We spoke to Atlassian about expansion, challenges and investment -- here's what it had to say

Atlassian co-founders Scott Farquhar (L) and Mike Cannon-Brookes (C), and president Jay Simons (R)/ Supplied.

Atlassian is full steam ahead. The $6 billion publicly-traded software company just turned on its cloud hosting infrastructure in Ireland to service its European customers, and according to co-founder and co-CEO Scott Farquhar, it is “just the start”.

While this doesn’t mean the company’s hiring strategy is likely to ramp up, or expand beyond its only European office in Amsterdam, it is certainly scouting for expansion opportunities for the near-future.

“We won’t need to do any different hiring to support Europe cloud,” Atlassian president Jay Simons told Business Insider at the Atlassian Summit in Barcelona this week.

“I mean, we’re expanding everywhere, but yeah, not beyond Amsterdam.

“I don’t know exactly where next. Probably, based on market size and opportunity, I would guess you would look … We serve the UK from Ireland. Germany’s a big market.

“I think any of the big, local markets in Europe. Asia, also, I think is another expansion opportunity just for kind of local, geo-cloud support for Asian customers. So I think it probably just depends on how we stack rank, where we go next.”

And with scale comes complexity. Something that even an $8 billion tech company finds challenging.

“Probably the biggest challenge always is just going to be scaling the organisation,” said Simons.

“Finding the right talent, hiring, onboarding… It’s where Mike and Scott spend a lot of their time, just reinforcing the culture. Every organisation is run by people, and so I think that always bears most of the focus.

“[And] it’s a boring answer, but it’s more of just one foot in front of the other. Maybe the biggest challenge is just that we are championing new ways of working, and that requires people to change, and to shift from the old to the new.

Simons said Atlassian’s primary competitor was tradition.

“People who basically work by writing a Word document, and then emailing it to 15 people, and having 15 people basically send back 15 different versions of the same document. That happens a lot. The reason it happens a lot is because people have been doing it for 20 years, and old habits die hard.

“We have over 80,000 customers now, and we don’t disclose how many millions of users, but there’s a billion people on the planet that are knowledge workers in some capacity, and the majority of them are working in sort of antiquated, probably even to them, frustrating ways. So I think there’s a lot of market for us to go get.”

Along with educating customers, and tapping into the workforce stuck in the days of emailing, Simons says an important piece of the puzzle for the company’s growth is “finding, activating champions”.

“A big part of our business is the people that you’ll probably meet if you walk around the conference, which is people that have discovered, ‘Wow, this is just a way better way of getting shit done.’ They become really strong, powerful signals and advocates of change inside their companies, way more effective than we would be.

“So I think finding those people and activating them, people that are curious about doing things better, once they discover it, then they go from one to thousands inside of their companies.”

To make all this happen, the company has targeted investment plans to inject cash into specific areas of the business, one of which is the cloud.

“We’re certainly investing in cloud. You heard that in the keynote yesterday. Not just with the announcement about kind of the additional regional support in Europe for European customers, but just also just sort of advancing the products in the cloud,” says Simons.

“We also are advancing the products for our customers that choose put up beyond the firewall. So you saw that with the data centre announcements, and through the expansion of the data centre family, features that we’re adding that are specific to how customers deploy and use our software beyond the firewall.

“I would say that both the challenge and the opportunity for the particular market that we’re in is you always have to be sort of be advanced and state of art, so we’re investing in everything. I think we’re thoughtful about the things that we’re selecting.

“You’ve probably heard us describe kind of the three sides of the team work triangle that we focus on are managing work, content creation, and messaging and communication. Our products really oriented around sort of those three elements of team work. We’re investing in all of them.

“It’s not like we’re building, I don’t know, an employee management system, where you kind of build it, and once you have it built, there’s not a lot of innovation you need to do around it. I think if you’re going to champion new ways of working, our products constantly have to be reinventing themselves and sort of improving.”

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