SAN FRANCISCO — Atlassian thinks it’s the perfect matchmaker — but not for romantic mates.
On Wednesday, the Australian maker of popular software tools for developers unveiled MakeADiff.org, a website that connects technology experts with nonprofits who couldn’t otherwise afford their services.
“It’s almost like a Match.com that connects technology volunteerism with charities and causes,” Atlassian president Jay Simons told VentureBeat. “Imagine if charities could get engineering help from Google, Facebook, or Atlassian — that’s what we’re hoping to provide.”
Since Atlassian’s 2002 inception, the company has placed a major emphasis on social philanthropy. Through its foundation, Atlassian donates 1 percent of its equity, profit, employee time, and software licenses to nonprofits. MakeADiff is a natural extension of the company’s volunteerism, said Atlassian cofounder and CEO Scott Farquhar.
“The charities like our money, but what they really want is to solve problems,” Farquhar said in a recent conversation with VentureBeat. “And the skilled people don’t want to go to the soup kitchen and label stuff, they really want to [leverage their technical talents to] make a difference.”
MakeADiff has been in the works for about four months. The idea came about after a nonprofit asked the Atlassian Foundation for $100,000 so it could hire some engineers to create a web application. While the financial negotiations were in progress, three Atlassian engineers just went ahead and built the app — inspiring the creation of MakeADiff.
Atlassian is in talks with Twitter about a MakeADiff partnership, according to MakeADiff co-creator Matthew Jenson. Twitter seems very receptive to the idea, he said, but nothing has been confirmed yet.
Atlassian is focusing its initial efforts on assisting charities in Sydney, where the company is headquartered, but it has international ambitions for MakeADiff. When the platform formally launches (scheduled for early 2014), programmers and designers will be able to interface with charities all over the world.
At the moment, the MakeADiff website leads to a landing page that describes some of the pilot projects, which are only open to Atlassian employees.