Atlassian today announced that it has acquired project management service Trello for $425 million. The vast majority of the transaction is in cash ($360 million), with the remainder being paid out in restricted shares and options. The acquisition is expected to close before March 31, 2017.
This marks Atlassian’s 18th acquisition and, as Atlassian president Jay Simons noted when I talked to him last week, also it largest. Just like with many of Atlassian’s other acquisitions, the company plans to keep both the Trello service and brand alive and current users shouldn’t see any immediate changes.
More than 19 million users later, Trello is used by everyone from the family planning their next vacation to employees at the largest enterprises in the world. Companies like Google, National Geographic, and even the United Kingdom’s government use Trello daily. Organizations like the United Nations and the Red Cross rely on Trello to accomplish their missions.
We’re excited about partnering with Atlassian because we both share a philosophy of empowering teams everywhere to work in their own style. We envision a world where hundreds of millions of people collaborate in teams however they like, with their imaginations being the only constraint for what they can accomplish. As part of Atlassian, Trello will be able to leverage investments in R&D that will enhance the product in meaningful ways. Our team will be able to focus on improving the core experience of Trello for all users. We are certain that Atlassian understands the unique and novel reasons why Trello is so successful and well-loved.
One of Trello’s strengths is its flexibility. You control how the board looks and operates so you can mold it to how your team works, and track progress in stages that reflect your processes. You can take this flexibility a step further by integrating the tools you already use with Trello as Power-Ups that extend the functionality of the boards to meet your team’s unique needs.
The JIRA family of products will continue providing purpose-built experiences such as JIRA Software, the #1 tool for agile software teams; JIRA Service Desk, a beautifully simple service desk solution for IT and business teams; and JIRA Core for project and process management.
JIRA tools excel at work that benefits from a well-defined, traceable, and repeatable process, whilst Confluence is great for teams creating and collaborating on documents and rich content. Trello perfectly fills a gap between the structured workflows of JIRA and the free-form collaboration of Confluence and will give teams the option to find the right Atlassian tool for the type of work they need to complete. Keep an eye out for integrations between these products in the near future.
Fog Creek and Trello don’t just share cofounders, we share a lot of the same DNA, and we even share the same beautiful office as our NYC headquarters. The same innovative process that resulted in Trello’s invention has yielded Gomix, which we think has the same potential to change the way people work and collaborate and create. And while there are ways we’ll be competing now (we really do think you’ll love FogBugz as an alternative to Jira!) we’re mostly just proud to see our sibling company succeed.
Previously: FogBugz, JIRA, and Wasabi.
Update (2017-01-11): Benjamin F. Wirtz:
For Atlassian, I believe this was exactly the right move. One of the questions that remain is: With that much overlap between their tools, how will a user who has not heard of neither Trello nor JIRA or Service Desk figure out what’s best for them? How will JIRA users decide between JIRA Agile boards and Trello once the products are integrated?
Altlassian bought Trello for $425 million not because of its brand or its user base, but because Trello was a big threat to the company’s future.
While the company’s revenue grew, its product became overly complicated and difficult to maintain. By moving upmarket, Altlassian created a vacuum at lower price points into which competitors with disruptive technologies could enter. This is what Trello did.
Update (2017-03-09): Hiten Shah:
Trello might have become a $1B+ business if it looked like a “system of record” application—the single-source of truth for a company. Imagine if you could use Trello not just to track your marketing funnel, but to move information from your marketing board to your sales pipeline and product roadmap. Instead of having a separate Trello board for each team, you’d have a big board for the entire company.
Trello never became this “system of record.” It was an strong visual metaphor that the competition ultimately copied. Ultimately, the Kanban board was a really cool UX feature, but not a difficult one to replicate.
In SaaS, you don’t win by getting there first or having the best idea. You win by continually solving the problem better. When you build a feature that’s extremely popular or successful, the competition will steal it.
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