Another exciting day in Xeroland as we start to move the goal posts with our latest release.
The last major change in the desktop accounting space was the move from DOS to Windows that happened in the late 90’s, early 00’s - compounded by Y2K where the IT industry did a great job convincing everyone that planes might fall out the Sky (he wrote nervously from Queenstown airport).
Unlike the last technology shift, moving online changes everything.
Over the past year we’ve been rapidly completing the broad functionality expected in a general accounting system. Sure it’s pretty but there was just a huge number of things we needed to do to be a substitute accounting system. We are getting close. So now we can start to change the rules and change people expectations of what small business accounting systems do.
This is important for SaaS. It’s not just about changing the delivery and pricing model, it’s about how being online changes everything. Shifting the goal posts.
In the old world, most desktop accounting software is often locked away in the back office, retrospective, period based and can require triple handling of data. It is only used by a small number of people in the business (thank goodness). The first step of moving online was about matching the features of the existing providers, that have been around for many years, while adding the initial online benefits of being collaborative and near real time.
The next logical step is breaking out of the back office. Linking the accounting system to normal business processes and bringing aspects of the accounting system to frontline staff.
So todays release was as important for us as we added an Employee role to our security model. A relatively small and logical addition to Xero but very significant to our strategy.
It’s very exciting to get to a point where rather than catching up, we can lead. Also after a year the company matures significantly and processes evolve. I’m blown away but how much stuff our team are getting through in each release.
Now the fun really begins.Pocket Accounting
Out today is an iPhone version of Xero.
I’ve been using it for a few days and it’s really cool. With the upcoming launch of the iPhone 3G we wanted to get it out there and see what scenario’s people want. Expense claims is an obvious one we’ll add soon.
Here is the press release …
Xero now available on the iPhone
Xero announced today the release of a customised Apple iPhone version of their popular online accounting system.
This allows people who have an iPhone (or iPod Touch) to use Xero to access all their bank balances and recent transactions from anywhere. It also provides the ability to call any contact with one simple tap.
Xero Chief Executive Rod Drury said this gives business owners easy access to crucial information at all times - one quick glance at a small device in their pocket provides unlimited flexibility and mobility.
“We believe the iPhone is a breakthrough device and with signals that a 3G version will soon be available in our core markets of New Zealand, the United Kingdom and Australia we believe now is a good time to introduce an iPhone version of Xero and get feedback from customers.
“We believe online accounting is the core information system for small businesses. With Xero, businesses are beginning to see the power of linking their mobile front line staff to the back office.”
Xero for the iPhone is available immediately to all Xero customers at no extra charge, customers can simply login at http://m.xero.com. It’s also available for anyone to try for free by signing up at www.xero.com.
We also added blog comments today as we shifted to WordPress. Tell us what else you want here.You know you’re making an impact …
… when US companies start marketing against you …
Excellent. You should definitely check out Netsuite before looking at us.
http://www.netsuite.co.nz. Tell them I sent you.
Ask them about pricing. For some reason it’s not on their site. Here’s ours.
Interesting to benchmark how they are doing.Lessons one year in as a public company
Big milestone today as we put out first annual result as public company and checked off where we got to against our offer document issued a year ago.
We only have a few slots a year where we can talk about how we’re doing so for what it’s worth here are some comments and a few things I’ve learnt over the last year that will hopefully be useful to others in the software industry.
Firstly, it’s obviously great to get an IPO away as we did last June. But once the hangover clears you realize that you are on a treadmill and you have to deliver on your promise. There is no hiding. If you screw up you screw up big. And in a small country like New Zealand that means moving to Mexico. To borrow Rowan’s poker betting analogy (you can imagine the hand actions) - it’s an ‘all in’ strategy.
That can be pretty scary but for where I was at in my career I liked the step up in responsibility to do a public company. I believe it is the best/only way to build a significant software company from NZ. All in.
You soon learn it’s a merry-go-round you can’t get off. There are no days off when you are in a public company. You can’t say ‘I don’t like it anymore’. You took the money, you have to deliver. It’s pressure that never goes away.
Because from the start Xero was going to be a public company we engaged great advisors to help us early one. The IPO process and subsequent activities around being a public company are not that onerous. Being public was baked into our DNA from the start. Good governance makes the business better and forces rigor and disciplines that are good practice. This is especially good for the entrepreneur as creates the platform for operation excellence needed for success. I hope other NZ software companies go down this route as well. It just creates better companies.
