Dustin Moskovitz

Co-Founder of Asana and Facebook

THIS CHAT HAPPENED ON December 08, 2016


Hi, I'm Dustin, co-founder and CEO of Asana. I am also involved in additional projects that help humanity thrive (Good Ventures, Vicarious), and am a Facebook co-founder. I expect this whole thing to be AMA-zing, and hopefully create greater understanding around working effectively and mindfully. But you can ask me about Burning Man, too :)
Egor Basov@egorbasov · Founder @Lustora
Hi, Dustin! Would you recommend to go get Master's degree (if yes, which one?) or try to start a business instead?
@egorbasov if your goal is to become an entrepreneur, my advice is to start at an existing company that is already providing great value to the world to learn how it is done: https://blog.asana.com/2015/11/y... Whether or not you need an advanced degree really depends on the way you want to specialize. (I don't even have a bachelor's degree, so certainly a master's is not required in general for being an entrepreneur.)
Philip Kuklis@philipkuklis · Co-Founder, Hubble
Hi Dustin, how do you envision team collaboration + project management 5-10 years from now?
@philipkuklis There is perfect clarity of purpose, plan and responsibility. Everyone knows who is going to do what by when, and feel that they can trust their teammates to follow through on their commitments. All of the work about work (figuring out the status of something, finding information someone else already has, etc) has become seamless and automated wherever possible, such that you can focus all of your energy on the actual work. The software we use will also be much better at helping you make decisions, like figuring out who the best person is to work on a particular task (both in terms of skill fit and availability).
Jourdan Bul-lalayao@jourdanb21 · Co-Founder & CTO, Jobox
Hey Dustin! Thanks so much for chatting with us here on Product Hunt! We know that the first employees for each company are crucial to the company's success, and bad hires can really do some damage. What was your strategy on how you built out your core team at Facebook and Asana? How did you know that someone was a great candidate to bring onto the team at such an early stage?
Yegor Mytrofanov@yegorzajno · COO at Zajno
Hi Dustin! This might sound like a cliche question, but me and our team at Zajno are really curious (as we use Asana for our work) - what (in your opinion) makes your product better than Flow or Azendoo, for example? We've been researching team management products, and decided to stick with Asana, but I'm interested in your perspective as an insider and creator, cause to me those tools are pretty similar functionality wise. Thanks!
Andrew Bass@andrewdbass · Startup junkie and improving hacker
Dustin, can you tell us about how your technical and business skills grew as you worked on Facebook during the early days? How much did you know at the beginning and what did you learn along the way?
@andrewdbass I knew more or less nothing at the beginning. Though I was generally proficient with computers, I wasn't really a programmer and literally took intro to computer science (CS50) the semester before we started Facebook. Mostly I learned by reading Mark's code, trial and error, and by searching for answers to questions that were coming up for me. Other skills I learned from the more experienced people who joined Facebook in the early days, especially Matt Cohler and Jeff Rothschild, and from direct experience over time. I often tell new managers that they shouldn't assume they can learn the relevant skills the same way they have acquired technical skills (e.g. by reading and training) -- it really takes experience. More on that by the wonderful Julie Zhuo: https://medium.com/the-year-of-t...
Ennio@enniodybeli · Product Designer @Typeform
Hi @moskov thanks for your time! How do you think that Trump's presidency its going to affect technology companies and innovation in the states and worldwide? [sorry for going political]
Elavenil@elavenil_e · Entrepreneur, Investor and Coffee Addict
What made you choose to make ASANA??
@elavenil_e Justin and I were working at Facebook and ended up deciding to build an internal tool to help the teams there track their work. The results for the company were beyond our expectations, and we realized that we could help a lot more teams if we started a new organization focused on that problem. There are more details about this part of our journey in this LifeHacker article: http://lifehacker.com/we-are-the... Asana is an exciting opportunity to work on because it means that we are indirectly helping work on almost every other area of the world (both problems and opportunities). We get to build infrastructure that helps all teams achieve their goals: https://blog.asana.com/2013/05/s... Too often, the friction of coordination, of communicating the right amount of information, to the right people, at the right time, in the right place, gets in the way. Asana is the solution.
Joshua Pinter@joshuapinter · Product at CNTRAL. Maker of ntwrk.
@moskov @elavenil_e "we are indirectly helping work on almost every other area of the world" That is a particularly interesting trait of a problem that you're solving. Something that affects a number of other areas. I find I have an internal struggle where I feel like I'm not accomplishing enough. Not affecting the world in a big enough way. But it's important to remember that what you do could indirectly affect the work of others in a number of different areas. For example, maybe a musician says to themselves, "People are inventing electric vehicles and taking things to space, and here I am just making beeps and boops." But maybe their music was the soundtrack that gave inspiration and motivation to a cancer researcher to work through the night and get one step closer to a cure. So, in a way, by putting out quality into the world, whatever that may be, you have an indirect contribution in the world at large. /philosophical_rant
@joshuapinter @elavenil_e I agree that is possible, but for Asana the indirect impact is probable, and that's a big difference for me.
Krishaan Khubchand@krishaan_khubchand · Student
Hey Dustin, There's this old CS50 lecture, where Mark Zuckerburg said that when you co-founded Facebook, and eventually moved onto being its CTO, your only background in programming was one CS course. How did you go about learning more about programming etc? And if you were beginning to learn to programme again, how would you go about doing it? ++PS Major Major kudos/respect on Good Ventures; you guys are doing important work!
Ruben Harris@rubenharris
@krishaan_khubchand Great question. I wanted to ask the same thing.
