Big news for one of our key partners this week, as Atlassian announced their aquisition of project management service Trello. The deal is expected to close before March 31, 2017 subject to all that legal stuff. Of the $425 million price tag, $360 million is cash with the remainder in Atlassian restricted shares.
Trello, which launched at TechCrunch Disrupt in San Francisco, now has over 19 million users worldwide, including large organisations such as Google, Red Cross and National Geographic. It's raised $10 million from backers including venture capital firms Index Ventures and Spark Capital.
Jay Simons, President at Atlassian, said about the deal:
"By adding Trello to the Atlassian family, we're giving teams more choice in the tools they use to support the way that they want to work"
With acquisitions like these it's often tempting to ask whether the acquiring organisation bought the company for the technology or for the customer base, particularly when the acquiring organisation already has similar offerings (Jira in this case). Simons says:
"We spent some time talking and appreciated that we both had the same audacious goal of having 100 million active users of our products. We were like minded and recognized that we have similar cultures and a deep investment in people and lots of fanatical customers that use our products so it made sense to join forces along that mission."
Simons describes Trello's CEO, Michael Pryor as "just a neat and soulful human being" and notes that they both find lots of energy in talking to their customers. It's reported that Atlassian will keep Pryor in charge of Trello and that Trello will remain as a standalone application with Atlassian putting more resources behind the product and helping the team scale. Longer term, we imagine it makes sense to bring Trello and Jira closer together, taking the best from both - particularly for organisations who are already using both platforms. Caroline Gormley of Software Advice summarises the differences on Quora as:
"While they are both Project Management (PM) tools, Trello and Jira have some key differences. Both platforms were designed with agile software development teams in mind, but Trello is notably accessible for non-dev users as well and has been adopted by single users and teams across verticals. Jira, on the other hand, brings many, many niche features and add-ons to the table, making it a heavy hitter when it comes to project management tools."
Simon's has his own view on this, and it has been widely noted in reports that Trello is frequently used outside of IT, and others have commented on Trello sharing a number of investors with HipChat competitor, Slack:
"We are announcing a bunch of integrations between Trello and Confluence, JIRA, Bitbucket and HipChat. Work can and should move between them really naturally. We are excited about the integrated relationship for teams that use them together. The easiest way to describe the relationship between the three is that Confluence is really just a blank page where teams can write wherever they want with it. It can be long form text or tables or image galleries. Whatever you can imagine… On the other end, JIRA is a much more structured project collaboration system. The projects are repeatable and have workflows and dependency and automated triggers and escalations. In the middle of that is the great sweet spot of Trello. It is a free form nature of organizing information together as a team. It is a simple digital whiteboard that you bring to a bunch of things and collectively your team can organize it."
This is all great news for teams.