that can be your daily driver, then definitely need a bit of experimentation to see, okay, what end goal actually is the right one for you.

Awesome. So quick switch back to something a bit more personal. What would you say is your favorite nonfiction book?

John Hurley (14:47.982)
I have a few here that kind of fall into a few different categories. I was a economic history major in college and always been fascinated by historical figures in business, as well as kind of studying different companies or different periods of time. And there was a book

called Boom and Bust. It’s a global history of financial bubbles. And it’s an incredible book because on a practical level, it helps you recognize these trends and speculation that happen over a long period of time since the beginning of stock markets and financial markets. And so it’s really just like these are fascinating stories to read about

how different markets, you know, had booms and had busts. And being in the technology space, there’s definitely, it’s a space of booms and busts. But it’s a really well written book and fascinating kind of historical read that has applicability to today. In my sports life, I love kind of, I love Shoe Dog by Phil Knight. I’m just.

incredibly well written, so fun to read. Yeah. Definitely makes you want to lace up your, your Nikes and go for a run. And then I’ve recently read Endurance, which is, is not a sports book. It’s about trying to traverse the Arctic Ocean and the story of the captain and the crew that crashed. I mean,

Matthias (16:15.285)
Great book, yeah.

John Hurley (16:41.614)
It just sends you into a whole different world of anxiety and how they survived. And so it’s a great, like beach vacation read to just kind of immerse yourself in.

Matthias (16:47.253)

Matthias (16:56.309)
If the next vacation comes up for me, I’ll keep that in mind. Do you ever take notes on books? Because you mentioned your second brain movement before. So do you have a system in Ocean or anywhere set up where you say, actively go back to these books and try to extract learnings?

John Hurley (17:14.798)
Yeah, I do. I have a Booknote database, mostly for the nonfiction category. There’s always some great quotes and things that I pull out from that. Yeah, it was actually like Shoe Dog has just some amazing, amazing quotes. So I definitely wanted to jot down.

you know, things from that. I remember one quote was like, you know, people say it’s just business. And Phil Knight was like, it’s never just business. If it comes to that, then business is bad. And that always like really stuck with me.

Matthias (17:56.277)

Matthias (18:00.341)
I think that also fits well for Notion because you’ve done the whole thing, but it’s a really, really great job to build it into more than just a productivity software. It’s not just this transactional. I use sometimes the Microsoft Note stuff. And so before that, I always felt a lot less passionate about it here where you have a whole different brand image built around. So that’s really cool. Amazing. Fiction book, favorite fiction book.

How about that?

John Hurley (18:31.374)
Um, I mean, I’m definitely a Lord of the Rings, you know, uh, person. I, you know, it was, I think a lot of it, there’s like nostalgia in it, uh, for, you know, the, I think three times that I read the core, uh, trilogy when I was, you know, uh, in my formative years, uh, and, uh, and I come back to it. I, I won’t lie. I literally watched, uh, uh, the

Matthias (18:36.405)

John Hurley (19:01.326)
Two Towers, the second film, three or four days ago. I hadn’t watched it in years. And I was on a plane and I was like, you know, I’m going to watch this again. And it’s still excellent. But yeah, Lord of the Rings has a special place in my heart.

Matthias (19:17.429)
Nice. One productivity software to rule the world, right? So I think you have a lot of quotes in there as well that fit for Notion. Amazing. All right. So those were your books. Now, I would be really, really curious to hear, before we dive a bit deeper into Notion, how do you get to start your own wine company and that even on the side while you have probably quite demanding day jobs?

John Hurley (19:23.182)
There you go.

