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Atlassian co-CEO Mike Cannon-Brookes: Australian tech companies should build bridges to Silicon Valley

“We’re not going to beat them. We’re going to build a way to cooperate with them and get the best of both worlds.”

Courtesy Atlassian

For years, we’ve been hearing about cities and countries that want to build their own Silicon Valley-esque tech hubs — think Silicon Alley in New York, Silicon Beach in Southern California and Silicon Wadi in Israel.

But Mike Cannon-Brookes, the co-CEO of prominent Australian software company Atlassian, thinks new tech scenes can emerge without directly competing against the San Francisco Bay Area.

"The Australian tech industry needs to do what Israel or other countries have done in tech, and build many pathways to Silicon Valley," Cannon-Brookes said on the most recent episode of Recode Decode, hosted by Kara Swisher. "We’re not going to beat them. We’re going to build a way to cooperate with them and get the best of both worlds."

Cannon-Brookes co-founded Atlassian in 2002 with co-CEO Scott Farquhar; last year, the enterprise software company went public on the Nasdaq. Although many private tech companies have expressed qualms about the public markets in recent months, Atlassian has seen its stock price tick up $2.50 since its IPO in December.

"We were really hard on ourselves for the past few years," Cannon-Brookes recalled.

Like many other young enterprise companies, Atlassian has benefited from a sea change in how businesses purchase and use tech products for their workers. Its tools — including the product-tracking Jira suite and the collaboration tools Confluence and Hipchat — are for software developers, project managers and other distributed teams within a company that may work remotely.

On the new podcast, Cannon-Brookes said one of the biggest differences between Atlassian and other tech companies is that it took no outside investment until 2010, eight years after it launched. With no easy access to Silicon Valley’s venture capital firms from Sydney, Australia, Cannon-Brookes and Farquhar instead focused on profitability from the get-go.

"It was either become profitable and grow, or die," Cannon-Brookes said. "I think we’ve gotten away from some of the bad habits you develop if you can always go and get more money. You can sort of say, ‘Well, we’re going to get profitable … No, let’s go raise some more money, invest more heavily, and then get profitable.’"

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This article originally appeared on Recode.net.