How Jessica Alba inspired a big change at Atlassian

Atlassian cofounders bell ringAtlassianAtlassian cofounders Mike Cannon-Brookes (left) and Scott Farquhar (right)

Atlassian is a profitable $US4.65 billion company, and the Jira project management software has been its flagship product since it was founded in Sydney by Scott Farquhar and Mike Cannon-Brookes back in 2002.

For most of those 14 years, the company, and Jira in particular, was very much focused on the software programmer market. Which led to a curious oversight: Atlassian never made an official Jira app for smartphones.

“We were focused on software developers, and they were in front of their computers,” says Cameron Deatsch, Atlassian’s head of growth.

Yesterday, that changed, with the launch of the first official Jira app — still based on the version aimed at software teams, but with an eye towards expanding beyond programmers. Indeed, the reason why Atlassian is finally making a Jira app is a great indicator of the company’s long-term ambitions.

See, Jira started as a way for developers to log in the bugs they found in software for their colleagues to work on. But over the last 14-ish years, Jira has found a home in 35,000 companies, and not every user is a programmer. That’s why the company has split Jira into three versions, all designed for different markets.

Jessica Alba. (Photo by Ilya S. Savenok/Getty Images for AOL)

Actor (and Honest Company cofounder) Jessica Alba put a fine point on it stage at Salesforce’s massive Dreamforce conference in September 2015, when she said “I do not know how to code, but I can open a ticket in Jira.”

For Deatsch and Atlassian, Alba’s comments lit a fire under their posteriors to get an app out the door — maybe programmers spend all day in front of their computers, but she probably doesn’t. And neither do any of Atlassian’s much-desired non-technical users.

“If Jessica Alba is submitting a Jira ticket, I assume she wants to do it on mobile,” says Deatsch.

The Jira apps, for iPhone and Android, are launching alongside an app for Atlassian’s Confluence product, which lets teams make their own internal Wiki pages. Prior to these apps, Atlassian customers either had to use the mobile website, or else turn to third-party applications of varying quality.

JIRA Software atlassianAtlassianThe new JIRA Software, tailored for programming teams.

Other announcements made by Atlassian yesterday include Pipelines, a free tool to help customers of Atlassian’s Bitbucket code management tool get software updates out into production much more quickly. Atlassian also joined the Open API Initiative.

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