Having a great board is vital. Our board has a mix of experience and are very challenging but supportive. After a board meeting our management team all feel like we’ve done 10 rounds in the ring but you also know the business is better.
When you plan a business the main things are costs and revenue. You can manage costs, but you can’t directly manage revenue. You can manage the things you do to create revenue but it is not completely in your control.
So made made very sure that we kept our costs within budget. That was completely in our control so we just had to do it. But you take money to invest - not for it to sit in the bank - so you want to make sure you spend up to, but just under, your plan. You can see that in our results.
The revenue curve we experienced was where we learned the most lessons that will be useful for other new SaaS providers.
In most start up business plans you see the infamous hockey stick revenue curve. You see it so much that you discount them. I think we had this in the back of our minds when we did our forecasts 16 months ago we did a more linear curve. But we did experience the hockey stick. With the benefit of hindsight I think we understand why the hockey stick occurred, especially in our market.
A key reason is that accounting systems are sticky. They are not a whim purchase so you tend to validate a change decision with other people. So word of mouth endorsement is a key aspect of the buying process.
You also need to just be around for a while. You don’t change your core information system to a company you have only just heard of.
We also believed that, in our market, accountants are an important validator. We weren’t expecting such a favorable response initially but when they did give us the feedback that Xero was going in the right direction in July/August last year we took the longer term view that we should focus on them first. This delayed adoption as they are less likely to change a customer mid financial period.
That decision also delayed ARPU features we had planned as the accountants message was get the core accounting engine complete first. This was a plan departure which we had to announce. Our philosophy, as an early stage listed company, was to be upfront about what we were doing so we explained that to the market at our half year.
For SaaS vendors the first customers are the hardest. You need to build the base for the word of mouth effect to take place. We took a hand-to-hand combat approach. It was just hard one-at-a-time stuff. Lots of events, presentations and lots of phone dogging. Not glamorous but effective.
It starts off with a sale every few days, then you up to one every day, then 2-3 a day and it goes up and up. 1300 seemed a long way away but we knew that we were building the word of mouth effect and that eventually it would kick in and get easier. It was so satisfying when we got customers that we hadn’t spoken to. With each new software release we’d remove another objection, then another and another.
As we were building out our functional breadth over the year we had to sell what we had, not what we were going to have. That means finding verticals that matched our feature set at that time.
Coming into our first key change over period, March/April in NZ, the hard work we did earlier in the year paid off and customers accelerated quickly.
We noted an unintended benefit of the ’small releases frequently’ model. Normal the feedback cycle for software is so long and often annual or worse. Releasing customer driven features every few weeks accelerated our trust relationship with customers and partners.
We learned, and continue to learn, a lot about marketing to small businesses. This year we tried lots of things deliberately to test what worked and didn’t in the small business market.
The biggest lesson was that small business owners are really busy and that they are not listening for you. Even now I’ll speak at a business event and many people have not heard of Xero. (Did you not notice we listed on the stock exchange last year!). Surprisingly, many accountants we meet still have not heard of Xero. That is a big reality check as to who really cares what you’re doing.
We experimented with newspaper ads and radio. We heard anecdotally that people had seen the ads and they may be good for brand building (which is very hard to measure) but we noticed almost no measurable action from horizontal offline advertising. A PR based approach was much more cost effective and generated many more comments. When we took the message vertical and more tailored to specific industry pain we saw a better response.
We noted it is very hard get people to do an online action in response to an offline message. Online advertising to an online response gets a much better hit rate.
In the end, at this stage in our life, its word of mouth. And that means delivering a great experience, great support and listening.
So how did we do? We achieved our primary objective, hitting the customer number and building that solid base of customers to grow from. We have more cash than planned so that makes our runway longer. I think we have removed the key risk elements and Xero is now all about sales execution. Getting customers in the UK was major milestone.
What was the best part? Having the resources to build a team of talented people and get them all working together to create something special. I just love seeing what our team comes up with and the results of smart people working together.
What would we do differently? There were a few key functions we should have done before launch that took a while to retrofit in later, but I can’t believe how much we’ve got out in the last year. Even more R&D would have been better.
Would you do Xero again as a public company knowing what you know now? Absolutely. In this space you can’t separate your funding strategy from your business strategy.
