What’s Next for Atlassian?

[Music] All the world's a stage and all of its People merely players ladies and Gentlemen of course you remember your Shakespeare Um it's wonderful isn't it to hear all These wonderful conversations Um but the question is is when you get To the size of a company like atlassian What do you do how do you innovate how Do you stay hungry how do you keep the The Wheels On After careers at Microsoft and meta Rajiv Rajan joined atlassian as its CTO Last year and the company has spent last Few years evolving its Tech stack and of Evolving its overall technical strategy But what's going to happen next can they Modernize what are the challenges of Such an enormous modern SAS giant well Here to guide that conversation and get Under the skin of this company is hajjan Camps from TechCrunch give them a round Of applause ladies and gentlemen and I'll see you in a minute [Applause] [Music] Hello everybody my name is Haya and I am Joined here with Rajiv and I am super Psyched to talk to you guys about what's Happening at atlassian So um Rasheed I recently wrote about uh How nobody really knows what ctOS do in A startup well I think that's true for

Big companies too what do you actually Do yeah that's a that's a great question So first of all I'm responsible for all Of engineering and atlassian all Engineering rolls up to me and so for me It's like what is the goal for the Company and the goal for atlassian is we Are a good strong company but we want to Get to being one of the top tech Companies in the world uh we have a Wonderful Mission around unleashing the Potential of teams and productivity and So with that mission we we could be a Really big amazing tech company and we Need world-class engineering for that so For my job is how do we make sure that We have world-class engineering and so What does that mean you you need World-class people you need world-class Systems you need great architecture and You want developers to be productive so We call that developer productivity Developer joy and so that's a big Mission for us and that's something I've Spent some time on over the last year Year and a half I've been at atlassian And you know I can break it down for for You it's it's uh it's so important to us That we made it a company level okr as Important as our company Revenue goals And such and it's really a three-part Framework where we want developers to be Productive overall and how do we do that We have we want awesome tools so one of

The parts of the framework is developers Need tools so whether it's built what Kind of tools do you use we will use Jira okay uh we we use that we use Bitbucket we use everything that we Produce dog food everything that we do So awesome tools the second part of it Is Empower teams a lot of issues with Developers are local to their teams Right so if you're a developer and your Day sucks we make sure you set aside Some time to go fix the things that Bother you every day so we call that Empowered teams and then the last part Is amazing engineering culture this is About modern code bases Tech debt making Sure you have all that in handle and so When I joined we did a survey we said You know in your job do you feel Productive as a developer and less than Half of the company said yes and we've Gone from that to over 70 so if you have A 20 swing on that number because we've Gone and invested in developer Productivity so that you know Engineers Can have developer Joy that's a hell of A thing to inherit Like lots of people saying ah my job Isn't that great yeah no this is super For me as an engineer it's super Exciting right what's that important to The to the CEOs as well yeah yeah Absolutely when I came in I talked to Both CEOs we have two of them and both

Of them said developers aren't happy They are unproductive you aren't getting Things done on time and how do we tackle This and so that was the first one of The first challenges I picked up yeah Yeah so whenever I talk to people where There are two CEOs generally that's not Super awesome what is it like to have Two buses it's great actually both of Them are very different but very Complementary you know Mike Cannon Brooks is is very Visionary and you know He inspires your ideas that maybe five Years away or ten years away it's got More detail and you know he's so it's a Good complement of things and they're Friends who started atlassian in college And they're still good friends again so Right yeah awesome so do you work more With one of the other is it kind of yeah Mike's my boss and I work with more with Mike but I work hardly with Scott too Yeah awesome so we're uh we have a whole Bunch of uh early stage companies in the Room and you know they're here at a Conference called disrupt they're here To disrupt everything and one of the Things they really want to disrupt is Atlassian Right everybody wants to go after jira Trello Confluence Etc yeah like what are You doing to make sure that you keep Your lead so we had a very very Entrepreneurial company we're not that

