Asana, the company that wants to help workgroups collaborate efficiently, is adding a new feature to attack what it calls a huge productivity suck: email. And it’s doing so with a new feature ironically called Inbox.
Inbox is a central place for an information worker to aggregate only the relevant and requested files and messages about given projects and share task lists etc. Users subscribe to and unsubscribe from the feeds as they want to see them
Four-year old San Francisco-based Asana, co-founded by Facebook veterans Dustin Moskowitz and Justin Rosenstein and backed by Andreessen Horowitz and Benchmark Capital, is betting that social networking tools transformed for the enterprise will not fill the bill. It claims big customers, including Facebook, Foursquare and Twitter, use the service to minimize extraneous meetings and to cut down on distractions.
“We don’t really see things like Yammer, SocialCast and Chatter as competitors but we also don’t see them as particularly useful. They just took something popular in the consumer space and ported them over, but research shows many people don’t see the value in them. We’re about a work graph, not the social graph,” Rosenstein said in an interview Tuesday.
Inbox gives users the information about the projects they want to see. “If you click on a message in Inbox, you get all the associated context and information surrounding it,” said Rosenstein. “Inbox keeps your communication directly connected to the shared record of what you’re working on.”
In some ways, Inbox reminds me of what Lotus Notes (now Domino) started out as — a way for workgroups to keep their project information together and communicate about it. Rosenstein agreed with that comparison. “Lotus Notes was ahead of its time. That time has come,” he said. Mitchell Kapor, co-founder of Lotus Development Corp., is an Asana advisor.