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.
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)
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:
Scott, CEO Atlassian
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.
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.
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...
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 Capitalism™? 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?
Because you can as and because there are big rewards for doing it right and you're in a good position to that.
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.
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?
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.
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.