If I could tie a bow on this year I would. It has been a great inaugural year for Xero in the US and such a pleasure to meet so many forward thinking small businesses and accounting professionals. Many thanks to all who have joined us early in the US ride. It feels like a real partnership and I feel like we are building cloud accounting the way it should be.
Building a great team
Less than a year ago that it was just Craig, Catherine, and myself on the ground in San Francisco. Fast forward to today and we’ve grown to 20 people across the US. Our staff have come from all over, with a variety of backgrounds. Some from Intuit and Quickbooks, some with payroll backgrounds, some who have run their own successful accounting practices, and some with a deep understanding of small business because they have run their own. While they all bring something a little different to the table, they all have something very much in common – a passion for building a great company that is solving real problems for real businesses. They are some of the most energetic people I’ve had the pleasure to work with. If you have the same passion and drive – we’re hiring!
Localizing with a z
Our number one priority this year was to get Xero localized for the US. As with all product development there is always more to do but this year we ripped through quite a few big US features. We introduced check printing in April, moved to American spelling, introduced a 1099 workflow, and organized integration with online filing service Track1099.
If you are a follower of the Xero blog, or have had the chance to dip into it on occasion, you may know we speak to many audiences in the Xero community, from small business to accounting, technology and company news. We strive to serve everyone through this portal, providing useful information and a touch of entertainment!
I’ve only been here half a year and with so many great posts it was a tough ask to pull out the best of 2012. So, with only that vague awareness of what we did in the first half and with time running out, I called on colleague and wordsmith Sam B Grover to give me his top choices for the year – not necessarily those that got the most hits but those where there was particularly interesting thought and insight.
You’ll find some interesting reading here. We encourage you to pick up on those you missed the first time, especially if you are are a new customer, partner or reader.
In no particular order:
It’s a beautiful Spring morning in the centre of the equally beautiful French Provencale small town of Mougins in 1969. The locals have gathered for their morning café and croissant. . .
In the past few days, applications to join Xero’s mobile team have really picked up. It’s heartening to see the enthusiasm out there. People get it. Mobile is nothing less than the next wave of personal computing. . .
Gordon Moore, co-founder of Intel whose silicon has been at the heart of the last forty plus years of computing, came up with Moore’s Law in an article in Electronics Magazine in April 1965. . .
You’ve got an existing business and you want to make it fly. But you really need to validate your idea before you can scale up. I’ve been involved in a number of rapid growth and new business start-ups including Xero and more recently an online system for managing foreign exchange and interest rate risk. . .
Crowdfunding: bringing Wall Street to Main Street? – by US boss Jamie Sutherland
Are we about to start a new era of American capitalism? With the Jumpstart Our Business Startup (JOBS) Act just days away from being passed into law, start-ups will soon have new. . .
A month or so ago I spoke in Blenheim. One of our great partners, Neil from Winstanley Kerridge was introducing me and Xero and it surprised me that he thought the biggest benefit of Xero was the. . .
Six months ago, we moved into a new Wellington HQ. Since then, we were finalists for an NZ Property Council award in the Heritage and Adaptive Reuses category, and we’re . .
2012 was our biggest year yet at Xero. When I went back through the blog and company announcements this year there were too many achievements to list. So instead I’d thought I’d finish the year with ‘where are we at’ and ‘what next’.
Firstly, thank you to our many customers and partners. We understand what a massive responsibility it is to look after your financial information and that many of you are betting your own businesses on us. It still blows us away that we really have made accounting fun and interesting for so many people. It’s amazing.
Thank you to our shareholders who provide us with the opportunity to grow our team and build this company. And thank you to our staff who are completely passionate about what we’re doing for small business around the world. It feels really good being part of a company that is innovating and doing something purposeful and good.
This year we’ve got through a solid program of work and delivered many of our most requested features, along with lots of innovations. For our small business customers you may not have seen the massive amount of work we’ve done on the accountant side of the fence to make the Xero family of products compelling for the accounting industry. We believe that small business accounting software on its own isn’t sufficient long term and we needed to build a compelling platform that connects professional advisers with businesses. We’re very pleased with how that’s playing out. With those workstreams well underway, and many key features already delivered, we will be focussing over the next year to complete the breadth of horizontal accounting features you’d expect in a mature product. A lot of this is well through development and you’ll see some big releases in 2013.
A morning brunch on Friday presided by the Victorian Minister for Technology Gordon Rich-Phillips marked the official opening of our new Australian headquarters in Melbourne. It has capped off an incredible year for Xero in Australia with our recent ASX listing and position as Xero’s fastest growing region, having tripled both our revenue and customer numbers in Australia in the past 12 months.
Our new office is only 50 meters from our old office in Hawthorn so the move was quick and effortless. Being a cloud based company, all we had to do was pick up our laptops and walk over to our stylish new office. Without the need for servers and software installations, we were able to start working immediately.
Last Thursday was the 2012 WriteMark New Zealand Plain English Awards and it was a lovely night out. I was humbled to pick up a Best Plain English Technical Communicator Award of Distinction for content I wrote for the Xero Help Centre.
