(Update: apologies for the dead video links, Youtube is apparently down, here's their message: " We're currently putting out some new features, sweeping out the cobwebs and zapping a few gremlins.")


I've recently had a chance to meet Mike and Jonathan in Atlassian's San Francisco offices, and frankly was blown away by their enthusiasm, the company's growth, but most importantly by a demo of Confluence, the market-leading enterprise wiki.

Market-leading? Never heard of them, you may say .... Certainly they enjoy a lot less brand recognition than let's say JotSpot or Socialtext, both of which enjoyed abundant PR from the moment they launched, largely thanks to Joe and Ross's star-power. (Hey Joe, you were my early inspiration to get started with blogging, time for YOU to post again!). Lacking the "instant brand", Atlassian spent their money on product development instead of PR, and it has obviously paid off. Watch this video for background:

Less PR or not, they are not exactly unknown to customers, as Confluence's corporate market share is more than the others put together. From what I understand Confluence's sweet spot is larger organizations, where administration, sophisticated permissioning schemes (groups, pages, activities...etc.) scalability, performance are increasingly important. (Yes, permissioning kinda goes against the social, "we're-all-contributors" nature of wikis, but it's a fundamental corporate requirement). The largest implementations currently run up to 30k users, but Atlassian is working on a clustered release that will be scalable to hundreds of thousands of users. Pricing also reflects the focus on large corporations: while at the entry-level Confluence is typically more expensive, at the high end (large user-base) it costs less then either Socialtext or Jot.

Despite it's impressive feature-set and favorable price Confluence is not an available choice for some customers; namely those who are determined to use SaaS solutions. Confluence is strictly on-premise, download and install-behind-the-firewall software. Being a big believer in SaaS of course I would like to see them offer a hosted version, but today's market reality is that only 10% of all software sold is SaaS. Atlassian's own customer experience is that a lot of larger organizations do want their wiki behind the firewall, and competitors must have been receiving similar feedback, as both Socialtext and JotSpot are adding an installable product to their offering. However, Confluence may be missing out on the bottom-up, grassroots adoption by business users that both Jot and Socialtext are enjoying - at least until it becomes available on-demand.

And while the Founders did not have the star-power of their competitors 4 years ago, they are getting closer, having just received the 2006 Ernst & Young Eastern Region Young Entrepreneur of the Year award.. Watch the video of the Awards Ceremony here:



Congrat's, Mike and Scott!

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