One of Australia’s top tech entrepreneurs attacked Elon Musk’s edict that employees should not work from home, calling his stance ”out of the 50s” and inviting Tesla employees to work for him.
Scott Farquhar, the co-founder of software company Atlassian and Australia’s fourth-richest person, responded to Musk by tweeting that working from home is the ”future of how we will work” and slammed his order that Tesla employees must work from the office for at least 40 hours a week.
“We’re setting our sights on growing Atlassian to 25K employees by FY26,” he tweeted. “Any Tesla employees interested?” he asked, posting a map that showed the spread of his company’s employees in the US and a link for people who might like to join Atlassian. The company’s suite of products includes the productivity and project management tool Trello.
Musk Fires Back
Musk quickly fired back a tweet at Farquhar that said, “The above set of tweets illustrate why recessions serve a vital economic function.”
He didn’t provide an explanation, but the comment may have been a jab at the fact Atlassian’s market cap has sunk from about $115 billion last October to near $50 billion currently.
In an earlier email to staff, Musk took a swipe at companies that allow staff to work from home. “There are of course companies that don’t require this [40 hours in the office], but when was the last time they shipped a great new product?” he asked. “It’s been a while.”
However, Atlassian’s shares surged 9.7% Thursday on Nasdaq to $196.62 in a positive response to its second-quarter earnings report on Thursday.
‘Team Anywhere’ Model
Farquhar and Atlassian co-founder Mike Cannon-Brookes are Australia’s fourth and third richest people, respectively, with a combined net worth of almost US$39 billion, according to the Australian Financial Review. It estimates Farquhar’s wealth at $18.8 billion and puts Cannon-Brookes at $20.1 billion.
Farquhar explained on five linked Twitter pages that “Atlassian employees choose everyday where and how they want to work – we call it Team Anywhere. This has been key for our continued growth.”
“Why? This is the future of how we will work,” he added. “Highly distributed, highly flexible. Yes, right now it’s not perfect, but we have to experiment to get it right.”
He said that in the past year, 42% of new hires globally live two or more hours from an office and added that “great talent all over the world – not just within a one hour radius of our offices.”
Atlassian’s Team Anywhere model took effect during the Covid pandemic in April 2021 for the group’s 8,000+ staff around the world. It allows people to work from any location in a country where Atlassian has a corporate entity, with salaries based on the costs of the regions where employees are based.
Musk Won Atlassian Respect in 2017
Farquhar’s partner, Mike Cannon-Brookes, had much more friendly dealings with Musk five years ago. In 2017, he challenged the Tesla boss to act on a boast he made on Twitter that he could overcome a power crisis in South Australia by building a big lithium battery in under 100 days.
The Labor government in South Australia gave the idea a green light and Musk ended up achieving his pledge, and Cannon-Brookes losing his bet, by building a Tesla big battery at Hornsdale in under 100 days.
That helped resolve the state’s power grid problems and created big cost savings for consumers.
• Jim Pollard
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