How to build the next Trello and sell it for $425 million or more

Atlassian bought Trello for $425 million. Because Trello was on trajectory to kill Atlassian.

Dimitri Tarasowski
Jan 24, 2017 · 8 min read
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The rationale behind Trello’s acquisition.

Fog Creek launched Trello in 2011, and six years later sold it for $425 million. It was Atlassian’s biggest acquisition ever. But why did Atlassian pay so much money for Trello? Because Trello disrupted the project tracking space. Products based on disruptive technologies are typically cheaper, simpler, smaller, and more convenient to use.

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Trello Board Example

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Source: Zapier.com

Jira Board Example

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Source: Spartez.com

Atlassian failed to build its own Trello.

According to Clayton Christensen, leadership in disruptive technology has been very important. Companies that entered the market first were six times more likely to succeed than those that entered later. Therefore, if Atlassian would even create its own version of Trello, there’s no evidence to suggest that product would succeed. Atlassian wasn’t a first mover.

So what happens after the acquisition of Trello?

I remember when Google bought Android. Android’s operations were not fully integrated into Google’s main business. Even Google’s employees had no access to the Android offices. As we can see, it was one of the Google’s best acquisitions. But why didn’t Google integrate Android into its main business? Simple. Because Google’s processes, values, and culture would have killed Android. That’s one of the main reasons for not integrating newly acquired companies.

Trello will become the new Jira!

In a blog post, the CEO of Atlassian wrote: “Trello will become an important part of the Atlassian portfolio.” I guess it’s too early to tell the truth. It will be the other way around.

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These are the next $400 million startups.

Zapier published statistics about the fastest growing apps. In first place was Airtable, with a growth rate of 682%. I hadn’t heard of Airtable, and I was curious to know what it does. I checked out its website and learned that it’s basically a cheaper and simpler version of Microsoft Access. As we established earlier, products based on disruptive technologies are typically cheaper, simpler, smaller, and more convenient to use.

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