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Atlassian … What do they do again?

Co-founders Scott Farquhar, left, and Mike Cannon-Brookes, right, at the Atlassian IPO dedicated the day to team work.

Co-founders Scott Farquhar, left, and Mike Cannon-Brookes, right, at the Atlassian IPO dedicated the day to team work. Photo: Christopher Galluzzo

It’s run by two painfully young Aussie billionaires, its mottos are “we’re for teams” and “don’t #@!% the customer”, and it just made a spectacular debut on the NASDAQ. But what does Atlassian actually do?

Compared to other tech successes like Facebook and Twitter, Atlassian’s hard work happens behind the scenes.

In a nutshell, it is a software company which builds platforms and tools for businesses.

It counts some of the biggest companies in the world as its clients, including NASA, Toyota, Netflix and, yes, Facebook and Twitter.


There are several Atlassian products available, which clients sign up to on a subscription basis.

At the core is JIRA, a platform for software developer teams to, well, build and manage software.

Melbourne biomedical software startup Halogenics has been using JIRA for about five years, before Atlassian became the media darling it is today.

“JIRA’s central to everything for us because it allows you to set up and manage issues which lead into the developer workflow,” says Halogenics managing director Andy Fleming.

Since then, Halogenics has adopted other Atlassian tools which connect with JIRA to manage its service desk, help desk, web portal and more.

“We’re full-on Atlassian junkies,” he says.

Other products in Atlassian’s suite include an internal chat client called HipChat, not unlike that other Silicon Valley darling, Slack; and a place for developers to share code, called BitBucket, not dissimilar from GitHub.

Then there is JIRA Core, which can be used across other business verticals, not just IT; and JIRA Service Desk, to manage IT issues.

Each of these can be customised to suit a business’s needs, and there are thousands of add-ons too. The business can either do that themselves, or call on an Atlassian expert to help out.

What you won’t find Atlassian doing though is sending out a salesperson.

Unlike so many big software companies, Atlassian doesn’t have a “sales force”, opting instead for word-of-mouth marketing to keep costs down.

Halogenics’ Fleming says the $10-a-year entry-level price tier for start-ups to use JIRA was what hooked his company in.

The unique model means a much higher proportion of its staff is dedicated to building and improving its products, although Atlassian does not disclose how many developers work at the company.

Sales force or not, Atlassian sure knows how to market itself.

Its ticker on the Nasdaq stock exchange is “team”.

At the opening bell at its IPO on Thursday, founders Mike Cannon-Brookes and Scott Farquhar drove home the message.

“The ticker symbol, TEAM, is a dedication of what matters most to us and we dedicate this day to teams everywhere and to team work,” Cannon-Brookes said, adding that Atlassian’s software was designed to “remove the friction inherent in … teamwork”.

Farquhar noted the broad range of industries whose teams Atlassian was benefiting in one way or another.

“We helped the engineering teams at NASA land the rover on Mars; the non-profit Code.org teach students to learn programming; and the IT teams of the [UK] Daily Telegraph to ship newspapers to over two million readers,” he said.

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