What’s next? Well last year was about putting the platform in place and doing the things we had to do. This year the fun starts as we exploit that platform. We’re all really excited about the next year!Company Summary
Responding to a comment on my last post. All companies should have a concise company summary. When you are making contact, especially over email, it’s essential you present clearly who you are.
So you get the idea, here is a sample one that we use for Xero.
Whenever I send an email to a person I haven’t met before I normally attach this so they can see who we are. We do a slightly different one for the UK.Accounting 2.0
You can now export any of your reports in Xero to Google Docs.
As we’re getting there with the core accounting functionality we’re now able to get some of the really cool things we’ve been wanting to for a while into the product.
Another cool thing we’re done recently is integration with other SaaS providers. It was good to work with the iPayroll team who helped us test our API functionality. Here is the combined help for Xero + iPayroll.
It’s magical to see complex business data moving automatically and securely between systems and really shows how we can use technology to make things easier for small businesses.
You can have a look at the API at http://network.xero.com. We provide a partner test rig so that it’s easy for other companies to develop and debug their interface with us.What’s in a name
A few people have asked what was behind our name change announcement to the NZX yesterday.
1 May 2008
Xero is pleased to announce that its legal name has changed from Xero Live Limited to Xero Limited.
When Xero was founded one of its early tasks was to find a .com internet address that was suitable for building a global brand. It had to be short, meaningful, memorable and be able to stand alongside existing brands in the business software space like SAP and MYOB.
Since its inception, Xero’s core brand has been based on the name Xero. This is reflected in its web address and its award-winning accounting software is also called Xero.
The directors were delighted to secure xero.com, but as Xero Limited was not available at the New Zealand Companies Office, they chose Xero Live Limited as the company’s legal name.
Recently the name Xero Limited became available, and has been secured. This tidies up an inconsistency and ticks off another small objective.
I was surprised the media picked it up but there is a back story that highlights a common startup issue.
When we started Xero (before it was called Xero) we needed a name. This was back in our rented week-to-week apartment in Willis Street. We actually registered Accounting 2.0 as a bit of a placeholder. Everyone (but me) hated it but time was ticking by and we still didn’t have a name.
As anyone who has started a web business knows, the biggest constraint in picking a name is picking a .com address. You have to have a good .com. For us with global aspirations we needed a great .com. We wanted it to be short, meaningful, memorable. SAP was taken and the likelihood of getting a good 3 letter .com was low. Ideally we wanted a 4 or 5 letter .com. We imagined where would be a few years ahead and wanted a domain that we wouldn’t be embarrassed of.
A friend of mine, Dot from KeyLogix, is a great .com finder and procurer. After looking at hundreds of .coms Dottie thought of zero.com and quickly found it was US100k to even start the conversation. Then she found xero.com and we loved it. Xero is a name that met our criteria, had a bit of x-factor (obviously) and we could build a brand around it.
Xero.com was not used by an active business but by a designer in New York. Dot built the relationship and a deal was struck over about a month. We appreciated the vendor listening to our story and making it work at a reasonable price. The actual purchase was handled over escrow.com and was very smooth.
After all that work we were gutted that Xero Limited was already taken at the New Zealand companies office. It must have been at the time when Windows Live was being talked about so the name Xero Live was chosen, but it was always a pain that our official name was Xero Live Limited.
Our eagle eyed Chairman spotted earlier this week that the company name Xero Limited had come free and within a day we’d changed our name to what we wanted at the beginning. So now we’ll ripple it through the NZX etc and see if we can get our newspaper stock page entry changed.
Since being Xero we found a MNVO in the US was called Xero Mobile and there is a comic book character called Xero as well.
Anyone got any other naming stories?Xero Network (or B2B in 2007)
We had a bit of coverage in the paper this morning including this story on what we’re calling the Xero Network
As Ben noticed we’ve been surfacing a bit more of some functionality we’ve been wanting to do since we started Xero but we had to get most of the core accounting platform done first.
Firstly some background.
When we looked at the small business market, an observation that came through very early was that while it was massive, most of the global technology players do not sell technology solutions to small businesses.
That is because the Enterprise Sales model does not scale down to small businesses (as NetSuite is finding). Of the global tech solution giants only Microsoft appears to sell across the SMB market - primarily desktop productivity tools.
So flipping that around I believe small business has not yet had the full benefits of technology applied to them. Most tech smarts has been applied to Enterprises.
