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Open letter to Atlassian:

Trello are an amazing team and an amazing product, and what makes the product so amazing is how domain-agnostic it is. They refuse at all costs to add any feature that helps use Trello in one specific way over others (e.g. lists = stages in task lifetime, cards = tasks; lists = assigned people, cards = tasks; lists = dates, cards = events, ...), and that made Trello equally useful as a Kanban board, a CRM, or for a beer microbrewery tracking its different barrels and the stages of brewing they are at. The best thing about Trello is when you start organizing your board one way, then organically drift towards a more natural way to organize them, sometimes without noticing as you do. Trello is for processes that you're not sure yet about the right way to manage.

Atlassian is all about development team collaboration. Trello can be used for that, but not anymore than it can be used for brewing beer. Trello shines when you don't know in advance how you will want to manage a project. If Trello became a dev collaboratin tool, I would stop using it for dev collaboration because there are better specialized solutions for that. Keep Trello general. Please.




Thank you for the kind words.

I promise you Atlassian understands why Trello is so successful. You described Trello's core strength perfectly - and this one of the reasons they are committed to keeping it as a standalone service.

(disclaimer: I'm the CEO of Trello)


I want to add to what Michael said above.

In meeting with Michael, and discussing how we could work together, Michael could not be more clear that Trello's success is predicated on is breadth and its appeal to many different use-cases.

This is most clearly displayed in their inspiration page, that includes many, many use-cases:

  https://trello.com/inspiration
Keeping this strength alive will be key to Trello's long-term success.

Scott, CEO Atlassian


Hello, you received a reply in another comment about adding more time tracking and reporting to Trello.

This goes right to the core of all of the issues/conflicts bundled into this acquisition from UX details up through to target users and culture clash.

Time tracking is a manager-oriented feature, not a producer-oriented feature. The users producing the work usually resent things like fine grained time tracking and comparitive producer reporting because it distracts from actual work, treats creative or complex processes as though they are part of an assembly line, encourages micro-management, pits quality against time, and emphasizes wage servitude.

Managers can use Trello to stress out their employees too, but not to the extent that JIRA-ish tools enable.

The problem is you are selling to managers who love to micromanage their employees and have nothing better to do than fiddle with configuration, reports, or have meetings with the people they hired to do that.

This is why developers who are smart will probably try to protect themselves by pre-emptively replacing Trello with one of the dozens of free or inexpensive clones before you can start corporatizing it and their company.


Be it for the general use cases or for the software team collaboration, time tracking and reporting features are always useful. As a user of both JIRA & Trello, I hope Trello soon gets all the time tracking and reporting love that JIRA team could add. Congrats and good luck!


I wonder what founders who have sold their companies for a significant amount end up doing in the days after. It would be really interesting to know what's going on in your head right now.


omg, I'm going to have a boss! I'll be working at Atlassian. Lots of stuff to still do in the future to reach our (and my) goals. And now we're going to have a lot more fuel for our engines to get there.


SAAS founder here. Firstly congrats on such a great exit, you and your team certainly deserve it! I would love to know what "more fuel for our engines means"? How much cash you are you looking to burn? From most listed SAAS companies spend upward 80% on sales and marketing. Are you planning to do more enterprise sales?


I'm sure it doesn't mean anything. He just has to sound excited to keep everyone happy.

I obviously have no idea how Trello is structured and whether Michael has any real ownership or not, given its unique history, but in the case of most SaaS founders, when their golden handcuffs expire, they call in rich, because duh, why wouldn't they? Especially after watching the bureaucracy at the acquirer kill their baby.


You'd have to check his "Current Thoughts" Trello list :p


Thanks for an awesome product. How long was this acquisition on your Trello board?


Hey... congrats, dude.


I completely agree with the sentiment, but my gut says this acquisition isn't about Trello becoming a part of Atlassian but rather Atlassian trying to venture away from their set of dev tools.

Why, you ask? As a recently public company Atlassian knows it'll need to grow beyond developers if they want to continue growing at a healthy rate, and Trello offers that exactly. I believe that's why they paid such a hefty price for it.

