A few of the Xero team attended Foo Camp in Warkworth NZ over the weekend. Foo stands for Friends of O’Reilly (Tim O’Reilly, a US publisher, dreamed up the concept). Kiwi Foo Camp was one of the few Foo Camps to be held out of the USA, but still attracted an international crowd.
There were good sessions with David Cunliffe, Communications Minister, and Senior Cabinet Minister Judith Tizard. Also some excellent technical sessions on subjects like Firefox 3, which will have a big impact on Software as a Service applications, due to better offline and printing capabilities. Also lots of great discussion on broadband issues and strategies.
A highlight for me was spending a bit of time with Ben Goodger of Google – he’s one of the main contributors to Mozilla – who gave us an excellent history of all things browser. All of us were proud to hear that key people in Mozilla are Kiwis and quite a bit of it is being developed here.
With many of New Zealand’s most influential tech people at the event, we took the opportunity to preview Xero and get technical feedback before we launch. We were delighted by the enthusiastic response and received numerous smart ideas for future versions. The technical audience really understood our concept of accounting 2.0 – applying technologies and community aspects we see in the Web 2.0 to small business accounting. We look forward to bringing many of the Foo Camp attendees into the wider beta programme in a few weeks.
The Foo format is “anti-conference.” On Friday night the 150 invitees were able to put up their own sessions, which meant all of the sessions became excellent discussions rather than the normal “PowerPoint marketecture” you see at other technical conferences. I think we’ll investigate this format for Xero user events. The weekend – and the format – allows you to spend quality time with some real thought leaders and build deep relationships.
Locating the event in Warkworth was inspired – it allowed many of the country’s geeks to see a very pleasant part of the world.
Thank you Nat for organising such a fantastic event. I hope it’s on the calendar again next year, and we’re able to pull down even more international guests.