So we made a little announcement today.
Characteristically for Atlassian, we do nothing by halves. If you missed the news, we announced a USD $60M investment from Accel Partners for a minor equity position in the company. For reference, it will be Accel’s largest ever investment in a software company. (You can read about it on TechCrunch, the WSJ, VentureBeat, Business Week, the Sydney Morning Herald…)
Scott and I began the Atlassian journey eight wonderful, fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants years ago with nothing but $10,000 on credit-cards to buy a pair of PCs, and a lot of time to write code. Like most engineer-founded software upstarts, we started by trying to convince our developer friends to try a product we’d lost a ton of sleep building. Many of them took us up on it, unwittingly helping us embark on this journey we’re still discovering.
I can distinctly remember the first time we took an order from a company neither of us had ever contacted. I think I said “holy” at the same time Scott said “shit!”. Atlassian – and our unique low-cost, high-volume enterprise software model – was off to the races.
It has been an absolutely incredible journey so far. At times, it’s felt like we were feeling our way in the dark – around how we’d price our products (we wanted to be easily affordable), how we’d sell (we wanted the products to sell themselves), how we’d support customers (we wanted our service to be “legendary”) and how we’d figure out what to build next (we wanted customers to share openly what they needed). It’s a formula we’ve been tweaking and improving and learning from since the beginning, but it’s gotten us further than we could have ever imagined eight years ago.
Along the way to building a profitable, bootstrapped company – we’ve built a set of really, really awesome products, gathered a wonderful group of loyal and passionate customers, supported a lot of great causes with our Foundation and Starter licenses and hired an absolutely kick-ass team of people whom I love coming to work with every day.
Indeed, our very first mission statement – written on scraps of paper before we’d written a line of code – described not the products we wanted to build, but the type of company we wanted to be. It read:
I’m extremely proud that we’ve stuck to that mission. Atlassian is a different kind of company. It’s a very, very special place to work and this announcement won’t change that.
And here we are today – 20,000 enterprise customers and counting, a portfolio of kick-ass products, a SaaS business that’s growing like crazy and 225 incredible employees who make it exciting to get out of bed each day – announcing something many wouldn’t have suspected, something that probably draws a diverse set of reactions beyond surprise: joy, suspicion, excitement, probably even a few WTFs.
We’re sure this is the right path to take for our company and our customers. That said, taking on a new partner is never an easy choice, especially when you’ve come so far without one. We’ve been courted through the years by many investors. We talked to quite a few firms, evaluating not just their offer, but their character. We ranked the types of things their portfolio entrepreneurs said about them behind their back higher than the valuation they’d give us. And in that regard, one firm stood out: Accel Partners.
Accel has a long track record of helping companies break out – whether that’s a fledgling upstart like Admob, or a bigger, change-the-world bet like MetroPCS. Accel gets a lot of buzz by being the first investor in Facebook, they obviously have a lot of amazing companies in their portfolio, and they understand both enterprise software and consumer business models (the two cornerstones of our business). But what impressed us most was that they understood the things we hold most dear – our culture and our values.
If you watch the above video, or know Atlassian, you’ll know that one of our values is “Don’t Fuck the Customer.” At Atlassian, common shorthand for that is DFTC. You might also know that we love to make t-shirts. When Accel printed their own t-shirts stating their partnership’s #1 value – DFTPC (“Don’t Fuck the Portfolio Company.”) – we knew we’d found a partner who understood us (and our sense of humour).
In summary, today is an amazing day for everyone involved with our little company.
To our customers and partners, thank you for your continued faith in us over the last 8 years. This won’t change any of the things you love about Atlassian. You’ll see more exciting products and announcements very soon, sold through the same simple model, with the same legendary service.
For our staff, it’s a huge validation of the amazing work they’ve done over the last 8 years. After our Sydney team celebrated long into the night on Tuesday, we jumped straight on a plane to party tonight with San Francisco team… and then it’s onwards to Amsterdam.
For Scott and myself, today is a major milestone in our goal of building a very different kind of software company.
For everyone, it means the Atlassian ecosystem has become an even better, more exciting place to be over the next 8 years! I hope you’ll be a part of it.
We have heaps of job openings for talented engineers, and we like to think we offer a pretty unique place to hone your craft. If you’re a services delivery company, or a small software company that might offer great integration to one of our products, there’s never been a better time to join our amazing partner program.