Finance Work A billionaire’s advice: fail more

A billionaire’s advice: fail more

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The founder of a multi-billion dollar software company says the key is not in its success – but how much it fails.

Software business Atlassian was co-founded by Mike Cannon-Brookes and Scott Farquhar 12 years ago, and is now valued at more than $3.3 billion.

In an interview with the Australian Financial Review, Mr Cannon-Brookes says paranoia and fear are the driving forces behind the business growth.

“Paranoia is very important,” he told the AFR.

“You have to be fearful of becoming old. As a management team we spend a lot of time worrying about whether we are failing enough and whether we are taking enough risk in what we do. And whether we have a good balanced portfolio of risky projects and non-risky projects.”

The duo behind Atlassian dropped out of university to create the business which has several products and counts seven of the world’s biggest 10 companies as clients including NASA, Facebook and Audi.

Atlassian’s flagship product is Jira, which tracks tasks through a workflow. It also has Confluence which makes collaboration within teams easier.

Mr Cannon-Brooks says the team focuses on how to get the world’s best out of its staff.

“We worry a lot about whether we promote young people like we used to. As you get bigger you have more options.

“We say, ‘Do we hire someone for this? Is this the world’s best talent?’ You sometimes take yourself down the rat hole of thinking, ‘Well, we did really well in the past throwing the ball to young people and letting them have a go.’ And I think sometimes the fear and the worry about it, is one of the biggest things keeping us doing well.”

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