SAN FRANCISCO — Remember when email was a magical tool that promised to streamline the way you work? We don’t either.
The so-dubbed tyranny of email has given rise to a growing number of tech companies such as Slack and Basecamp that are looking to revolutionize the way humans leverage technology to collaborate, and in the process grab a big slice of the estimated $50 billion work-collaboration business pie.
That’s the targeted mission of Asana, the six-year-old venture started by Facebook co-founder Dustin Moskovitz and former Facebook lead engineer Justin Rosenstein, who on Wednesday unveiled a redesign to their software aimed at further simplifying group-work interaction.
Hallmarks of the new Asana include a feature called Conversations, which turns email threads into categorized and actionable lists, and Track Anything, which allows users to group searchable databased information in spreadsheet form.
“Track Anything was a vision we had for Asana from the very beginning,” said Moskovitz, whose company has nearly $40 million in funding and 140,000 corporate users (10,000 of which are paying users) ranging from Major League Baseball to The New Yorker magazine. He noted that over the past year revenue has more than doubled.
The basic version of Asana is free for a group of up to 15 people. The premium version starts at $21 a month for teams of five and goes up from there.
“When you see non-profits, the mayor of Providence (R.I.) and people planning weddings all using this software, you get the sense it’s helpful to a range of people,” said Moskovitz. While most of the company’s business to date has been through referrals, Asana’s newly hired business operations manager Chris Farinacci, formerly a top Google for Work exec, is tasked with growing the company’s marketplace presence.
Asana announced the changes to its software at its exposed-concrete hub inside the former Hamm’s Brewery building on the east side of town. Both founders said that the idea for Asana came from developing software to help Facebook’s team both communicate better and improve their task completion rate.
“In order to scale Facebook, a lot of our work had to do with the work of scheduling meetings,” said Moskovitz.
To hammer the point home, Rosenstein added: “So much work today is about talking about the work, not about doing the work. We want to change that.”
All of the changes go live today except for Track Anything, which is in beta and launches in early 2016,
Follow USA TODAY tech reporter Marco della Cava on Twitter: @marcodellacava
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