The SaaS model allows increases the viability to sell to, and support, the enormous but fragmented SMB marketplace and provides an opportunity to deliver enterprise level features to small business.
We also observed that small businesses do not do integration projects. As an example small businesses should probably have a basic CRM system but as supplier and customer data is already in their accounting system they are forced to do an integration exercise. Which of course they don’t.
So another benefit of SaaS is that we can do that integration work for them, so they don’t need to think about it. That is what we are doing with the Xero Network.
This is exciting because working with other software providers we are making things easier for small business customers - saving them time and money.
This model allows us in the SaaS industry to work together, sharing each others customers and working together to make our solutions more compelling.
Of course there is nothing new here. This is Business to Business (B2B) computing but applied so that we have host to host connectivity between our systems to that our customers don’t have to know about integration. B2B is a big part of SMB SaaS behind the scenes.
There are numerous models. All of them start to drive community effects. In our system we can do ‘Xero to Xero’ transactions, ‘Partner to Xero’ transactions and most excitingly ‘Partner to multi Xero’ transactions where a single system generates transactions on behalf of many individual users. Like in the real estate industry.
As mentioned we believe that SaaS providers should work together, so we’re including a list of partners inside our applications and will include them in our marketing programs. It will be the case that we have multiple partners doing the same things. We also know that our partners will work with multiple accounting systems so I think the best approach is be open and up front with all partners and let customers decide what combinations of solutions suit their needs.
To implement this we have developed a portal that allows our partners to get our documentation, code samples, manage their profile and most importantly test their interfaces with us. We are all busy so we wanted to make it so that we could engage pragmatically with our partners and they could be largely self sufficient (i.e. not have to wait for us).
As we are just passing around messages (which may be files or XML fragments) we can expand the services we offer through the interface quite quickly as partners think of more things we can do.
So I’m really excited about this. It’s a big step forward. I want to especially thank the team at iPayroll who we have been working closely with. They played a big role in helping us to refine our invoice message format.Shipping day
Shipping days are always a buzz at Xero. You can code away for as long as you like but it counts for nothing until we ship and go live.
The quote attributed to Steve Jobs ‘Real Artist Ship‘ has stuck with me for years.
Shipping is the final step in a number processes. Releases in a Software as a Service (SaaS) world are completely different from Enterprise Software.
At AfterMail, which was Enterprise Software - so installed on each customers site, we tried to upgrade the software no more than 3 monthly. That is because each client site needs to be upgraded. Shipping a new release creates all sorts of downstream work for customers and partners. Often we would do a number of releases before shipping the new version. The more customers you have the harder it becomes. You create more and more drag as you go along.
The consequences of a bad software release were huge as it often means that another version has to be shipped and will require repeating the upgrade process. This might mean a partner has to jump in the car for a few hours to get on site again. They don’t like that!
Sometimes we had to do mini-releases or patches.
It’s common for established software products, like the desktop incumbents that we are displacing, to only release new versions annually or even go 2 years or more between releases, such is the effort to upgrade.
One of the many big benefits of SaaS is that we only have a single version of the application in production. Every customer is on the same current version. So we can do lots of small releases with minimal impact to customers. At Xero we try to release every 2-3 weeks 1 or 2 major features and as many improvements as we can get in.
These bite sized chunks are easy for customers to digest as well.
It’s an evolutionary and responsive process. The cycle starts with the prioritization debate which I’ve mentioned before.
The development process starts with our BA’s and interaction designers building a specification for each new feature or improvement. We use Flash as a prototyping tool, starting with fairly low-fidelity screen walk-throughs which refine to more detailed working models.
These allow us to nail the design decisions before a line of code is written. These prototypes might take a few hours to a few weeks. During this process we talk to lots of customers and show the prototypes internally until we have agreement on what we want to do.
The design is handed over to development and the coding begins. Development time can be very fast. A big bit of work might take 2-3 people a month.
At any one time we have a number of features being built and tested on our internal servers.
2 weeks prior to a release we pull together the features that are ready into an integrated build where integration testing starts. We have functionality being built that may not ship for several release cycles.
Integration testing includes running a suite of automated tests.
Once the QA team is relatively happy, we then deploy to our secure live staging environment where we can test the migration scripts, complete regression testing and test the application for a couple of days.
Once QA have signed it off then we proceed to live deployment.
