Quitting Harvard to build a site that rapidly grew to dominate the Web was undoubtedly exciting, stimulating, and rewarding, but Facebook cofounder Dustin Moskovitz also uses another word: frustrating.
As Facebook’s chief technology officer and then vice president for engineering, he helped equip the network to coördinate every part of your life, from planning events to reading text messages. In the process, he realized that no such tool exists to coördinate the flow of work in the modern office.
“We had something like 25 different tools for managing different types of data, like calendars and expense reports and more, that were all reinventing the wheel,” he says. “They all used the same techniques but didn’t connect.”
Now he hopes to solve that problem. Moskovitz left Facebook in late 2008 and before long started a collaboration-software company called Asana, which has raised $9 million in venture funding. The startup recently revealed its plans, showing off Web software that helps people keep track of joint projects and update one another on their progress (see this video on Asana’s site).
The software’s design shows signs of its Facebook heritage. Once a project has been created in Asana, users can “follow” it to see a Facebook-style news feed of updates or comments made by people involved. It offers rapid access to the history of a project and its current status. Comments also update in real time, enabling speedy exchange of ideas and information. That beats communicating over e-mail or IM, because information is kept tied to the project and doesn’t get separated from its context and lost in cluttered in-boxes.
Moskovitz says lessons learned in the competitive world of consumer websites will make Asana stand out from previous workplace software. “The principal value of our team is that we’re a consumer team; we’re used to releasing early and often and moving fast and are willing to experiment,” he says. “We’re aiming to create a product that sells itself because it’s a joy to use.”