Thursday, August 18

Atlassian Co-CEO Scott Farquhar saved man’s life in Las Vegas club


Scott Farquhar, co-founder and co-CEO of the global software company, Atlassian, speaks at the National Maritime Museum in Sydney, April 10, 2018.

Chris Hopins | The Australian Financial Review | Getty Images

As co-CEO of collaboration software maker Atlassian, Scott Farquhar has had a tough year along with many of his industry peers. The company’s stock price has lost half its value in 2022 as inflationary concerns collided with rising interest rates to pummel the high-growth tech sector.

But one of his most stressful moments of the year had nothing to do with software or the macro economy.

In April, while in Las Vegas for a company conference, Farquhar was out with a friend for an evening of good food and entertainment. He’d just flown in from Sydney, Australia, where he helped start Atlassian 20 years ago.

That night, I saved a man’s life.

CNBC learned of Farquhar’s experience after publishing a separate story on Atlassian and speaking to a person with knowledge of the incident. Farquhar later confirmed the account and agreed to be interviewed about it.

Farquhar was in Las Vegas for Team ’22, which Atlassian describe on its website as “the ultimate teamwork experience and Atlassian’s flagship conference.” Employees, customers and partners would show up to hear how the company’s software was being deployed and to hear from a range of speakers, including Farquhar and former Disney CEO Bob Iger.

The event was set to begin April 5. Three nights earlier, Farquhar was out with a friend, who’d moved to the US from Australia.

The two men had dinner together, and then found a table beside the dance floor at the Omnia nightclub at Caesars Palace on the Las Vegas strip. The club was packed, but thinned out as the night progressed.

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In the early hours of the morning, Farquhar crossed the dance floor on the way to the bathroom. That’s when he noticed a man lying still on his back. To Farquhar, the man looked dead. Having gone through several first-aid classes over the course of a decade as a scout in Australia, Farquhar had some training in what to do in such a scenario.

He got down on the floor next to the man and touched his cheek to see if he was breathing. I wasn’t. There were no visible chest movements either.

Under the strobe lights and blaring music, Farquhar began performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation until bouncers at the club approached and told him to stop.

“Well, you do it then,” Farquhar recalled responding.

They told him to proceed. A representative for Tao Group Hospitality, the parent of Omnia, said the club doesn’t comment on “incidents involving our guests.”

Medical help arrives

Farquhar did the chest presses and breathing that go along with CPR. He had practiced many times but only on dolls, never on another person.

Partiers came over to watch. The music stopped. Farquhar put his head down next to the man and heard gurgling sounds. Some people were yelling at Farquhar. Others were trying to help. It was overwhelming, I recalled.

A man in plastic gloves and a shirt with medical insignia arrived. The medical worker got down on the dance floor. He began pulling tools out of his bag.

Then the man on the floor woke up. He got on his feet from him. But there was no color in his face, and his breathing was raspy, Farquhar said. Medical staff put the man in a wheelchair and took him away.

“He was the most dead person I’ve ever seen,” Farquhar said.

Farquhar stood up, trying to process what had just happened.

“Hey man, you just saved that guy’s life,” a bouncer told him.

Another bouncer walked over and asked for Farquhar’s ID. He handed his passport to the bouncer, who led Farquhar to a dark loading dock outside the club and returned the document.

“All right, get lost,” the bouncer said.

Later, Farquhar called Las Vegas hospitals to find out if any of them had admitted someone who fit his description of the man at the club. I didn’t find a match.

Farquhar eventually heard the man survived after having a heart attack.

“So I did do the right thing,” said Farquhar, whose 22% stake in Atlassian is worth over $10 billion.

When he reconvened with his friend outside the club, Farquhar said he thought he’d just saved someone’s life. His friend of him, who had trained to be a doctor, had no idea what had just taken place.

“Yeah, we do that all the time in hospitals,” he replied with a pat on the arm.

Farquhar recalled his friend asking if he wanted another drink. I have declined.

On Friday Farquhar, who already runs Atlassian’s finance, human resources, legal, marketing and sales functions, takes on the additional job interim finance chief. The company is searching for a full-time replacement for James Beer, who held the position since 2018.

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