CEO Supper Club: Is Atlassian the Only Software Company on the Planet that Doesn't Need a Sales Force?

By Sarah Lacy , written on June 20, 2012

From The News Desk

This is the part of our dinner where we get into the biggest question that plagues this new generation of cloud startups: Is software bought or sold? Put another way: Do you still need all those obnoxious, elephant hunter salesmen?

Most companies start from the position of saying software is bought. But as their company matures, they find they need salesmen. Atlassian may be the only sizable software company on the planet that doesn't have a single salesperson on staff. There's one reason the company is able to get away with this: Total transparent pricing. "We have 22,000 customers on the exact same licensing agreement," Atlassian president Jay Simons says. That's radical for an industry that's been trained to weasel discounts out of sales people just before the quarter closes.

Jive's Tony Zingale and Box's Aaron Levie both argue in the video above that Atlassian's model is untenable for them. Wells Fargo analyst Jason Maynard argues that software is still mostly sold...but the percentage of software bought is at about 20 percent and creeping up.

A lot of this ties into the battle still raging within companies between IT departments that don't want to buy from these guys at the table and the individuals who want software that, you know, doesn't completely suck.

(See our earlier segments from this dinner on stupid Phablets, consolidation and fundraising.)