John Hurley (19:42.798)
Yeah, well, you know, the story here is that when I first moved to San Francisco, kind of a classic startup story, I came out here and I had a job offer from Google and had verbally accepted the job and decided to not take it and join a five person pre seed pre revenue pre product company. I joined that and I ended up

staying with that company for seven years. We raised tons of money, we built a really incredible business, but it went through a lot of hard times. And eventually we, we actually closed the business and I was there kind of from the beginning to the very end of closing shop. And that was a, you know, it was hard. It was a very hard experience. And between that startup,

and joining Amplitude, I made sure this like take a little bit of time to really think about what I wanted to do next. But I also had a little bit of free time to do something creative. And I had a really close friend who was really into the wine making side of things. He actually made his first wine in his Manhattan apartment in New York. And I was really interested in

building a really creative brand, working with artists and designers and kind of the e -commerce setup and how to really express it creatively and build that identity, something that I could fully drive and own. And we also hosted lots of dinners, dinner parties, so I loved hosting and sharing great wines and fortunate enough to be in California where there’s incredible wine and winemakers.

got to learn a little bit about the winemaking industry. And so joining kind of forces with one of my best friends, we decided like, let’s try this out. And the quick story is we had, we started telling people that we were starting a wine brand before we had anything else figured out, just because if we started to tell enough people, we had to actually do it. And then we got access to these incredible,

John Hurley (22:06.03)
incredible vineyard to buy some fruit. And we signed a contract to buy the fruit before we had any licensing and any brand, anything else figured out so that we could basically hold ourselves accountable. And, and we built the brand, launched it about four or five years ago. It’s still very, very small. It’s more of a passion project than anything, but it’s been really rewarding and a great outlet.

for me to get outside and work with farmers and work with designers and work with artists and really kind of keep my creative muscle fine -tuned. So fun project with a great friend.

Matthias (22:50.421)
That’s really, really cool. I’ll put like a link to the place in the description of the video so if anyone wants to check out some great Californian wine, which looks very, very beautiful. I checked out the art before. Like usually when I pick wine, it’s like mostly about like, does this look pretty, right? Or does it fulfill the base level of what a good wine should cost? And that would definitely fit the bill of like, looks very, very pretty. It would pass the test.

John Hurley (23:10.222)

Thank you.

Matthias (23:14.645)
All right, so now like quick shift maybe over to Notion and there like the product side. I would like to start off with like maybe a tough question that is like, who do you actually build Notion for?

John Hurley (23:26.35)
Yeah, yeah, this is one of the hardest questions for notion and it this was the question that I had in my interview process. I said, how would you think about this problem? And it’s you know, what’s kind of fascinating about it is that it’s really it’s like a double edged sword, right? It’s the greatest gift and privilege to have something that

as universal as productivity software, let alone probably the most versatile version of productivity software out there that can do so many things for so many different people. The other side of that edge in Sword is that it’s really hard to focus and kind of choose where to build for. And I think for us at the…

the highest level, like we’re building notion for every knowledge worker in the world. Um, and you know, there’s well over a billion knowledge workers who every day use software that is built by developers. Um, and, uh, they have varying levels of satisfaction of, uh, of those tools that they use. And often they have to use many, many tools in order to get their job done.

And they don’t have the opportunity to also be the builder to actually like develop the software or tweak it to what they need or what their team needs. And so, you know, we think obviously there’s a large market of knowledge workers that we can empower with tools that they love. But we can also give them the opportunity to also become the tool maker and builder and craft that tool.

to really their needs. And that could be, their needs could be something very tactical and specific in kind of a business setting, or that could be something to explore and be very creative with and really use it to play. So that’s kind of like the highest level of the focus areas. Now, even within that, you know, we’re thinking a lot about.

John Hurley (25:49.582)
How do we better enable the the creators within that knowledge? a knowledge worker community the people You know like yourself and many others who are creating templates and helping people understand the power of toolmaking And exploring what is possible with something like notion. So that’s definitely like a key audience that we

have had, again, the privilege to work with over the last several years and are continuing to really, really focus on some exciting things that we’re gonna have this year to give the tool makers the tool kits that they need. There’s also the, obviously, the business side, right? And from small teams to medium -sized businesses, and increasingly some enterprises where we’re getting pulled into enterprises.

