Scott Farquhar to step down as Atlassian co-CEO after more than two decades

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Cheyanne Enciso
The Nightly
Atlassian co-CEO Scott Farquhar and Mike Cannon-Brookes. Mr Farquhar has announced he will step down. Credit: Nic Walker
Atlassian co-CEO Scott Farquhar and Mike Cannon-Brookes. Mr Farquhar has announced he will step down. Credit: Nic Walker Credit: Nic Walker/Nic Walker/Fairfax

Atlassian shares have fallen 8 per cent following news that its co-chief executive Scott Farquhar will step down from the Australian software giant, leaving his co-founder Mike Cannon-Brookes as the sole CEO of the Nasdaq listed company.

Mr Farquhar, who co-founded the tech titan with Mr Cannon-Brookes 23 years ago, released a statement early on Friday which said he wanted to spend more time with his young family, focus on philanthropic endeavours, and help further the technology industry globally.

He will step down on August 31 and remain on Atlassian’s board and assume a special adviser role, it was announced at the company’s third-quarter results.

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Atlassian shares fell 8 per cent in extended trading after closing at $US198.41 ($304) in New York. Shares are down 12 per cent so far this year but are 30 per cent higher than 12 months ago.

“While it’s a difficult decision to step away, I do so knowing Atlassian is exceptionally positioned to take hold of the massive opportunities at its feet,” Mr Farquhar said in his statement.

“We have a strong leadership team, and great momentum around cloud, enterprise, and now, AI.”

Mr Farquhar and Mr Cannon-Brookes, who met at the University of NSW, have been joint chief executives since they founded Atlassian in 2001.

“The contribution Scott has made at Atlassian is impossible to quantify. Starting with just the two of us in 2001, to a global company of over 11,000 employees and over $US4 billion in annual revenue, Atlassian would not be the company it is today without Scott.,” Mr Cannon-Brookes said.

“I am truly grateful to have had him by my side every day for the last 23 years.”

In a separate note to staff, Mr Farquhar said Atlassian software had helped launch rockets — including assisting land the Mars Rover — ensure cars roll off the production line, and made sure Domino’s pizzas were delivered on time.

“Our solutions are woven into the fabric of teamwork worldwide,” he said.

“We started what is now known as ‘product led growth’ by selling business software online with no salespeople, and 23 years later, we continue to innovate by leading the world as the largest company committed to remote work with Team Anywhere.

“We’re unleashing the potential of teams in every corner of the world.”

Atlassian is known for for its workplace softwares Jira, Confluence and Trello and has grown to be a $79 billion company with more than 300,000 customers globally. It listed on the Nasdaq in December 2015.

The company has recently been trying to push customers away from servers and to cloud-based products.

“While the executive transition is a surprise, it should not impact the operations as the company is in strong footing,” Bloomberg Intelligence analyst Sunil Rajgopal said.

Mr Farquhar’s transition was announced alongside Atlassian’s third-quarter results, which revealed net income hit $US12.8 million in the three months to the end of March, compared to a net loss of $US209m in the same period last year.

It reported a revenue of $US1.2b, up 30 per cent year-on-year.

Mr Cannon-Brookes said it had been a “milestone quarter” for Atlassian.

“We have a significant opportunity to drive durable, long-term growth as we continue to execute against our cloud roadmap and deliver innovation across our cloud platform,” he said.

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