A 5,000-strong crowd cheered and cheered Mike Cannon-Brookes when a chance encounter led him to meet his wife Annie at the Qantas lounge at Sydney Airport.
Wearing his trademark hoodie-and-cap combo, the bearded and permanently dressed Atlassian billionaire was speaking at TEDxSydney in December 2019 about how to turn ‘imposter syndrome’ to your advantage.
‘More than a decade ago, one morning, I was sitting there on my regular weekly commute, and a beautiful woman way out of my league walked into the Qantas lounge and walked right up to me in a case of mistaken identity,’ said the 43-year-old.
‘He thought I was someone else, so in this case, I’m actually an impostor.’
But the tech tycoon said he refused to ‘freeze’ and instead kept the conversation going, employing some ‘classic Australian bulls***’ which eventually led to him getting her phone number.
‘And more than a decade later, I’m incredibly happy that she’s now my wife, and we have four amazing children,’ he told the audience, who erupted in spontaneous applause.
But now, less than four years later, the couple has announced that they are separating.
Happy hour: Mike Cannon-Brookes and his wife Annie on their wedding day in January 2010
The couple, who share four children together, are said to be separating
The billionaire couple had a chance encounter at the Qantas lounge at Sydney Airport while Annie was on her way home to Michigan and Mr Cannon-Brookes was on his way to San Francisco for work.
The news, first broken by the Australian Financial Review on Friday, raises questions about how they will split their estimated $19 billion fortune, apart from the $300 million property empire.
Annie Todd, 34, who was then working as a fashion designer and now runs the House of Cannon label, bumped into Mr Cannon-Brookes in the Qantas lounge at Sydney Airport on her way home to Michigan.
He wooed her by inviting her to an awards ceremony and they soon became a close part of each other’s lives.
Indeed, Annie arguably owes her life to Mr Cannon-Brookes’ Atlassian co-founder Scott Farquhar who intervened in 2008 when she suffered an anaphylactic reaction.
‘Scott found me and said “you don’t feel well”. He literally picked me up and took me to St. Vincent’s (hospital) in a cab. And if he hadn’t done it, I probably wouldn’t have made it there,’ Annie told The Australian in 2016.
Annie and Mike tied the knot in January 2010 and eventually had four children together.
As Mr Cannon-Brookes rose through the ranks of the rich list, the pair went on to amass a property portfolio of about $300 million, with mansions in Sydney’s eastern suburbs, the Northern Beaches and the Southern Highlands.
Among the most outstanding of their purchases is the couple’s 1.1-hectare Fairwater home at Point Piper, where the late Lady Mary Fairfax lived.
The couple have an estimated $300 million property portfolio, including the 1.1-hectare Fairwater home at Point Piper where the late Lady Mary Fairfax lived (pictured).
Mr Cannon-Brookes previously said his marriage was likely to succeed because he and his wife both suffered from ‘imposter syndrome’.
They snapped it up in 2018 despite an intimidating $100 million price tag, making it Australia’s most expensive home at the time.
‘We love the idea of raising our four young children on this historic property, filling the house and gardens with love and laughter over the years,’ Mr Cannon-Brookes told Domain.
In June Mr Cannon-Brookes and his wife raised $14.25 million to buy a house in Newport on Sydney’s northern beaches, next to a $24.5 million estate they are buying in 2020.
The five-bedroom house is set on a 3,000-square-meter plot and has a 1,000-square-meter netted bathing area.
The home, acquired in 2020 for $2.35 million, was located three doors down from another of their properties.
The couple spent $2.55 million on a fisherman’s cottage at Great Mackerel Beach on the northern beaches, which is only accessible by boat.
Mrs Cannon-Brookes told a reporter in 2016 that she and her husband were ‘lucky’ to share the same goals.
‘One of our biggest things is to give our kids as normal an existence as possible,’ she said.
On their tenth anniversary, Annie shared a photo from their wedding day and thanked her husband for being her ‘partner in crime forever’.
In his Ted Talk, Mr Cannon-Brookes said the ‘imposter syndrome’ he and his wife shared could be one of the reasons they had ‘probably a successful marriage’.
‘You see, in researching this discussion, I’ve learned that one of the characteristics of the most successful relationships is when both partners feel out of their league.
‘They think their partner is out of their league. They feel cheated,’ he said.
‘And if they’re not frozen, and they’re grateful, and they work hard, and they stretch to be their best partners, it can be a very successful relationship.’
It is not clear what has changed in the intervening years. Daily Mail Australia has contacted Ms Cannon-Brookes for comment.
‘They are both now focusing on their children as their number one priority,’ said a representative of the family. ‘They ask that their privacy be respected.’
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