Matthias (26:34.869)

John Hurley (26:45.806)
And, you know, for Notion as a business, like we’re building a business and that’s where most of our business comes from. Most of our revenue. And so we definitely think a lot about what are the needs of a business user and you know, how do we bring Notion to, you know, hundreds of thousands or millions of businesses so that it becomes their primary productivity software. And so we think about that, you know, a lot.

And the challenge is how do you build for that audience without marginalizing the kind of casual non -work user who’s using it for their personal setup. And I think, you know, there’s without getting too technical into that, that’s where, you know, you have different workspaces. You know, we’re thinking about, you have different plans and packages so that you’re, we’re not cluttering up notion with a bunch of features that you don’t need if you’re.

you know, a non -work user or just a small team. So packaging becomes really, really important there. So that notion can be usable to a lot of different audiences.

Matthias (27:57.429)
Yeah, that makes sense. It’s definitely a big challenge, but very interesting to hear how you guys add notions.

Speaking of the business, if you had to shift over to sales or customer success tomorrow and one of these business owners of a medium -sized company comes to you and says, I’ve read about you in Forbes, this looks like a really cool product, we want to get started with it, but we have no idea why. What would you recommend for someone like that, how to get started with Notion?

John Hurley (28:29.614)
Yeah. Well, I think, you know, the foundation of notion is all built on knowledge. Like, if you don’t have knowledge within notion, then, then it can only be so useful, you know, knowledge is what kind of powers the context of if you use notion for project management, for instance, and all your tasks management, or issue tracking.

you know, what makes it really powerful and unique is that it also has comes with all the knowledge and context that you need in order to run a project. If you want to use Notion AI, then you know, what makes Notion AI powerful is that it has the context of your workspace and of all your knowledge. It’s kind of like giving you the perfect memory or the ability to have answers immediately. But in order to do that, you have to start with

getting your knowledge into Notion. And that a lot of times looks like documentation, right? Use it for all of your docs and your notes. That’s really the starting use case. That becomes then your knowledge base. So organize all that knowledge. And then you can start to use it for other things that are really interesting and powerful. So for someone just starting, depending on their role,

Matthias (29:27.605)

John Hurley (29:51.982)
Let’s say, you know, it’s IT or, you know, HR or even marketing. Say like, what is the kind of foundational knowledge that you and your team need in order to do their work? Well, let’s get that in the notion. All of your documentation, all your guidelines, all your policies, all the daily work that you do, all the project briefs or strategy documents, you know, goals. Let’s get all of that into notion.

Uh, and then what becomes again, really powerful is, uh, the combination of that with AI because now a new person joins the team and they have a question about what font size do we use on our web headers or something bigger? Like what’s our company strategy and what are the current projects that were, uh, focused on to accomplish our goals with AI, you can get those answers right away. Um,

And that’s kind of a game changer for people. So it can help with things like new hire onboarding, IT troubleshooting, becomes that like internal knowledge agent or chat bot for people. And I think that’s like, that’s really, really powerful. And it’s like a clear value, less time searching for information, less employees that don’t have the context they need to do their job.

Less time distracting their colleagues, asking them questions that distract them from just doing other work and creating new knowledge and exploring ideas. So I think that’s a really powerful place to start.

Matthias (31:33.877)
Yeah, that’s really cool. I agree. Like it’s pretty insane to see like how much you can, you know, cut down on this, like just like wasted work hours where like no one, no one goes to work and thinks like, well, today I’m going to spend like two hours looking for that document and like just digging through like an antique folder structure that we have to somehow replicate like, you know, our furniture from 50 years ago. It’s really, really cool to see like Notion pushing the front here there.

And speaking of AI, you were just featured on FOSS, which is huge. Congratulations on that. And the headline was the AI Everything app. What does that mean to you?

