Enterprise

With New “Inbox” Feature, Asana Is Looking More Like That Email Slayer We’re All Longing For

Comment

Email. Everybody hates it but no tech company has figured out how to replace its old post-office metaphor with something more intuitive for the modern world. But Asana, the high-profile task management company started by early Facebookers, is taking a shot at this goal with a new feature called Inbox.

This isn’t a direct competitor to email, though, as cofounder Justin Rosenstein related to me during a demo earlier this week.

Instead, as he described it, the company is combining the most useful parts of email, plus activity feeds, notifications and other types of messaging systems that you’ll see on sites like Facebook and Twitter. The result is a central column of new information flowing through, showing you all the activity happening with you and your colleagues in Asana.

So, if you’re a part of a project in Asana — say “Guest Posts” that an editorial staff is editing for the coming weekend (a real use case) — you can click on the Inbox button at the top of the right-hand navigation column in the site to track all of the latest activity from others in the group. You’ll see “stories” sort of like in the Facebook news feed, but each story is about a task, and describes an action. So if Peter Ha marked a task you assigned him as complete, you’ll know that he’s finished editing a guest post. Rosenstein adds that other activity will appear, like if someone creates a task that you do not follow within a project, you’ll see only one notification about it.

Each Task story lets you flag it as important or unfollow in the event your colleagues are getting too spammy. And, you only see updates on tasks and projects that you’re subscribed to. Real-time updates show up as other users make changes, and each story gets archived automatically as you read through so you’re automatically resetting to zero by using it.

Compare this to how email might work. I send Peter a doc to edit, which he moves into Google Docs and edits separately. He emails back saying that he’s working on it. Then he has to email back to confirm. And if we get into an argument about how to edit it or whatnot, then that’ll just drag the thread out further.

Now look back at Asana. Each task already contains all the metadata about the article we’re working, including any notes we (or that other guy Anthony) leave for each other about it. The discussion, the scheduled run-date, the person responsible and everything else is there instead of in email or in a spreadsheet somewhere — and this new Inbox feed means we only need to click once then browse to see the latest news.

The main problem with the new feature is that most of the value is in cutting down internal communication email. That’s been great for the growing number of companies using it, including Foursquare, Twitter and AirBnB.

I told Rosenstein that as useful as Asana was for our guest post system, we’re too loose of an organization to need this sort of internal tool for most stories. Our writers, after all, have great freedom to publish as they please without going through a task-driven review process. What we could really use, I explained, was an easier way to import any email from our inboxes into an Asana task; its current system requires a bunch of copy-pasting special Asana codes into your email adress books then remembering to cc any outbound email to them, which is a pain. He replied they’ve gotten many requests in this area from all sorts of other organizations with lots of external email communication (customer service organizations being a good example, heh). And he promised that there’s a plan on the roadmap for something along these lines.

Read the official details of the Inbox launch from my old VentureBeat colleague Dan Kaplan, who now works for Asana. 

More TechCrunch

Tags

All cars suffer when the mercury drops, but electric vehicles suffer more than most as heaters draw more power and batteries charge more slowly as the liquid electrolyte inside thickens.…

Porsche invests in battery startup South 8 to boost cold-weather EV performance

Scale AI has raised a $1 billion Series F round from a slew of big-name institutional and corporate investors including Amazon and Meta.

Data-labeling startup Scale AI raises $1B as valuation doubles to $13.8B

The new coalition, Tech Against Scams, will work together to find ways to fight back against the tools used by scammers and to better educate the public against financial scams.

Meta, Match, Coinbase and others team up to fight online fraud and crypto scams

It’s a wrap: European Union lawmakers have given the final approval to set up the bloc’s flagship, risk-based regulations for artificial intelligence.

EU Council gives final nod to set up risk-based regulations for AI

London-based fintech Vitesse has closed a $93 million Series C round of funding led by investment giant KKR.

Vitesse, a payments and treasury management platform for insurers, raises $93M to fuel US expansion

Zen Educate, an online marketplace that connects schools with teachers, has raised $37 million in a Series B round of funding. The raise comes amid a growing teacher shortage crisis…

Zen Educate raises $37M and acquires Aquinas Education as it tries to address the teacher shortage

“When I heard the released demo, I was shocked, angered and in disbelief that Mr. Altman would pursue a voice that sounded so eerily similar to mine.”

Scarlett Johansson says that OpenAI approached her to use her voice

A new self-driving truck — manufactured by Volvo and loaded with autonomous vehicle tech developed by Aurora Innovation — could be on public highways as early as this summer.  The…

Aurora and Volvo unveil self-driving truck designed for a driverless future

The European venture capital firm raised its fourth fund as fund as climate tech “comes of age.”

