Why Atlassian buying Trello is great news for Developers…
[Cross-Posted from Anup Marwadi’s Medium Blog]
As I was sipping on my cup of warm lemon/honey/turmeric water this morning, I casually navigated to TechCrunch where I learned that Trello was being bought by…wait for it — Atlassian. I must admit that I didn’t see that one coming. I still think this is great news for developers and the tech community in general. Read why.
My Love for Software as a Craft
It was about 4 years ago that I read about Trello, largely because of my admiration for Joel Spolsky and his company Fog Creek Software. After all, I was inspired to start my first Software company HyperTrends Global Inc. thanks to all the wonderful notes by Joel on his ‘must-read-for-all-developers’ site https://www.joelonsoftware.com/ among other things.
I got hooked on to Trello very quickly. A large part of it was because it was a welcome break from all of the other Kanban boards that I had been using. I had used JIRA, FogBugz, Pivotal Tracker etc. None of them inspired me to do things. Trello did. I still manage my entire life in Trello 🙂
Another big advantage was the training curve (or lack thereof) needed to use Trello. You just get going, and you’re actually going! It’s that warm, fuzzy feeling you get when you are using great software; you instantly trust it.
Trello was snappy, it was fast, and yes, it was very well designed, both functionally and aesthetically. As someone that prides in building amazing products, Trello resonated very well with me.
As it matured further, my love for Trello grew and I eventually got rid of many FogBugz and JIRA projects in favor of Trello. Everything else seemed too much of an overkill or caused more friction while working. They just didn’t flow as well as Trello did.
The power-ups/add-ons, the search features were industry-grade, the real-time notifications and audit trails sealed the deal and I was able to convince many of our HyperTrends customers to use Trello too. The more businesses I invited, the more Gold I got!
Atlassian and Trello — Strange Bedfellows? Maybe, but might work after all
I personally think that Trello got acquired quickly. I also think that this is great for hardcore developers who love their craft and are madly passionate about building quality software. There’s value in building something so good. Every piece of software that has come out of the FogCreek camp has been nothing short of spectacular. So Trello would’ve sold one way or the other. That’s good news for all your developers who like building high quality software. Faster acquisitions!
I didn’t see Atlassian buying them though. Maybe Microsoft or Slack, but not Atlassian. Microsoft was on top of my list because it needed Trello until it built its own — Planner. However, this acquisition would’ve been an easy one to transition the enormous user base and maybe even integrate with LinkedIn for productivity. I’m sure Planner will be deeply integrated with LinkedIn by the time the acquisition is complete.
I envisioned a skunk works in Slack that would be aggressively working towards building a JIRA competitor. I imagined Trello to be acquired by Slack, not just because it would reduce their development cycle, but more importantly because Slack and Trello have a DNA match.
JIRA however, played its cards right. Atlassian is in desperate need of sex appeal.
The JIRA Problem
JIRA and its cluttered features drove me away from it. We still use JIRA for one of our startups due to legacy reasons, but it isn’t anything inspiring. We are slowly and steadily moving our projects away from JIRA into Trello.
The JIRA Kanban board is just OK. So with a Trello acquisition, I’m hoping that a more seamless integration between JIRA and Trello will help drive growth for Atlassian both from Business and non-Business users (??).
The HipChat Problem
A few years ago, I was forced to use HipChat as a communication platform for one of our projects for our customers. It was a painful experience. We eventually convinced everyone to move from HipChat to Slack. Yes, Slack was eating HipChat’s lunch. Since then, I know a few companies that dropped HipChat in favor of Slack.
The issue with most Atlassian products is that they never really had a major UI/functional overhaul and features were just added iteratively in a very non-cohesive manner causing tremendous confusion.
I think the Trello acquisition, if played wisely, will work very well in Atlassian’s favor.
Developers all over the world can hopefully rejoice after a tighter integration between Atlassian products and Trello. JIRA is still is the leader when it comes to project management software, so I would love to see some cross pollination there.
Finally, this is a great start to the year 2017. I do feel that there’s a bunch of M&A activity that is going to open up in 2017 as the market settles down. What would be a better start to 2017! Cheers to all developers!