In early October I’m heading to Christchurch in order to give a talk at the Canterbury Software Summit entitled “Xero to a Million: The Fear and Ecstasy of building Web Scale”. It’s an emotive title, but I want to convey the rollercoaster ride of building a software platform where the number of users can double every year. It’s the most thrilling but scary project I’ve been involved in, and as I come up to my 5 year anniversary I can’t help but look back at the journey of the last half a decade.

This is HQ as it existed some 5 years ago

A Photo of Xero offices when it was based out of an apartment in Wellington

At IPO we had just over 100 customers, I remember the effort that was involved in getting every new user. We were getting a core group of fanatical users, but we also couldn’t imagine the level of growth we’d undergo. We had just one web site, code was held on a local server and deployed (by hand) to our production server. It was relatively easy.

Now fast-forward 5 years. We manage deployment to 49 discrete application components (yes we have a lot of moving parts), across hundreds of servers, all the while ensuring a high bar of quality across code and design. We have 100,000 customers on the platform, processing billions of dollars of transactions. It’s just crazy to think how far we’ve come.

Not that it ever slows down. I think that was my delusion when I started 5 years ago, I kept saying this’ll get easier once we hit x, only x would always come and go and it just kept getting more exciting and more challenging. I still remember vividly Rod telling us we’d be finished with “the basic accounting stuff” in a year. That was 5 years ago, and there’s still so much to do…

If you want to learn more about what some of those challenges have been, how we’ve overcome them and some general trivia about how Xero has grown, be sure to come along to the software summit. There will be many other great speakers as well.


Jerry Zhao
September 24, 2012 at 10:33 am

Well done Xero!!! We are a starting up accounting firm all because of Xero!

Rod Drury
September 24, 2012 at 4:44 pm

Wasn’t that Apartment 404. Flat not Found.

I’m still saying only a year until we finish the basic accounting stuff.

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