John Hurley (32:10.318)
Yeah, I think you think about like, notion before AI and think about one of the big challenges that notion help solve for, especially for businesses, but also this is applicable to consumers, is that there were a lot of challenges that kind of came from SaaS sprawl or tool fragmentation, right? Where you’re using four or five, sometimes 10 different apps.

uh, to accomplish, you know, your daily work. Um, those things don’t talk to each other or even if they do just like one of our sales reps talks about like the, the, the tax, um, that every user has in their productivity when they have to learn the interfaces of five or six different apps, you know, that all have.

some similar version of, you know, a table. How’s a table work in this tool versus that tool versus this tool versus that tool? What are the keyboard shortcuts for this one versus that one versus this one versus that one? That can take up a lot of your energy and time, just trying to memorize all that stuff. And, you know, the original kind of value of Notion as this connected workspace was to consolidate a lot of those.

fragmented tools and workflows bring all of your knowledge into one place. I think we’re starting to see something similar. It’s like a problem that people are not quite yet experiencing, but we could help people get ahead of, which is something similar is happening with AI, right? Every day there’s dozens of different AI tools that are launching. Some of them help you search. Some of them help you chat and learn about information.

of them help you write or edit. And, you know, we think that pretty soon there’s going to be a very similar problem with individual users with companies where they have 10 different AI apps doing 10 different things. And many of them aren’t personalized to understanding your knowledge and your work. And so, you know, our goal is to

John Hurley (34:27.31)
you know, bring a lot of those AI core AI use cases into notion. So that we solve that AI tool fragmentation problem before it really begins. And have it be personalized based off of your knowledge, everything that’s within your notion workspace. And so that’s the aspiration and kind of where where we believe that this is this is heading.

It is certainly a horse race and such a dynamic and exciting place to be in. Because AI almost more than any other market in recent memory is changing so, so fast.

Matthias (35:12.309)
Yeah, that’s true. The speed of adoption is pretty insane to see. But I love the innovation. In particular, I think Q &A in Notion, that’s such a game changer. And if you haven’t felt it, if you don’t have your knowledge in Notion yet and have never done that, it’s really hard to describe the feeling of, huh, I don’t have to search for stuff anymore. It’s really just at my fingertips. But yes.

John Hurley (35:34.286)
And I remember, you know, we were in Berlin. It felt like, you know, and it was just a few months ago talking about Q and a, you know, right before it launched. And here we are, you know, a few months later, we’ve had, you know, millions of people use this and now we’re ready for the next thing. Right. So it’s just shows how fast it goes.

Matthias (36:02.837)
Yeah, speaking of the next thing, are there any upcoming feature releases of Notion that you can share a little bit with us about?

John Hurley (36:11.214)
Yeah, I think, you know, one thing that you you’ve already probably started to see a little bit and you’re definitely going to see over, you know, the next few months is a little bit of like a refocusing on I mentioned like knowledge earlier, the focus on kind of core knowledge of creating and finding and collaborating on content in notion. You know, that was kind of the original intent of notion. It was a

space to put your thoughts, right? To write, to organize your content and your ideas and be able to find it easily. And over the last several years, we’ve built literally hundreds of features that have made Notion way more powerful, but a little bit at the expense of some complexity. And we’re really kind of shifting back the focus.

over the next several months to focus on, make it really simple and easy to create and find content in Notion, kind of wherever you are. And so, there’s gonna be things like the ability to take a PDF, all your PDFs, upload them to Notion, create a page, and then be able to use Q &A to ask questions about it, or use Notion to edit it, or AI to edit it and change it.

Um, you know, that’s just one kind of tactical example. Um, but a lot of different, we’re calling this like internally, like a series, a series of updates, uh, that all are surrounding the idea of better knowledge creation, um, and search. Um, and so that’s definitely a really big focus. Um, and then some of those are also applicable to AI. Um, so.

How are we going to take the next step of the evolution of Notion AI that today helps you write on a page. It helps you, you know, auto fill and create content within a database. And then it helps you answer questions. How do we bring like those three things all together in a much more like fluid, unified experience and add some more kind of skills and capabilities to it. So, should be pretty exciting.

