According to the Forbes real-time billionaires list, Atlassian co-founders Mike Cannon-Brookes and Scott Farquhar have overtaken Gina Rinehart as the richest Australians. Cannon-Brookes is estimated to have a net worth of $24.8 billion, and Farquhar is estimated to have $24.6 billion, overtaking Rinehart’s $22.3 billion.
At the start of the year, nobody would have been able to guess that Cannon-Brookes and Farquhar would have reached this height. Since the release of Forbes’ ‘World’s Billionaires List five months ago, in April 2021, the founders’ net worths have risen more than $10 billion each.
Cannon-Brookes and Farquhar met at the University of New South Wales, where they were both studying a Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science (Information Technology). Upon graduating, they were determined to earn the same amount as a graduate role whilst being their own bosses; thus, in 2002, Atlassian was founded. Atlassian is a collaboration software company that boasts products such as Jira and Trello and customers such as NASA, Tesla, SpaceX, Spotify, Sotheby’s, Visa and ANZ bank. Many are surprised to hear that Atlassian have no sales team; instead, they rely on their website and channel partners. They have recently been moving away from server products to focus on cloud and data centre products.
Atlassian has grown substantially since Cannon-Brookes and Farquhar started it in 2002. From hiring their friends, they now have offices in 7 countries. In 2005, they had their 1000th customer join, and now they have over 180,000 customers. In 2011 they reported $100 million in revenue; in 2020, they reported $1.6 billion in revenue. They have more than 5,000 workers, and since 2014 they have been ranking as one of the best workplaces worldwide. The company’s culture is shaped by five distinct values “Open company, no bullshit”, “Play, as a team”, “Build with heart and balance”, “ Don’t #@!% the customer”, and “Be the change you seek”. As a fun fact, there are two planets with Atlassian software on them.
In 2006, Atlassian joined Pledge 1%, which means that 1% of all profit, employee time and equity is donated to charitable causes. Cannon-Brookes and Farquhar are also outspoken on certain political debates, such as climate change, immigration and 457 visas and cybersecurity.
Cannon-Brookes and Farquhar were jointly awarded the Australian Entrepreneur of the year in 2006 by Ernst & Young, and they are the youngest recipients of this award. They were both awarded the Australian Finacial Review’s Australian Business Person of the Year in 2016, and in 2017 Forbes named them on their ‘Global game changers’ list.
We shall see if Cannon-Brookes and Farquhar can maintain their incredible growth into next year and be named as the wealthiest person in Australia for 2022. If one of them claims the top spot, they will be the first person who made their wealth from technology to become Australia’s wealthiest person.