As we have evolved our processes and teaming models we have noticed that we can write code faster than we can test. In an application such as ours when we are dealing with peoples money it just has to be right. So we invest heavily in testing and try to give our testing team enough time to complete their testing work programs. They have the final call as to whether we can ship or not.
The actual process of deploying to production is fairly straight forward, and a dream compared to AfterMail.
- We generate the database change scripts
- We publish a release build of the Xero applications
- We upload those files to our release server
- If there are database changes we use ASP.Net app_offline feature. We try to release at 6am to ensure minimal disruption to our customers.
- We xcopy deploy the applications to the application servers and run the sqlserver change scripts. The process might be a fast as 5 minutes.
- We then bring the new version online and run through a bunch of standard regression tests just in case something strange happens.
- We then put up a blog and tell the world, like we did this morning.
As we are shipping every couple of weeks, as soon as we ship our testing team flips straight into the integration testing of the next release.
Releasing software is the end result of a big, but quick, set of processes. It’s a real buzz to see features that we’ve made be used and commented on by customers
So hopefully you can see why we get excited on Shipping Day.Working in Train Stations
I love this …
Our Hamish becoming the voice of small business in the UK.Computer reality
Enjoying a long weekend in the provinces. We have a place we head away to for most breaks and so have got to know the locals over the past few years.
They’ve worked out I do something with computers so I’ve reluctantly become the local computer fix it guy.
It’s eye opening dealing with real people who try to use computers to help them do their work. We’ve found this a lot with Xero as well.
A couple of good examples today.
Firstly a local service operator who sends out invoices every month. He had an old computer which was running Microsoft Works 2000 (wks files). His invoices data is in wks spreadsheets and he spends 1.5 days each month doing invoices by hand.
He’d brought a new laptop ($1400) and had some service people move his data across.
His old computer hard disk (8GB) had just died and so he was on his new laptop with brand new office 2007, not connected to the web (and only gets 40k dial up) and needed to send out invoices. Help!
So I popped down.
First problem was Office 2007 cannot open wks files. His Internet connection was not set up and we didn’t know the dial in number to connect so I couldn’t surf to find how to open wks files.
As much as it hurt I resisted the temptation to just sign him up to Xero (I’ll get him next time and the thought of 40kb dial up was too awful) as he just needed to pump out some invoices. The solution unfolded like this …
- Heading back home to find their ISP support page and locate the dial in numbers
- Determined that there was no Office 2007/WKS converter obviously available
- Headed back and located the original Works 2000 disks and installed it. That seems to be the only way to convert wks to Excel. Thank goodness he had saved the install disks for 8 years and it was a CD not floppies.
- Set up his internet connection and email
- Converted his wks files to Excel 2000 files
- Uninstalled Works
- Created an invoice template in Word
- Cleaned up his monthly excel files so that they could be accessed from Word
- Did a Word Merge to pump out his monthly invoices.
It took about an hour I suppose, but I’d hate to think what he would have done if I wasn’t there. Invoicing can now be done in a few minutes saving him 12 hours every month.
And even though it all now just works from Excel and Word to instruct a person how to do a Word Merge is just too hard. Especially as the monthly billing file needs to be changed each month.
Just trying to explain the 30 steps I almost burst out laughing how ridiculous it was to expect anyone to follow these steps.
Thank goodness someone showed me where the File dialog is in Office 2007. I would never have found that on my own.
When the MergeDoc opens there is a lovely message that says something like “ok to select * from ‘$table1′”. Eeek!
I could go and write an Office solution for him but that would be a day or two of consulting.
It was a reality check as to how hard computing is for non industry people. What do they do without a local geek?
What appalled me even further was how much crap was on a brand new laptop. There were probably 30 desktop icons in XP. When I uninstalled Works (because I installed temporarily so I thought I should take it off to reduce confusion) there was such stuff as Office Business Contact Manager which has a version of SQL Server installed. Yikes!
There was probably 3 antivirus programs and whole families of no-name brand photo suites.
A brand new laptop had XP and IE6! You just know that eventually he’ll have to pull down some huge files and IE7 over 40kb. I don’t even want to know how long that would take.
In the second example (word got out that computer fixit stuff was happening a few houses down) a person had brought a Sony MP3 player which only accepts songs from some program called SonicWorks or something and she had a raw Vista error code 0000099 yada displayed. Nice.
After some googling I found it was a security rights on the Sony program music store and found a fix sequence.
There was no way a normal user would have any idea at all how to solve that problem. Again, a fairly new laptop just loaded with all sorts of crap and icons no one would every need.