@krishaan_khubchand more about this on https://www.producthunt.com/live... If I was doing it again today, I'd probably try to go through a real comp sci program, or go through one of the bootcamps if I had already graduated from college. It's certainly possible to teach yourself to program, but we're actually getting really great at teaching other people too. Thanks for the kind words re: Good Ventures!
Matt Dickinson@mattdickinson · Cofounder TheMindfulnessSummit.com
Asana Roadmap qn - when the hell are we getting a native Mac App !! ? Ideally one that behaves nicely when offline / syncs so we can dig/search through all the amazing treasure trove of info in our Asana and create tasks, plan etc when we're on flights and in low coverage areas of our earth!?
Jas Chimni@jas_chimni · Product Analyst
Hey Dustin There are a lot of project management tools out in the market, what got you inspired to make asana? also how is asana different than other tools in the market?
@jas_chimni There’s a lot going on in the broader collaboration right now -- many apps are improving the way teams can collaborate. One big areas is file storage and sharing. Another is messaging and team chat. But there are still some big gaps -- software that can help teams understand who’s doing what by when. We call this work tracking, and are focused on building the best work tracking app for teams. Within this area there are a lot of solutions. Our aim is to make work tracking software that’s both easy enough for any team to get started and powerful enough to grow with them as their workflows get more complex. This is a great overview of this at https://asa.na/1lo Re: inspiration, there's more about that on https://www.producthunt.com/live...
Thomas Stöcklein@tomstocklein · FoundersFundersFuture.com
Having already achieved tremendous financial and entrepreneurial success, what drives you? What do you look forward to when you wake up in the morning?
@tomstocklein We have a tremendous opportunity right now, as my co-founder Justin explains eloquently at https://techcrunch.com/2012/01/2... . I'm driven by being able to leverage my time to make the world better. I want to help humanity thrive.
Irakli Vekua@ivekua · Co-founder and Growth, Kings
Hi Dustin, What is the most counterintuitive thing, you learned last time about managing people/team?
@ivekua you shouldn't try to solve their problems if you want them to learn and grow. It's much better to ask great questions that help them figure it out on their own and sometimes you just need to say "yea, that sounds really hard, but I believe you'll find the right answer if you keep looking!"
Emily Hodgins@ems_hodge · Operations @ Product Hunt
What three things should every new founder concentrate above all else?
Andrew Ettinger@andrewett · 👟 @wearAtoms // ex @Twitter @ProductHunt
Thanks for joining today! What's your favorite story from the Facebook days that most people here probably don't know?
Vinay Khosla@vinay123 · Co-founder Zenyx.com. Builder. Investor.
Hi. In today's distributed, freelance and matrixed workplaces, are traditional project management techniques still relevant? Thanks.
@vinay123 Asana gives your team clarity by answering the questions "what are the next steps between now and accomplishing our next goal?", "who is responsible for what?", and "when are they expected to be done?" No matter how your workplace is organized, knowing those answers is critical to your ability to make progress.
Sven van der Zee@svenvdz · Founder AcceptCrypto
Hi Dustin, what advice do you have for teenagers to start their own business?
@svenvd_zee don't. There are too many entrepreneurs already (see also https://medium.com/i-m-h-o/good-...) My advice is to start your career at an existing company that's already creating a lot of value in the world: https://blog.asana.com/2015/11/y...
Samuel Polat@samuelpolat · Student Creator
What are the advantages of Asana over Trello?
@samuelpolat There are a lot of great apps focused on work tracking. Asana is committed to being both easy and powerful, so we take a holistic approach by providing an app with different visualizations of your team work to accommodate different types of thinkers and preferences. For example, we recently launched Boards in Asana -- our answer to kanban boards (which are the basic concept underlying Trello’s product). If you’re interested in more detail, I’d check out https://asa.na/1mg We agree with Trello that kanban boards should be a feature of great work tracking software (and not a standalone product), but we also believe there are a lot of other powerful views necessary to facilitate effective collaboration, like grids, calendars, and progress dashboards. From a data model perspective, I'd add that Asana is more object-oriented. Our tasks can live in multiple boards and lists, and can be organized in arbitrarily sophisticated ways via our sorting/filtering options and advanced search functionality. In contrast, Trello is more document oriented - a card lives in one board and everyone has the same view of that board.
Jason Safaiyeh@safaiyeh · TODO Menubar, MyProgress, Vestige
From my understanding Asana started as an internal tool in Facebook, how was the transition to leave Facebook and build Asana as its own company? Were there important players that did not want to leave? Was there any resistance to stop you from leaving or keep Asana as a FB product?
@safaiyeh a little more about this on https://www.producthunt.com/live... Justin and I were collaborating on the internal tool pretty closely and made the decision to leave together. While we weren't the only ones who contributed to it, there wasn't anyone else that we asked to come along on that journey. Generally, we were really averse to doing anything that might unduly disrupt Facebook, including avoiding recruiting anyone else for a long time after we left. At the time, it was pretty clear that Facebook was not going to build an enterprise product, and I myself thought it would be a distraction from the core mission. (this was many years for FB For Work) So we were all pretty aligned on the idea that we should leave to start a new company if the thing we wanted to do was build a work tracking tool.
Jason Safaiyeh@safaiyeh · TODO Menubar, MyProgress, Vestige
@moskov Interesting, using Facebook to test the idea. Gets me thinking about testing products within smaller and niche communities before starting a push it to a more broad audience.
Orlando Del Aguila@eatcodetravel · Engineer | 🐵 simian-ci.com
Hey Dustin, In a so crowded space like project management tools, why did you choose start Asana. And how did you ignore all the people that probably told that it wasn't a good idea.