Thursday, August 21, 2014

Xerocon: Developer Day review

Steven Renwick for Satago Blog writes: It’s fitting that today, the day I attended Xero’s Xerocon “Developers Day” (check out the best of the social media buzz here), is also the day that I can announce that Satago is now a Xero add-on partner. What that means for Satago’s (very patient) Xero users, is that whereas you had to previously refresh your connection between Satago and Xero on a daily basis, now the connection is persistent – which is much more suitable for a set-and-forget credit control tool!

I’ve been to a lot of developer and startup events over the years (even though I’m not a developer myself) and I have to say Xerocon’s Developer Day was up there with the best of them. Who would believe that an event for an accounting software company would have the same sort of buzz that you find at a Techcrunch event in San Francisco?! I was pleasantly surprised.
The next two days are really about the accountants, but today was about the “ecosystem” – us humble Xero add-ons. So here’s a brief overview of the day:

Focus on partnerships

Unsurprisingly, the focus of the day. Xero’s Australian MD, Chris Ridd, emphasised that Xero is focussing on partnerships in Australia now – both with industry and with government – that latter position is helped by being in the privileged position of a market leader in Australia now, and hence able to drive the conversations.
Some stats:
In 2011 there were 140 attendees at Xerocon, with 25 add-ons and 6 exhibitors. Tomorrow there will be 82 exhibitors (not including Satago this time!).
It was interesting to think about Xero as a genuine ecosystem – there are now 350 add-ons (351 with Satago?), of which 89 are Australian based, and Xero estimated they employ around 2000 people, making >AU$30 M in revenue annually. So ecosystems like Xero’s are starting to deliver wider value to the startup community.

New add-on directory

The Add-on directory is the 3rd most visited page on the Xero website! However, with 350 add-ons it has become difficult to navigate. Soon, Xero will be launching a new add-on directory, with an emphasis on verticals – i.e. you can now search for add-ons by, for example, farming, retail etc – rather than horizontal.

Building a globally scalable business

Matt Barrie, CEO of, gave a very inspirational talk about what it takes to become a globally scalable business. He had a lot to say, but the takeaway was: aim for a big market (credit control!), with an A-level team (uh-huh!), and to develop a product that is a pain killer, not a vitamin (or even better, make it a narcotic!).

Developer Platform

Ronan Quirke, Xero’s Partner Programme manager, gave a great talk about the Xero Developer Platform. He also wrote a blog post about today, which is far more eloquent than this post and probably worth reading if you’ve got this far!
My main takeaway from Ronan’s talk, was the quite impressive fact that 19.8% of Xero users have connected to an add-on. Whlist Rod Drury (Xero’s CEO) did later comment he thought it should be 100%, I nonetheless found the figure quite impressive. What it means is that Xero represents a pretty impressive distribution channel for add-on partners – they could count 42,000 add-on integrations so far.
Xero have invested heavily in their partner API, concentrating on developing its reliability and performance – good news for us add-on partners. On the back of that, Xero is continuing to develop their Partner programme, so that their solid API is backed-up by commercialisation help. The headcount on the API team has recently doubled to 16 – working purely on the APIs and partnerships.

State of the Union

Xero’s Founder and CEO, Rod Drury, gave a “State of the Union” about Xero. He emphasised the competitive advantage that Xero’s healthy ecosystem gives it. He also emphasised his belief that Xero’s successful add-on partners of the future will be the ones that move away from horizontals, and towards verticals, in keeping with the new add-on store (to be officially launched on Monday).
Another tantalising little bit of info, is that Xero will soon allow the addition of add-on “widgets” within Xero’s dashboard itself. They will be running this first of all on the data analysis they have been performing themselves in order to build some “Business Intelligence” (BI) functionality.
Rod’s opinion is that most add-ons are too cheap. I considered increasing our pricing x10 after he said that, but after thinking longer, I think we’ll stick where we are for a while.

Drinks anyone?

Throughout the day there was much networking and coffee drinking. I did more than a few demos, which were all very well received. Later in the evening there were some drinks, kindly provided byReceipt-bank. I had a few of those too, and it’s now 0020h Sydney time. Xercon Day 1 proper starts in only a few hours!
Lastly, I should add that I got a sneak preview of the new Xero users’ magazine – XU Magazine - which looks very cool and a great asset to Xero users – not least of all because the first edition has twoarticles from yours truly! Having worked in publishing before, I know how difficult it is to produce a professional grade magazine publication, so hats off to Wes and the team. Make sure to pick up a copy at Xerocon!


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