It just wouldn't make sense to throw away all those users...


> As a recently public company Atlassian knows it'll need to grow beyond developers

Why is that? Why does a company that is good at something NEED to expand beyond their area of expertise? Is is just me who sees this as American Capitalismâ„¢? Wouldn't it be better to try to make their products excellent and attract the many developers who are not using their suite? Why the always constant push to grow at any cost?

I'm saying this as someone who has been using Atlassian products for a while. They seem to focus on JIRA and Confluence only, and letting all the other products be 2nd or even 3rd class citizens. Why expand if you cannot keep the software that you already own up to date?


Why do anything? Why should Intel care about mobile or Nvidia care about compute? Why should apple care about phones and why should Google care about cars and email? Why should Amazon care about cloud storage? Why should Microsoft care about Linux? Why should BMW care about electric cars? Why should Toyota care about hybrids?

Because you can as and because there are big rewards for doing it right and you're in a good position to that.


"Because you can" is the easiest answer you can give to anything. My comment was written because I feel like people say that Atlassian MUST expand beyond developers. So it doesn't feel like they WANT or they CAN.


Because their shareholders expect the biggest return for their money. This isn't a problem for self-funded companies (they don't have to live beyond their means if they don't need to), but if investors don't see growth they'll sell shares while it's still at its peak. That's business for you.


Yeah, the insatiable need for growth is definitely a function of the way we've structured the investment markets. Public companies depend on shareholders for capital. Shareholders buy your shares because they think you're going to be worth more money some day. Generally, companies become worth more money by increasing sales and developing new, diversified assets and product portfolios.


"If you're not moving forward you're moving backward."

It's true for any company, and even more true for tech companies. They have to continue to grow for many reasons, including keeping their existing products better.

I personally am not a JIRA fan. We used it for a while and it just really didn't work out for us. The entire experience was too cumbersome and unfriendly. However, that has nothing to do with them growing. If anything, they're doing an amazing job growing with a product that isn't fun to use at all.


They're public, they need to make money for shareholders.


The set of shareholders who would prefer a company return profits / invest in existing products vs risky investments in non-core-competency areas is certainly not empty. If I wanted to invest in a dogfood company I can- I invest in Atlassian because they make developer tools.


> risky investments in non-core-competency

I disagree with this completely. Atlassian is in the business of collaboration tools. They've done that for developers, but it doesn't mean they're only capable of making developer tools.

Also, where's the risk here? Other than the inflated price I don't see any risk. Trello isn't just an idea but rather a real product with a massive team and a ton of users who love it. They've iterated on their platform enough so I imagine many of both the technical and experience aspects are polished enough. What am I missing?


I think Atlassian is indeed acquiring Trello to fit it in with the rest of their suite. This is probably going to be done to the detriment of the other use cases.

On the bright side, this might pave the way for a new product in this space, or some open-source tools which replicate the same basic funtionality.


Open source alternatives are already out there. Wekan is one of the more popular ones. I'm not sure if it has all of the features of Trello as I haven't used Trello extensively. https://github.com/wekan/wekan


Looking at the screenshot it looks more like a ripoff than an alternative. I am an open source advocate in almost everything, but that kind of ripping of / stealing ideas leave a bad taste.


They already have a closed source alternative built into JIRA.


It misses a few of Trello's features (including keyboard shortcuts and checklists) but it's close.


I'm not atlassians CEO but I'd like to think it would be cheaper to build keyboard shortcuts and checklists than to buy Trello.

Those features should take at most a month and cost at most $25k to build.

Yes there are other things that make Trello stand out but I don't see a justification for this purchase if not just to hire the team.


This was put perfectly. I didn't realize that this was the reason I used Trello to organize much of my life until I read this. I would find it a bit confusing if they started making this more developer exclusive since they already have their Jira software, which already fills that role. I'm hesitantly optimistic that they see Trello for what it is.


Have you found that non-techy people are learning Markdown to use on trello?


No, they just use plaintext.




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