Got Git? Pre-IPO Atlassian makes most significant product launch in years

By Sarah Lacy , written on October 9, 2012

From The News Desk

Atlassian has a case of major Git fever. Atlassian gets that many of us may not see why that's a big deal, but it's hoping this news blows its customers' minds.

Git is a modern way of managing source code that's distributed, and doesn't rely on a central server or controlled access. It was initially designed to manage Linux, but has discovered more mainstream coder popularity with social coding site GitHub, which just raised a whopping series A. As Erin Griffith wrote when she broke the story, "If coders are the new rock stars, GitHub is their book of guitar tabs."

Atlassian isn't really taking GitHub on as much as it's trying to bring this type of code management into the enterprise. "Github popularized how developers on open source work, and a lot of enterprise teams want to work the same way," says Atlassian president Jay Simons.

And -- as we've seen from a decade or more of enterprises moving at a snail's pace to adopt cloud computing-- this may take some doing.

Atlassian is launching key updates to two products, Bitbucket and Stash. BitBucket is a SAAS product where teams can collaborate on code, while Stash allows you to do it behind the firewall. And-- for extra coder cred-- Atlassian is announcing that it's moved all of its internal software development to Git.

Stash is the real product to watch here. Simons calls it the biggest from the ground up coding effort since Atlassian built its core products Jira and Confluence. "We had such huge demand from companies wanting to make this move and do it behind the firewall," Simons says. "We expect this product to make huge money for us." Stash customers already include large companies like HBO, NASA, Nordstrom and Zillow.

Stash is essentially a move back to proprietary software. It may sound counterintuitive for a SAAS company to develop and alternative to it's SAAS version and pin so much of the hopes of it's growth on it. But while competitors wave their hands at talk about a cloud revolution, Simons has always believed the enterprise would be a heterogeneous world between SAAS and non-SAAS least for a while.

"Companies were dubious about trusting customer information to the cloud, and we crossed that bridge," Simons says. "Then they were nervous about employee information and then finance. I actually think that code will be the last frontier. Companies are definitely moving there, but it's sensitive information and they're not ready yet. Goldman is not going to trust core hedge fund trading algorithms to some SAAS service."

While Git has been a hot trend in the more public consumer software world, there is probably more software being created inside large corporations than on the outside. As Marc Andreessen penned in his "Software is eating the world" op-ed, nearly every company is becoming a software company these days. That's what makes Atlassian's niche of building software for developer groups such a juicy one. If you're going to pick a vertical to go after in this day and age, you can hardly pick a better one.

Not surprisingly, Atlassian is one of the hottest of the up and coming cloud companies, with more than $100 million in annual revenues, strong profitability and an intention to go public in the near future.

While a product announcement isn't as juicy as the filing of an S1, Stash is an important part of making Atlassian a viable public company. Symbolically, it's a sign that the company wants to lead on trends that developers want-- whether the companies they work for totally get it or not.

[Image courtesy Stevendpolo]