The Atlassian kingpin best mates who are the only Australians to reach the top 100 rich list
Two Australian mates who started a company because they ‘didn’t want to get real jobs’ have made a newly released list of the richest people in the world.
Mike Cannon-Brookes and Scott Farquhar, both 41, are the only Australians to make the list, sitting at 65 and 66 in the top 100 of Bloomberg’s billionaires index, which was released on Monday.
The pair have an estimated net wealth of $23.7billion each.
The profile of the Sydney-based pair has skyrocketed in recent years after they snapped up two of Australia’s most expensive houses so they could be neighbours, helped pioneer huge green energy projects and even bought NBA team Utah Jazz.
Atlassian co-founder Scott Farquhar (pictured with his wife Kim) is number 65 on the Bloomberg billionaires list with an estimated fortune of $23.7billion
Co-founder Mike Cannon-Brookes (pictured with wife Annie Todd) is right there with Farquhar at 66 on the rich list and has bought a minority stake in the Utah Jazz NBA team
The duo have been running their software firm Atlassian for nearly two decades but a tweet from Cannon-Brookes in 2017 – two years after their firm went public and made them a fortune – thrust him into the spotlight.
The Aussie entrepreneur tweeted to Elon Musk – who topped the new Bloomberg list with a $222billion fortune – about a green energy project for Australia.
The exchange would be the foundation for getting the world’s biggest rechargeable battery built in South Australia that year.
After several huge blackouts in the state, Musk boasted he could solve SA’s power woes in under 100 days and Cannon-Brookes talked him into a bet that the project would be free if he failed.
The project was a huge success and thanks to an expansion is still the world’s largest lithium-ion battery – sparking similar projects across the world.
BLOOMBERG’S BILLIONAIRES LIST
1 Elon Musk $222B
2 Jeff Bezos $191B
3 Bernard Arnault $156B
4 Bill Gates $128B
5 Larry Page $125B
6 Mark Zuckerberg $123B
7 Sergey Brin $120B
8 Larry Ellison $108B
9 Steve Ballmer $106B
10 Warren Buffett $103B
65 Scott Farquhar $23.7B
66 Mike Cannon-Brookes $23.7B
107 Gina Rinehart $18.8B
119 Andrew Forrest $17.0B
212 Harry Triguboff $10.7B
277 Anthony Pratt $8.90B
352 Frank Lowy $7.65B
484 Cliff Obrecht $5.89B
485 Melanie Perkins $5.89B
As at October 11.
Since then both Cannon-Brookes and Farquhar have kept up with investing in green energy, including the Sun Cable project which aims to be the largest solar farm in the world based in WA.
But the wild success of their business has also afforded them time for other personal passions.
Namely basketball, with Cannon-Brookes becoming the first Australian to own an NBA basketball team after buying a minority stake in the Utah Jazz.
The Sydneysider bought into the team in a deal with the Miller family, who have owned it for 35 years, along with two other tech company owners in a deal reported to be worth $2billion in December 2020.
‘I am super excited and stoked to become part of the ownership group for the Utah Jazz with two awesome friends,’ Cannon-Brookes said at the time.
When his friend Ryan Smith, founder of Qualtrics, called him and said he was buying into the Jazz and he could get in on the deal, Cannon-Brookes revealed he jumped at the chance.
‘I said ‘f*** yeah’ followed by ‘I have to check with my wife’… but she was good about it, she knows how passionate I am about basketball and the Jazz in particular.’
The deal also means they own the Jazz’s home stadium Vivent Smart Home Arena.
‘So I could pop down and shoot some hoops on a Tuesday morning,’ he added.
The Tesla driving Cannon-Brookes played basketball in high school and while at his Sydney boarding school had wanted to play professionally.
Farquhar went to public school with and grew up with a keen interest in computers – tinkering on a second hand one his father bought him in his garage.
The pair didn’t meet until their first day of university.
Superstar Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell (pictured) who in his rookie season was named in the NBA All-Rookie First Team and won the 2018 Slam Dunk Contest
Cannon-Brookes (right) with Atalassian co-founder Scott Farquhar (left) and Qualtrics founder Ryan Smith (centre) who brought Cannon-Brookes into the Utah Jazz deal
‘The business started really because we didn’t want to get a real job and we thought we could do something interesting,’ Farquhar told Julia Zemiro on the ABC’s Home Delivery.
Cannon-Brookes’ father was the head of a law firm and met Farquhar through the University of New South Wales’ elite co-op scholarship program but found university ‘boring’ and dropped out of the program.
The pair registered Atlassian as a business in 2001, and established a modest Sydney office in Kent Street office in October 2002.
The company’s main product Jira – a project management and bug tracking software suite – became the gold standard, being used by the likes of NASA and eBay.
They now have nine offices in six countries: Amsterdam, Austin, New York, San Francisco and Mountain View, California, Manila, Yokohama, Bangalore, and Sydney.
Real-estate has also been a focus for the pair since their company listed on the NASDAQ in 2015 and they become overnight billionaires – snapping up multiple Sydney properties.
Cannon-Brookes has personally forked out $250million in the last few years alone.
Cannon-Brookes bought this northern beaches house (pictured) on a 3360sq m block from previous owners Jennifer Hawkins and Jake Wallfor $24.5million
Summer fun: Outside, there is an al fresco dining area, bar, pizza oven, barbecue, sunken lounge, boat shed, jetty and L-shaped infinity pool
He and his wife Annie purchased the $100million Point Piper property named Fairwater in September 2018, which was formerly owned by Lady Mary Fairfax.
It is the most expensive house ever sold in Australia – and happens to be next to a property owned by his Atlassian co-founder Scott Farquhar.
He snapped up the almost 7000-square-metre Point Piper estate in 2017 for $71million.
The sprawling harbourside home, named Elaine, came with DA approval from Woollahra Council to subdivide it into four separate homes.
The duo purchased two of Australia’s most expensive houses next door to each other in Sydney’s Point Piper
Farquhar will reinstate the luxurious Sydney home titled Elaine he bought for $71million in 2017 as a single estate (pictured)
While Cannon-Brookes then bought yet another neighbouring house for $12million in 2019.
More recently he purchased the former mansion of Jennifer Hawkins and Jake Wall, called Casa Paloma, in Newport, which was a record for Sydney’s Northern Beaches.
Atlassian was worth $50billion in 2019.
One other notable Australian to make the Bloomberg list – but not in the top 100 – is Melanie Perkins who co-founded graphic design unicorn Canva.
Ms Perkins, also from Sydney came in at number 485 with an estimated fortune of $5.89billion.
A birds eye view of Cannon-Brookes’ Point Piper property which is next door to the Elaine estate