Vegas baby, Vegas

Las Vegas is the home of bright lights, slot machines and, you guessed it, accounting conferences. This year it played host to the Sleeter Conference, which is a must-attend conference for CPAs, bookkeepers and QuickBooks advisers operating in the SME market. The theme was – The Next “Next Big Thing”. It made sense for Xero to be there.

The Sleeter Conference was an important conference for Xero. The delegates are the cream of the QuickBooks community in the USA and we weren’t sure of the reaction we would get.

We’ve been working with many of the key influencers in the US accounting industry to ensure Xero fits the market and to get advice as to the best approach. Doug Sleeter, founder and host of the conference, came to visit us earlier in the year to see what we were doing and he invited us to speak at the conference. For those of you who don’t know, Doug is a veteran, well respected QuickBooks evangelist and small business technology expert.

We were blown away with the response to Xero and really excited to meet so many forward thinking business advisors who already understand the benefits of moving to the cloud for their business and their clients.

During the afternoon session on the first day, Xero CEO Rod Drury, was a guest speaker and we were delighted to see the room overflowing. Rod talked about where we believe the accounting software industry is going and how moving to the cloud changes the game for advisors. It was a thrill to hear oohs and ahhs during Rod’s demo.

After the presentations our booth went manic – the buzz remained from start to finish.

Our favorite quote from a delegate was – you had me at dashboard!

It was clear delegates are ready to move to collaborative service models that allow them to work more closely and frequently with clients. There’s still some confusion around what ‘the cloud’ really means – desktop vendors have muddied the waters with interim hosted offerings of their desktop solution under the moniker of cloud. It was great to show what a ‘true’ cloud accounting solution can do.

We were looking forward to the 3-5 year vision from the big players Sage and Intuit, and the audience seemed disappointed these companies did not lay out their roadmap or vision for how they will help the profession move into the cloud. We got the sense that the US accounting industry is ready for leadership and a fresh approach that leverages everyone being connected.

We still have a few things to do to be a perfect fit for the US market, but many delegates agreed Xero is at a point where they can begin the process of on-boarding clients and give us the feedback so we can keep building a product they will love for years to come.

If you’re in the US and wanting to get started, you can get in touch at http://www.xero.com/partners and join the conversation with us on LinkedIn

The Xero team really enjoyed making a bunch of new friends and we look forward to being a long term partner.

And yes, check printing is coming real soon!

12 Comments

Andrew McClurg
November 11, 2011 at 2:34 pm

Great blog. Well done team xero.

Carl
November 11, 2011 at 3:28 pm

A tough market to crack but when it does it will be worth it, great work!

Richard Francis
November 11, 2011 at 4:57 pm

Great stuff. First we take Manhattan…:)
Would love to have been there.

Barry Smith
November 11, 2011 at 7:24 pm

Great work guys, keep up the good stuff !

Allan
November 12, 2011 at 1:35 am

Great article! Any fear about the competition from Quickbooks online?

Stacey Byrne
November 12, 2011 at 4:48 am

Enjoyed hearing about #Xero at #2011Sleeter and how it is going to revolutionize how we in the U.S. do business going forward. Thank you Rod Drury and team.

Graeme Leo
November 12, 2011 at 1:18 pm

I attended the same conference as an exhibitor for Xact Software at the Sleeters conference, what Richard hadn’t mentioned is the Internet outage for virtually the whole conference. Maybe that’s a good reason for support for mobile devices and perhaps there is some advantage in online/offline solutions from time to time.

Rod Drury
November 12, 2011 at 1:36 pm

@Allan, we were very surprised that not one person we spoke to at SleeterCon was using or happy with Quickbooks online. Many had tried but then reverted to the desktop version of Quickbooks – remotely hosted. That does provide a couple of benefits but only a fraction of what is gained by a well designed cloud native solution.

Our view is the incumbents have not yet taken the investment to build a robust, global, online accounting system from scratch. Even though they have far more resources than us we know it takes several years to build a full accounting engine and before you start you need to think deeply about what is going to happen over the next 10 years.

I was hoping we’d hear from Sage and Intuit about the power of the Single Ledger, Single Business Numbers, EDI, eInvoicing, Workflow automation, social accounting, client and accounting software blending together and interesting web services. We heard nothing of substance and no roadmap.

It seems amazing to us that the incumbents are just not executing at both a strategic and technical level and they don’t ship much product or innovation anymore.

Of course that’s a big statement so I took a look at the Intuit numbers to see if I could substantiate it – http://investors.intuit.com/annuals.cfm

If you look at page 42 of the Intuit results you’ll see Quickbooks desktop revenue has dropped from $446m to $382. Quickbooks Online revenue appears deliberately buried with a bunch of other mature services (QuickBooks support plans; Intuit Websites, website design – hosting services, QuickBase, and royalties from small business online services) in the $229m number so is likely low and I’d suspect that already Xero, only just heading into the US now, has achieved a material percentage of their comparable revenue.

I hope Doug invites us back next year so we can show US based accountants some of the innovation we’re seeing in other parts of the world and arm them to thrive in this new connected world.

Technology for small business is changing so quickly. It does seem the saying “It’s not the big that eat the small but the fast that eat the slow” is very relevant right now in the accounting software industry.

Very exciting times.

John Gibson
November 12, 2011 at 2:24 pm

Great stuff Xero. Couldn’t agree more with Rod’s comment re. fast eating slow. The SaaS market is ramping up, any traditional software provider not agressively engaged in responding to it are accumulating risk

Richard Phillips
November 13, 2011 at 11:26 am

@Graeme – yes there was an internet outage caused by an upgrade the hotel ran on Sunday, but we were still able to demo Xero fine on mifi devices. So even in this worst case demo scenario we were thrilled with the response. The most frustrating aspect of the outage was access to email, twitter and other services.

I think our ability to gain access to the internet during a trade show with a full outage shows the internet is actually pretty resilient compared to having a hard disk crash on your local machine. So the argument that you need desktop software in case the internet goes down is getting harder to make. That said it was very cool doing the demo on our iPhones from time to time so agree on the mobile front.

allan
November 14, 2011 at 10:27 am

@Rod Great stuff!

Graeme Leo
November 14, 2011 at 5:14 pm

Richard, reducing it to a debate of hosted vs server is a pointless discussion. Raising a fear of hard disk crash is hardly the issue. From single user to server based systems people need to have adequate backup, to not do so is negligent. My own view is that Xero would be better served to refrain from continuously knocking hardware systems and just get on with doing justice to the very fine product they have. Just accept that Xero don’t have 100% of the answers 100% of the time, it comes across as arrogant. For our own product we have a combination; desktop, desktop synchronised and web so it is indeed more robust than a pure web solution. In other words older technologies have their place but yes the change to pure web hosted is certainly the future. It may not be happening at the pace Xero would like to it be but don’t slight your potential customers in rushing to impress the punters.

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