Atlassian is about as ubiquitous to software engineers as Google is to the rest of us. The Sydney-based company, which launched in 2002, develops tools and services for enterprise collaboration and marched efficiently to a public offering in 2015.
As far as entrepreneurship goes, Cannon-Brookes is on a very short list of founders who have led a company from founding to public offering, and all the steps in between.
Atlassian was one of the early players in enterprise collaboration, particularly for engineering and development teams, and has over the years introduced a robust product suite, including Jira, Confluence and HipChat.
Cannon-Brookes has been at the helm for the entire journey, from raising early funding to product development to acquisitions (including Trello) to public offering and beyond. All the while, Cannon-Brookes kept the company’s HQ, and all invoicing, in its home country of Australia, becoming the most successful tech startup to ever launch out of the nation down under.
One of the more interesting features of the company? Unlike Microsoft and IBM and other big enterprise software companies, Atlassian has always operated without a proper sales team, using a fraction of spend on sales and marketing compared to other enterprise software giants.
“We had a hunch early on that salespeople break software companies,” Cannon-Brookes told the Australian Financial Review in 2015. “But convincing people this model would work has probably been the biggest struggle we’ve had. We’ve had a lot of smart people who wouldn’t join the company or give us money or advise us because it made no sense to them.”
The company developed an enormously successful distribution flywheel built on the back of one necessary ingredient: remarkable products. Great products at low prices mean that you can sell to everyone, and if you sell to everyone you have to do it online and with transparent pricing and a great free trial. But if you offer a free trial, you better have a remarkable product, and the flywheel spins on and on.
It has worked.
Atlassian products are used by more than 160,000 large and small organizations across the globe, including Spotify, NASA, Sotheby’s and Visa.
Cannon-Brookes is also a tech investor across sectors like software, fintech, agriculture and energy, with a seat on the board of Zoox.
We’re excited to sit down with Cannon-Brookes and hear more about the company’s trajectory over the last two decades and hear what comes next for the behemoth.
Disrupt SF 2020 runs September 14 to September 16 at the Moscone Center right in the heart of San Francisco. For folks who can’t make it in person, we have several Digital Pass options to be part of the action or to exhibit virtually, which you can check out here.
We’ll be announcing more speakers over the coming weeks, so stay tuned.
(Editor’s Note: We’re watching the developing situation around the novel coronavirus very closely and will adapt as we go. You can find out the latest on our event schedule plans here.)