A recent report by GIA projects the global cloud-based office productivity software market to be worth $16.56 billion by 2018. The researcher estimates that growth will be driven by increased adoption of these tools by small and medium businesses and Asia-Pacific markets. Menlo Park, California–based Asana was founded in 2008 by former Facebook employees Justin Rosenstein and Dustin Moskovitz. The company is becoming a strong contender in the market segment.
Despite the founders’ Facebook connections, Asana does not call itself a social networking tool. It is instead a collaborative tool that looks to become an alternative to email, meetings, whiteboards, and spreadsheets. Their recent product, Inbox, is one such illustration of how they have revamped the traditional e-mail to a more storyline like approach. Asana believes that it helps improve individual and group productivity and thus increases the potential output of effort. Since inception, teams on Asana have created 18 million tasks on the software.
Asana was launched as a free product that let users collaborate. Earlier this year, the company also released a paid version to let bigger groups do the same. At present, up to 30-member teams can collaborate free using Asana. For bigger groups, the company charges prices ranging from $100 per month for 31- to 50-member teams to as high as $800 per month for 100-member teams. The paid membership comes with additional features such as priority support, cross-workgroup collaboration, and advanced permissions settings. Asana does not disclose its financials. However, the company claims that “hundreds” of their customers have migrated to the paid offering. Some of their customers include names like AirBnB, Twitter, and Foursquare.
Asana has received venture funding of $38.2 million so far from investors, including Peter Thiel, Andreessen Horowitz, Benchmark Capital, and Founders Fund. Its latest round of funding of $28 million held in July 2012 pegged its valuation at $280 million.
Asana’s Growth Plans
Asana is focused on ensuring that its solution is user friendly while being technically elegant. The founders claim their product is “faster than Notepad.” In addition, they are building flexibility to their tools to ensure that while Asana remains simple, the product can be scaled up to handle tasks ranging from customer relationship management (CRM) to IT project bug-tracking in an organization.
Recently, Asana also launched its version of e-mail, called Inbox. Inbox integrates traditional mails with activity feeds, notifications, and other messaging systems similar to those seen on social networks. Users who are part of a task can see the news-feed like results that show the latest activity made by others in the group on the task.
Asana’s management believes they have the potential to become a $100 billion revenue company. That’s a long way away from where the company sits today, and we hardly have the information to gauge the company’s potential. Judging by the current valuation, the revenue level is likely in the sub $30 million range.
Sarah Lacey of PandoDaily recently covered Peter Thiel’s addition to the Asana board. She reports that the Asana founders have express interest in staying independent and are willing to build a large company, acquisition offers notwithstanding. Because of Facebook, they are independently wealthy already, and are not under pressure to cash out.
What I find interesting is that the Asana team has a talent pool that can innovate, experiment, and come up with interesting new ideas in collaboration, and has the staying power to see through several iterations of an experiment.
Ultimately, innovation requires staying power.