Growth

Atlassian’s huge listing is “just the beginning”

Denham Sadler /

A $605 million IPO is “just the beginning” of Atlassian’s journey and there’s still a long way to go until it reaches its full potential, co-founder Scott Farquhar says.

The workplace collaboration software company was founded by Farquhar and Mike Cannon-Brookes in 2002 on the back of $10,000 in credit card debt.

With the listing on the NASDAQ, it’s now worth more than $8 billion.

Speaking to StartupSmart shortly after ringing the NASDAQ bell, Farquhar says it’s a “fantastic” moment, but the Atlassian journey still has a long way to go.

“It’s a huge recognition of the work we’ve put in over the last 12 years,” Farquhar says.

“It’s a huge achievement and recognition of the team we’ve built and their work.

“It’s a great milestone and not many companies get to have this milestone, but it’s a step along the journey.

“We’re still focused on the long-term Atlassian. We’ll be a public company tomorrow and the day after that and the day after that. We’re focused on innovation and creating an amazing company.”

Shares in Atlassian rose by more than 30% on its first day of trading, hitting a peak of $US27.90, well up from the original $US21 price.

“No bullshit”

There were huge expectations and pressure riding on the Aussie startup’s listing.

Atlassian’s IPO success is in stark contrast to the rest of the year which has seen a series of disappointing tech IPOs where companies have been forced to slash their private valuations.

But Atlassian has always been a bit different.

The pair created the company with two simple goals: they didn’t want to wear suits to work and Farquhar wanted to make more money than the salary he had been offered by PwC.

With the duo still retaining 66% of the company, they are Australia’s newest billionaires.

It’s a company that’s based its entire being on its values and “no bullshit” approach to doing business, something which is summed up in its ticker: TEAM.

The Australian startup has been profitable since early on and Farquhar says he thinks this is a big part of what has attracted investors.

“We’ve had 10 years of cash flow and products, we have a unique business model and a different way of investing in marketing,” he says.

“I think it’s been such a favourable market because people are investing not because they want to change us but because they recognise we’re a successful company that will continue to be successful.”

The next Microsoft

Atlassian’s services – HipChat, Jira and Confluence among others – are used by over 5 million people around the world, but this is only a fraction of its potential, Farquhar says.

“We recognise how large our opportunity is,” he says.

“We really help knowledge workers with their capacity – our products help them to be more collaborative. There are 800 million knowledge workers in the world and we have 5 million using our products as of today.

“That’s a huge opportunity.”

On the back of the huge listing, 2016 will see the company looking to reach this wider audience.

“Now we’ve solved this fundamental problem for knowledge workers, the next year is about taking it to as many knowledge workers as possible,” Farquhar says.

“Our aim is to do for team productivity what Microsoft did for personal productivity.”

A beacon for the next generation

While the pair have understandably been “a little too busy” to investigate the Australian government’s innovation statement in full, Farquhar says that it’s crucial that innovation and startups are now in the mainstream.

“This is the first stake in the ground,” he says.

“We now have a government that realises that what happens above the ground is more important than what we dig for below it.

“There’s now recognition that innovation and technology is the way to secure Australia’s future prosperity – historically that hasn’t been the case. The public discourse has changed.”

With leaders in Australia’s startup community saying Atlassian’s success will act as a “beacon” to inspire the next generation of entrepreneurs, Farquhar has some simple advice for these budding founders.

“My advice is to take the long-term view of what you want to do,” he says.

“It took us 13 years to get this far.

“You need to do something you’re passionate about. If you’re not excited about it, it’s not possible.

“If you want to be the change in the universe, if you want to make a difference, it’s a long-term thing.”

Do you know more on this story or have a tip of your own? Raising capital or launching a startup? Let us know. Follow StartupSmart on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

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Denham Sadler

Denham Sadler is a former editor of StartupSmart. He was previously a journalist at the publication and has worked as a freelancer for the Guardian, the Saturday Paper and the ABC. In his spare time he likes puns and jaffles.

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