Interview: Inside the Atlassian-Accel deal

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Interview: Inside the Atlassian-Accel deal
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Australia's lawmakers frustrate entrepreneurs

Hidden shoals remain for any business seeking to emulate the founders' success.

He says overseas investors' enthusiasm for our home-grown products is tempered by their wariness over the squirrelly nature of our regulatory systems and lawmakers.

"[Accel] regards Australian businesses very well. Australia as an entrepreneur-producing nation is regarded very well [by venture capitalists].

"The only downnside is that impression that the rules might change."

He says "there's a certain amount of caution in the private equity world" about issues such as changes to the Australian tax laws and "greyness" around how the tax office interprets the law.

He points especially to the tax office's pursuit for $452 million from the Texas Pacific Group following Myer Group's $2.4 billion float (the ATO deferred its decision until after a Federal Government review).

"The Myer ruling threw a lot of people for six - it's very difficult to get clarity about what the rules are at the moment when they change for one deal - so maybe the rules will change for us?"

He says that Australian technologies and their technologists are "regarded quite highly and we've had a good run".

"It will be a great thing for the Australian industry to get this amount of money and attention."

Although he doesn't expect a "rash" of investments in Australian ICT developers ("there's been a couple of good raisings and exits lately") Accel's placement in Atlassian shines a searchlight on local businesses looking to start, grow or cash out.

"But hopefully it will focus a lot of attention down here - hopefully it will make more top-tier VCs sniff around."

And although Atlassian won't part from its "no commissions" sales mantra, it will boost marketing staff numbers and employ more developers to swell its ranks of about 120 engineers.

"Our model operates on a high-volume, low-transaction basis and a sales team won't help that."

He won't be drawn on the nature of employee remuneration following the deal, but it's a safe bet that there will be a little something extra in everyone's bonuses this year, which could take the form of share options that were announced yesterday in Sydney at the Ivy nightclub.

"We're certainly looking to spend some of it on growth [and] some to employee liquidity."

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