Atlassian, Australia’s publicly traded $5 billion productivity software company, is buying the popular collaboration app Trello in a deal valued at $425 million – $360 million in cash, and $65 million in stock.
“Trello is this very elegant and incredibly popular visual communication medium,” says Atlassian President Jay Simons.
Simons says that Atlassian doesn’t want to mess with a good thing: Trello will stay entirely intact, with no plans to shut it down, rebrand it, or dramatically change its focus.
Instead, Simons says, “their customer base will cheer” as Atlassian funnels more engineering resources into improving the existing Trello product. And all existing Trello employees will stay onboard under the terms of the acquisition, Simons says.
Trello, spun out of the 16-year-old Fog Creek Software in 2011, takes its inspiration from the “kanban” project management method, which traces its roots to Toyota industrial engineer Taiichi Ohno in the late 1940’s. Basically, Trello lets you organize projects by moving virtual post-it notes on a virtual whiteboard.
And people really love it. Trello now claims to have over 19 million users, with over half of them working in business teams. That includes teams at companies like Google, Pixar, and Adobe. In its lifespan, Trello has raised a relatively modest $10.34 million in venture capital.
For Atlassian, Trello is a natural fit, Simons says. The company’s flagship JIRA product is all about project management, Trello is all about project organization, and so the two are extremely complementary. In fact, Simons says, a lot of Atlassian customers were already using the two products in conjunction.
Plus, Simons says, there’s a cultural alignment. Trello CEO Michael Pryor has said that his big hope for the company was to eventually attract 100 million users, which is actually Atlassian’s stated goal, too.
“We’re chasing the same things,” Simons says.