Apr 28, 2019

Starting Linear

Introducing the more enjoyable and efficient way to manage software development and issue tracking with linear.app

A few weeks ago I left my role as Principal Designer at Airbnb to start a new company. While I was excited about the work at Airbnb and I had the opportunity to work on great projects where I felt that I learned a lot. Most recently worked on setting of the product design direction for the company. I've always felt I want to be a founder again, and build something of my own.

Something that really frustrated me at Airbnb, and many other companies I've worked at, is how bad a lot of exciting tasks/project/issue tracking tools were. Usually, every team and company started with a quite casual way of managing work, but later needed some tracking system, and often ended up using something like JIRA. I could see how the team motivation sank and how much time the team wasted arguing against it. Eventually, people give up, since they have to use something and there aren't any great options really.

For me using these tools, as a designer, I was surprised how badly they were designed. It felt like they were not designed for humans, and took all the good design rules and reversed them. Often companies would overly customize the workflows to be unnecessarily complex so that it made it even harder for people to use. This means we would still have to have meetings about managing and tracking the work, and the overall system felt very ineffective.

Just from a visual standpoint, these tools had a lot of noise, and it was hard to understand the important things. For my own sanity, I actually wrote a Chrome Extension at Airbnb reduce some of the information overload of JIRA, and tone down and improve some of the visuals for better hierarchy. While I only wrote the extension mainly for myself, 100 people ended up using it in the company.

My friends Jori Lallo and Tuomas Artman had similar experiences at Coinbase and Uber. We also saw that most companies are no longer run by pure Agile or SCRUM practices, they have evolved their processes, but the tools haven't. If these tools don't work well for designers, engineering or even the management, then who do they work for?

Since all of us had felt the pain and were generally frustrated about the situations, we wanted to do something to fix it. With we want to create the new standard for a tool that would support modern software development and issue tracking practices that actually in use in some of the top companies.

Read more about our plans on the Medium post, Announcing Linear

And sign up for the waitlist linear.app and follow us on twitter @linear_app.