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Knowledge is power, as the old saying goes. But when that knowledge is spread across sprawling, fragmented repositories, it can be difficult for even the most organized person to connect the dots and make sense of it all.
That’s something young startup Logseq aims to solve with a privacy-focused, open-source knowledge base that helps people and businesses organize all their disparate notes, research, PDF markup, and more in one interconnected system for storing and retrieving information combine .
With support for markup languages like Markdown and Emacs’ Org mode, Logseq allows users to create tasks, manage and save notes or to-do lists, embed pages, annotate PDFs, and create links between any information contained in a free Flow of information.
Logseq is entering a space that includes established companies like Roam, Obsidian, Foam, and Athens, when in reality it’s trying to replace legacy knowledge management systems that were “skeuomorphically” designed to mimic linear systems built around pages, files, and folders are. In fact, Logseq conceptually resembles something more like a global wiki that stores data “like a human brain”—a diagram of nodes made up of myriad interconnected concepts. It also supports visualizations based on a chart database, allowing users to represent specific tasks and subtasks in a chart that shows their connectedness.
Taking things to the next level, Logseq announced today that it has raised $4.1 million in seed funding from a number of notable backers, including the CEOs and founders of companies like Stripe, Shopify, and Quora.
Logseq in action
Logseq, which users can already access via a desktop app or a native iPad/iOS app, can be used to write and connect almost any type of text-based note. For example, it can improve the taking of notes for project meetings through two-way links and diagram databases in addition to simple markdown files – this can help each participant revisit previous conversations and notes and use filters to select topics relevant to the meeting.
Also, Logseq bills itself as “local-first,” meaning that it supports storing information in markdown text files on users’ local machines, giving them full, unrestricted access to all their information. And since it supports Markdown and Org mode out of the box, that means it’s interoperable with other platforms and systems.
Another potential use case is in PDF annotation, where Logseq allows users to highlight a section of text in the document and write notes on those highlights.
So who exactly is the intended end user of Logseq? Anyone and everyone, according to Tienson Qin, co-founder and CEO of Logseq.
“Individual researchers and consumers at home already rely on Logseq to store complex knowledge bases and personal CRMs,” Qin told VentureBeat. “SMBs and enterprise teams use Logseq to store notes for teams in a way that creates tightly bound relationships to give new hires faster context, enable more practical data management, and keep more detailed logs of their collective mental thought processes.”
The story so far
Qin and co. founded Logseq in early 2020 as an open-source “passion project,” though it’s only been in existence as a formal company for a year. But over the past several months, the company has garnered a growing user base that includes developers, researchers, and academics from a variety of high-profile organizations like Google, Meta, MIT, and Stanford.
“It’s a great platform for researchers and academics cataloging lots of information, both in groups and alone,” Qin told VentureBeat. “Logseq is used by teams in companies that need to better store information in networked structures. Logseq’s product is so incredibly easy to use that even small children can pick it up and start exploring.”
In terms of how Logseq plans to monetize beyond its existing donation-based approach, the company intends to put at least a portion of its seed investment into hiring and product development — resulting in premium features for individuals and businesses.
“We are exploring a Logseq ‘Pro’ plan for individuals that would include end-to-end encrypted sync, publishing, an AI assistant and collaboration, and potential for enterprise plans,” Qin explained. “But for now, we’re focused on growing quickly by allowing widespread open-source collaboration.”
In fact, it is this open-source foundation that the company could well build when building a commercial product, especially in sectors where data ownership and control are paramount.
“Because it’s open source and privacy is a priority, we have a large user base whose identities we don’t actively track, which also speeds up compliance reviews,” Qin said.
Additionally, the fact that Logseq is a community-driven project means that contributors around the world can add (or request) their own features. Qin said that in the last three months alone, the Logseq community has created more than 80 plugins to support integration with calendars, natural language processing (NLP) applications, and even Readwise.
In the coming weeks, Logseq is preparing to roll out features to better support real-time collaboration and allow teams to edit notes in their Logseq knowledge graphs concurrently, similar to Google Docs.
“Logseq is great at helping teams work together on datasets – it’s even better at allowing multiple teams to work on the same dataset,” noted Qin. “That’s because the ideas and information contained in this dataset are naturally connected in a bi-directional diagram, meaning that organization isn’t just limited to files and folders, but is more logical in how a brain works to map the.” to advance research.”
Logseq’s seed funding round included investments from Stripe CEO Patrick Collison; Shopify founder Tobias Lütke; Ex-GitHub CEO Nat Friedman; Quora founder Charlie Cheever; renowned software developer Dave Winer; Andreessen Horowitz partner Sriram Krishnan; Craft Ventures; Matrix Partners; and Day One Ventures.
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