revisits Atlassian listing debate


Interesting comments here (iTNews) from chief executive Matt Barrie on whether it would be better for Australia’s technology sector if local startup darling Atlassian listed on the Australian Stock Exchange instead of the Nasdaq, as it plans to:

“We need people like Mike Cannon-Brookes to list it [Atlassian] on the Australian stock market, rather than take it to the US.”

I said pretty much the same thing on Delimiter a few months ago, but got slammed by mostly everyone in Australia’s technology startup sector for my efforts. Maybe I’m not completely alone in my thinking? ;)


  1. Well, to be honest I think the bits proclaiming that Atlassian would become just another multinational software giant and that it was our patriotic duty to find Australian VC money that were the more inflammatory bits.

    Australian technology finance would undoubtedly receive a benefit if we listed here, but I am not so certain the sector as a whole would benefit if listing here wasn’t in our best interests. I think the best we can do for the local sector is continue to grow, continue to hire and continue to try and be good community citizens. Oh, and continue to base ourselves here…

    • Having dealt a fair deal with the Australian financial markets myself, Jed, I see it as an eco-system. Currently the big fish swimming in it broadly aren’t in the technology sector, and so there is virtually no financial web surround the technology sector locally. You see great businesses like ASG and UXC struggling to convince the finance guys that they are worth investing in and lending money to etc.

      And those that do produce their own technology, rather than just services — like Objective, Technology One, iSOFT and so on — do even worse.

      When you do get a big technology company listed in Australia — for example, Telstra — you see how the whole financial community rallies around it.

      I still think the terms of the debate here “in our best interests” are really up for debate. It’s really hard to define what that means for Atlassian — does it mean making more revenues or profits? Yes. But that doesn’t necessarily mean listing overseas is the best option. Does it mean raising more capital and having the best company valuation? Maybe, but again — is listing overseas the best option? I’m not sure.

      Sydney in particular is a financial hub for the whole Asia-Pacific region — one of the main ones, along with Singapore, and I think the debate about whether Atlassian should list in Australia or overseas is still up for debate, as is to what extent the company is keeping resources onshore.

      • I think you’re right on the ball with your general points, Renai, but this particular discussion resolves to a matter of whether it is the responsibility of Atlassian and other listers to improve the local tech scene and it’s not, really. They can celebrate their own success but they’re not responsible for the Australian economy.

        For that, we turn to our elected officials and their armies of advisers.

        • I don’t think it’s that easy, Tony. Large Australian companies of all stripes don’t hesitate to bring out the line that they know what’s good for the Australian economy when it suits them. You have only to look at the way the miners reacted to the mining tax to see that in action. And the technology companies are no exception to this rule.

          And certainly Atlassian’s co-founders want to improve the local technology scene and have done quite a lot to do so …. we don’t call them “industry leaders” for no reason.

  2. Renee,

    As a former Australian Financial Review journalist you know the Aussie investment community’s treatment of listed tech businesses has been poor at best.

    This is why the technology sector isn’t well represented in the banking, retailing and mining dominated ASX.

    Citing Telstra as an example illustrates this point as it’s a utility, not technology, play and a poor one at that.

    The worst possible thing that could happen for the Australian tech sector would have been for Atlassian to list here and go the way of most other Australian technology listings. It would have confirmed the investment sector’s suspicion of indigenous tech offerings.

    It’s far better for the local tech scene that Mike and Scott list in the US and become the next Sergei and Larry so we can then illustrate the opportunities our investment communities and governments are missing.

    Empty jingoistic gestures don’t help anyone. I’d suggest you let this topic go and focus on the next wave of Atlassians.



    • hey Paul,

      I think your reasoning is too narrow. You appear to pretty much only be counting pure software or hardware companies on the ASX, but there are actually a variety of companies. PIPE Networks received good support from investors when it listed — and its share price hit 10x., REA Group, SEEK, etc etc etc, which could all be classed as Web 2.0 plays, are other examples. There are actually quite a few tech companies on the ASX.

      This narrow view that Australian companies need to list overseas to really attract the interest of investors is just no true. In actual fact I believe that Australian investors would be quite interested in looking at Atlassian.



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