In case anyone doubted that Atlassian is all in on collaboration software, the company is plunking down about $425 million to buy Trello, a popular project management tool used by companies of all sizes. Roughly $360 million of that will be in cash, with the remainder in restricted Atlassian shares.
San Francisco-based Trello is a hot startup that three months ago claimed 17 million users, including employees at such companies as National Geographic, Pixar, Adobe Systems (ADBE), and Google (GOOG).
Trello competes with a wide range of products, from startups like Asana and Wrike to Microsoft Planner, announced last summer. These products offer teams of workers a way to co-create and edit documents of different types, and to track projects without the annoying email threads.
The two companies are complementary in many ways, Atlassian (TEAM) President Jay Simons told Fortune in an interview. Atlassian already offers Confluence, collaboration software for big companies that lets users combine all sorts of file types into shared, synchronized pages.
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Trello is a “beautifully flexible, simple product,” Simons said, likening it to the popular Microsoft (MSFT) Excel spreadsheet, in that it “can be molded and adapted for a group at a Fortune 100 company or a single individual.”
He sees Trello fitting in between Atlassian’s existing Confluence software and JIRA. The latter product started out as a workflow tracking tool for software developers and other techies, but it has since split into three products: one primarily still for techies, another for non-technical business people, and a third for the technical support people we all bug to fix our computers.
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Trello’s roughly 100 employees will join the 1,800 already at Atlassian. The latter company, which went public two years ago, will host its second quarter conference call on Jan. 19. For its last fiscal year, it reported $457 million in revenue, up 43% year over year.
Among other links to its products, Atlassian plans to launch a new version of the Trello integration alongside its HipChat group chat product and will provide new links between Trello and its other products as well.
While Simons acknowledged that there is some overlap between Trello’s and Atlassian’s products and customers, he maintained that many businesses use Trello for some tasks and JIRA or Confluence for others. JIRA, he noted, is for managers to oversee the workflow on structured, oft-repeated jobs, while Confluence is for creating and collaborating on free-form documents and rich content. Trello, he said, fits right in the middle.
Atlassian’s acquisition is expected to close by March 31, 2017, at the end of the company’s third quarter.