Matthias (38:35.669)
I’m definitely excited. But speaking of like knowledge and accessibility, like the, I think one of the biggest memes in terms of notion features has to be like the when offline mode question. And yeah, I would just love to hear what you think about the question. Like very open, I’m not going to ask you when offline mode is coming, but like what happens in your brain when someone asks you when offline.

John Hurley (38:56.494)
Yeah, you know, I totally get it. And it has definitely become like a meme state of no matter what we do, no matter what we say, it’s going to be the first response and tweet and comment. But what about offline mode? And, you know, I think, you know, there’s some technical challenges to doing something like offline mode and, and, you know, we obviously hear the feedback.

But we hear lots and lots of feedback. We have to constantly prioritize. And so of course, it’s always a discussion. But I leave it kind of up to the technical masterminds on what’s possible there and how do we think about that as a priority compared to everything else that we’re working on. So we hear the feedback. It’s obvious.

Matthias (39:53.749)
Okay, well, we’ll take that. We’ll take that. So speaking of these sort of things, do you have like, we’d be interested whether you have like any, you know, really counterintuitive decisions at Notion, except for not shipping offline boat, that like actually turned out to be a huge success.

John Hurley (40:12.974)
Yeah, it’s a it’s it. Yeah, I think this might not be too counterintuitive to some of the people that are really kind of into into notion. But yeah, we we talked about computing pioneers a lot at notion and talk about Alan Kay, who was one of the computing pioneers that designed some of the first graphical interfaces.

And he has this quote that I’ll probably butcher the exact quote, but it goes something to the tune of, you know, first build things that are useful, then teach users how that application is built and then pull back the hood and allow them to explore and, and customize. And I think the thing with Notion is, you know, we’ve tried to build things that are just.

useful and out of the box, things like templates and easy page creations. But we’ve definitely opened up the hood, right? And allowed people to do whatever they want. I don’t think we would have ever imagined the things that people would do with databases. And, you know, you go to the Notion template gallery today and there’s well over 10 ,000 templates of things that

Again, we never imagined someone would be able to do or would spend their time doing with a Notion database. And that is the beauty of composable, flexible, modular, building block kind of software. And of a community that’s creative and enthusiastic and

and open. And so I think that turned out to be such a huge success. And really just a huge inspiration to allow people to, again, put on their toolmaker hat and design things for themselves, but also like find communities that also love the thing that they created. And there’s just so many stories that we hear about that kind of I mean, I’m getting like,

John Hurley (42:33.742)
the goosebumps right now, just thinking about some of these things, right? So again, I don’t know that it’s counterintuitive per se, but we never imagined it would go this far.

Matthias (42:43.445)
Yeah, I think it’s like, that’s the first time that I encountered software that led me as a non -technical user who has no background in web dev and no idea how any of these things work on the other side, really build my own systems. And yeah, I mean, now the metaphor is used quite a lot, but it really felt like someone handed me Legos and was just like, do whatever you want. And I really, really appreciate that. It’s such an empowering and cool feeling.

But it also, of course, can create some tension. So for example, when Home was released, a feature that I would absolutely love, I would say it’s definitely a step in the right direction. But the comments around that, they were very polarizing. A lot of people absolutely loved it. But others had very, very strong negative feelings about this being the end of Notion as we know it. What would you say to these people?

John Hurley (43:26.03)
Mm -hmm. Yeah. I mean, you know, I think we are always going to retain the ability to, like we talk about, like the toolmaker’s paradise. Like the flexibility is always still there. You know, we didn’t take away any flexibility.

from notion when we launch something like home But when we think about the majority of the market Yeah, the majority of those you know over a billion knowledge workers today are not toolmakers They don’t wake up in the morning like some of us and be like ooh, what can what can I do with these Lego blocks today? Right there more I’m going and I want to pull you know a Lego set off of the shelf or

I want to get a Lego set that’s already built. I want to go to the Lego land and I just want to do the things that I’m here to do. And that’s the majority of the market. And back to that Alan K quote is like, we can give those people something that’s very useful out of the box. And then we can peel back the layers so that then they could explore the power of the flexibility and say, Oh, maybe I can be a tool maker.

