How I decided to allow remote work forever at Atlassian

Deciding to embrace remote was easy for co-CEO Scott Farquhar. The rest was a little more complicated.

Atlassian Co-Founder & Co-CEO Scott Farquhar Keynote Speech at the Morgan Stanley Australia Summit

"Moving fast and communicating fast with false certainty ends up not being the right thing."

Photo: Brent Lewin/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Click banner image for more How I decided series

Scott Farquhar is the co-CEO of Atlassian. Before the pandemic, only around 5% of Atlassian employees were remote workers. Today, most are, with 42% of the Australian software giant’s employees living more than two hours from an office.

The overall decision was easy enough; the hard part was working out the details. Farquhar walks through how he and co-CEO Mike Cannon-Brookes made this decision during that fateful spring and summer of 2020.

Farquhar’s story, as told to Protocol, has been edited for clarity and brevity.

We predicted the worst. Very early on, Mike and I chatted about it and came to the same conclusion: This pandemic is not going back in six weeks. I think we originally said we think this is going to go for two years.

If we’re not going to go back for two years, what are the implications of that? We looked around and said, we’ve always tapped into a global talent base because we’re a global company. If we don’t have to go back to offices, we can tap into an even bigger global talent base.

We think we should plan to never go back into the office. I think our leadership team was a bit shocked when Mike and I announced this. We’re usually pretty collaborative. But on this particular one, we were pretty convicted, both on our assumption about two years, and also about the implications that came out of that.

We talked to folks at Twitter about their choice to close offices. Twitter was the first company to come out and say, “We’re closing our offices.” Around that same time, there was a Slack channel of peers, CEOs, in other countries, who I would normally catch up with when I was in San Francisco. What I found is that we had way more clarity around what we were doing than other companies. I think there was an angst internally about, like, why aren’t we making our decision as fast as they have? We still made the decision to do it, but there were a lot of details. Can our employees move states? Do they need permission? If people move to other locations, do we guarantee that their salary will be the same, or could it change in the future? We went and talked to people at Twitter, like, “How did you solve all these questions so fast, and what were your solutions to them?” They were like, “Oh, we haven’t solved any of those questions.”

It turned out that moving fast and communicating fast with false certainty ends up not being the right thing. It’s that hard trade-off. There were two big rounds of communications. We came out with certainty with the things that we want — the principles — and then we have the open questions, which we will answer, and I think we’d answer them within, like, six weeks.


Judge Zia Faruqui is trying to teach you crypto, one ‘SNL’ reference at a time

His decisions on major cryptocurrency cases have quoted "The Big Lebowski," "SNL," and "Dr. Strangelove." That’s because he wants you — yes, you — to read them.

The ways Zia Faruqui (right) has weighed on cases that have come before him can give lawyers clues as to what legal frameworks will pass muster.

Photo: Carolyn Van Houten/The Washington Post via Getty Images

“Cryptocurrency and related software analytics tools are ‘The wave of the future, Dude. One hundred percent electronic.’”

That’s not a quote from "The Big Lebowski" — at least, not directly. It’s a quote from a Washington, D.C., district court memorandum opinion on the role cryptocurrency analytics tools can play in government investigations. The author is Magistrate Judge Zia Faruqui.

Keep ReadingShow less
Veronica Irwin

Veronica Irwin (@vronirwin) is a San Francisco-based reporter at Protocol covering fintech. Previously she was at the San Francisco Examiner, covering tech from a hyper-local angle. Before that, her byline was featured in SF Weekly, The Nation, Techworker, Ms. Magazine and The Frisc.

The financial technology transformation is driving competition, creating consumer choice, and shaping the future of finance. Hear from seven fintech leaders who are reshaping the future of finance, and join the inaugural Financial Technology Association Fintech Summit to learn more.

Keep ReadingShow less
The Financial Technology Association (FTA) represents industry leaders shaping the future of finance. We champion the power of technology-centered financial services and advocate for the modernization of financial regulation to support inclusion and responsible innovation.

AWS CEO: The cloud isn’t just about technology

As AWS preps for its annual re:Invent conference, Adam Selipsky talks product strategy, support for hybrid environments, and the value of the cloud in uncertain economic times.

Photo: Noah Berger/Getty Images for Amazon Web Services

AWS is gearing up for re:Invent, its annual cloud computing conference where announcements this year are expected to focus on its end-to-end data strategy and delivering new industry-specific services.

It will be the second re:Invent with CEO Adam Selipsky as leader of the industry’s largest cloud provider after his return last year to AWS from data visualization company Tableau Software.

Keep ReadingShow less
Donna Goodison

Donna Goodison (@dgoodison) is Protocol's senior reporter focusing on enterprise infrastructure technology, from the 'Big 3' cloud computing providers to data centers. She previously covered the public cloud at CRN after 15 years as a business reporter for the Boston Herald. Based in Massachusetts, she also has worked as a Boston Globe freelancer, business reporter at the Boston Business Journal and real estate reporter at Banker & Tradesman after toiling at weekly newspapers.

Image: Protocol

We launched Protocol in February 2020 to cover the evolving power center of tech. It is with deep sadness that just under three years later, we are winding down the publication.

As of today, we will not publish any more stories. All of our newsletters, apart from our flagship, Source Code, will no longer be sent. Source Code will be published and sent for the next few weeks, but it will also close down in December.

Keep ReadingShow less
Bennett Richardson

Bennett Richardson ( @bennettrich) is the president of Protocol. Prior to joining Protocol in 2019, Bennett was executive director of global strategic partnerships at POLITICO, where he led strategic growth efforts including POLITICO's European expansion in Brussels and POLITICO's creative agency POLITICO Focus during his six years with the company. Prior to POLITICO, Bennett was co-founder and CMO of Hinge, the mobile dating company recently acquired by Match Group. Bennett began his career in digital and social brand marketing working with major brands across tech, energy, and health care at leading marketing and communications agencies including Edelman and GMMB. Bennett is originally from Portland, Maine, and received his bachelor's degree from Colgate University.


Why large enterprises struggle to find suitable platforms for MLops

As companies expand their use of AI beyond running just a few machine learning models, and as larger enterprises go from deploying hundreds of models to thousands and even millions of models, ML practitioners say that they have yet to find what they need from prepackaged MLops systems.

As companies expand their use of AI beyond running just a few machine learning models, ML practitioners say that they have yet to find what they need from prepackaged MLops systems.

Photo: artpartner-images via Getty Images

On any given day, Lily AI runs hundreds of machine learning models using computer vision and natural language processing that are customized for its retail and ecommerce clients to make website product recommendations, forecast demand, and plan merchandising. But this spring when the company was in the market for a machine learning operations platform to manage its expanding model roster, it wasn’t easy to find a suitable off-the-shelf system that could handle such a large number of models in deployment while also meeting other criteria.

Some MLops platforms are not well-suited for maintaining even more than 10 machine learning models when it comes to keeping track of data, navigating their user interfaces, or reporting capabilities, Matthew Nokleby, machine learning manager for Lily AI’s product intelligence team, told Protocol earlier this year. “The duct tape starts to show,” he said.

Keep ReadingShow less
Kate Kaye

Kate Kaye is an award-winning multimedia reporter digging deep and telling print, digital and audio stories. She covers AI and data for Protocol. Her reporting on AI and tech ethics issues has been published in OneZero, Fast Company, MIT Technology Review, CityLab, Ad Age and Digiday and heard on NPR. Kate is the creator of and is the author of "Campaign '08: A Turning Point for Digital Media," a book about how the 2008 presidential campaigns used digital media and data.

Latest Stories