Defying Distance: Scott Farquhar’s Journey to Global Success with Atlassian

Defying Distance: Scott Farquhar’s Journey to Global Success with Atlassian

Scott Farquhar, a well-known entrepreneur from Australia, has made a significant impact on the global tech industry as the co-founder of Atlassian. This leading enterprise software company provides a wide range of collaborative tools designed to enhance team productivity and streamline workflows. In 2002, Farquhar and his business partner, Mike Cannon-Brookes, launched Atlassian in Sydney, Australia.

The Early Days

Both Farquhar and Cannon-Brookes were just 22 when they started Atlassian. They bootstrapped their business with a mere $10,000 credit card debt. The duo did not take any external venture capital during their initial years, a decision that allowed them to retain control over their company’s direction and growth.

Overcoming Geographical Challenges

One significant challenge that Farquhar and Cannon-Brookes faced was their geographical location. Sydney, while being a vibrant city, was far removed from the tech hotspots of Silicon Valley and other similar regions. This distance could have been a disadvantage in terms of networking opportunities and access to venture capital. However, in the book “Atlassian in Sydney: Beating the Tyranny of Distance”, the authors detail how the co-founders turned this potential weakness into a strength.

They used the internet to reach out to customers worldwide, establishing a strong online presence that made their location irrelevant. They also capitalized on their unique position in the Australian market to attract top talent and create a distinctive company culture.

Scaling Operations Across Borders

Overcoming geographical challenges in the tech industry is a complex task that extends beyond simply establishing a global customer base. For Atlassian, led by Scott Farquhar and Mike Cannon-Brookes, it also involved scaling the company’s operations across borders and managing teams scattered in different time zones and cultures.

Farquhar and Cannon-Brookes understood that to manage a geographically dispersed team effectively, they needed to foster a robust company culture that transcended geographical boundaries. They focused on creating an environment that valued openness, collaboration, and innovation. This culture not only facilitated seamless communication and coordination among teams but also encouraged innovative thinking and problem-solving, regardless of where employees were located.

In addition, they implemented efficient processes and tools to manage their international teams. They utilized their own products like Jira and Confluence for project management and team collaboration, which played a crucial role in maintaining operational efficiency. By doing so, they could ensure that all teams, whether in Sydney, San Francisco or Amsterdam, were aligned and working towards the same goals.

Defying Distance: Scott Farquhar's Journey to Global Success with Atlassian

Their success in overcoming these operational and geographical challenges is evident in Atlassian’s remarkable growth trajectory. Today, Atlassian serves more than 150,000 customers worldwide, including some of the largest and most influential organizations. Their products have become an integral part of many businesses, helping teams to collaborate more effectively and deliver better results.

Atlassian’s growth hasn’t just been in its customer base. The company has also expanded its physical presence across the globe. With offices in several countries, Atlassian has a truly international workforce that brings diverse perspectives and skills to the table, further fuelling its innovative prowess.

One of the significant milestones in Atlassian’s journey was going public on NASDAQ in 2015. This move not only underscored its financial success but also marked its emergence as a global tech powerhouse. Despite starting in Sydney, far from the traditional tech hubs, Atlassian’s story shows that with a strong company culture and strategic thinking, businesses can successfully scale operations across borders and achieve global success.

Embracing Innovation and Developing Cutting-Edge Products

Atlassian’s success is not only attributed to the tenacity and vision of its founders, Scott Farquhar and Mike Cannon-Brookes, but also to their commitment to innovation. They understood early on that in a rapidly evolving tech industry, continuous product development and improvement are key to staying competitive.

One of Atlassian’s flagship products, Jira, is a prime example of this commitment to innovation. Initially designed as a bug-tracking tool for software developers, Jira has evolved into a comprehensive project management tool used by all kinds of teams – from marketing to HR. This evolution was a direct result of listening to customer feedback and adapting the product to meet their changing needs.

Similarly, Confluence, another Atlassian product, revolutionized team collaboration by providing a shared workspace where teams can create, collaborate, and keep their work organized. By developing such innovative products, Atlassian managed to carve out a unique niche in the crowded market of collaboration tools.

Cultivating a Distinctive Company Culture at Atlassian

Company culture is more than just a buzzword; it’s a crucial factor that influences an organization’s success and longevity. Scott Farquhar and Mike Cannon-Brookes, founders of Atlassian, recognized this early on and made cultivating a robust company culture a priority.

From the beginning, they fostered an environment that promoted openness, collaboration, and continuous learning. They understood that for Atlassian to innovate and stay ahead in the rapidly evolving tech industry, they needed to create a space where ideas could be freely exchanged, and employees felt empowered to contribute.

One of the unique practices they introduced was “ShipIt days,” also known as “Innovation Days.” These are 24-hour hackathons where employees are given the freedom to work on any project or idea they choose, outside their regular work responsibilities. The aim is not only to develop innovative solutions but also to foster a sense of ownership and autonomy among employees.

“By giving them the freedom to explore their ideas, Atlassian encourages creativity and innovation while also demonstrating trust in their employees’ abilities.”

Aside from these Innovation Days, Atlassian also cultivates a culture of continuous learning. They encourage employees to pursue further education, offer opportunities for professional development, and even maintain a library of books and resources that employees can access. This focus on learning helps Atlassian stay on the cutting edge of technology and ensures that their workforce is always equipped with the latest skills and knowledge.

Furthermore, Atlassian emphasizes the importance of teamwork and collaboration in their company culture. Their products are designed to enhance team collaboration, and this philosophy is reflected in their internal practices as well. They promote transparency and open communication, ensuring all employees, regardless of their role or location, feel included and valued.

Giving Back: Philanthropy at Atlassian

Beyond their business achievements, Farquhar and Cannon-Brookes have shown a strong commitment to social responsibility. They established the Atlassian Foundation with a pledge to donate 1% of profit, 1% of equity, and 1% of employee time to charitable causes. Their philanthropic efforts further demonstrate their holistic approach to entrepreneurship.


The journey of Atlassian offers valuable insights into how continuous innovation, a strong company culture, and a commitment to social responsibility can drive a company’s success. It underscores the fact that entrepreneurial success extends beyond financial gains to include making a positive impact on society.


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The Untold Story of How Atlassian Built a $20 Billion Dollar Company…And They’re Just Getting Started

Atlassian’s Unique Take on Company Culture

Atlassian Foundation: Empowering youth through education


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