The awards were decided by a panel of global plain English experts. In a nutshell, here is what the experts look for:
“Plain English is a style of writing in which the language, structure, and presentation of a document all work together to help the reader. A document written in plain English is easy to read, understand, and act upon after just one reading.” – Quote from WriteMark website.
Plain English isn’t about dumbing down content. It’s about smartening it up, so you can quickly find what you’re looking for, and understand it. We know you’re busy. And we know time is money.
Read more about Business
We’re thrilled to announce that Xero has just raised an additional $60m of capital from two of our existing investors.
It’s a huge endorsement for what we’re doing and the great work our team continues to do. We’re just at the beginning of the business SaaS market and we have the resources to keep our foot on the throttle.
It’s been a pleasure dealing with Matrix and Valar. Both of them continue to provide fantastic experience and advice.
The full release is below and more than happy to take any questions.
We are currently offline due to an issue within our application hosting infrastructure. We have identified the cause of the issue and are working to resolve this.
We will provide any updates, including expected time for the service to be restored, as soon as we have more information.
UPDATE: (Wednesday 14th Nov, 9:57pm GMT) – We have the service back online and we will provide an update once our internal debrief is complete.
UPDATE (Wednesday 14th Nov, 10:38pm GMT) – A quick update with some further details on this outage. The initial cause was an issue within our application database server cluster, one of the active servers failed however it was still showing as operating normally which prevented failover to the redundant node. We will continue to investigate why the resiliency did not work as expected.
UPDATE: (Thursday 15th Nov, 9:30am GMT) – We have further instability as a result of reoccurrence of this issue. The system is stable and operating as expected again. Our operations team are closely monitoring the situation.
We apologise for the inconvenience caused to any customers by this outage. We continue to make a very significant investment in our hosting platform and resulting service availability level, which we have maintained at 99.99% since we launched Xero in 2007. It frustrates us if we have any unscheduled downtime, but we work hard to learn whatever we can from these incidents and use this to further improve and strengthen our platform going forward.
UPDATE (Thursday 15th Nov, 10:14pm GMT) – Yesterday we had issues with the stability of our platform resulting in four customer impacting outages totalling 47 minutes.
All of the outages related to our database layer which is critical for the operation of the application. We have a resilient database environment with hot standby servers and automatic failover, however yesterday this failover did not work how it has in the past or during regular testing.
Of the four events two were the result of a server becoming unresponsive without the expect failover and two were a result of excessive database load that did not require a failover.
Our investigations have focused on both why the database server became unresponsive and the reason that the resilience did not provide seamless failover.
- The database server became unresponsive due to unusual batch process load causing contention between the memory demands of the database and operating system. We have identified the processes at fault and have made the first change to remove the likelihood of this reoccurring. We have additional work underway to implement a permanent fix that prevents this issue occurring.
- Our database layer relies on Windows Clustering for resilience however this did not automatically failover as it should have. We have identified the reason this did not work as expected and verified the issue with the supplier.
We are in the later stages of a project to migrate away from Windows Clustering as part of a wider project to improve the resilience of our platform. We expect to make this change early next year.
Our operations team continuously analyse the platform and look for ways to improve reliability and performance. We treat any issues seriously and the team are very aware of the impact that system issues have on our customers. While we maintain a very high uptime we will continue to work to eliminate risk wherever possible.
We’re delighted to present our half year numbers for your detailed perusal. You can download the report here.
We’ve doubled revenue again for the half year and signalled we expect to double revenue for the full year. We’re very proud of creating 130 new jobs over the last 12 months.
The growth in Australia has been remarkable and all countries are performing well.
We have announced that we are investing in a number of new projects including Australian Tax and Payroll for the USA. We will also continue to invest heavily on our platform as we will continue to scale rapidly.
We signal in the report that we have a strong cash position ($30m) and feel very well positioned against the incumbent providers. At around 300 staff today we are still small compared to the incumbents. Intuit as an example has 8000 staff. So we’re not slowing down building our team and will use our cash to continue to invest in capability to provide even more value to our customers and partners.
2012 has been big transitional year for us in the UK as we progressed from being tiny, seven-person virtual team in March to what is today a fully fledged and grown up business with the capacity and talent to go on to win the UK market.
And we’re lucky to have recruited some great new people this year to join the cause. Most recently we welcomed Nick Longden to Team UK as National Sales Manager. He’ll be leading and building out a world class sales operation for us as we head into 2013. Nick joins from global giant Wolters Kluwer CCH where he had been the UK sales director for a number of years and so brings with him a ton of valuable sales leadership experience and ability.
Here’s what Nick had to say about the UK opportunity when he visited Wellington last month:
Nick’s building out his 2013 team now, so if you’re looking to jump to the next wave and think you have what it takes, pop over to xero.com/careers and get in touch.
UPDATED: Added Sky Business video below
On top of the huge momentum we have both globally and in Australasia at the moment, it’s fantastic to be able to advise that Xero shares are now tradable on the ASX. With this dual listing the same pool of shares are available across both the ASX and NZX.
This is a huge milestone for the company and recognises how important Australia is to the company’s aspirations. We love it when our partners and clients, who have invested so much of their own time and energy into Xero, become shareholders.
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