How free beer helped kickstart Australian tech firm Atlassian now worth $26.6BILLION 


Ten years ago, two university mates from Sydney used free beer to spread the word about their then little known software company.

Today, Scott Farquhar and Mike Cannon-Brookes are billionaires and their Australian tech giant Atlassian is worth $26.6 billion.

Established in 2002, Atlassian still only consisted of several employees seven years later when the pair gatecrashed a podcast recording at a tech conference in Belgium with the aim of making an impact.

A marketing gamble at a tech conference in Belgium paid off for Atlassian co-founders Mike Cannon-Brookes (left) and Scott Farquhar (right) 10 years ago

A marketing gamble at a tech conference in Belgium paid off for Atlassian co-founders Mike Cannon-Brookes (left) and Scott Farquhar (right) 10 years ago

They bought $2000 worth of beer and put Atlassian stickers on them, which were handed to all of the 10,000 attendees as they walked in.

The marketing gamble paid off and the pair haven’t looked back since.

‘We got tens if not hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of free advertising … the naivety of youth sometimes has its benefits,’ Mr Farquhar told The Australian.

Other guerrilla marketing tactics such as plastering university walls with Atlassian posters and attending community events were deployed by the company in its early days to get the name out.

Atlassian has been named as one of Australia's best places to work for several years running

Atlassian has been named as one of Australia’s best places to work for several years running

Atlassian now has more than 3000 employees (pictured) in 10 offices worldwide

Atlassian now has more than 3000 employees (pictured) in 10 offices worldwide

‘If your market is the world, tackling it one customer at a time isn’t scalable,’ Mr Farquhar said.

Chief marketing officer Robert Chatwani added: ‘We don’t have a traditional sales organisation, so we love doing stuff like giving away free swag, free T-shirts, and materials. Whether it’s free beer, free T-shirts or paying for pizzas, that stuff is in our DNA and it’s part of who we are.’

Started on a $10,000 credit card debt, Atlassian briefly passed Telstra in terms of valuation earlier this month and drew thousands to its annual summit in Las Vegas.

Atlassan co-founder Scott Farquhar, (pictured with wife Kim Jackson) is now a Sydney billionaire

Mike Cannon-Brookes (pictured with wife Annie) said Atlassian will use 100 per cent clean energy by 2025

 Scott Farquhar (left, with wife) and Mike Cannon-Brookes (right, with wife) were two university mates from Sydney who co-founded Atlassian in 2002 on a a $10,000 credit card debt

Atlassian Mike Cannon-Brookes and Scott Farquhar (pictured in 2006) gatecrashed a tech conference and gave out free beer to spread the word about their start-up tech company

Atlassian Mike Cannon-Brookes and Scott Farquhar (pictured in 2006) gatecrashed a tech conference and gave out free beer to spread the word about their start-up tech company

The company has more than 3,0000 staff at 10 offices worldwide, including Sydney, San Francisco, Austin, Amsterdam and Manila.

Company software tools include Jira, Jira Service Desk, Jira Ops, Confluence, Bitbucket, Trello, and many other products.

Atlassian has also been named as one of Australia’s best places to work for several years running. 

Mr Cannon-Brookes made headlines last September when he bought Point Piper mansion ‘Fairwater’ in Sydney’s eastern suburbs.

The home is the most expensive property ever sold in Australia and had previously been in the hands of the media-mogul Fairfax family for more than a century.

This mansion  in Point Piper is the most expensive in Australia and owned by Atlassian co-founder Mike Cannon-Brookes

This mansion  in Point Piper is the most expensive in Australia and owned by Atlassian co-founder Mike Cannon-Brookes

More than 3,000 Atlassian staff work at 10 offices worldwide, Sydney, San Francisco, Austin, Amsterdam and Manila

More than 3,000 Atlassian staff work at 10 offices worldwide, Sydney, San Francisco, Austin, Amsterdam and Manila

Atlassian also recently vowed to use 100 per cent clean energy by 2025 to lead the fight against climate change.

It will become one of the first Australian companies to exclusively use renewable energy if the ambitious aim can be achieved within six years. 

 ‘Being a large and known tech company, we want to make sure we’re driving the Australian angle of (renewables) forward, and we’re trying to do it relatively fast,’ Mr Cannon-Brookes, told the Sydney Morning Herald last week.

‘We’re trying to set an example and showing what’s possible in our challenging environment.’

Scott Farquhar (left) and Mike Cannon-Brookes (right) were classmates at University of NSW

Scott Farquhar (left) and Mike Cannon-Brookes (right) were classmates at University of NSW

 



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