I was ashamed to be from our industry. It’s 2008 and this is the experience that we give users.
It made me more excited though about what we are doing with Xero. Really trying to think for normal people and make something complex easy - unlocking the power of computing.Xero for rental properties
A great way to get started with Xero is to catch up on your rental properties.
It’s pretty cool …
- Read some of the benefits to Property Investors and check out the Property Investor Guide.
- Sign up to Xero
- Go through the setup process and upload the Property Investors Chart of Accounts to get started quickly.
- Now the cool stuff. Download your investment property bank statements from your online banking system back to April 1 2007 (Use OFX or one of the other formats). Then upload them to Xero. You’ll probably have a few hundred lines to go through.
- Then as you look through them you’ll notice the regular rental payments. Use our Repeating Invoices to enter those regular rent payments once back from April 2007. This will create a Rent Schedule for all of your properties back dated to the beginning of the year.
- Then you can use the learning Bank Reconciliation to mark off all the transactions. Once you have done the first month many of the items will automatically match up. Within a few hours you’ll be completely up to date. (Watch a video here).
- Whenever rent is due, the Repeating Invoice creates a new transaction so you can see immediately if anyone is late paying rents.
Give it a try. It’s a great way to see the power of Xero and will save you hours of trying sort out your rental property at year end.
Also, Hamish Carter is in Christchurch on Monday showing Xero.
Introduction to Xero session with Hamish Carter and Grant Cartwright
Monday 17th March 2008, 10:00am – 11:30am
Xero, Level 2, Te Waipounamu House, 158 Hereford St, Christchurch.
RSVP to: Grant Cartwright or ph: 021 822 245
Really exciting that we’re starting to see some great reviews of Xero out of the UK. This is one of the fun things about early market entry. After all the hard work it’s very satisfying to see these sort of comments coming through.
In our home market it is of course much easier to generate buzz. In the UK we are unknown so it takes a lot more work. Our team is passionate about growing a global company from NZ so we get a real kick out of articles like these.Hello UK
It’s always been important to us to be exporting so we’ve been working hard to make ourselves available in the UK as soon as we could. We are well ahead of schedule which is a direct result of taking the time to do some real Research and Development to ensure that we built a platform that allowed us to quickly enter new markets.
Our UK version is the exact same code base as what is running in New Zealand so there is minimal drag for each country. Of course it’s not just about the accounting application. Our Back Office systems, Billing, Help and Support have to be country aware. Pretty much everything above the tax engine is the same across all geographies so we can continue to look after our New Zealand customers as our target catchment grows.
So far we’ve built a great relationship with UK SaaS Accounting guru Dennis Howlett and had good profile on the UK industry sites.
AccMan: Xero - a new contender to watch?
AccMan: Introducing Xero
AccMan: More on Xero
AccountingWeb: Hosted Xero accounting system opens for business in UK
AccountancyAge: Xero latest mover in online accounts market
Early days but great to officially be an exporter again.Marketing operations opportunity
Just before we put this opportunity on Seek etc, we have a fantastic opportunity at Xero for an execution focussed, mid level marketing person. Our working title for the role is Marketing Program Manager (happy for guidance on what this type of role would be called). This is a person that actually makes the marketing programs happen so would suit a very organized doer with a solid practical marketing experience.
Here is the Job Spec so far …
The Marketing Program Manager is a key operational position focused on executing Xero’s diverse and innovative marketing programs. This is a challenging and exciting role that includes:
- Liaising and building marketing relationships with key partners, and executing on joint marketing programs
- Developing advertising opportunities, which can involve placing adverts in national, regional and specialist publications and media
- Managing the production of marketing materials and coordinating in-house design resources
- Arranging for the effective distribution of marketing materials
- Maintaining and updating email and mailing databases
- Organizing and attending participation at events and exhibitions
- Carrying out market research and customer surveys to assess demand, brand positioning and awareness
- Contributing to long-term marketing plans and strategies
- Search Engine Marketing
- Reporting on marketing effectiveness
If this sounds like you, or you know of someone who we should talk to, please make contact at careers [at] xero.com. And of course we are always looking for developers. Front end dhtml wizards and back end dev guru’s for our lolly swilling dev team in the Old Bank Wellington.
We must have a relaxing environment as this item of Xero Art constructed from old business cards appeared on the wall today.
