Xero hits the epic one million customers mark

Here’s a tenth birthday present that anyone can be happy about.

Xero

I’ve been watching Xero since it launched a decade ago.

Actually, I’ve been watching Xero even longer than that -- I’ve used the product since soon after it launched, but co-founder and CEO Rod Drury has been talking about the small business accounting space since long before that. I’ve been a long-time fan, albeit one with some questions. While I’ve been impressed by their execution, their product and their pace, I’ve sometimes questioned their seemingly (at least in the past) maniacal focus on the U.S. market.

But constructive criticism aside, the fact that Xero announced this week that it has surpassed one million subscribers globally is an incredible milestone. And this isn’t some vaporous number that includes free trials and complimentary accounts -- this is one million paying users across the globe. The company has doubled subscriber numbers in the past two years and added almost 300,000 customers in the past year alone. Xero is understandably proud of the milestone: 

“Five-and-a-half years ago, at 50,000 subscribers, we asked shareholders to imagine our business at a million subscribers,” Drury said. “We invested for the long term to build a business and ecosystem to achieve those numbers. It’s very satisfying to deliver on that promise. Starting around ten years ago with our first lines of code, it’s amazing to see the global community who have built businesses on our platform. We thank our accounting and bookkeeping partners, small businesses customers, our Xero people and investors who have been cloud pioneers, reinventing how small businesses work in a digitally connected world.”

The interesting thing here is that Xero, a company created and still headquartered in New Zealand, has truly gone global. Notwithstanding the fact that it wants to dominate in the U.S., and has a slightly weird focus on that market, it has continued to execute everywhere. The company claims subscribers in over 180 individual countries -- no mean feat given that it only has a physical presence in half a dozen or so.

Of course there are still perennial questions about that U.S. growth. Xero reports geographic numbers in May and the financial analysts will be waiting with baited breath to see whether the company has moved the needle in that market.

That discussion is, however, for another day. As someone who has often been the unpopular lone voice saying “yes, but” after Xero’s grandiose announcements, I’m happy, on this occasion to not suffix my congratulations with any provisos -- one million customers is an awesome achievement that should be celebrated.

Having been an observer of the journey for the past decade, it is fun to look back at those early days and the confidence and exuberance that Drury and the Xero team showed. It seems that some of that bluster might just have been justified. Congratulations all!

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