Solving the ultimate meta-problem

May 6th, 2013
3 min read
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As my co-founder Justin put it recently, “technology empowers small groups of passionate people with an astonishing degree of leverage to make the world a better place.” Like him, I believe that everyone should reflect carefully about whether they are using that leverage to the best possible effect, on something that matters to them deeply and that will have positive impact on the world. We’re not the only ones that feel this way.

There are so many vital and exciting projects that groups of people are working on and, frankly, I wish I could work on all of them. I’d love to connect people through software, find the cure for cancer, solve global warming, make government more efficient, and build art.

While I can’t do all of these things at once, Asana provides the opportunity to play a role in each of them. If we succeed at our mission, the work we do here makes every one of those groups of people — and millions more — vastly more leveraged and efficient.

We are building the tools that empower those teams of people to move faster, think bigger, and focus their energy on the real workinstead of just the work about work. At Asana, we get to work together to provide that kind of value to every connected group of people in the world. The rest of the post will touch on a few of the areas in which that manifests.

Consumer Internet

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“We were quickly able to eliminate the drudgery of sending update emails and reporting on progress in weekly meetings. Now, if I want to know what’s going on with a project or what the status of anything is, I just look at Asana and everything is instantly clear. Asana makes our process so much more efficient. It removes all the waste in communication.” – Rian Hunter, software engineer at Dropbox.

Our software helps run some of the hottest internet startups: DropboxPinterestUberQuoraAirbnb, and Foursquare, to name just a few. We depend on their products every day and, similarly, the teams behind them rely on us to more effortlessly and efficiently coordinate the progress towards their goals.

We consistently hear from these organizations that Asana enables them to become more ambitious, confident that our product will ensure they follow through on a big idea. As Ankit Agarwal, the CEO of Micello put it, “The difference since using Asana is very black and white. Before, projects wouldn’t have happened, and now, with Asana, they do.”

We also work with many of the other services like ourselves that support them, like KISSmetricsGoodData, and Stripe.


“Asana has enabled BASES to coordinate huge projects involving dozens of students and many moving parts without having to meet in person.” – Charles Janac, Vice President of Stanford Bases

After software companies, the largest category of users leveraging Asana is related one way or another to the university system. We see a variety of groups:


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A few of our customers focus on curing diseases, like Emerald Therapeutics. One of the co-founders, DJ Kleinbaum, told us, “Thanks to Asana, I went from spending all of my time on management overhead to becoming a full-time contributor to the science.”

The world is better off with DJ leveraging his time on science, rather than project management.


The sustainability problems we face in the 21st century are really important and really, really big. So big that they can only be solved through the combined efforts of many groups working on different pieces of the problem.

One of our favorite examples among our customers is the team at Synthetic Genomics, which is developing new carbon-free fuels and environmentally-friendly pesticides and fertilizers. More locally, the marine biologists at Aquarium of the Bay work to raise awareness about threats to members of the S.F. bay ecosystem.


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“We use Asana to organize nearly every critical function – from funding to communications to internal finance to program expansion. We’ve eliminated redundancy, miscommunication and confusion about priorities.

With Asana providing a clear trajectory for the work we do, we’ve become more disciplined in our decision making and have magnified the volume and velocity of our output. I have to say that the difference has been mind-blowing.” – Mark Arnoldy, Executive Director, Nyaya Health

One of the success stories we’re most proud of is Nyaya Health, an incredible organization that serves the poor in rural Nepal.

When Nyaya came by Asana to talk to us about how they used the product to manage a highly distributed team, we were puzzled by some completed tasks that seemed to correspond to patients. Justin asked about this in the meeting. “Oh, that’s easy to explain.” replied Mark. “Those people have been cured.”

Asana – The ultimate meta-problem

Finally, Asana helps Asana help our customers do great things. For everything from meeting agendas to bug tracking to the snacks we store in the kitchen, we depend on our own system to get things done. So when we make our product better, we feel the benefit immediately ourselves.

Every time we talk to a new customer, we learn a new way that we’re enabling a team to succeed. By helping people work together more easily, we make it more effortless for groups to coordinate their collective action, so that they can achieve their goals and manifest the missions that drive them. In the next few years, we’ll reach millions of people working in groups to improve the world we all share. Through them, we’ll improve the lives of every person on the planet.

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