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Founded 2008
Founder Alexander Mimran (CEO)
Michael Lawlor
Simon Wilkinson
Headquarters Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Area served
Services Private online diary platform

Penzu is a private online diary-hosting website.[1][2] Users can create written entries similar to a standard personal journal and can also upload photos from their devices.[3] Penzu uses a freemium business model with special paid features including unique fonts, AES encryption, rich text formatting, and others.[4][5] As of 2014, the website had over 1 million users[6] in 170 countries worldwide.[7]


Penzu was founded in 2008 in Toronto by Alexander Mimran (CEO), Simon Wilkinson (CTO), and Michael Lawlor (former CTO). Mimran took out a second mortgage on his house in order to initially fund Penzu. Capital has come only in the form of self-funding and customer revenue through PayPal. Three thousand users signed up during the company's first week of operation.[6] The early version of the website mimicked standard notebooks with no custom fonts, colors, themes, or other distinguishing features.[8] In 2009, Penzu launched a paid "Pro" option that cost $19 per year. Features that came with the Pro version included AES encryption, tagged posts, rich text editing, offsite backups, new themes, and other customization options.[4][5][9] Opening a journal, making private posts, and several other customization features remained free.[9]

In 2011, the company announced that it was serving over 250,000 users. It also released Penzu apps for Android and iOS devices. Both apps could only be used in conjunction with a Penzu Pro subscription.[10][11] In 2012, Penzu launched a new platform called "Penzu Classroom" designed for teachers and students. With the service, teachers can create a Penzu journal and allow their students to add to that journal with their own accounts.[12]

In 2014, Penzu underwent a full relaunch, which included a redesigned website, free syncing between mobile and web apps, and other new features. At the time, the company had around 1.1 million users in 170 countries across the world.[6][7]


Penzu offers an online cloud-based diary platform that is designed to be private by default. It is free to sign up for Penzu and to create entries, upload images, and share posts selectively.[9] The Penzu Pro plan offers several other features.[6] These features include unique customization options like fonts, colors, themes, and others; 256-bit AES encryption; tagging; importing and exporting (as, for example, a PDF); rich text formatting; the ability to post by email; reminders; and numerous others.[4][5][9][10][11] The site's encryption feature works for entire journals. If the password is lost for a particular journal, then that entry cannot be retrieved under any circumstance.[1][6] Other Pro features include Looking Glass, which sends excerpts of older posts to the journal owner via email,[10] and Legacy, which allows users to choose specific individuals to access the journal after the journal owner's death.[13]

Penzu Classroom is another feature offered by Penzu. It is designed for teachers who can open a Penzu journal and allow students to write their own entries with their own accounts. Penzu Classroom also allows teachers to grade and comment on student-submitted entries.[12]


  1. ^ a b Marks, Oliver (23 January 2012). "The value of collecting your thoughts in a private online journal". ZDNet. Retrieved 28 October 2015. 
  2. ^ Lowensohn, Josh (29 May 2008). "Forget Google Docs, Penzu gives you paper 2.0". CNET. Retrieved 28 October 2015. 
  3. ^ Warren, Christina (19 October 2009). "Penzu: Private Online Diaries That Feel Like the Real Thing". Mashable. Retrieved 28 October 2015. 
  4. ^ a b c Lowensohn, Josh (14 October 2009). "Pretty Web journal tool Penzu goes pro". CNET. Retrieved 28 October 2015. 
  5. ^ a b c Hoover, Lisa (2 March 2010). "Penzu Keeps Your Online Journal Private and Secure". Lifehacker. Retrieved 28 October 2015. 
  6. ^ a b c d e Tossell, Ivor (26 November 2014). "Cloud-based diary platform keeps your secrets safe". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 28 October 2015. 
  7. ^ a b Raymond, Deborah (22 October 2014). "Small Business Spotlight: Penzu". PayPal. Retrieved 28 October 2015. 
  8. ^ Veldhuijzen van Zanten, Boris (21 May 2008). " simple online note taking". The Next Web. Retrieved 28 October 2015. 
  9. ^ a b c d O'Dell, Jolie (9 December 2009). "Is Oversharing a Problem? Try Penzu". ReadWrite. Retrieved 28 October 2015. 
  10. ^ a b c Messieh, Nancy (27 September 2011). "Personal journal service Penzu now has 250,000 registered users, launches iOS and Android mobile apps". The Next Web. Retrieved 28 October 2015. 
  11. ^ a b Henry, Alan (28 September 2011). "Penzu Apps Let You Take Your Private Journal With You". Lifehacker Australia. Retrieved 28 October 2015. 
  12. ^ a b Dennis, Sandi (24 April 2012). "Dear Diary 2.0- Penzu and NEW Penzu Classroom". Discovery Education. Retrieved 28 October 2015. 
  13. ^ "Is Penzu safe to use?". Thoughts on the Internet. 23 April 2014. Retrieved 28 October 2015. 

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