Atlassian is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year. Founded as a startup in 2002, it initially began by supporting corporate support teams. Heute, im Jahr 2022 ist Atlassian ein international tätiger, großer Anbieter von Softwarelösungen für Softwareentwickler mit Sitz in London und operativer Hauptzentrale in Sydney mit über 8.000 engagierten Mitarbeitern und mehr als 200.000 Kunden. In between are 20 years of development – years that have made Atlassian the company they are today. A look back – from the founding to the IPO to the extraordinary New Work approaches at Atlassian.
It started with a spontaneous idea backed by a $10,000 credit card and plenty of time to program. 2002 – Mike Cannon-Brookes und Scott Farquhar (Mitbegründer und heutige Co-CEOs) waren damals 23 Jahre alt, als sie mit einem kleinen Startup begannen. The goal was to improve the work of teams in customer support. The bug tracking software they were using was not very good. So they developed their own tracker – which they called JIRA. Convinced of their own product, they decided to sell Jira as a solution – and directed all their focus to it from then on. And to a target group beyond Australia: the USA.
Set foot in the USA
In 2003, the first order came from American Airlines. The foot in the USA was set and the development took off. For Cannon-Brokes and Farquhar, the time seemed right and they set up a small office in New York, which they quickly closed. It turned out to be a bad decision. Lesson learned – they should make difficult decisions more often from now on.
Another decision would prove to be a big plus in their company culture in 2005: “ShipIt” – now a hackathon tradition. Then, as now, Atlassian puts normal business operations on hold to give employees a creative space to try things out. Many product functions and internal programs have already emerged from these ShipIt events. Even Jira Service Management, currently Atlassian’s fastest growing product, originated here.
In 2007, Atlassian codified its values – which remain valid today:
Another development, which did not come from Atlassian itself, and which also continues to exist today, are the Atlassian User Groups. The first user group was formed in Reston, Virginia in 2006 when a Jira administrator took it upon himself to meet with other Atlassian users in the area. Atlassian itself was enthusiastic and supported these events with pizza, beer and t-shirts. There are now 24,000 users participating in Atlassian Community events each year, supported by a dedicated team within the company.
From the birth of the Atlassian Summit to the top of “Great Places to work“.
An event that was meant to serve a very different purpose was born in 2009: the Atlassian Summit. The idea behind this was not to lose contact with the customer. Deliberately taking time for Atlassian customers to answer their questions was the stated goal behind thisevent: The first Atlassian Summit (now renamed Atlassian Team) was held in the ballroom of a San Francisco hotel. Mike, Scott and others presented in a circle theater style to about 340 customers who, Atlassian says, showered them with questions and feedback.
By this time (2010), Atlassian had already received several investment requests from venture capitalists – the time had come to take growth to the next level. Now it was just a matter of finding the right partner. They found him in Accel Partners. They shared Atlassian’s values and the founders’ views on how to run a business.
2011 was then the year of a big decision: Atlassian removed support for the wiki markup language from Confluence that year in favor of text-only editing. Atlassian made another such drastic decision only once after that – when they announced in 2020 that they were exiting the server product family to become a cloud-first company.
Years of growth and discovery followed. Employees came and went, some were temporarily sent to other teams or offices (voluntarily, of course) – a kind of exchange program within the company was created. Staff and teams who participate in secondments consistently report that the experience has been a great asset in building relationships and trust. The investment in employees has paid off: In 2014, Atlassian ranked first among Australian companies with more than 100 employees in Great Places to Work.
Growth, IPOs & Acquisitions
The step to the stock exchange then took place in December 2015. Also significant was the codification of the company’s mission: “Atlassian exists to unleash the potential to every team.”
Over the years, Atlassian acquired a few companies – but its biggest acquisition was Trello in 2017, a Kanban-based flexible work management tool for teams. This “marriage” was profitable for both sides, despite the different company sizes – the mission, values and culture of both companies were a perfect fit.
The acquisition of HipChat, on the other hand, proved challenging because they had “rebuilt” the product for too long – the result was the group chat product called Stride. But they were too late – Slack was already conquering the world at that point.
Into the future with sustainability and remote work
Atlassian believes that it is in the long-term interest of every company to reduce its environmental footprint and commit to a sustainable environmental policy.
That’s why Atlassian joined the Global Climate Strike in 2019, Mike Cannon-Brookes attended the UN Climate Action Summit, and they’ve publicly committed to becoming a net-zero emissions company by 2040.
When Atlassian closed all of its global offices during the March 2020 pandemic, it was already clear that the widespread adoption of remote work would be a lasting legacy of the pandemic. Like many other companies, Atlassian assumed that work would be distributed differently “afterwards”, that people would work differently. Atlassian adapted to the new conditions and henceforth leaves it up to its employees to decide where team members want to work: whether in an office, from home or a mixture of both.
Even though Atlassian looks very different today than it did 20 years ago (and will look different 20 years from now), as they themselves say, some things will not change. Unleashing the potential of every team continues to be the driving force behind everything Atlassian does, with values leading the way.
Atlassian’s statement on 20 years of travel, can be found here.
We say congratulations Atlassian 💐
Thank you for the valuable years of cooperation through which we were able to share in this success. We look forward to continuing on the path we have walked with you from the beginning!