Old we're you know 20 years old but uh Very startupy in nature uh from The Roots when Michael Scott started the Company so we do a lot of things to Maintain that Scrappy kind of startupy Nature we do something called shippits Which is our hackathon we do that quite Often where Engineers take the whole Week off and go and build things and Many of our products came out of those Hackathons and so that's one thing we do The other thing we do is democulture uh We ask Engineers whatever you worked on During the week you come into a demo and I go to some of them every Friday and It's like you know you demo the things That you worked on and so and then that Gives you an idea and then you get Products out of it and so that's another Thing we've done and then we also have An incubator inside the company where we Take a bunch of smart folks and we go Build the next generation of products That we think will be awesome yeah I Mean it's kind of incredible to hear you Describe a 20 year old company as not That old but then I remember your Previous two where meta and Microsoft is There anything you're kind of missing From those companies like in terms of Culture or tools or what have you yeah I Mean look both of them are awesome Companies and so you know they're both Places where I was able to see amazing

Engineering world-class engineering as I Call it and uh meta in particular had Really good tools for engineers and so That's one of the things I'm doing at Atlassian is is going and looking that's Why I said awesome tools we are going And doing a bunch of new tooling work And the nice thing about atlassin is Whatever tools we build we can actually Ship it on our products Right For Engineers for you know over the world And so that's something that I'm really Excited about yeah is there something You really don't miss you're like thank God I don't have to deal with that Anymore Uh well you know long silence Uh sometimes you know I I enjoy the fact That we are an Enterprise SAS company And our mission is productivity and Unleashing the potential of teams it's a Very fulfilling mission for the world And so that's really exciting for me Yeah so when we first started talking About this panel um we're saying like oh You've done this And um Were you a little late with that Uh to be honest yes I was at Microsoft I Did the cloud I built Office 365 took Office to the cloud back in the day and Then I went to meta for five years so When I came to atlassian I was like okay This is a little late but we're making a

Lot of progress you know we're doing Things like fedramp was not on the Calendar when I came in and we got that On the books and we are making a lot of Progress so yes a little late relative To maybe Microsoft but making good Progress yeah awesome so obviously that Is no longer the current Frontier that's Yeah yeah what is the current Frontier What are you currently excited about Well obviously AI you know you see AI Stations over there okay what is The Cutting Edge thing of AI for you well There's two things one is our products And collaboration uh so we announced Atlassian intelligence at Team 23 which Is our annual conference we we did a Partnership with openai and we we've Been doing AIML for a while so we've got Search and app mentions and things like That but with llms coming in we did the Partnership with open AI so that we Could do table sticks features like Summarize things and Confluence and Things like that so that's table Stakes You got that up and going but I'm really Excited about imagine somebody who is You know trying to launch a rocket under The moon and has a whole big complex Jitter project instead of going through Hundreds of jira tickets imagine they Come in and say a natural language you Know how's the mission going and you get The whole rundown of everything that's

Happening where's the hot spot where There's a long pole automatically like That's the kind of stuff I think we can Unleash in terms of broad productivity And so that's another area we're working On you know to me the AI is like it's It's not one winner it's like the Olympics you know and the teamwork Category is ours to win and so we're Really focused on how do you get teams To be more productive through AI the Second aspect is using AI for our own Engineering our developers are using Different kinds of coding assistants and To me it's like we were talking about Cooking backstage and you know the the Chores and cooking is all the prep work That happens and I think what AI the Coding assistants do is they take some Of that drudgery away from you so that You can focus on the most creative Aspects of writing code and Building Things and so on and so it's really Exciting to see that come into play and Uh we are really excited by the Productivity gains we get from AI you Know coding is yeah totally so you Mentioned you joined about a year and a Half ago and you know you're kind of Like oh this Cloud thing got to tidy That up yeah um those are other things That you felt like you had to mop up Like other things that weren't going as Well as you'd hoped yeah so I talked

