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Atlassian pledges $35 million to charity: Founders call on entrepreneurs to do more

With Atlassian’s latest share sale valuing it at $US3.3 billion the Australian software company has pledged $35 million to charity.

Founders Scott Farquhar and Mike Cannon-Brookes set aside 1% of the equity in Atlassian to the Atlassian foundation when they started the company.

Farquhar told SmartCompany the foundation is part of the “untold” story of Atlassian and the latest valuation means it is now a $35 million foundation on paper.

Like Atlassian’s business plan, Farquhar says the company takes a long term view to its charitable giving.

“It’s really about education,” he says.

“Ideally in 50 years time we want to say we have really achieved fixing something rather than just patching over something.”

Farquhar says the Atlassian foundation concentrates on education rather than services such as homeless shelters which, while vital, don’t really address the root cause of the problem. 

So far the Atlassian foundation has focused on charities such as Room to Read which works on educating children in the developing world.

“Their motto is that world change starts with educated children,” Farquhar says.

In addition to the $35 million in foundation stock, Atlassian has donated another $7 million to the Atlassian foundation and $3.1 million of this has been on-donated to Room to Read.

Farquhar says Australia does not have the culture of entrepreneurial giving like the United States. 

“We want to encourage other entrepreneurs to pledge 1% of their equity early on when it’s not worth much,” Farquhar says.

“Then, like Atlassian, hopefully in the future it is worth more.”

Cara Waters

SmartCompany editor

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Cara Waters is the editor of SmartCompany. Previously, Cara was a senior reporter at the Financial Times website FT Adviser in London and she also worked for The Sunday Times in London.