Scott Farquhar, co-founder and co-CEO of global software company Atlassian, speaks at the National Maritime Museum in Sydney, April 10, 2018.
chris hopin | The Australian Financial Review | Getty Images
As co-CEO of collaboration software maker Atlassian, Scott Farquhar has had a rough year with many of his industry peers. The company’s share price shed half its value in 2022 as inflation concerns collided with rising interest rates to hit the high-growth tech sector.
But one of his most stressful times of the year had nothing to do with software or macroeconomics.
In April, while in Las Vegas for a corporate conference, Farquhar went out with a friend for an evening of great food and entertainment. He had just arrived from Sydney, Australia, where he helped start up Atlassian 20 years ago.
That night, he saved a man’s life.
CNBC learned of Farquhar’s experience after posting a separate story on Atlassian and speaking to someone 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 describes 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 deployed and to hear from various speakers, including Farquhar and former Disney CEO Bob Iger.
The event was scheduled to start on April 5. Three nights earlier, Farquhar had gone out with a friend, who had moved to the United States from Australia.
The pair had dinner together, then found a table next to the dance floor at Omnia nightclub at Caesars Palace on the Las Vegas Strip. The club was packed, but thinned out as the night progressed.
In the early hours of the morning, Farquhar crossed the dance floor to go to the bathroom. It was then that he noticed a man lying motionless on his back. To Farquhar, the man looked dead. After taking several first aid courses over a decade as a Scout in Australia, Farquhar received training on what to do in such a scenario.
He lay on the ground next to the man and touched his cheek to see if he was breathing. He was not. There were also no visible chest movements.
Under strobe lights and deafening music, Farquhar began performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation until club bouncers approached and told him to stop.
“Well, do it then,” Farquhar recalled.
They told him to continue. A representative from Tao Group Hospitality, Omnia’s parent company, said the club does not comment on “incidents involving our guests”.
Medical help arrives
Farquhar did the chest presses and breathing that come with CPR. He had practiced several times but only on dolls, never on another person.
The revelers came to watch. The music stopped. Farquhar laid his head next to the man and heard gurgling. Some people were yelling at Farquhar. Others were trying to help. It was overwhelming, he recalls.
A man in plastic gloves and a shirt with medical badges arrived. The medical worker came down to the dance floor. He started pulling tools out of his bag.
Then the man on the ground woke up. He stood up. But there was no color on his face and his breathing was raspy, Farquhar said. Medical personnel put the man in a wheelchair and took him away.
“He was the deadliest person I’ve ever seen,” Farquhar said.
Farquhar stood up, trying to figure out what had just happened.
“Hey man, you just saved this guy’s life,” a bouncer told him.
Another bouncer approached 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,” said the bouncer.
Later, Farquhar called hospitals in Las Vegas to find out if any of them had admitted anyone who matched his description of the club man. He couldn’t find a match. CNBC was unable to determine the identity of the man.
Farquhar eventually learned that the man had survived after suffering a heart attack.
“So I did the right thing,” said Farquhar, whose 22% stake in Atlassian is worth more than $10 billion.
When he reunited with his friend outside the club, Farquhar said he thought he had just saved someone’s life. His friend, who had trained as a doctor, had no idea what had just happened.
“Yeah, we do that all the time in hospitals,” he replied with a pat on the arm.
Farquhar remembers his friend asking him if he wanted another drink. He refused.
“I could not have saved this man’s life without my Boy Scout training and I encourage everyone to seek first aid courses near you,” Farquhar wrote in a statement provided to CNBC after the publication of This article. “If you’re lucky you’ll never have to use them, but if necessary you could save a life.”
On Friday, Farquhar, who already leads Atlassian’s finance, human resources, legal, marketing and sales functions, assumes the additional position of interim chief financial officer. The company is looking for a full-time replacement for James Beer, who has held the position since 2018.
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