Trello is a kanban based list-making application that allows individuals and enterprises to manage and organize projects. It is trusted by millions of people across the world and it’s no secret Trello is the easiest and most flexible software. With more than 50 million users as of 2019, Trello is one of the successful SaaS applications.
The software is a smart collaboration tool that lets its users manage their projects on boards and update the statuses in cards. Users can access Trello on the web as well as on iOS and Android. It is available as a freemium model where the free version is feature-rich and the premium version unlocks additional features.
Want to know how this most popular collaboration software application makes money? Alright, let’s look into that. Before that let’s discuss its short history, working model, and business model to understand the application even better.
Quick History of Trello
Trello was founded by Joel Spolsky in 2011. The name Trello is derived from “trellis” (which means framework) which had been the code name for the project initially.
Trello originally was a part of Fog Creek Software (now known as Glitch). It was spun out in 2014 to form a separate company and was later responsible for the development of other software tools like FogBugz and StackExchange. Trello is designed as a kanban based application for managing and organizing projects in one place.
Trello was released and introduced to the public during TechCrunch Disrupt. As it was a public launch, the application received over 30,000 sign up requests quickly. Thus it managed to gain over 4.6 million users by 2014 and raised $10.3 million from investors. However, the company was already profitable with its freemium model business strategy.
On January 9, 2017, Atlassian acquired Trello for a whopping $425 million in cash and stocks. By the time of the acquisition, Trello has over 19 million registered users. In 2018, Trello bought Buttler to add the power of automation as its core feature.
With simple yet elegant features, Trello attracted millions of users and by March 2019, it had over 35 million users. It reached the 50 million user mark in October 2019.
The company is headquartered in New York, U.S. Michael Pryor, the co-founder of Fog Creek, is serving as the CEO of Trello. At the acquisition by Atlassian, the software development giant, 22% of Trello’s shares were sold to investors whereas the remaining large portion was held by Joel Spolsky and Michael Pryor.
How does Trello work?
Trello is a brilliant SaaS application that makes collaborations within or outside the organization easy. It makes managing or organizing projects simple by offering unlimited cards and boards to each user. Users can create different boards for different projects and update the progress or status of projects in cards saying “in progress”, “done” etc. Additionally, the users who have access to cards can comment, upload files or mark labels, update due dates, and create checklists. After a task is finished, the card can be dragged and dropped to the “tasks accomplished section”. A project manager can invite multiple participants and assign tasks to anyone using cards and track the progress.
As discussed, the free version users have access to unlimited cards and unlimited lists whereas the premium users can access additional features.
Trello Business Model
Trello operates based on the Freemium model in which it grants access to a wealth of features for free users and unlocks extra features for premium users. The idea of offering amazing features for free panned out well as it attracted millions of uses within a short time. Moreover, it’s a great strategy to make people get used to the application so that they advocate it and bring new users.
As Trello constantly comes up with new and really useful features the free users are likely to upgrade to the premium version. This way Trello’s business model is working well.
Coming to how it makes money, the company charges individuals such as freelancers or enterprises a monthly subscription fee to use its premium features. Let’s have a look at that in the below section.
How does Trello Make Money?
As said, although Trello offers incredible access to free users and grows its user base with its simplicity, there are few valuable features that only premium members can access.
It introduced three monthly subscription options for its users.
- Free – $0/user/month
- Business Class – $9.99/user/month
- Enterprise – $17.50/user/month
It allows Free members to use 10 boards and unlimited cards, lists, and 10MB per file attachments. Whereas the paid members can get access to unlimited boards, cards, lists, get priority support, bigger attachments, custom backgrounds and many other features.
Additionally, both the Business Class and Enterprise plan members can avail of unlimited power-up boards, higher Automation by Buttler, and Admin & Security features.
This is how Trello makes money and it’s only revenue stream is paid subscriptions. Although, it partners with third-parties tools such as Zendesk, Harvest, SurveyMonkey, Giphy etc., to boost the user experience with advanced technologies, the revenue or share between Trello and other tools is undisclosed and is assumed to be insignificant when compared to subscription fees. Hence, the company’s major asset is its more than 50 million user base who continues to generate revenue for it.
Trello in Numbers
So, as you have seen how Trello generates revenue, now let’s look at its valuation, funding and revenue.
Trello is one of the very few companies that became highly profitable right from the initial stages. It had about 1.1 million daily active users and a total of 14 million sign-ups as of May 2016. To date, Trello participated in Series A funding round that raised $10.3 million from two investors, Spark Capital and Index Ventures.
While the Series A funding held in 2014 had valued the company at $50 million by raising $10.3 million, the company was worth $425 million by 2017 with the acquisition by Atlassian. However, the recent valuation of the company is unavailable as Atlassian has decided not to disclose the numbers.
Thus although Trello has only one revenue stream, it is assumed that it makes millions of dollars with its giant user base. Not just that, the company has a good reputation and hence the user base is likely to grow even more making the company more profitable.