Protocol | Workplace

Does your workplace need another productivity app?

Height hopes to break into a crowded productivity space as the place you can both track and chat about work.

Screenshot of Height

Height's creation stems from a familiar workplace story: productivity tool overload.

Image: Height

Height, like a lot of project management tools, wants to be the place where you can visualize all of your work. It also wants to be the place teams across a company can chat about that work, according to CEO Michael Villar and COO Kat Li.

The tool launched Wednesday, generating a decent buzz on Twitter and words of encouragement from users who'd adopted Height in its private beta-testing phase. It's secured quite a bit of money since Villar founded it in 2018, raising $18.3 million over three rounds of funding.

Height's creation stems from a familiar workplace story: productivity tool overload. While working as an engineer at Stripe, a financial services software company, Villar found his team switched tools. A lot. Plus, different teams discussed and managed their work separately.

So he left and started working on Height, focusing on collaboration and flexibility. He wants to remove the headache of having both task information and company employees spread across platforms. "Companies want one tool for all," Villar said. "The entire state of projects and information is in that one tool."

This is a much-flaunted idea among productivity tools. Everyone wants to be the tool that encompasses and accommodates all your work needs. Or at least one of the go-to tools workers keep in their arsenal. In a remote working environment where tools have become essential, the stakes are high. Even well-established companies, like Atlassian's head of Trello told Source Code, are rethinking their purpose.

The team at Height knows the pressure is on for startups entering this already-crowded space. Okta's 2021 study of businesses and work tools found the average company uses 88 workplace apps, with tech companies at the very high end of the spectrum. The study also found that companies want specialized, "best of breed" tools. These apps have to be highly functional.

Li said this is why Height spent two years in private beta, straightening out as many kinks as possible before launching open access.

"There's already existing tools in the productivity space, so when you come out of private access, the expectations are really high," Li said. "We wanted to hold ourselves to a level of polish that we would be proud of."

As far as design goes, Height incorporates many features that are ubiquitous among productivity tools — and thus intuitive among users. For example, you can organize tasks into lists, which can then be viewed in a spreadsheet, Kanban board or calendar format. "You know, all the basic functionality that everyone already knows," Li said.

The tool is designed to adapt and grow with the company, Li said. For example, if a company wanted to map out their long-term vision for a product, it could use Height's "roadmap" timeline. Or if it wanted to hold a brainstorming session, it could create a task for that session and team members could start chatting with each other. Height is working on creating templates for different workflows that employees can add to their workspace by clicking a button.

The chat function was a major part of Height's appeal among beta users, according to Villar. He hopes being able to chat within any task item will make Height stand out. "If you look a little deeper, it's a completely different software," Villar said. The function eliminates the need to hop on a Slack thread to discuss a specific task. Instead, a user can ping a coworker within the task description itself.

Right now, Height's integrations — GitHub, Zendesk and Figma, among others — cater mostly to folks in engineering and product design. The integrations pull information from all these auxiliary tools and put them into one place: the tasks on Height. As the company builds more integrations, it plans to expand to other industries.

Height doesn't have a mobile app yet, but will be building one soon.

The team is looking to be surprised by how people use Height. Li said they're prepared to "open up the floodgates" to feedback now that anyone can access their product. And they hope people take advantage of their demos and introductory videos to get over the hump of trying something new.

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