Asana – How It Started and Where It’s Going

When two ex-Facebook engineers share a business idea, a unicorn is born.

In 2018, Asana crossed the $1B threshold in value. It was a long time coming for this tech-baby compared to the growth of some other tech giants.

Today, Asana continues to grow with over 75 000 companies all over the world using its work management app. The tool itself is very scalable, so both small businesses and company giants can use it to streamline their work. Quora, SkillShare, L’oreal, and Hubspot are just some of the big-shot names that are making use of Asana. Some even say it helps NASA organize their work!

How it all started

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The roots of Asana as a company go all the way back to 2008 when its two founders, Dustin Moskovitz and Justin Rosenstein, decided to leave Facebook.

At Facebook, Rosenstein worked under Moskovitz and was the mastermind behind the famous ‘Like’ button. At the time, Moskovitz, Facebook’s co-founder and it’s very first CTO, had to come up with a solution to the company’s burning problem — tracking and managing projects. The two worked together on creating Facebook’s internal project management tool – Tasks – and grew closer in the process. They quickly realized that they shared the same passion for Eastern practices. Both were avid practitioners of yoga, meditation, and mindfulness. They couldn’t help but wonder why no one was incorporating these idea(l)s into business when they saw a clear need for it

Tasks, the new tool, soon became a great success within the company. It helped them realize the kind of impact a good work management tool can have on workers and their productivity. They saw their chance, took a leap and left Facebook to start their own company.

Disillusioned by the tech giant’s “move fast and break things” strategy, the duo decided they wanted to try their luck with a different approach. One that was more in line with their values.

And so, Asana began as a two-person company with only a simple code base and a list of values. A vision of a company with a unique culture and a tool that could change workplaces all over the world is what guides Asana’s business to this day.

Asana’s mission and values

After his experience at Facebook, Moskovitz knew he wanted to grow this new project in a different way. Deliberate and mindful was the way to go.

The duo wanted to lead with values first and product second. The list of values serves as a guide to shaping the company itself, as well as the product it creates. The main issue that troubled them in previous companies was the lack of clarity and the amount of time wasted on busywork. That’s why, today, Asana’s main goal is to enable the workers to spend more time doing the work that actually matters. This is achieved by reducing the amount of time-consuming “work about work.” 

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Where it’s going

Asana is led by 9 values in total, but here are 3 that set it apart from others the most.

Clarity is the most important value for Asana. When every team member knows who does what, by when, and who is responsible, the work becomes easier. This is crucial for better coordination within and among teams. It saves time and reduces the amount of unnecessary meetings and emails about just getting everyone on the same page. Getting the green light, achieving agreements or detecting loose ends becomes much easier. Focusing on clarity is a great way to prevent misunderstandings from happening in the first place.

Authenticity means the ability and freedom to “speak the hard truths.” Cultivating a culture where your employees feel free to admit their mistakes and air out their grievances means that issues can be caught on time. Everyone gets timely feedback for their work and understands how they can improve. Such an atmosphere encourages employees to be more creative and generate better ideas.

Mindfulness is all about taking time to reflect and plan. Scheduling time to evaluate the past, take care of the present and plan for the future is necessary for controlled growth. It’s also useful to use this time to check if the company’s direction is still aligned with chosen values and ideals. This way its course can be corrected in time.

Developing its work management tool with these values in mind, Asana is hoping to help teams collaborate and do their best work by eliminating all the busywork. Guided by clarity, Asana aims to help people focus better in the world of distractions. This is their mission.

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Asana continues to grow, both as a company and a product.

In the following years, the plan is to invest heavily in AI development. Upgrading the current Asana tool with an AI helper means more of the “work about work” will be automated and offloaded from humans. All things related to coordinating projects and managing schedules will be made easier.

The main idea is that Asana’s AI will be able to predict bottlenecks and suggest the most efficient way of working, based on past data. With this step, the company aims to boost the flow state of workers and increase their efficiency. In this sense, the company’s vision is for Asana to become the main guide through the world of work management for businesses. When executives set goals, Asana will be able to help them craft the plans to achieve them.

Asana strives to further increase clarity and efficiency in a way that benefits all rungs of a company’s ladder. Its data-driven path to work management optimization certainly sounds promising.

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