Mike Cannon-Brookes met Scott Farquhar on their first day at the University of New South Wales in Sydney Neither was a great student. Farquhar averaged a 65%, while Cannon-Brooks barely graduated with a 53% Mike sent a fateful email in 2001…Jesse Pujji
Two mediocre students did everything wrong while taking $10,000 in credit card debt and turning it into a $67 BILLION company.
The crazy part?
They were profitable from day 1.
This is the wild story 👇🏽👇🏽👇🏽
2/ in 2001, he emailed a few classmates that had been handling outsourced IT work with an idea: let’s start a company instead of a getting a “real job.”
Farquar was the only one to respond. They became co-CEOs.
… Atlassian was born.
But timing wasn’t great…
3/ The dotcom bubble had just burst.
Scott took a temporary gig to pay the bills while Mike did support services/fixed bugs for overseas clients.
They used email to track and manage the tasks they had.
It didn’t work well.
And they hated it. They had a better idea…
4/ JIRA – a bug and issue logging/tracking tool.
They named it after “Gojira” which means Godzilla in Japanese.
Their goal had been to avoid a “real job” and make the same as $50k starting salary.
6/ within 5 years, they were doing over $15M in ARR.
They expanded to the US.
They even hired their first employee who was not their friend.
With all their growth, they started to look for “adult supervision”… but Atlassian style.
7/ They found Jeff Walker who was an experienced software executive but also a jazz musician who they described as “the least responsible 50 year old” they’d ever met.
He helped lead the business to over $50MM in ARR.
Then tragedy struck…
8/ Walker passed away in 2009 from Cancer.
Mike and Scott were heartbroken and their company was leaderless.
Right around that time, they received a $500M+ offer. Both Just married, they were tempted to sell and ride off into the sunset.
They took another path instead…
9/ They doubled down on Atlassian.
In April 2010, they took $60M from Accel (none of which they needed) to increase the legitimacy and profile of the biz.
By 2012, they committed to going Public and put together a 10 year plan.
10/ they would build and acquire software that serves developers and fit their criteria (cheap, bought not sold, etc)
New tools like confluence were born.
They acquired tools like hipchat, cenqua, opsgenie, status page and later Trello.
They would win and win BIG…
13/ They’ve also maintained their unconventional strategic principals:
Their “twin rocket engines” of Jira and Confluence deliver $1.2B in revenue
Low Priced Enterprise Software✔
No Massive Sales Team ✔
HQ Still 1000s of Miles From Silicon Valley ✔
14/ In a tech backwater, 2 nerdy misfits inspired a generation and launched a $67B bootstrapped Giant 7,419 miles from San Francisco
The true impact of Atlassian is in the wave of $1B+ Aussie tech giants like BigCommerce, Canva, and Xero that have come since.
16/ Why I love this story, it’s a reminder that:
1) Focus on what you do best
2) ABG | Always be growing
3) Build what you know, buy the rest
4) Great products beat great sales
5) Culture builds teams, teams build companies
And that anyone can do it…
17/ If you enjoyed this thread, follow me @JSPujji
I tweet Bootstrapped Giant stories like this every week