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Alternative Notion open source AppFlowy has big-name supporters and goes cloud

Several internet investors have backed a new firm that uses open source projects and knowledge management to target the lucrative office productivity market.

Famous founders Matt Mullenweg (Automattic), Steve Chen (YouTube), Tom Preston-Werner (GitHub), Bob Young (Red Hat), and Amr Awadallah (Cloudera) have invested $6.4 million in AppFlowy. OSS Capital was in charge of the seed funding.

Notion was valued at $10 billion due to remote work-driven need for collaborative software. Enterprises may be wary about using proprietary software because they don’t control it.

AppFlowy wants to solve this with a self-hostable solution that addresses security and extensibility issues with incumbent providers.

AppFlowy for Windows, Mac, and Linux lets you manage projects, take notes, check project item status, view deadlines, and create documents, among other things.

AppFlowy promises control and customizability, allowing enterprises to customize their workspace with modular building pieces for unique use cases. AppFlowy’s open-source nature allows for community contributions, which speeds up new features.

AppFlowy prefers sectors with rigorous data privacy laws.

In a blog post, co-founder and CEO Annie Anqi Wang wrote, “Most proprietary collaboration workplace tools share a major limitation: their customers find it too hard or too expensive to have 100% control of their data Thus, vendor lock-in is difficult to overcome. Trusting sensitive data to these technologies makes users nervous about their lifespan.

To cloud
Wang, a former product manager at ByteDance, and CTO Nathan Foo, a software programmer at TikTok’s parent company, founded AppFlowy two years ago. It launched on GitHub under a “copyleft” AGPL-3.0 license in November 2021 and reached 30,000 “stars” in its first year.

With $6.4 million in the bank, the company can establish a profitable platform. Self-hosting using Supabase, an open-source Firebase alternative, was enabled in early September for AppFlowy. In addition to its funding, the business revealed a cloud offering for Amazon EC2 and Azure virtual machines.

Wang told TechCrunch, “Moving forward, we will support team collaboration and enterprise offerings based on the AppFlowy Cloud.”

Self-hosting allows organizations full control over their data, but it also requires upkeep and hurdles that not all firms can afford. That’s where AppFlowy Cloud comes in.

E2EE is optional, and some businesses may not want to activate it because it limits user capabilities. AppFlowy hopes to attract businesses that are wary of the cloud due to security concerns. Third-party service integrations and other factors may make real-time collaborative document editing difficult.

“People want E2EE for the utmost security, but there are several reasons why some people might not opt in,” Wang added. Speed- and performance-focused users may avoid E2EE, and since there are no recovery options, only the user can decrypt. Regulations, data retention regulations, and management may potentially prevent a business from using E2EE.

Companies can also use AppFlowy to keep their instances local and only sync to the cloud when needed.

Wang stated, “This approach offers a blend of offline experience and cloud connectivity, depending on user needs and preferences.” Local data can be uploaded to the cloud for backup or sharing. However, users can sync continuously.”

AppFlowy Cloud will eventually serve as the company’s monetization tool, but it will be free initially.

Wang said AppFlowy Cloud will be freemium; therefore, certain premium features will not be offered. There is no paywall because these features are currently in development.

AppFlowy’s cloud platform is in private beta and will launch “soon.” A mobile app launching next month will help AppFlowy go cross-platform, the company claimed.

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