Xero Con 2012 – and recent announcements

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.

In light of the big conference tomorrow Rod and the team have made some big announcements over the last week including a revenue update.

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. 


Some Start Up Advice

Here are a couple of recent articles that are definitely worth a read if you are thinking about starting a business:

Evernote Shows Startups: ‘Free’ Can Pay – by concentrating on making customers happy you can use ‘free’ products to make money. Also, don’t get hung up on the percentage of your customers who pay, but the number of customers who pay.

From the latest issue of Idealog a great read by Rowan Simpson about the Mythical Startupmost overnight successes take time!

New Xero Investor

From the Xero Blog today:

US Technology Guru Peter Thiel to Invest in Xero

Leading online accounting software provider Xero Limited [NZE:XRO] today announced that Peter Thiel, the San Francisco based investor and Silicon Valley authority, has agreed to invest NZ$4 million to support Xero’s expansion into the US market. He will also join Xero’s US Advisory Board.

This is a really good step forward for Xero and provides a great investment and partner to really have a great crack at the US market.

On a side note, earlier this year I  read the PayPal wars book one of Peter’s earlier investments. While the stroy is a number of years old it was still an interesting read and always interesting to see the different tactics employed by companies when threatened by a competitor with deep pockets.

Great news… Pacific Fibre announced

UPDATED: 12/03 Full Press Release on Lance’s Site + Technical Details

It is great to see a lead being taken with regards to New Zealand’s broadband (and over at Stuff)

This is exactly what we need to get New Zealand business competing on a world stage.

I can’t say I am too surprised to see this as Rod @Xero has been advocating this for a long time, obviously to the point of him saying – well no one else is doing it, we might as well do it ourselves. Sam Morgan also eluded to it in the latest issue of Idealog.

Lance Wiggs (who is now also part of the Cadimage Team) is also part of the group behind Pacific Fibre so I look forward to hearing first hand how this progresses.

I can’t wait for this to come on stream so thanks to the group for doing what Kiwi’s do best – just getting on with it!

Accelerate 2010

Last Wednesday I visited the sunny (or not so sunny as the case was) Hawke’s Bay for Accelerate 2010.

For a number of years Rod from Xero has been wanting to hold a conference to help accelerate growth in New Zealand business’ – specifically hi-tech.

The conference was held at the wonderful Black Barn Vineyard a wonderful setting.

Apart from the delayed flight the day got off to a great start with Andy Lark giving us his latest views on the Virtual Era.

A long lunch gave ample opportunity to network with everyone and sample some of Black Barn’s wines.

The afternoon session was quite loose with a chance to share ideas and issues that people are experiencing and hear insights from some of New Zealand most successful entrepreneurs and investors.

One of Rod’s aims was to get the ‘city folk’ into the provinces and as such it was great to meet a number of new people all based in the Bay.

Overall it was a fun day and I look forward to next years event

Cheers Rod, Odette and the Black Barn.

A few interesting things…

Over the last few weeks I have been taking care of Customer Care for our Cadimage Tools International Customers. It is certainly a job where you get right down to the detail and consequently you may have noticed a drop off in my blog postings!

I have also fallen behind in reading everyone else’s blogs but I have come across a few things that are either great, cool, I agree with or just plain weird!

There is the recently released Dell Adamo which is a pretty cool looking, extremely thin laptop.

Xero has made two great announcements – Xero Personal and a massive increase in Revenues

Andy Lark has a good point about Rugby going globalit must be tough being in the US and not being able to watch the All Blacks. I also though his post on Critical Non Essentials was interesting.

There are the Mindflex puzzles where you use your brain power to move objects!

Lastly there is a post about 10 Secrets To Staying Informed About Web Design – I think this could help me keep up with all my blogs not just those on Web Design, but I haven’t yet had time to read it!

Xero Analysis – Sam Stewart

So most of my readers by now will know I am a 100% Xero convert – though I am still waiting for the much anticipated Foreign Currency Release later this month to complete my transition.

Anyway I was recently catching up on Rowan Simpson’s blog and discovered a link to a wonderful analysis of investing in Xero and a model (I suggest you read the article and download the model from Sam’s site) to determine customer numbers and revenue requirements to achieve an acceptable rate of return on your investment given the risks etc.

While I found the analysis extremely comprehensive I was more intrigued by the author – the name rang a bell.

Reading various other posts on www.samstewartnz.com made me more sure this was an old acquaintance from my university days.

So I sent an email with a few snippets of history that would have been a  little strange were it not the same Sam Stewart but as it turned out it was.

Sam has spent time in Wellington after studying at the University of Auckland and is now currently in Brisbane.

Just goes to show you don’t need to rely on Facebook to catch up with old friends!

Xero Capital Raising

It was great to see Xero’s recent annoucement about raising more capital.

The main thing this highlights to me and I talked about this in an earlier post: Even with economic times being the worst they have been for 60 years there is still opportunities to grow.

It also highlights that I have heard mentioned previously “Raise Capital before you need it as it will be easier to source than when you actually need it!”

63km is a long way to run…

Which is why on Saturday we did the 5 man-relay not the Solo Ultra-Marathon of the Te Houtaewa Challenge 2009

At 8:30 Saturday morning Sally set off to run the first 3 km section of the 63km Relay down Northland’s Ninety Mile Beach. For the next 4:47:19 we took our turn to run a 3km section and then drive down the beach slowly making our way from the bluff to Ahipara.


The team consisted of:

  • Gav
  • Ed
  • Wazza
  • Sal
  • Me

All of them seasoned pro’s having run the event as many as 6 times before (it only started in 2003!) I was new to the relay but had run the extremely monotonous Half Marathon back in ’99.

The guys were a little nervous at the start when they heard there were 5 other teams entered this year, however the nervousness was uncalled for as we ended up winning by over 45minutes.

Hats off must go to Tony Ahern though as he finished only 38 minutes after us having run the whole 63km himself!

Hats off also to the organisers – the event is very well run and has a fantastic Far North Community feel about it.