About world-class engineering and one of The things the most important thing is World-class people and we have amazing Talented at atlassian but I felt like we Could go and and you know up level and Hire you know stronger Um you know IC Engineers that's Something that was not well understood It's very important to any company Whether your startup or big to have a Really good IC career track so that Engineers who don't want to be managers Can grow as high in the company Hierarchy as possible and so we set up a Good you know pathway there hired some Really strong distinguished Engineers You know who can come in and help lead Architecture and things like that Um and we also up leveled our recruiting Process it's important when you're Hiring to have a good bar a good Interview process and so we did some Things around people yeah I mean back in March I think you shed about five Percent of your staff was that the People who weren't that good or what was The priority there no we you know like Every company that went through macro we Had to sit back and look at our Priorities and so we pulled back in a Few areas that were not the highest Priority so it was more about what's Really not the highest priority for the Company and pulling back on some of

Those things and so what did you decide To uh pull back on well obviously we had We had big recruiting plans and we were Hiring a lot of people but then we Decided we're still hiding quite a bit But not as much as before and so we Didn't need for example as many Recruiters and so that was an example of An area where we pulled back a little Bit yeah and so where where are you Going on the gas you mentioned AI you Mentioned collaborative tools is that The main thrust well we also have a lot Of new zero to one products uh we have a Product called Compass which we offer to Companies to be able to do their own Developer productivity and so that we Believe there's a future where you can Look at you know components that you Have in your company and understand how To build software through components as Opposed to like writing code and files And things like that so we're really Excited about Compass we have gr product Discovery which is for uh PMS to be able To do uh stories and things like that And then take it to the next level and So we're really excited about some of The new innovation we're bringing in Yeah totally so you mentioned that There's um When you joined there was a little bit Of dissent in the ranked shall we say And

That is usually very very hard to turn Around can you say a little bit more About what you did like how yeah totally Uh look culture is the most important Thing when you're trying to scale when You're trying to get to the next level When you want to take the company Through that next s-curve of growth you Got to change a few things and what we Decided was the first thing I decided When I came in by the way was to do a Listening tour I went for two or three Months I went to all the different Offices talked to lots of Engineers I Get a lot of energy talking to Engineers Understanding what's happening on the Ground what's not working how fast is Your build you know things like that and I got a real sense of like the problems The real problems in the company Um and so we decided to do developer Productivity as a big thing as a big Mission and and so that's kind of how I Started from that but I also realized It's important to not change the values We have some really good values in Atlassian one of the values I really Like is open company no you Know we are very open about how we talk And bring things out and that's really Important to have the dialogue going and So we said look the values aren't Changing but the culture is changing and That's an important thing lots of times

In companies they're like oh we don't Want to change the culture but you've Got to change the culture if you want to Go through that next s-curve of growth And that's an important conversation to Have because if people feel like they Understand that you're explicitly Changing the culture to do this or to Move faster or whatever it is you're Trying to do or to have better Productivity for developers it's Important to be intentional about what That vision is and once you have that Vision then people understand the Changes better and then you know you get People to come along with you yeah So how like Organizations have a lot of inertia yeah Right like changing the direction of Anything is hard like what was the Motivation how did you how did you drive That well I mean we were quite honest Starting with Mike and Scott and Leadership we were like look at last Year there's a good company solid Company but we want to take it we want It to be a top tech company we wanted to Take it you know to the to the next Level and in order to do that we're Going to have to change things we can't You know it's like a rock launching a Rocket to the moon you have to you need Activation energy to get to the next Orbital level so that you can escape

Earth's you know orbital gravity pull And things like that so you can't Get to being great without like changing Things and so once people understood Okay that's the aspiration we really Have a bold aspiration here that's why We need to make these changes so that we Can go and up level different things That was helpful in changing the the Dialogue yeah totally yeah and part of This was you know you did a bunch of Layoffs you hired a bunch of new people But you're also pretty new and this is Your first role as uh CTO right yeah why You Well you know well you should you should Ask Mike but like I think one of the Things that uh the founders wanted to do Was hey we need world-class Engineering In atlassian we want to take it to the Next level uh Rajiv has been at meta He's been at Microsoft you know he's Seen this before he has seen big scale And so I guess that was part of the pull Of getting me here yeah yeah and for me By the way for me coming in it was like I've been in these big companies I've Seen the transformation happen when you Become big I've seen you know great Times at Microsoft not so great times Likewise and meta and so for me the Motivation is how do I take Atlas into That next level but not repeat maybe Some of the bad movies or anti-patterns

