Atlassian acquires Trello for $425M

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Atlassian today announced that it has acquired project management service Trello for $425 million. The vast majority of the transaction is in cash ($360 million), with the remainder being paid out in restricted shares and options. The acquisition is expected to close before March 31, 2017.

This marks Atlassian’s 18th acquisition and, as Atlassian president Jay Simons noted when I talked to him last week, also it largest. Just like with many of Atlassian’s other acquisitions, the company plans to keep both the Trello service and brand alive and current users shouldn’t see any immediate changes.

Trello launched in the TechCrunch Disrupt Battlefield in 2011 and in 2014, it was spun out of Fog Creek Software as a stand-alone company. With Trello, Atlassian is acquiring one of the fastest growing project management services. It now has about 19 million users and just under 100 employees, all of which will join Atlassian. After it was spun out of Fog Creek, Trello raised $10.3 million from BoxGroup, Index Ventures, Spark Capital and others.

Organizing, assigning, and tracking tasks for a team is time consuming. Trello brings more productivity to your individual and team projects. It shows all of the projects from the entire team in a single glance. Assigning projects is easy, just put them in the assigned person’s or team’s list and when completed drag it to the completed list. Each “card” or task can be commented on and links can be added. Trello works across multiple devices and uploads files from Dropbox or Google Drive.

“We’re super excited,” Simons told me. “They are a breakout product and have achieved incredible momentum.”

It’s easy to see how Trello fits into Atlassian’s overall suite of productivity tools, which have increasingly targeted non-developers, too. At its core, Atlassian’s own JIRA project management service already features a Trello-like Kanban board, for example. That’s only a small part of what JIRA does, however, and for many potential users, a board is really all they need to keep track of their projects. JIRA also features a full-blown issue-tracking service, reports, and an on-premise version that enterprises can run on their own servers.

With its Marketplace, Atlassian has also built a store for plugin developers and we’ll likely see many of Trello’s so-called “power-ups” migrate there over time. It’s also worth noting that both companies have taken similar marketing approaches that focus more on word-of-mouth recommendations and a freemium model than traditional enterprise sales.

In our conversation, Simons also noted that he believes the cultures in both companies are very similar and that both share the same “big audacious goal:” to get to 100 million monthly active users. To get there, Atlassian has to go beyond its traditional market of developer teams and branch out into other verticals. It’s no surprise then, that the company’s press release specifically cites Trello’s popularity with business teams in finance, HR, legal, marketing and sales and notes that 50 percent of Trello users work in non-technical functions.

Looking ahead, Simons said that Atlassian is committed to developing Trello. The company will put more resources behind the product and help the team scale.

Atlassian is scheduled to report its Q2 results on January 19 and chances are we will hear a bit more about this transaction and how the company plans to integrate Trello’s services then.