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New Zealand's most successful tech company?

Paul Brislen, Editor. 19 September 2017, 7:14 am

It's probably New Zealand's most well-known tech export and after this year's Xerocon, the cloud accounting service Xero is riding high.

This year, the company's 11th in operation, saw a raft of new features and services added to the core accountancy offering, the one million customer marked passed at a trot and a share price hovering in the high $20/share. Around 3,300 attendees took part in the two-day conference in Melbourne earlier this month.

New offerings include Xero HQ, Xero Expenses, Xero Discuss, Xero Projects and Xero Lifelong Learning Platform, all part of founder and CEO Rod Drury's vision of moving beyond mere bookkeeping.

Drury is quoted in the New Zealand Herald as saying is goal is to arm "accountants and bookkeepers to become growth consultants, giving them strategies, connecting them with bankers, so that we can get capital into small business so that each small business creates one new job."

This ethos is key to Xero's success - by giving accountants a way to upskill and to addd value to the services they offer, Drury has a willing workforce ready to promote the product in a way that would have been impossible if accountants had felt sidelined by the service.

Instead, Xero allows accountants to move up the foodchain and become financial advisors rather than simply checking small business owners' sums and that means while disruption has certainly arrived for accountancy, it hasn't necessarily meant the end of the accountant as a profession.

It's not all been plain sailing for Drury and Xero, however. Questions around international expansion, competition from the incumbents and turnover among executives tasked with tackling the US market, have seen some commentators claim Drury has bitten off more than he can chew, but given most of that commentary seems to come from the Australian market, we can only assume a certain amount of cultural bias is at play.

Drury seems well on his way towards his goal of building a billion dollar business from the beach.


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