Fireside chat with Mike Cannon-Brookes of Atlassian | Startup Battlefield Australia | Summary and Q&A

November 15, 2017
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Fireside chat with Mike Cannon-Brookes of Atlassian | Startup Battlefield Australia

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In this video, the speaker discusses various topics including the recent vote on marriage equality in Australia, building a strong company culture, globalization and diversity, being a profitable company, going public, competing with other products, entrepreneurship in Australia, and the speaker's personal investments.

Questions & Answers

Q: Were you surprised by the overwhelming majority yes vote for marriage equality in Australia?

I wasn't necessarily surprised, but I was very happy with the outcome. It was not a close vote and if it were an electoral victory, it would have been the largest electoral landslide in a popular election. This clearly shows the people's support for marriage equality.

Q: What advice would you give to someone like Darko's o'shahe, who has to refactor Uber's culture?

I believe that core values are key. Start by ensuring that you have the right people on board and quickly remove those who are toxic to the culture. It's important to create a workplace where people want to come every day. Building a great culture is not rocket science, but it can be challenging to do consistently. It's a marathon, not a sprint, so it's important to pace yourself and create an environment that promotes an enjoyable and productive workplace.

Q: How did you go about building a strong company culture as your company grew from 5 to 200 people?

We didn't have a specific plan in place from the beginning, it was more of a natural progression. Both founders had strong ethics and values, which were instilled in the company. We wanted to build a place where we ourselves wanted to work. We have a simple set of rules and guidelines that have done us well, and over time we have continued to invest in our culture and work experience to meet the challenges of scaling up.

Q: How do you approach diversity and inclusion in a global organization?

We prioritize achieving diversity of thought in our global organization. Having diverse perspectives, experiences, and thoughts is crucial for building the best product for a wide audience. We have to be sensitive to the different geographies we operate in, as people's perspectives can vary. We encourage open discussion and robust debates internally, seeking to understand different points of view without resorting to name-calling or negative behavior. We also support individual choices and opinions on matters such as the same-sex marriage debate.

Q: How has being a profitable company for 12 years affected the way you have scaled compared to venture-backed firms?

Being profitable has given us more control and a long-term view of the business. We have the luxury of looking at the business in the long run and focusing on what we want it to become. We have been patient in our growth and have not needed external cash injections. This has allowed us to maintain control and be more strategic in our decisions.

Q: How did going public affect the running of your business?

Going public was a significant milestone for us, but our primary goal was to ensure that it did not disrupt the running of our business. We had been preparing for the IPO internally for a couple of years, so culturally, we were already operating as if we were a public company. We wanted to keep the same focus on our core business and not make any major changes. We have been open and transparent with our shareholders, delivering on what we promised, and ensuring that going public did not affect the day-to-day operations of the company.

Q: How is Stride different from competing products like Slack?

Stride is a broadening of the focus from our previous product, HipChat. It combines group chat, collaboration tools, and a video conferencing system. We recognized the pain of switching between multiple tools, and Stride aims to be an all-in-one solution. We are still in the early stages of its release, but we believe that its combination of features and seamless integration will set it apart.

Q: Do you believe that distributed companies are the future or is there value in concentration?

I think it will be a hybrid model. Different companies have different needs and preferences. We have a mix of local and remote teams, and each has its own model that works for them. We make sure that the models are clearly defined and understood, and we don't try to mix different approaches. While some products may have a more distributed nature, others may have a centralized focus. The key is to be thoughtful and structured in whichever model suits your team.

Q: How do you handle the pressure of competition?

We focus on our customers and their needs. We prioritize learning and understanding what works and what doesn't. We have a patient approach and try not to get caught up in short-term wins. Our goal is to build great products that serve our customers' needs and provide value. We believe that if we focus on our customers and deliver a quality product, the business side will take care of itself.

Q: How do you approach personal investments and choosing the companies to invest in?

Personally, I prioritize learning and potential social good or positive impact on the planet. I look for investments where there is a high learning aspect and potential for both profitability and making a difference. I also consider the potential return on investment, but that is not the sole factor driving my decisions. However, it's important to note that my model may not be widely applicable, as I have a unique position and access to resources.


This video covers a range of topics including the recent marriage equality vote in Australia, building a strong company culture, globalization and diversity, being a profitable company, going public, competition, entrepreneurship, and personal investments. The speaker emphasizes the importance of core values, having the right people on board, and creating an environment where people can bring their true selves to work. They also highlight the value of distributed teams and the need to be thoughtful and adaptive in different geographical contexts. The speaker's approach to personal investments focuses on learning and the potential for social good or positive impact. Overall, the video provides insights into the speaker's experience and perspectives on various aspects of business, culture, and society.

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