wealth management

Former Smart50 winners Atlassian rocket to top of Young Rich List: Four nuggets of wisdom from the tech gurus

Engel Schmidl /

Former Smart50 winners Mike Cannon-Brookes and Scott Farquhar have managed to tip mining mogul Nathan Tinkler off the top of the BRW Young Rich List, riding their company’s wave of success with a fortune worth $480 million.

Technology is a major factor in this year’s list, with both Smart50 entrants and tech entrepreneurs littered among the entrants.

Hezi Leibovich from Catch of the Day, Ruslan Kogan, Mark Harbottle and Vaughan Bowen have all managed to find a place on the list, after having their businesses recognised by SmartCompany‘s awards for the fastest growing businesses in Australia.

While the rise of Cannon-Brookes and Scott Farquhar, and their software company Atlassian, is a sign that falling commodity prices are hurting Nathan Tinkler, it’s more a testament to the tech pair’s home-grown success.

Atlassian has grown from a small start-up into one of the biggest companies of its kind, employing 530 people across the world and turning over more than $100 million. In 2010, Accel Partners paid $60 million for a stake in the business, setting off a trio of investments in Australian companies.

Along the way, the company has shared plenty of advice with SmartCompany about how tech entrepreneurs can succeed:

Four nuggets of wisdom from Atlassian

1. Always think of the long term

While the company has been cagey so far on IPO plans, Cannon-Brookes told SmartCompany earlier this year the poor Facebook initial public offering isn’t a deterrent – you need to think long term.

“You don’t want people to buy or sell stock based on the hopes or dreams of making piles of money. You want people to think the company is going to do well in the long term.”

2. Don’t dilute your culture

Atlassian maintains a strong employee culture with regular team-building activities. The company says you need to foster that culture even as you grow to house hundreds of employees.

“We place a lot of emphasis on the culture and values of the business. We want to sustain a long-term brand, and culture is really important to that. We have a very positive and fun culture, with a lot of very young, smart people. You have to work on that stuff very hard.”

3. Successful Australian companies need to have a global focus

The string of overseas investments in Australian tech companies suggests the scene is alive and well, but Cannon-Brookes says companies that want to have international success need to have an international focus.

“To be a successful Australian technology company you need to have a global focus, or at least have a very defensible local focus,” Cannon-Brookes says. His company now has millions of customers around the world – including Microsoft.

“If you look at all the tech companies here, Seek, RealEstate.com.au and so on, they have a clear advantage and local focus. And there are real, high-quality businesses here that are turning over profits.”

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