Mike Cannon-Brookes and Scott Farquhar may not have had a solid idea of what they were doing when they launched Atlassian with little more than a hope, a prayer and a few maxed-out credit cards but it has become much bigger than either of them could have dreamed. It was the start of a new century and the world was still reeling from the dot.com crash – nobody was interested in taking investment risk on tech. To compound the issue, Australia was thousands of miles away from the warm-IT embrace of Silicon Valley when Cannon-Brookes and Farquhar first came up with the concept and there were no support systems in the land down-under for those looking to get their tech company off the ground.
“Mike and I joke that there must be an IPO 101 class taught in Palo Alto somewhere,” Farquhar says, referring to co-CEO Mike Cannon-Brookes, in a 2015 Forbes interviews. “We didn’t grow up in Silicon Valley with IPO preschool, we had to focus on a sustainable company.”
Fast forward eighteen years and the startup founded by two upstarts has cracked $1 billion in annual revenue for the first time since their beginning. Atlassian also celebrates that their client roster has hit 150,000 customers which tripled their internal targets. A lot of their growth can be attributed to their savvy acquisition strategy, including their 2019 acquisitions of list-making application Trello and incident management software Opsgenie.
Founded in 2001, Atlassian’s first kick at the software product-can was Jira, a bug-tracking product designed specifically for software developers. Client companies became interested in how Jira could be applied as a project management tool and from there, it grew into a service that could be parceled out as a non-IT workflow solution, a software project tracker, and a service desk option for IT teams. They built on that success by adding Confluence, team-collaboration software, to their product offerings a few years later.
“Atlassian’s mission is to unleash the potential of every team, and we do that through software that we create to help teams work better together. Our products are in 130,000 different organizations,” said Jay Simmons, President of Atlassian.
Despite their success, Cannon-Brookes and Farquhar have no intention of stopping there. They have grand ambitions to reach 100 million active users and plan to launch free-editions of some of their cloud software to introduce their products and services to new users. In fiscal 2020, Atlassian also intends on investing further in their cloud business; migrating their current on-premise customers to their cumulus-inspired offerings; and introducing more competitive pricing.
“We still have a long way to go in terms of the market we are trying to reach, but the broader ambition is that is that we aspire to have every knowledge worker use one or more of Atlassian products every day,” Simons said. “Irrespective of their walk of life, we believe that what they are trying to do collectively with another group of people can be better enabled through our products. There are over one billion knowledge workers in the world, so there are many companies and knowledge workers that we can reach.”