Buoyant Xero seeking 100 staff

Xero boss Rod Drury says he would like to recruit another 100 staff in Wellington now, after being buoyed by feedback from the firm's first conference in the United States.

About half of Xero's 507 employees are based in the capital. Speaking from San Francisco, Drury said Xero needed many more software developers in Wellington to further develop its online accounting software and would take "as many as we can get".

"It is probably a bit of a bottleneck for some projects we have on at the moment."

More than 400 accountants, media and investors attended its first Xerocon conference in San Francisco last week.

"This was our first big event for the US accounting community. We weren't expecting so many investors, but many turned up to see us in the flesh," Drury said. "We feel even more confident now about the US and continue to put our foot on the accelerator and that is why we need more developers - to keep building product."

More than 200,000 firms and sole traders use Xero's software to do their accounts. The vast majority of those customers are in Australia and New Zealand, but Drury said the US was now its fastest-growing market.

Xero capitalised on Emirates Team New Zealand's success in the America's Cup, he said.

The company hosted a dinner with 400 guests at the Waka Maori - a 74-metre portable structure that has been transported to the San Francisco waterfront to promote Kiwi businesses - and hired a venue to watch Saturday's races, both of which were won by Emirates Team New Zealand.

The US' largest accounting software provider, Intuit, held an event in San Francisco that coincided with Xerocon to show off a new release of its competing Quickbooks Online software.

Drury claimed a lot of experts "defected" to Xero's conference. "There was validation from them that what we are doing is world-class."

Xero shares are trading above $18, close to their highs on the NZX, in the wake of its two big conferences in Sydney and San Francisco, valuing the company at more than $2.1 billion.

The company was yesterday granted dispensation by Inland Revenue to hold customers' tax records overseas. The approval solves a legal technicality that at one stage threatened to become a stone in the shoe of the cloud-accounting firm.

Inland Revenue cautioned businesses in 2010 that they would be running foul of the Tax Administration Act if they failed to keep sufficient information about their tax affairs physically located in New Zealand.

Xero hosts its customers' accounting data on servers in the US and argued the Act was a case of the law failing to keep up with new technology. The dispensation means Xero has been authorised to hold tax records overseas on behalf of its New Zealand customers.

An Inland Revenue spokesman said it had granted a similar dispensation to Australian-owned logistics software firm CargoWise New Zealand to store tax records overseas and was considering applications from other firms. Fairfax NZ

BusinessDay