Uh you know there's some great playbooks To learn from but there's also some Pitfalls to avoid and so if I can get a Class into that next level without some Of the pitfalls that'll be great yeah so If you if we have some ctOS in the room Here who are like on that inflection Point what is the Playbook how do you How do you keep your culture where it Needs to be well again it's back to the You keep the values the same but you Have to be intentional about what parts Of the culture you want to actually Change right and so so in atlassian for Example we have a very collaborative Culture we like to talk to people make Sure we have you know crossed all the T's and dotted all the eyes before we go And take action and that's great when You are much smaller but as you get Bigger you also have to move otherwise You don't execute it on deliver on time And so we had to we came up with this Notion of directly responsible Individuals or dris and we said okay Dris are going to take decisions and Move forward yes we want to collaborate And do all those things but at the same Time we need to execute we are slowing Down an execution and so you have to see What are the things that are slowing you Down what are the big company things That are creeping in that need to be Sort of pruned so that the company can

Keep this crappiness and the startupy Mode and move forward so if you're a CTO I would be like hey what are the things That are slowing the company down what Are the things that are causing Engineers to feel like it's getting Bureaucratic and you're not able to get Things done and then go and chip away at Those things so I'm hearing a slogan Form here which is move fast and break a Few things as we possibly can we'll fast And don't break too many I like it very Catchy what kind of metrics do you use Personally to know whether or not you're Being successful as a CTO Well uh go back to developer Productivity we we one of the one of the Metrics we use is the developer Sentiment in the company so we run a Survey every month and we ask you know a Few simple questions if you're a Developer do you feel productive in your Job Um do you feel Joy in your job you know As a developer and then we look at that Sentiment score and like I said when I Joined it was less than 50 and now it's Like more than 70 so that's a key metric That we track but then behind that we Look at look at a lot of Dora metrics Like you know build time peer cycle time Issue cycle time how long does it take To deploy things to production so we Look at all of those metrics to to

Understand what is the the clock speed Of developers how long does it take for People to turn things around But I mean you don't measure that as Numbers of like lines of code written or Like how do you measure the actual Productivity in a way that makes sense Yeah well we look at for example when we Did our atlassian intelligence launch With AI uh we got it up and running in Like less than three months and shipped In team 23 and now in the hands of Customers and so we're looking at how Fast can we get features built and Turned around to our customers Previously it was taking us sometimes it Would take a you'd start a plan and People would be like next fiscal year or Two years from now and like we're like No no how can we get it done like three Months and so you try to look at the Speed of physics and see how fast you Can get it out the door And how how Hands-On do you get in that Oh yeah so we I mentioned ship it and uh Last Ship it I was like okay I'm gonna Write some code and we I got to do a Little bit of code in conference Front-end we hooked up an advanced you Know search bar with uh with an llm so That you could do natural language Queries against cql which is the Conference you know Confluence query Language and so that was fun to just set

Up the whole environment get confidence Up and running get the front end up and Running and you know write some code I mean you're a braver man than I am They don't let me anywhere near Production code and they're smart for it Um is that your background as like uh Right yeah yeah when I joined Microsoft I joined as an intern it's funny story I Was in grad school and uh somebody said There's free pizza so I went for the Free pizza I met this guy from Microsoft And next thing I know I'm doing an Internship at Microsoft and then I Joined and I was there for a couple of Decades but look in the 90s and Microsoft was one of the best places in The world to write code I had a futon in My office and I was writing code and Sleeping there and you know it was real Fun you get into this flow when you're Writing code uh and you're you're Getting deep into different things you Just get this flow of creativity and joy And that's why for me developer Productivity developer Joy is something Really close to my heart and something I Want for all Engineers to experience Certainly at atlassian and through our Products everyone in the world I feel Like the CTO of a 8 000 person company Ten thousand ten thousand person company Rarely says developer Joy like what does That mean to you why is that important