We believe Adam has a master plan to create his own Island somewhere north of Great Barrier.Is there an Award for Winning Awards?
Almost embarrassed to say but we won another Award last night. The TUANZ (Telecommunications Users Association of New Zealand) SaaS Award sponsored by Fronde
We entered most of the awards months ago. We enter awards for two reasons.
- It’s good PR for an early stage company
- We think it’s important to support the industry and industry events
While grateful to win a few awards I think it’s obvious that there are too many awards in the New Zealand industry right now. And that the industry is actually quite thin. That’s not a good thing.
So we’ve hung up our Tuxedos for a while - at least in NZ anyway.
So now it’s time for us to give some Trophies for our Trophies.
Best Bling Award - goes to the Microsoft Partner Trophy - A solid chunk of gold colored metal. Very heavy.
Weighty matters Award - goes to the TUANZ Innovation obelisks. They look good in pairs. They were actually hard to get through security and on the plane they were so heavy.
Consistency Award - goes to the Hi-Tech Award trophies that have been the same for the last 5 years. (Someone in the 2002 committee must have got a discount on 5000 trophy blanks.)
Best Award we haven’t won yet Award - goes to the Hi-Tech Awards Flying Kiwi Trophy. That is a great looking bird.
Most fru fru Award - goes to the Wellington Indoor Sports Queens Wharf Lunch-time Netball Autumn 2007 Division 8 Minor Finals Runners Up Trophy (yes we really did win that).
Second Leopard install (skipping the DVD check) was a lot faster. You do a few things at the start and then just leave it for an hour and it’s done. Leopard is not like XP -> Vista. It’s an evolution. The UI has a few more bells and whistles. I was worried that Leopard might jump the shark and get intrusive. It still just ‘gets out of the away’ and you think more about the applications than the Operating System. With a 24″ Monitor I’m not busting to use Spaces yet.
Safari is faaaast. Xero flies with Safari 3. We’ve been testing it for our last few releases and should be fully supported in our next release. The fastest bank rec in town just got faster!
You’ll see this message when you log in …
So I’ve flipped back to Safari as my main browser.
Time Machine setup was easy. That’s chugging away now.
The new Finder looks nicer. Downloads in the Dock, using Stacks tidies things up.Quick Look rocks. Hit space when you are on a file. That is a time saver.
Still no full screen maximize button. I wish someone would develop that. Must be possible to add that to all Windows.
Verdict. A worthwhile, non scary, incremental upgrade. Great for power users. Like it.Microsoft Global Case Study
Another little thing we’ve been working on over the past couple of months is completing this Microsoft Case Study, with a Redmond based team.
I do believe in the Software + Services model. Obviously there is benefit to Microsoft in involving client technology but there are important user benefits as well.
At a simple level, Office is a great example of introducing a rich client. We make sure we can get most data into Excel.
I think in the life cycle of SaaS we are in the early stages where we are pulling everything back to the server into the multi-tenanted SaaS model and implementing new applications over base SaaS frameworks.
Framework services include things like rendering, security, authentication, service points, reporting, provisioning, monitoring and a bunch more things. Communication with the core business logic is implemented in a Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) fashion so it becomes conceptually straight forward to access applications in other ways.
Next year we’ll see the introduction of off-line functionality inside the standard browsers, so new scenarios start to open up. Also I think we’ll see obvious scenarios where having the power of a client makes a lot of sense as well. Say for intensive computational work or for offline useage. These clients will access the server based logic we are all building now. In the browser cross platform client technologies like SilverLight and Flex make it even more compelling.
I think we’ll see more parts of applications delivered for the mobile web or even as mobile applications.
I’m certainly not precious on doing everything on the web but before we go to far in introducing rich clients we need get the applications written for the server first.
So I believe we’re still very much in the early phases of SaaS. The re-architecting and framework development that is going on now build the foundations for all sorts of delivery scenario’s over the next few years.HTML and CSS wiz’s wanted
We have a couple of openings for HTML and CSS skilled web developers. We’re especially interested to find someone with an interest in marketing who wants to balance their web development skills with marketing strategy.
We have a humming team of 41, great office environment, are design led and firing on all cylinders.
Also interested in .Net developers, test analysts andÂ customer care people with a bit of accounting experience.Â Please get in touch if this sounds like you.Partner Awards
We managed to win a couple of awards last night.
Congratulations to Provoke who won the other premier award as well as the other winners.