We are always interested to know how a promising startup came to be a legitimate business. Such is the story about Atlassian, Australian-born company best known for their product Jira, which provides bug tracking, issue tracking, and project management functions.
Founded in 2001 by two friends and college buddies, Mike Cannon-Brookes and Scott Farquhar, Atlassian is now a global company with more then 1300 employees, and a number of worldwide offices. They had an idea and a 10 000 AUD debt on their credit cards. The simple guidelines they tried to follow then, and still follow now, led them to a global success story.
The duo met during their college days at University of South Wales. Both were not outstanding students, but they had a common interest in software programming and business. The basic idea behind Jira was simple. They wanted a software product that will sell cheaply and could be replicated. With the development of internet and the increase of the speed, the process became even cheaper and faster. Along with that process, the market value of Atlassian sky-rocketed. By mid-2006, Atlassian, had slightly under 4,500 customers and offices in Sydney and San Francisco, mostly built around Jira and another platform called Confluence. Only a year later, they nearly doubled the number of employees to 98, and the revenue was $22,5 mil.
In those days, company proudly represented itself as a group of friends, hanging out on weekly poker nights, trips to Vegas etc. With the enormous increase of employees later down the road, that type of relationships were not possible to maintain, but their friendly approach to each and every of their employees remained unchanged. They had their rough periods, especially in 2009 during the peak of global financial crisis and with the passing of Jeffrey Walker, head of San Francisco office and a very important figure in company becoming worldwide success story.
In that year they also formed a partnership with Accel, a company that in 2014 held around 16% of Atlassian stock shares, second most behind the two founders, who had 39% each.
Cannon-Brooks and Farquhar, now one of richest people in Australia, have funded a great number of Australian startups over the last decade and are great contributors to the resurgence of startup community ‘down under’. They say that the main reason is ‘patriotism’, but that same feeling didn’t stop them from moving their headquarters from Sydney to London in order to have a leverage when the company goes completely out on the stock market.
Besides Jira, Atlassian’s main products are Confluence, HipChat, BitBucket, SourceTree, Bamboo and many others.
The story of Atlassian goes to show us how a simple idea, clear guidelines and a lot of hard work provokes that little bit of luck that you need to create something extraordinary.