Asana has announced that it’s expanding its productivity-focused task-management application beyond English as it looks to capitalize on its growing popularity in Europe.
Asana is making its interface available in French and German for now, followed by Spanish and Portuguese in early 2018, as the company ramps up its localization efforts based on feedback it has received: People, it seems, prefer to work in their native languages.
It’s hard discussing task-management startup Asana without mentioning its founders — Dustin Moskovitz and Justin Rosenstein — early in the conversation. You see, Moskovitz cofounded a social network called Facebook alongside Mark Zuckerberg (and others) back in 2004. Rosenstein, who was instrumental in the development of early Google products such as Gmail chat, lays claim to having co-created the “Like” button when he joined Facebook as engineering lead in 2007.
It’s interesting to look at Asana’s recent fortunes given that it’s run by two people who were so instrumental in the rise of a company that has shown little sign of slowing. Asana is a different proposition than Facebook, but the company’s two founders believe that the opportunity Asana presents is comparable.
Moskovitz and Rosenstein left Facebook in 2008 to launch Asana, an idea that had germinated from a desire to improve Facebook employees’ productivity. Indeed, the scale of the problem they were looking to fix — the amount of time people were spending on “work about work” such as task-planning — was a “Facebook-sized opportunity all on its own,” according to Rosenstein. But it was several years before any actual product would go to market.
Fast forward six years, and Asana now claims a number of illustrious clients, including Airbnb, Google, Spotify, Tesla, Uber, Dropbox, Samsung, NASA, Snap, Slack, and yes, Facebook. It has also raised nearly $90 million in funding from big-name investors such as Andreessen Horowitz, Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan, and Peter Thiel.
Though the company does offer a free version of its service, it’s ultimately designed to get people onto the paid plan — and Asana has been ramping up this effort in recent years, according to Chris Farinacci, Asana’s head of business, in an interview with VentureBeat. “When I joined Asana two years ago, we were about 10,000 paying customers; now we’re at about 25,000,” he said.
Moving forward, Asana will be paying particularly close attention to matters outside the U.S. The company has largely built out its international business from its base in San Francisco; however, it has created a small team in Dublin, Ireland, to underpin its European efforts. “We’ve had a support team in Dublin for two years. That team’s already up to 20 people, and I’m sure we’ll probably double it next year,” added Farinacci. “We’re building that team up to be full sales, marketing, customer success — a full experience team.”
Around 40 percent of Asana’s revenue and 45 percent of its paying customers are outside the U.S., according to Farinacci, with the majority of those based in Europe. “And that’s pretty much been from a business that’s based in San Francisco,” he said. “So we’re seeing this tremendous demand and growth, and we’re basically here to invest in the market — hire a much bigger team and create a local experience for customers.”
Curiously, the company still doesn’t support payments beyond U.S. dollars, something that it plans to remedy in the new year when it begins accepting payments in pounds sterling (GBP) and euros.
In addition to German and French support, Asana has localized dates and times, expanded its support for names, and added support for invoice payments. There aren’t any specific plans to launch additional offices in local markets, though — for now they’re hiring multi-language sales and customer support for its Dublin hub.