A decision by Atlassian, Australia’s biggest tech company, to pursue a $US3 billion listing in the United States is a blow to Australia’s ambitions to make technology a driver of the economy, tech executives said on Monday.
Atlassian’s defection comes just weeks after the elevation of tech-savvy Malcolm Turnbull as prime minister was cheered by the business community, particularly funding-starved startups that are hoping for a more amenable investment climate.
Atlassian, the company behind project management software JIRA and team communication app HipChat, filed an IPO prospectus in the United States late on Friday. It has hired Goldman Sachs Group Inc and Morgan Stanley to work on the offering.
“The best thing Atlassian could have done for the local sector would have been to list in Australia,” said Matt Barrie, chief executive of jobs website Freelancer, which listed on the ASX in 2013, citing the need for major players to build a local market.
Atlassian co-directors Mike Cannon-Brookes and Scott Farquhar, who founded the company in 2002 using credit card debt, declined to comment on Monday. Both have previously cited the maturity of the U.S. markets as a reason to list offshore.
Turnbull’s office did not immediately reply to a request for comment.
The Australian tech startup sector has the potential to contribute A$109 billion ($US78 billion), or 4 per cent of GDP – up from just 0.1 per cent currently – and 540,000 jobs by 2033, according to a PriceWaterhouseCoopers report.
But fewer than 5 per cent of Australian startups currently grow into sustainable, global businesses, according to Deloitte research, largely due to funding issues.
“One thing we don’t do a good enough job at, and I think the ASX can do better here, is promoting the stock exchange as a means of financing startups, or second-, third-round money for startups,” Turnbull told business leaders last week.
Momentum has been gradually building on the ASX with a stream of backdoor listings by startups using the shells of failed mining minnows, including security specialists Covata and YPB.
But the Atlassian IPO will set a new record for an Australian technology business, overshadowing accounting software group MYOB’s A$2 billion float on the ASX in May.
Some in the industry believe an Atlassian listing, regardless of location, will spark interest in Australian startups.
They also see improvements under Turnbull, despite the current lack of local funding.
“There’s a real gap in funding, in the so-called Valley of Death, between early-stage money and the larger Series A funding and government support,” said Sebastien Eckersley-Maslin, the founder of startup accelerator program Blue Chilli. “Turnbull understands innovation and he understands investment.”
(Editing by Stephen Coates and G Crosse)
More from Reuters:
- Oil prices remain weak on Asia economy woes; shares in commodity firms tumble
- Accused businessman in Guatemala customs scam incriminates Perez
- At least one killed in protests at MMG’s Las Bambas project in Peru
- Extreme sports performer Roner dies in California skydiving accident
- JT to buy Reynolds’ Sante Fe unit, aims for deal this week: Nikkei
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.