Trello has been acquired by Atlassian for $425m

9 Jan 2017

Trello CEO Michael Pryor. Image: Luke Maxwell

Collaboration software player Trello has been acquired by Australian software giant Atlassian for $425m, mostly for cash.

Trello is the New York-based collaboration software company that was spun out of Fog Creek Software after an internal work tool became an external product.

The company raised $10.3m in venture capital from BoxGroup, Index Ventures and Spark Capital in 2014.

‘Our dream was that someday, we could have 100m people using Trello to work together’

Trello was one of the new generation of productivity software players to emerge in recent years, alongside Slack, Wunderlist, Wrike, Sunrise and others.

The product is designed to be like a whiteboard with movable cards that users can edit to update teammates on projects and plans.

Speaking with at the Web Summit in Dublin in 2015, co-founder and CEO Michael Pryor said that Trello was born out of necessity.

“Because we were a software company, there were software engineers with whiteboards everywhere and they were moving notes around and it morphed out of that idea,” Pryor recalled.

“We decided we would take that visual metaphor and put it into software and allow everyone to use it so anyone can get a perspective on what their team is doing.”

Trello has 19m users around the world but employs just 100 people. All of the workforce of Trello will join Atlassian.

The cloud Atlassian

Founded in Australia, Atlassian is a software giant that had a successful IPO last year.

Atlassian’s HipChat product competes with Slack and other communications tools created by players from Salesforce to Microsoft and Google.

Atlassian’s Jira project management software already features a Trello-like board as well as a store for plugin developers.

Atlassian posted revenues of $475m for 2016, up 43pc on the previous year. It has a market cap of more than $5bn.

Trello is expected to remain a stand-alone platform with Pryor at the head for the foreseeable future.

Announcing the acquisition of Trello, Pryor said: “We launched Trello five years ago at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference in San Francisco. At the time, the way people work was starting to shift. Smartphones began to change the way we connected and how we communicated with each other. People expected the tools they use at work to be as fun and easy to use as those in their personal lives. In the business world, the culture of teamwork began to change from face time and meetings to the rise of digital collaboration tools that let teammates collaborate anywhere, anytime.

“Our small idea was to take the paradigm of a sticky note on a wall and turn it into a tool that allowed people to collaborate in real time. We wanted people to get started quickly and not get bogged down in structure. We wanted Trello to be fluid and adaptable to a huge range of problems that all revolved around getting people on the same page.

“Our dream was that someday, we could have 100m people using Trello to work together,” Pryor said.

After today, it looks like that dream has taken a substantial step closer to becoming a reality.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years