John Meyer

Operations Development Specialist

Topic: Atlassian, a Company at Which I'd Like to Work

Guys play ping pong at dream company.

I first heard about Atlassian in 2007 and 2008 when I used the Jira product for a massive project. Since then I've continued to use their products on a daily basis. The source code for this website is hosted on Atlassian's Bitbucket servers. Atlassian's stock is now tracked on NASDAQ under the symbol TEAM. And, my daily professional work is tracked in a product called "Jira Software".

Atlassian's Strategy

Date Created: 11/15/2017
Date Updated: 11/21/2017


So here's a business question. You are coming out with a new product. You have an established competitor. Your industry is in a tidal wave of massive growth. You are about to spend thousands of your own hours and millions of dollars on something that is not assured of success. How do you make sure that your product is going to gain ground on the competition? And by 'make sure', I mean, how are you going to measure this in real time?

When I first looked into Jira, something seemed wrong. The software was freely downloadable on the Internet. The cost of a ten user license was $10. How could this company make any money?

I knew that our internal project team was staffed by some very talented architects and engineers, such as Matt Carlson. Furthermore we were working with some Infosys Java engineers who had great experience in enterprise applications. I don't know how exactly they decided to use Atlassian, but based on their implicit endorsement, I decided to start using the software with my team.


I didn't know, this was their strategy, the best strategy in IT, the one that goes back to Lotus 123 and the IBM PC.

  1. Create an awesome product that people love.
  2. Make it possible for people to start using the product without going through formal approval channels, such as IT or finance. In the early 1980's, it was possible for a department manager to purchase a PC and the Lotus 123 software without any thought to integrating with existing IT systems hardware or software.
  3. Don't worry too much about advertising or selling to the CEO.

Jira started as a software issue tracker, an area where, due to rapid growth, there has not been a clear dominant player. [Jira's name is a shortening of the Japanese word 'Gojira' or Godzilla. When Jira came out it competed with Bugzilla bug-tracking software.] Like Lotus 123 and the IBM PC, Jira sneaks in through the back door. Someone buys it for their department at relatively minimal cost. And, others in the company start to see what can be done with it. Others are invited to collaborate. More user licenses are needed. And, so it goes.

"Our business model is based in part on selling our products at prices lower than competing products from other commercial vendors. For example, we offer entry-level pricing for certain products for small teams at a price that typically does not require capital budget approval and is orders-of-magnitude less than the price of traditional enterprise software.

"We do not have a direct salesforce and our sales model does not rely on traditional, quota-carrying sales personnel."

Atlassian 2017 Annual Report


Okay, did you want me to answer the opening question? I was hoping to leave you hanging here, but then this page wouldn't read right. The answer is, NPS. NPS stands for Net Promoter Score and it is a basic a way of tracking a person's likelihood of recommending a product to someone else.

Jira, and other of Atlassian's products, infrequently pop up an optional one-question survey, that asks you to rate your likelihood on recommending it to a colleague.

You can track sales, you can track sales margins, you can track clicks, you can track conversions. But there is only one metric you can track that will ensure that you are on the way to experiencing explosive growth in your field of endeavor. And that metric is NPS.

Atlassian's Value Proposition

Now, what if I had software that would assist and guide me in the process of tackling a complex and novel task? I am a person very used to learning, earning and working as an individual.

That is, in their long quest to create software that is all the time more and more useful and pleasing to their users, the nut that Atlassian has managed to crack:

Atlassian provides the tools to help every team unleash their full potential.

Note, in that sentence, the absence of the words "software", "bug tracking", "technology." Atlassian is making a long bet that complex and novel tasks are not the exclusive property of the software industry.

Their technology has long legs and that's good because it's got a long way to go before it fully realizes its potential.

I use Atlassian software every day, and every day I find new ways to customize it and adapt it to better serve my needs. There is more to be explored here, as we get into the nitty gritty details of just how the software does it magic. Watch this space.


What about Bitbucket?

Bitbucket is Atlassian's cloud based software development repository server. Repositories enable developers to identify the authors microscopic changes to source code so that they can blame the perpatrators for the ensuing downtime. Well, not really. Well, sometimes. But really, repositories are very useful for making and testing changes withoug impacting the master which everyone is working on, backtracking one step at a time if code does not work and you have no idea why, reviewing changes, and understanding the scope of effort that had been involved in a particular change. GIt, one of the two tools supported by Bitbucket, has a long story behind it that I will not retell here. Bitbucket has these things going for it, strategy-wise:

  • it's free for up to 5 users to share privately; competitor github does not have this
  • Bitbucket provides access to Atlassian's automated build and continuous integration pipeline
  • Bitbucket integrates nicely with Jira so if you tag your changes with the Jira ticket number you get a list of code changes when you look at your Jira ticket

I use bitbucket to share my open source project site-test.


20171117 1.0.1

Contact Information for John Meyer

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