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July 16, 2018

Chris Farinacci – “All the Disruptors in Silicon Valley Grew Up on Asana”

"Globally, people are asked to do more with less."

By Umar Hassan

Chris Farinacci has been the Chief Operating Officer for Asana for nearly three years since joining the productivity software-as-a-service app in September 2015.

Chris Farinacci, Asana COO

Farinacci, who has more than 25 years’ experience within the enterprise IT industry, previously worked for a number of high profile tech companies, including Oracle and Google.

Some of Asana’s customers include some major, bluechip companies such as PayPal, Santander, Vodafone, Deloitte, Uber and NASA.

Earlier this year, Asana raised $75 million in Series D funding from Al Gore’s firm Generation Investment Management.

Asana’s COO joined Computer Business Review to discuss the company’s tenth anniversary, productivity and their UK plans.

You’re Still Sustaining Strong Growth after a Decade. What’s the Secret?

We were founded about 10 years ago and launched the product six years ago. The first product commercially came out in 2012. The company was founded by two guys, Dustin Moskovitz, a co-founder of Facebook and Justin Rosenstein who was an early product manager at Google and Facebook.

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Fast-forward to now, we’ve had a product on the market now for six years and we have over 35,000 paying customers. We’re growing fast and the last year and a half, each quarter, we have grown faster than the prior quarter.

As we get bigger, we’re growing faster, which is rare in enterprise tech and that’s because this category software we call “work management” is starting to take off in a big way in the market – and Asana is the fastest-growing provider in that space.

What’s Driven this Shake-up of the Enterprise Planning Space?

What’s shaken out in the productivity and collaboration space is that the whole market used to be Microsoft. It’s changed over the past five/10 years and a lot of big, interesting companies have been born; largely as traditional productivity software for individuals has moved now to team collaboration.

It’s all around communication and those documents. When you have a structure, plan, process or goal, helping teams understand who’s doing what, when at any point at any given time so that they don’t waste all that time trying to co-ordinate. The software can help you do that and we find our customers are able to spend more time on the actual work as the software can manage all that.

What Difference Has the Series D Funding Made to the Company?

We closed our Series D Funding earlier this year; it was generated by Generation Investment Management, which is London-based by Al Gore. The focus was on international expansion and building out the roadmap for larger customers.

We have invested a lot in enterprise functionality so last year, we had free and premium products, and then we added an enterprise tier about last year. It supports a lot of things in enterprise IT such as advanced controls, administration at the company level, as well as single-sign-out so that you can leverage the company’s security and sign-on capabilities.

Productivity Has Been a Longstanding Issue in the UK, Has Progress Been Made?

Workplace productivity is starting to get a bit better recently because it has been downhill for a while but we are still having those problems don’t have clarity at work, they don’t know if what they are working on matters for the company goals and that kind of stuff.

Globally, people are asked to do more with less, and the pace and complexity at work is increasing, where the velocity of work is only going up. People are being bombarded with more information every day at work and at home.

There’s lots of technology at work that is able to provide more notifications and information. What we do is help get you focused on what matters. All the disruptors in Silicon Valley grew up on Asana.

Where Do You Hope to See Asana Develop in the UK for the Rest of 2018?

Growing in our sweet spots, growing in areas where there is the most adoption. We see broad adoption in lots of different areas and options. Some of the sweet spots are marketing; the design and digital teams are a real sweet spot. By providing an app for those business processes, there’s definitely growth in that space. Marketing and designing themes is a sweet spot for us and we’re seeing that in the UK.

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