I’ve long wondered how Xero will execute upon its North American opportunity – after all North America is the real goal for the company, and also where they face the biggest hurdles to success. I’ve even been roundly criticized for articulating this question I’ve spent some time with Xero’s US president Jamie Sutherland who seems like a great guy – young, full of energy and aware of the opportunity/challenges that Xero faces.
News recently that Xero has nabbed Intuit executive Ian Vacin is a real sign that Xero is ramping up their US operations, but also that within the US marketplace Xero is more and more seen as the promising vendor. In a post announcing his appointment, Vacin speaks to this very points, describing the due diligence process he went through when looking at hiring on with Xero. As he said in the post;
It was only a few weeks ago that I decided to leave Intuit for Xero. I’ve made the change not only because I believe in the product but the team, the company and the vision.
While it’s true that Xero is a relative unknown in the US market – both at a client level and within accounting practices – the fact that Vacin led the QuickBooks ProAdvisor Program, the very program interfacing with accounting practices in the US speaks to the seriousness with which Xero is going after this market. While the incumbent player Intuit has great existing marketshare, their innovation strategy largely follows a consumer facing enablement path – their Intuit Partner Platform does a great job of enabling QuickBooks users to interface with SaaS applications. That strategy, while great from the client side, does little to tell practitioners a story that resonates with what drives them. Xero has that story and is now gearing up to deliver it into the marketplace.
Their path won’t be easy – the US is a large and fragmented market – but hires like Vacin speak to the growing chances of Xero to pull this one off.
Disclosure – I’m co-founder of a company that provides a migration path for organizations wishing to move from desktop to cloud based accounting software. That’s not really much of a conflict with this post per se, but in the interests of full disclosure and all….
(Cross-posted @ The Diversity Blog – SaaS, Cloud & Business Strategy)