From XU Magazine, 
Issue 36

Do you hear the people sing? Singing the song of Xerocon

A brief – and certainly not accurate – history of Xerocon

This article originated from the Xero blog. The XU Hub is an independent news and media platform - for Xero users, by Xero users. Any content, imagery and associated links below are directly from Xero and not produced by the XU Hub.
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If you are in what they call the accounting and bookkeeping ecosystem, you cannot escape the noise around Xerocon. Xerocon is a 2-day premier cloud accounting conference, delivered by the accounting software behemoth Xero. Held in fabulous locations around the world since 2010, an outside observer might mistake Xerocon as something of a Werner Erhard est. for fans of cloud accounting software.

Insanely popular, Xerocon inspires a raving fan culture. Offspring in the form of semi-exclusive pre-con and post-con parties and an at least month-long lead-up of anticipation, guessing and leaking of speakers, installations, and embargoed floor plans. IYKYK.

The first Xerocon was held in Napier in 2010, where it is reported around 30 attendees almost filled one small hotel. The ‘new’ multi-currency feature was revealed by CTO Craig Walker (AKA Storminwalker) and real-time accounting was discussed, drawing awe. Delegates were encouraged to use social media, but they were sceptical about how this perceived fad could be used for business marketing and growth. Could it be more than a magic portal for cat photos and boasting about holidays and kids graduations?

In 2011, Xerocon was held in Taupo, NZ. The first Xero Awards were also held in 2011. In Taupo, Craig Walker revealed the popular Xero Touch and there was much conversation about the inclusion of add-on partners because the small Taupo “add-on alley” had proved successful for all involved.

2012 saw Xerocon Auckland attract 410 attendees who made their way to the Viaduct Events Centre. Andrew “Tokes” Tokeley shared the Xero roadmap, which gave delegates a sense of being let into the inner sanctum. He then introduced report packs and integration with MS Word and Excel. Craig Walker, demonstrated how tracking from a bank reconciliation screen would work. When he announced 30,000 Xero Touch downloads and a new remittance advice feature, he was applauded like a rockstar.

Xero held their Annual Conference in Melbourne, Australia in July 2012 along with the first Xerocon Australia and the Xero Partner Awards. Xerocon Australia 2012 attracted more than 400 attendees and 30-odd exhibitors. By this point, Xero had 25,000 customers in Australia, 10,000 who had signed on in the previous 4 months. The single ledger was becoming more of a reality which would enable accountants and clients to work on the same system with the same data at the same time. Xero Community was also about to be launched.

In 2013, Xerocon was held in Auckland, Sydney, San Francisco and London, to record numbers all around. 800 delegates attended the Auckland event at the Viaduct Events Centre. 900 attendees showed up at Australian Technology Park, Sydney. 400 delegates attended the first US Xerocon in San Francisco. Xerocon London was attended by 450 delegates and 22 exhibitors, and Xero opened a new London office, poised for growth in the UK.

Xero now had 200,000 paying business customers worldwide, 75,000 of them in Sydney. With now 270 add-on partners in the Xero ecosystem, users were able to achieve almost anything. They were rockstars and Xero heroes and they would not be slaves again to the beating drum of desktop software. Having already listed on the NZX in June 2007, Xero accomplished a dual-listing on the ASX in November 2012. At the time, Xero was worth around half a billion AUD.

Xerocon 2014 was also held in 4 locations: Auckland, Sydney, San Francisco and London. Auckland attracted 900 delegates and 50 add-on partners. Founder Rod Drury, by now anticipated on stage as much as Bruce Springsteen ever was, announced Xero now had 250,000 customers and expected to pass the million mark in the next 12 months. He further stated that the $200m recently raised have Xero the opportunity to do ‘almost anything’. Unstoppable, they added 300 new staff, and a North American CEO.