So you know developer productivity Sounds like a very business thing it's Like okay we want to get people more Productive you want to get more out of Developers that's not our purpose in Atlassian you want people to actually Feel the joy of creation coding is a Very it's part science part art and you You need to feel excited about what You've created and the things that come In the way of that Joy is when you have Friction when you're writing code you Get stuck you need help from somebody Else they're in a different time zone You don't know how to connect and then You can kind of stop so we are kind of Focused on the things that cause Developers to get blocked and how do you Unblock them so one of the examples is We want every component to have Self-serve apis so that if you need to Use somebody else's component it's Pretty easy you go to Compass you find The component you find the apis you find The documentation and you keep going This this was my experience in Windows NT when I was writing code in the kernel Is like very well documented code very Nice to read easy to understand easy to Set a break point and debug and so like I want it to be such that it's easy to Write code and you have the joy of Creation without you know getting Stopped and having friction and things

Like that So I hear the story of from Pizza to Atlassian CTO in a few easy steps that's Pretty rad Um but you also mentioned uh having like A cot in your office and I feel like That seems like the opposite of Developer Joy a lot of the time like how Do you encourage people to have Work-life balance in the midst of trying To deliver stuff yeah no I'm not Advising any of you to put a coupon in Your office but uh hammocks you know It's look I I believe that you know you Should put your self into something Where you have passion and I love coding I have passion in it and so for me when I was young and I didn't have a lot of Other responsibilities like it just felt So much fun to be able to write code and Fall asleep writing code and wake up in The morning writing code so I won't Advise that you know sustainably for Life but you know when you're young in Your 20s and you're having fun that was Fun for me and so how does that show up In in the context of atlassian now yeah So like we are a remote distributor team Another one of the few still big Companies who are still remote and Distributed we don't require people to Come into the office we are we call a Team anywhere and we believe you can Write code from anywhere and connect and

You know with your teammates across Different time zones and so to my Earlier point we try to make it so that When you're writing code you can connect With other components pretty seamlessly And you don't need to necessarily wait For somebody to wake up to be able to Have that conversation yeah so some of The big Tech startups have been pretty Gung-ho about dragging people back into The office yeah uh even from the way I Asked that question you can tell which Side I follow it but uh so there's no Plan to actually do no we have no plans To to do that we are completely remote Distributed we do have offices and we do Something called intentional Togetherness so look the human Connection is super important so that's Definitely the case and so every team no Matter which team you work on every Three months you can get together for an Offside we actually encourage people to Do the social connection when you do the Offsite so that you get to know everyone On the team so that when you go back and You connect over Zoom or whatever you Know you have that connection and so use The offices for off-sites but we don't Use the offices for you have to come in Three days a week and do work and that Sort of thing you can work from anywhere You want and so how's that organized do You try and put the teams with people in

Roughly the same time zone yeah yeah Yeah we've divided the earth into like Six time zones and we you know if you Have a team of 100 developers we are Like Hey try to be you know Sydney and India or Sydney and U.S West Coast so That you have the maximum overlap for That team yeah and if is that something That is like designed into how you Designed a team so does it kind of just Organically happen well we were very Intentional about it so when we look at Our jira teams our Confluence teams or Any of the product teams we're like okay We're not going to have this particular Team stretch across three different time Zones and so if you had a piece or Component across three we would try to Move it to one of the other two time Zones so that we can collocate so we did All of this through covet by the way Yeah yeah I know that makes sense was Covered the accelerant there or was There something that was already in the Which was the accelerant obviously you Know everybody woke up and they're like What the hell and you know and so that Was like definitely a moment for the Company and the founders and it was Pretty the founders are very uh they Think very differently and they were Like okay this is how we think the world Is going to be and we sort of went into It and even as we have coming out of it