ETF Partners raises €285M for climate startups that will be effective quickly — not 20 years down the road

Copilot, Microsoft’s brand of generative AI, will soon be far more deeply integrated into the Windows 11 experience.

Microsoft wants to make Windows an AI operating system, launches Copilot+ PCs

Hello and welcome back to TechCrunch Space. For those who haven’t heard, the first crewed launch of Boeing’s Starliner capsule has been pushed back yet again to no earlier than…

TechCrunch Space: Star(side)liner

When I attended Automate in Chicago a few weeks back, multiple people thanked me for TechCrunch’s semi-regular robotics job report. It’s always edifying to get that feedback in person. While…

These 81 robotics companies are hiring

The top vehicle safety regulator in the U.S. has launched a formal probe into an April crash involving the all-electric VinFast VF8 SUV that claimed the lives of a family…

VinFast crash that killed family of four now under federal investigation

When putting a video portal in a public park in the middle of New York City, some inappropriate behavior will likely occur. The Portal, the vision of Lithuanian artist and…

NYC-Dublin real-time video portal reopens with some fixes to prevent inappropriate behavior

Longtime New York-based seed investor, Contour Venture Partners, is making progress on its latest flagship fund after lowering its target. The firm closed on $42 million, raised from 64 backers,…

Contour Venture Partners, an early investor in Datadog and Movable Ink, lowers the target for its fifth fund

Meta’s Oversight Board has now extended its scope to include the company’s newest platform, Instagram Threads, and has begun hearing cases from Threads.

Meta’s Oversight Board takes its first Threads case

The company says it’s refocusing and prioritizing fewer initiatives that will have the biggest impact on customers and add value to the business.

SeekOut, a recruiting startup last valued at $1.2 billion, lays off 30% of its workforce

The U.K.’s self-proclaimed “world-leading” regulations for self-driving cars are now official, after the Automated Vehicles (AV) Act received royal assent — the final rubber stamp any legislation must go through…

UK’s autonomous vehicle legislation becomes law, paving the way for first driverless cars by 2026

ChatGPT, OpenAI’s text-generating AI chatbot, has taken the world by storm. What started as a tool to hyper-charge productivity through writing essays and code with short text prompts has evolved…

ChatGPT: Everything you need to know about the AI-powered chatbot

SoLo Funds CEO Travis Holoway: “Regulators seem driven by press releases when they should be motivated by true consumer protection and empowering equitable solutions.”

Fintech lender SoLo Funds is being sued again by the government over its lending practices

Hard tech startups generate a lot of buzz, but there’s a growing cohort of companies building digital tools squarely focused on making hard tech development faster, more efficient and —…

Rollup wants to be the hardware engineer’s workhorse

TechCrunch Disrupt 2024 is not just about groundbreaking innovations, insightful panels, and visionary speakers — it’s also about listening to YOU, the audience, and what you feel is top of…

Disrupt Audience Choice vote closes Friday

Google says the new SDK would help Google expand on its core mission of connecting the right audience to the right content at the right time.

Google is launching a new Android feature to drive users back into their installed apps

Jolla has taken the official wraps off the first version of its personal server-based AI assistant in the making. The reborn startup is building a privacy-focused AI device — aka…

Jolla debuts privacy-focused AI hardware

The ChatGPT mobile app’s net revenue first jumped 22% on the day of the GPT-4o launch and continued to grow in the following days.

ChatGPT’s mobile app revenue saw its biggest spike yet following GPT-4o launch

Dating app maker Bumble has acquired Geneva, an online platform built around forming real-world groups and clubs. The company said that the deal is designed to help it expand its…

Bumble buys community building app Geneva to expand further into friendships

CyberArk — one of the army of larger security companies founded out of Israel — is acquiring Venafi, a specialist in machine identity, for $1.54 billion. 

CyberArk snaps up Venafi for $1.54B to ramp up in machine-to-machine security

Founder-market fit is one of the most crucial factors in a startup’s success, and operators (someone involved in the day-to-day operations of a startup) turned founders have an almost unfair advantage…

OpenseedVC, which backs operators in Africa and Europe starting their companies, reaches first close of $10M fund

A Singapore High Court has effectively approved Pine Labs’ request to shift its operations to India.

Pine Labs gets Singapore court approval to shift base to India

The AI Safety Institute, a U.K. body that aims to assess and address risks in AI platforms, has said it will open a second location in San Francisco. 

UK opens office in San Francisco to tackle AI risk