Atlassian Marketplace
06 May, 2019

5 mins

The Atlassian Marketplace: What You Can Learn About Building Your Ecosystem

Atlassian is a giant in the world of software. With a comprehensive suite of software development, collaboration, and management tools, Atlassian’s revenue for the 2018 fiscal year clocked in at just under $900 million… but did you know that more than $200 million of that revenue — almost a quarter of it — was generated through the Atlassian Marketplace?

That’s right: in 2018 alone, the Atlassian Marketplace generated more than $200 million in purchases. In fact, since its launch back in 2012, the marketplace has generated more than half a billion dollars in total thus far.

So what makes the Atlassian Marketplace so successful? While Atlassian’s extensive suite of popular, well-received products has been crucial for the success of their marketplace, the store itself is built for success. In this article, we want to give you a glimpse into Atlassian’s powerful marketplace strategy, how they’re designing the marketplace to that end, and what you can learn from their example.

Atlassian Marketplace Overview

Understanding Atlassian’s Marketplace Strategy

Atlassian hasn’t been too open about the exact strategy for its marketplace, and that’s quite understandable. From our perspective, though, most app marketplace owners have a similarly high-level goal: to build a strong, self-sufficient ecosystem around their core offering.

Sure, third-party tools and integrations add value to your business regardless of whether they’ve come from a marketplace. But building an app marketplace — despite needing some upfront investment — allows third parties to cater directly to your users. Think about it: once your marketplace is in place, those third parties do the hard work of helping grow!

This is where the idea of the ecosystem is really important. Instead of acting as the bottleneck in growing your own business with in-house built third-party integrations, building a fully-fledged, living marketplace ecosystem allows you to step away while developers continue to create, manage, and support integrations for you.

We’ll look at specific examples of how Atlassian is building this ecosystem throughout this case study, but this quote from Atlassian team member Sean Regan really captures how crucial the marketplace is in their core business model:

“The ecosystem of developer tools will continue to expand, even as more vendors pitch all-in-one solutions. We will see developers continue to choose best-of-breed tools, as one toolchain cannot meet all the varying needs of modern software teams. ‘Open’ is here to stay, and the vendors that combine openness and ease of use will thrive.”

What Makes the Atlassian Marketplace So Good?

Alright, that’s enough strategy talk. It’s time to dive into the Atlassian Marketplace and see exactly what they’re doing to build an ecosystem that generates hundreds of millions of dollars in app sales every year. We’ll kick things off with a brief look at the design choices in Atlassian’s marketplace, and then move swiftly to the whole host of features they’ve cherry-picked to build a living, breathing ecosystem!

Inviting Design

We have to start off by praising the design of the Atlassian Marketplace. We think they’ve hit the nail on the head when it comes to balancing inviting aesthetics with practicality. It feels fun and interactive — like a mobile app store — but it still means serious business.

Atlassian Marketplace Design and Apps

While the flat design of the store is visually very appealing, the layout of the pages is equally well-executed. Each app details page is complete with images, videos, and text, with more advanced topics (like pricing and versioning) divided among separate tabs. Through this, Atlassian does a great job of serving information as and when users need it.

Core Feature 1: Review Threads

Almost every app marketplace has review and rating functionality, but very few marketplaces let developers respond to users’ comments. Atlassian is one of these few, and the effectiveness of the resulting review comment threads is something we’ve commented on before.

Atlassian Marketplace Reviews

In short, giving developers the ability to respond to users’ comments is crucial in creating a self-sufficient app marketplace ecosystem. Without it, users feel confused (and sometimes even stranded) in getting help with using an integration, reporting problems, or suggesting new features — do they ask the app store owner or find the developer’s external support page? Similarly, developers are dying to support their users, and this feature removes a lot of unnecessary frustration associated with doing so.

Core Feature 2: Pricing Options

It may not be a “feature”, per se, but the Atlassian Marketplace gives developers the choice of three different pricing models for their apps. These are:

  • Paid via Atlassian: Atlassian manages payment for the app (and handles the licensing).
  • Paid via Vendor: The app developer manages payment for the app externally.
  • Free: The app is free.

Together, these three options give developers quite a bit of flexibility. It’s the first two that are particularly interesting, though. Atlassian gives smaller developers the option to bill for their app within the marketplace — meaning they don’t have to worry about all the licensing, tax, and billing matters — while larger developers can bill with their own infrastructure. Also, this gives developers more flexibility in exactly how their pricing works, since they can use their own weird and wonderful pricing models outside the marketplace with the “Paid via Vendor” option.

Core Feature 3: Developer Portal

Another feature Atlassian is using to cultivate their marketplace ecosystem is their comprehensive developer portal. By providing dedicated educational materials and support for marketplace developers, Atlassian is able to maximize the quality and quantity of apps created for their store.

The support docs are especially well-made. With a Getting Started page to walk developers through the steps of publishing their first app plus free development instances to build on, it’s clear that Atlassian is as passionate about small development teams as big ones. Beyond the basic information, Atlassian’s developer portal also features extensive information on tougher topics like licensing, billing, and security. In other words, Atlassian makes it as painless as possible for vendors to plan and build their integrations.

Atlassian Marketplace Developer

Not only do they have a full developer portal with documentation and other useful resources, but Atlassian also runs a dedicated marketplace Twitter page. The fact that they’ve dedicated a Twitter page to just the app marketplace shows how much they care about this part of their business.

Final Thoughts

The Atlassian Marketplace is clearly doing a lot of things right to be seeing such enormous success. We think that Atlassian knows just how powerful a marketplace can be when used correctly, and that’s why they’re doubling down to produce the best experience for both developers and users. From review threads to dedicated developer portals, why not try some of this for yourself?

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