Facebook co-founder Dustin Moskovitz and Google and Facebook veteran Justin Rosenstein founded the collaboration- and productivity-focused Asana in 2009. It released a free version for teams of up to 30 in 2011, and premium versions followed in April 2012. Now the company is adding features to appeal to larger businesses and groups — specifically those with more than 100 users. The software’s new capabilities amount to the next logical step in Moskovitz and Rosenstein’s plan to increase productivity for people the world over.
The new features are together referred to under the Organizations rubric. They include a way to organize employees into teams; visibility for a high-level executive to see what members of all teams are up to; the ability to hide certain teams from the rest of the company; unified inboxes and task lists for people on multiple teams, and roles for IT and other administrators to monitor use and set security and access policies.
Asana itself is small, with 40 employees. Perched on the ninth floor of a high-rise building outside of San Francisco’s busy South of Market neighborhood, it’s removed from the hustle and bustle. Working at Asana comes with perks, including yoga and skills coaching. Moskovitz and Rosenstein carry no titles other than founders.
If Asana succeeds in penetrating the enterprise, case studies might look back on the company’s way of doing things and suggest that other ambitious startups follow its lead (and, of course, use the Asana software, as Asana does internally). For now, though, the difference between the Asana setting and the corporate world is stark.
Moskovitz and Rosenstein, as usual, declined to disclose revenue, so it’s hard to assess how well the company is actually doing. To date the company has taken on $38.5 million in venture funding from Andreessen Horowitz, the Founders Fund and others. Tens of thousands of “teams” — companies or business units — use Asana, including Airbnb, Disqus, Foursquare, Pinterest, and Uber. Fewer than 1,000 pay for it.
As a freemium product, Rosenstein said, you “always prioritize gaining more users and growing the company. It (Asana’s profit-and-loss statement) looks a lot like other big freemium companies — same business model. … We want to instead take the market and have everyone use (Asana) as fast as possible. Revenue will help with that, but growth is our number-one priority.”
Everything is going according to plan for Asana, then. But as for getting boatloads of companies to pay for the service and making the company profitable, it’s unclear just how long that will take.