And so I think that’s something that we need to be really conscious of is for, and I think this is kind of a shared goal, to be honest, with a lot of the people that probably are commenting on this is like, our goal is to bring Notion to every knowledge worker, to be a ubiquitous tool. And if we do that, then that affords everyone within the Notion community, lots and lots of different opportunities. In order to do that,

we’re going to have to package up some things that make it just really useful out of the box for more people. And then still retain that flexibility so that they can explore or a tool maker could introduce them to a different way of thinking about how they could create a home dashboard or whatever it is that they’re, they’re working on. So, uh, it’s a fine line to, uh, to walk, uh, but you know,

John Hurley (45:52.974)
Our intention is never to take anything away from the toolmakers who are there to explore and create.

Matthias (46:01.525)
Yeah, and you’re right, the learning curve of Notion is definitely fairly steep, right? So when friends also ask me, how do I get started with Notion, it’s like, how much time do you have? Because there’s a lot to do. So having simple beginnings, that’s definitely helpful there. And speaking of complexity, maybe. So you’ve added a lot of features, and you just said, OK, Notion might be refocusing this year and making things a bit more simple.

If you had a gun to your head tomorrow and someone said, you have to remove a feature from Notion, what feature would you remove first?

John Hurley (46:36.494)
Yeah. Um, if I had to remove a feature, I don’t know that it’s a removal, but it’s like a rethinking of how you think about like the sidebar and how you think about like organization. I think the sidebar is incredibly important and powerful because it’s kind of becomes your mind map and your information design of how you organize knowledge, how you organize your teams.

Matthias (46:51.125)

John Hurley (47:06.062)
And that’s really, really important. But, you know, I think a lot of the goal of that is to increase discoverability and finding information. However, you know, what people mostly do is they just search for something, or they remember where it is, or they just want the answer right away, or they want to jump back in to the thing that they were just working on, right? And,

And I think there’s things that we’re starting to explore, like how does the evolution of a sidebar or how does AI as a horizontal kind of application capability across your entire workspace change kind of the behavior to ultimately get to the same end goal, which is, you know, creating logical information hierarchy is being able to find your information and be able to navigate and explore.

the work and knowledge that lives inside of Notion. And there might be ways that we can automate some more of that work or just, you know, kind of give more flexibility within the sidebar. And just visual polish to, I’ve seen some sidebars where I’m like, oh my gosh, I don’t even want to go into that world, right? And so, you know, how can we help people just, again,

enter this calm space where it’s easy to navigate and work. And so I think that’s like a big opportunity. Rather than killing it, but rethinking how do we organize content in Notion.

Matthias (48:51.477)
Okay, so I can’t quite title this video like that. Notion is about to get rid of the sidebar, but I’m very curious to see what you come up with. Well, thank you so much for your time. I think we are now nearly at the top of the hour. I really, really appreciate you taking the time and doing this. Before we hop off, are there, is there anything, any last words to all the Notion users and fans?

John Hurley (48:56.654)

John Hurley (49:13.678)
Yeah, we’ll keep the feedback coming that we really do listen. And, you know, we, we also want to hear your stories. We’re constantly inspired by what’s happening. You know, our all hands meetings are pretty much always focused on what’s happening in the world of users, both what are they saying? What’s their feedback? Are we thinking about that and our priorities and our roadmaps?

but we’re also sharing these incredible stories. So, the folks out there love to hear from you. The more that you share, the more we’re inspired to work our butts off to build an incredible tool for everybody. So, keep that coming and let us know how we can support you.

Matthias (50:10.197)
Amazing. Well, again, thank you so much. This was amazing. I had an absolute blast and hope to talk to you sometime soon again in the future.

John Hurley (50:17.55)
Thank you for everything. Really, really appreciate the time today and all the time that we’ve spent together and the time you’ve spent with our teams too.

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