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Asana adds $28 million, Facebook investor Peter Thiel to board

July 23, 2012|By Jessica Guynn
(Peter DaSilva for The Times )

The ambitious young entrepreneurs who left Facebook to build their own company Asana have raised $28 million and recruited Peter Thiel to the San Francisco company’s board.

The round values Asana at $280 million, a person familiar with the deal said.

Facebook co-founder Dustin Moskovitz and former Facebook employee Justin Rosenstein said that Thiel, who was the first to invest in Facebook and sits on the social networking giant’s board, will be a key advisor.

“Peter has a lot of experience in building strong organizations in very deliberate and steady ways. That was a lot of what we valued about his influence at Facebook. He helped shape Facebook to be a great organization. We hope he will bring a similar value to Asana,” Moskovitz said.

Asana, which is striving to have the same effect on how people work together that Facebook had on how they socialize with each other, had raised $10.2 million. The latest round included Thiel’s venture firm Founders Fund and previous investors Benchmark Capital, Andreessen Horowitz and angel investor Mitch Kapor.

“We have a very ambitious mission here at Asana, to help coordinate collective human action,” Rosenstein said. “We understood from Day One that it was critical to have a stellar team. Today our team got much stronger.”

He added: “We think Peter and Founders Fund are a great fit. We have a lot of shared values and an appetite for taking on very big problems.”

Asana officially launched to the public in November and Rosenstein says the service that was being used by a few hundred teams is now being used by tens of thousands. It counts among its customers Foursquare, Twitter, LinkedIn, the San Francisco mayor’s office and the San Francisco 49ers.

Asana rolled out a paid version of its productivity and collaboration service in April and hundreds of companies have signed up, Rosenstein said. The paid version has more features than the free version and is not limited to 30 users as the free version is.

Asana says its customers are using Asana as their “homepage” for work, and much of their communication is migrating from email to Asana.

Asana is a newcomer to the ultra-competitive business software market and is taking on entrenched players and young startups alike. Yet, while Facebook’s initial public stock offering fell flat, companies borrowing from social networking to focus on the business software market have received a warmer reception.

Asana plans to use the money it raised to add top designers and engineers to its team of 27 staffers to improve the design of the product and add new features. Rosenstein said Asana’s leaders still want to keep the company relatively small.

“We are at the very, very beginning of a very long product road map,” Rosenstein said.

Thiel is the fifth member of the board, taking a seat alongside Moskovitz, Rosenstein, Adam D’Angelo, a Facebook alumnus and founder of Quora, and Matt Cohler, also an early Facebook employee and now a venture capitalist at Benchmark.

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