Last year I attended Xero Con 2011 – New Zealand’s largest accounting conference run by Xero. While spending a day in a room full of accountants may not sound like your cup of tea the presentations last year where great – and not all to do with accounting.
Tomorrow is Xero Con 2012 which this year I’m not attending – instead I attended their Developer Session today to get an update on what is going on behind the scenes and a roadmap for 2012. The room we were in was full with probably 100 developers who connect with Xero. This is an often unseen benefit of the Xero Ecosystem.
Over the last year or so Xero has certainly polarized the New Zealand investment community after they abandoned the strategy of reaching profit in the short-term and instead decided it was better to focus on growth.
Since then every article published on the NBR has drawn interesting comments – to the point where today, when Xero announced a further $20 million investment, there was even some prodding taking place to get things started.
While I can understand that investors would like to see profit and a return, those who are unhappy with the current strategy can probably make a return by selling their shares which have remained at the top end of their trading range – and increased again today on the back of the announcement. I would also suggest people need to take a wider view and not judge a book by its cover, or by simply what they read.
Listening to the team today there is no doubt they work hard on both developing and executing their strategy. The numbers that Xero are reporting are continuing to grow (rapidly) which indicates they are on the right path.
The other thing that many people may not see from the outside but was on show today was the eco system I mentioned earlier. There are many other New Zealand entrepreneurs that are building web applications that integrate with Xero and are able to take advantage of this partnership. Some like Vend are seeing success even though they are still very much a startup. Others are more grown up like Workflow Max that was acquired by Xero today.
While these other businesses don’t necessarily provide a return to Xero shareholders they are in general very good for the New Zealand economy. Xero is not in this game just for themselves and very much take the approach of wanting to lift all boats. While today was predominantly about Xero development there were aspects of the talks aimed at helping people in the room with their own business. This is a great culture to create in a business.
Another way of Xero – or more specifically Rod – likes to give back is through his Accelerate Conference which I am very much looking forward to.
Disclaimer: I am both a shareholder in Xero and one of their original beta customers and now run 10 organisations in Xero.