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Asana Offers Inbox Just For Work

Asana's task management tool, derived from software to keep Facebook engineers organized, adds an inbox for getting things done.

Rosenstein's skepticism about social software echoes a message that came across in a May New York Times article that appeared in the runup to Facebook's IPO.

"The first time I looked at Yammer, I thought I was on Facebook," Asana co-founder Moskovitz told the Times. "Work is not a social network, with serendipitous communications and photo collections. Work is about managing tasks and responding to things quickly."

I had a chance to ask Yammer co-founder Adam Pisoni for a response a few weeks ago. "What I think Asana missed was a critical point about where they started--with a system for task management used internally at Facebook," Pisoni said. "What Facebook already had was a social platform they used internally."

Facebook operates a private version of its social software with groups and profiles and activity feeds, plus integration with products like Rypple's employee performance management tools, which Facebook helped design. Pisoni's point was that base level of online social interaction between coworkers was never missing at Facebook the way it is in other companies. "I think they [the Asana co-founders] kind of missed the internal communications they already had in place," he said.

"I don't want to knock them; I think they're bright guys," Pisoni continued. "But they need to watch out for the second company phenomenon, which is what we see when people spin off from a successful company and they think it's easy. It's not easy."

Asana Inbox for the Moon landing

Follow David F. Carr on Twitter @davidfcarr. The BrainYard is @thebyard and

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David F. Carr
David F. Carr,
User Rank: Author
6/28/2012 | 6:37:18 PM
re: Asana Offers Inbox Just For Work
I have to wonder if the Asana guys aren't just using the dissing of social business as a tactic to stir up controversy and attract press. It's irresistible to a journalist, I have to admit. On the other hand, it does strike me that an organization using Yammer or Jive or IBM Connections or whatever that also found Asana attractive would probably want some of that Inbox activity to flow into the stream of their enterprise social tool of choice. A good partnership might be more valuable to them in the long run than whatever attention they stir up with their ridicule of social business.

Of course, if they're right and enterprise social networking doesn't have the vast potential that its boosters claim, maybe none of that will matter.

They definitely seem to have studied in the Scott McNealy school of mockery, along with other social/cloud startup provocateurs like Aaron Levie at Box.
User Rank: Apprentice
6/28/2012 | 4:40:11 PM
re: Asana Offers Inbox Just For Work
Totally for the idea of reinventing the inbox centering this "inbox" around task-based activities. I think that's one area that many social tools fall short on. In many instances, if you miss it going through your activity stream, it's gone. There does need to be a better universal paradigm there. I can understand the points that Facebook for the Enterprise is not what we need, but for Moskovitz to say that work is not social is ignorant. It is. And anyone who has used social tools long enough to appreciate business value they provide can provide example after example around how the socially-enabled business it next generation of collaboration. Not to mention - he's too quick to dismiss the serendipitous value that enterprise social can provide. It's not all task based and linear and fits in a well structured inbox. Just very exciting to watch all this unfold before our eyes. I'm sure if the Brainyard was around 20 years ago, we would have seen just as spirited of discussion debating the move from telephony to enterprise email.
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