We feel like this is how work is going To happen and we like to we want our Software to reflect the remote Distributed nature of the world and we Believe that's living it ourselves is The best way to make sure the software Works that way yeah so I work with a lot Of early stage startups right and Whenever they do the competition graph One of your products is very often on There and it's often in the kind of Dinosaur column like how do you fight Back against that we're like how do you How do you compete yeah so we we look at Something called csat and we measure it And we make sure that we make Improvements against it we have Something called jlav which is a project With an atlassian to make sure there's Love for jira uh so we are constantly uh You know looking at our UI to see how we Go and improve it Um we have just like with office and Windows you end up with like a lot of Features it might seem like a lot to a Single person but everybody needs one of Those features if you remember Microsoft Try to change the windows UI and remove The start button and so on and people Got upset right so it's not like you can Go things that are used by a lot of People are hard to go and change the User interface for you can't just go and Say oh they're just going to go and you

Know make everything blue or something Like that right you know you have to do It in stages and that sort of thing so We have a project to go do that but We're also constantly looking for Feedback from customers to see what are The aspects that we can go improve it's Not the easiest thing to go and change Overnight yeah of course and I mean I Imagine part of the challenge is that Because it's so many things to so many Different people we're joking backstage About what people use Trello for but It's like you can use it for pretty much Anything that's a blessing and the curse And the curse yeah so what is the what Is the hard thing about trying to design A product that keeps being pointed in The right direction Well it's the hard thing is it's used by Everybody jira is literally used by Every almost every software team in the World and so you know you got to make Sure that it does the job that that People wanted to do but also uh you know There's lots of new competitors coming In especially with startups a lot of Startups tend to have fewer needs and so The question is can we get a version of Jira that maybe has you know the right Size features for a smaller company so That as you grow up you can use the more Full-size version so we are constantly Thinking about ways in which we can

Adjust things for different company Sizes our routes are in SMB we have Usually it's a small team even if it's An Enterprise use case it's a small team Small Department that starts using us so We are ever mindful of the use case Where the small teams are using us and It's easy for people to go use What would you say if somebody wants to Um Really try and build a company that can Kind of stand the test of time you're You're 20 years in we were just talking About the next 20 years like what what Is what do you do today if you have a Young company To build for the for the ages yeah so One of the things that Scott and Mike Talk about is we want atlassian to be a Hundred year company so that's a that's A common thing we talk about whether the Company is we are here for the next Hundred years and so we think long term We you have to really be intentional About your company values so if ever you If a small company I would think about What what are the values that drive your Company you know um write it down and Don't just write it as posters on the Wall but like actually live your values That's something that atlassian is Really known for if you talk to anybody Who works in atlassian they tell you we Actually live our values every day in in

Every meeting and everything that we do It's not just a poster on the wall kind Of thing and so having your core values Living it up in the work that you do in The decisions that you make that's super Important and then having a core sense Of what your culture is and what you Stand for in the world and being true to That that's important and those are the Things that will take you long and also Investing in things like developer Productivity developer productivity is Not like a one-year thing it's a Multi-year thing in fact it never ends Even once you get better and better it's Like treadmill you have to just like you Know you go to the gym every day you Don't stop going to the gym just because You you're a little more fit you have to Keep up with it and so developer Productivity is a Evergreen and Never-ending Mission and you you always Have to nurture it and take that forward So figuring out the things that you need For the long term and investing in it Um Tech debt architecture platform Thinking all of that is stuff that you Have to consciously work at you can't Just you know if you don't work at it it Won't happen and then you'll be left at The code base that's that's not really Good and that then causes developers to Not feel happy yeah and I think Ultimately that is what a big part of

Productivity is it's keeping the keeping The ball rolling yeah yeah Rajiv we're Out of time thank you so much for Joining us yeah thank you all for coming Thank you

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