When private companies hire new CFOs with experience at a public company, chances are they are gearing up for a potential IPO. With Atlassian, the company behind tools like JIRA and HipChat, that’s clearly the case. The company today announced that it has hired Erik Bardman as its CFO. Bardman replaces C. Alex Estevez who served as the company’s CFO from 2011 to last October.
As Atlassian President Jay Simons told me earlier this week, Bardman is a great culture fit, and he brings the kind of experience to the table that a company like Atlassian needs. Bardman started his career at General Electric and has since held a number of positions at eBay, including as the CFO of eBay’s international business and eBay Marketplaces, as well as at Roku, where he was CFO from May 2013 to September 2014. He joined Trulia’s board of directors in the month leading up to that company’s IPO in 2012.
“Erik is not your stereotypical enterprise CFO,” Simons told me. But Bardman’s experience with consumer-grade, high-volume businesses is exactly what Atlassian needs in Simons’ view.
“We’ve been building what we believe is a very unusual company,” he noted. Unlike most enterprise-centric companies, Atlassian currently sees about 3,000 companies a day that try its products (not all of those convert into paying users, of course). Most experienced enterprise CFOs are not used to that kind of volume. “If you’ve dealt with the kind of size and scale of companies like eBay and Roku, it’s easier to wrap your brain around the kind of company that we are,” Simons said.
With a new CFO on board, Atlassian is clearly gearing up for an IPO, something Simons freely admitted.
“We feel like we have been focused on building a public-ready company for a while,” he said. “We have an unusual attribute in that we know how to make money already.” He also noted that Atlassian has recently focused on broadening its products — and their reach — to reach new markets. The company’s last funding round came with a valuation of $3.3 billion.
Simons wasn’t sure when Atlassian would IPO, but he didn’t rule out later this year. That, he noted, will depend on the market and when the company feels it’s ready.
“The way we think about it is we are building an iconic software company — a generational software company — the next Microsoft or Oracle,” said Simons. An IPO is the logical next step in this process.