Last night, I joined over 1,000 executives around Australia and participated in the 2012 Vinnies CEO Sleepout. We braved the elements and spent a night outside to get a taste of what life is like for the estimated 100,000+ homeless people around the country who do the same thing every night.
The aim of the event was to raise money for the St Vincent De Paul society (the Vinnies) through sponsorships and to raise awareness about an often-neglected group of men, women and children living on the streets every night. We raised a total of $4.7m – and a whole lot of awareness!
Sky News was also on the scene. You can watch the quick interview below to see my thoughts on the event and technology in general:
Like I said in the video, the event was satisfying in and of itself, but it was also a good opportunity to see how helpful technology can be for not-for-profits.
I had the privilege of spending time at the Le Web conference in London this week and learned a few things. As its name might suggest, Le Web is Europe’s largest tech conference and has taken place in Paris every December since 2004 and is very highly regarded. Acknowledging the UK’s fast growing tech ecosystem, the organisers added an extra summer Le Web in London for 2012.
So, what did I pick up?
Firstly, while the world of tech still has its center of gravity in Silicon Valley, the dynamics of web distribution are definitely changing that. And that’s mostly because with a few notable exceptions like Microsoft, pre-web era software just didn’t travel very well.
That’s in part due to the fact that regional business communities from which PC-era software businesses emerged were parochial and inwardly facing, and because selling software overseas used to require old world operational scale.
Today it’s different.
Marc Andreessen, renowned Silicon Valley venture capitalist and former co-founder of Netscape, perfectly captured the essence of how things are changing in Why Software Is Eating The World.
Continue reading ›
It’s now three months since our UK business went legit so to speak and moved into a physical office in Milton Keynes, about 30 minutes north of London. Among other things, I’m pleased to report that I wasted zero time in executing against our strategic growth strategy, starting with branding up our own version of the famous Milton Keynes Concrete Cow.
Apart from a short-lived rental agreement on a cupboard in London that Xero co-founder Hamish Edwards used in 2008, our UK business ran virtually for the best part of three and a half years.
Today, twelve weeks in to our new home, I have to say that I hardly recognise our UK business. Not least in the sense that our staff numbers have doubled from eight to sixteen since we moved in. So, as a seasoned veteran of remote web working but with the benefit of a little objective distance since we opened our office, how do I feel about virtual working and what have I learned?
We move fast here at Xero, so as General Manager, Human Resources, I spend a lot of time looking for people to design, develop, sell and support the features our customers love.
Right now, we have a big need for Quality Assurance (QA) Analysts. We currently have nine vacancies in New Zealand, eight in Wellington and one in Auckland. Our QA team are the reason Xero “just works.” We only release new features after the QA team have put them through their paces.
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Last night at the CeBIT Conference in Sydney, Xero won both the Top Business Solution award as well as the ICT Excellence Award, which is the highest accolade in the Australian tech industry. We were amongst an impressive field of finalists and so we are delighted and humbled to win these coveted awards.
The ICT Excellence Award recognises excellence in the provision of a product or solution to customers and also one that can demonstrate a proven track record of success.
These two awards are testament to the very real and growing demand for an alternative to spreadsheets and cumbersome, traditional, accounting desktop packages in Australia.
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The world got very sad news that Nathaniel Hornblower lost his battle with cancer. Better known as MCA of the Beastie Boys, his real name was Adam Yauch.
No doubt, he was a musical trailblazer, but he was a pioneer in more ways than you probably knew.
Nathanial was the first “customer” of Xero. If you look closely, you might notice the name Nathanial Hornblower in our screenshots and demo videos. When I designed the first screens for Xero we needed a fictitious customer name. To make sure long names didn’t break the design I used Nathanial Hornblower.
It was also a nod to my first real customer, the Beastie Boys.
Skills to Pay the Bills
In 1994, I quit my first job, bought a computer on credit cards and lived on unemployment checks while I worked on a business idea. I designed and coded a prototype of an online music store, based on my local record shop Groove Merchant. I flew to LA and pitched it to all the major labels, who promptly laughed me out the door. Still laughing? Continue reading ›
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As most business people know, having a website is one of the most important tools for promoting your business in today’s connected world. But getting a website up and running is only half the battle… how do you make sure potential customers can actually find it among the millions of other websites cluttering up the net?
Of course, you can (and should) promote your web address within your promotional material such as TV, radio, newspaper ads, business cards, etc. Directly promoting your website online via ads on Google and Facebook can also be effective. However, arguably the best technique for promoting your business (when done well) is Search Engine Optimisation (SEO).
Search Engines such as Google are the gateway to the web for most people – SEO is the art of getting your website to appear at the top of the list of search results. An analysis of 2006 data leaked by AOL indicated that search results listed on page 1 received almost 90% of all clicks, so obviously, a high position is very important. For instance, how often have you clicked through to Wikipedia from a search engine instead of visiting the website directly? According to this 2008 study by Nielsen Online, Wikipedia generates almost 90% of its traffic from search.
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The new iPads went on sale today and since our new UK office is barely 400 yards away from an Apple Store, it was too easy to pick one up after the crowds had died down this lunchtime. And as you can see from this comparison, Xero looks even more stunning on the new iPad’s Retina display. The left image is a close-up of Xero running on a first generation iPad, the right on today’s brand new Retina display iPad. Click for big.
We’ve just finished three days of some pretty intensive planning workshops in Wellington with the visiting senior account team from Rackspace, our US based production hosting provider.
We’ve covered the whole hosting infrastructure stack, from the network perimeter down to the core application database server layer, looking at all the different architecture and technology options available as we continue to scale out Xero’s underlying hosting infrastructure. This is so we can accommodate continued growth while optimising key elements such as application performance, service availability and customer data protection.