Local tech entrepreneurs say Facebook co-founder Dustin Moskovitz is an “enviable position” with regard to his new start-up Asana, which has already raised more than $10 million.
Asana is a web task manager that enables work teams to manage their workflow by breaking projects into tasks while allowing people to see what their colleagues are working on.
In much the same way Facebook helps people manage social connections, Asana is designed to manage how people work with one another by providing updates on how a project is progressing.
Moskovitz, a self-taught programmer, was roommates with Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg while they were studying at Harvard University.
Moskovitz and Zuckerberg both dropped out of Harvard to build Facebook, with Moskovitz appointed vice president of engineering.
In 2008, Moskovitz left Facebook to work on his own projects, along with his Facebook colleague Justin Rosenstein – also a talented programmer.
They began building work productivity and collaboration tools, not only for Facebook but for other companies, which was how Asana was born.
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Asana, which has 19 employees and is based in San Francisco’s Mission District, has raised $10.2 million from investors including Benchmark Capital and Andreessen Horowitz.
The company is still in private beta, with more than 1,000 companies on the waiting list. It intends to open up more over the course of the year.
Comparing Asana to Facebook, Moskovitz has said he feels much more experienced in his new start-up, partly because he is able to “more proactively shape the company I want to work at”.
“A lot of things are very similar too – the ethos of the company and how we approach building products, the kind of values we have and what it’s like to work here,” Moskovitz said.
“We think this is one of the very key things we could be doing in software. We think it will be as impactful on the world as Facebook was.”
Niki Scevak, co-founder of Australian tech seed fund Startmate, says Moskovitz is in an enviable position due to his affiliation with Facebook.
“However, it’s hard for anyone else to take away lessons from that because his accomplishments are so unique,” Scevak says.
Michael Dawson, co-founder of Facebook application Foodcloud, agrees Moskovitz’s background will be at the forefront of investors’ minds.
“Credibility is the biggest hurdle to raising capital and the one thing I found is that the people behind the business are [regarded as] the biggest factor of success,” Dawson says.
“Having that past success changes the dynamic quite considerably.”
“[Investors often ask] ‘Why you and not someone else? Convince us you guys have what it takes’. That’s a difficult question to answer, being quite young and green.”
Dawson says he’s not surprised Moskovitz has leveraged his Facebook experience to launch his new venture, saying he would do the same.
“I suppose it’s the entrepreneurial dream to run with a venture for however many years, achieve success and then move on to bigger and better things,” he says.
“It’s certainly what I work towards – achieving success and building a track record of successful ventures.”