What To Know About Asana, the Productivity App Built By Former Facebookers, As It Goes Public

Project management company Asana is set to start trading on the New York Stock Exchange on Wednesday.

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The company joins Palantir Technologies this week in its public market debut, capping off a busy month of public listings. Both companies are also set to go public with direct listings, meaning there won’t be a block of shares priced and sold before trading begins.

Wednesday will be a big day, so let’s take a look at the companies that will be in the headlines, starting with Asana. (Read more about Palantir’s upcoming direct listing here.)

What Asana does

The Asana app helps workplace teams assign and manage tasks to keep projects organized. Team members can see what tasks should be prioritized, what they’re responsible for, and when assignments are due. Teams can also build out a timeline for projects to plan ahead and see how the project will come together.

The company was founded by Dustin Moskovitz, co-founder of Facebook, and Justin Rosenstein, an early Facebook employee who helped design the social platform’s “Like” button. In fact, the idea for Asana was born while Moskovitz and Rosenstein were building Facebook.

“We started Asana because our co-founders experienced firsthand the growing problem of work about work,” the company said in its S-1 filing. “While at Facebook, they saw the coordination challenges the company faced as it scaled. Instead of spending time on work that generated results, they were spending time in status meetings and long email threads trying to figure out who was responsible for what. They recognized the pain of work about work was universal to teams that need to coordinate their work effectively to achieve their objectives. Yet there were no products in the market that adequately addressed this pain. As a result of that frustration, they were inspired to create Asana to solve this problem for the world’s teams.”

Venture capital investment in Asana

Asana has raised more than $453 million in funding, according to Crunchbase. Backers of the company include Founders Fund, Y Combinator and Manhattan Venture Partners, along with big names associated with Facebook’s early days: Mark Zuckerbeg, Peter Thiel and Sean Parker. 


Asana has more than 75,000 paying customers and 1.2 million paid users, according to its S-1 filing. For the year that ended on Jan. 31, 2020, the company reported $142.5 million in revenue, up nearly 86 percent from the $76.8 million in revenue it generated during the same period in the prior year. It should be noted that in fiscal year 2020, around 41 percent of the company’s revenue came from customers outside of the U.S.

Asana reported nearly $118.6 million in net losses for the year ended Jan. 31, 2020. That’s around 133 percent higher than the company’s net losses during the same period in the prior year, when it lost around $51 million. The S-1 shows why the company’s net losses jumped so much in a year: Asana increased its spending on research and development, sales and marketing, and general and administrative costs.

The winners

The VC firms that will benefit the most from Asana’s direct listing appear to be Benchmark, Founders Fund and Generation IM Climate Solutions Fund II, according to the S-1 filing. All three are listed at 5 percent stockholders in the company. Benchmarks owns about 10.4 percent of the Class B common stock, while Generation IM Climate Solutions Fund II and Founders Fund own 7.3 percent and 6.5 percent of the Class B common stock, respectively.

Illustration: Li-Anne Dias

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