Xerocon Sydney 2014, held at Olympic Park, Homebush attracted a whopping 1,300 delegates and 82 exhibitors. Rod Drury cruised around the event on a skateboard! By now, bookkeepers and accountants had firm rockstar status, welcomed with laser beams and their own private band, the Xerocon All Stars Band, made up entirely of talented staff and partners. In 2014, Xero reported they had so far spent $250 million to develop their solution, attracting 334,000 customers globally and were moving fast toward their first million customers.

Xerocons in 2015 popped up in Melbourne, Denver, US, Auckland and London.

In Melbourne, Xerocon 2015 was held at the Royal Showgrounds. 1,500 delegates attended. It was announced that customer numbers were now creeping past 550,000 and add-on partners were now 440. It made sense for Xerocon’s growing Denver team to host the 2015 conference, attracting around 50 add-on partners. More than 1,000 delegates attended Auckland. 800 delegates and 40 exhibitors attended Xerocon London. The announcements continued in 2015: Business Performance Dashboard, iOS & Gmail integrations, Practice Reports and Xero Me.

In 2016, Xero had reached 717,000 customers and more than 500 add-on partners.

Xerocon South, representing the ‘whole of the Southern Hemisphere’, was held during September 2016 in Brisbane, Australia. 2,300 delegates attended Xerocon South and 90 exhibitors kept the Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre alive! Xerocon London 2016 attracted 1,300 delegates and 58 exhibitors. Xerocon US 2016 was held on Pier 27 in San Franscisco. 500 delegates. Xero announced a massive $1 trillion in transactions (not sure which currency) during the previous 12 months and that their ambitious migration to Amazon Web Services (AWS) was on track. Other US announcements included that Xero were keen to look at how Machine Learning and AI will impact cloud accounting. Allegedly, this almost required ventilators for the crowds. As if there could not be more, the Xerobot was launched.

Sometime between Xerocon Brisbane 2016 and Xerocon London 2017, Xero achieved a milestone of a million subscribers and processed NZ$1.5 trillion worth of transactions the prior financial year.

In 2017, Xerocon stretched to 3 global locations. Xerocon Melbourne was held at Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre in September 2017. There were 3,100 attendees and 67 exhibitors.

Xerocon London 2017 was held again at ExCeL in October, with 2,112 attendees and 63 exhibitors. Among other local announcements, Xero Expenses and Xero Projects were launched. Xerocon Austin 2017 was held in December at the Austin Convention Centre. Every blogger reported how freezing cold it was, due to snow and ice storms.

Xerocon South 2018 again appeared in Brisbane with 4,500 attendees! Xerocon London 2018 welcomed 3,084 delegates and 76 add-on exhibitors. Xerocon Atlanta 2018 was held at the Southern Exchange. 2018 announcements included Xero Bank Feeds API, Automated Bank Rules, Xero Projects, STP for Payroll and BAS Lodging, all of which changed everyone’s lives.

In 2019, Xerocon South in Brisbane drew 3,000 attendees and 75 exhibitors. Xerocon 2019 London welcomed 3,000 delegates. In the US, 1,000 delegates attended Xerocon San Diego. 2019 announcements included Single Sign-On, expanding bank feed connections, a new partnership with Stripe and more than 800 app partners.

We were collectively disappointed, but understood, when Xerocons in 2020 and 2021 were cancelled, due to the pandemic.

Xerocon 2022 was held in Sydney, London and New Orleans. By now, Xerocon is sold out months before any event. 2,000 delegates attended Xerocon London 2022. London announcements included Xero Go. Xerocon New Orleans 2022 drew a crowd of around 1,500 and were told about plans for Xero expansion in the US and Canada. Xerocon Sydney 2022 welcomed 3,000 to the event. Payroll and Tax announcements were made and the new Xero App Store was launched.

Xerocon Sydney 2023 was massive, and we loved being part. In 2024, Xerocon London will be held in June. A 2024 date and location for Xerocon US has yet to be announced. In 2025, Xerocon will make it’s debut in Canada and will likely also be back in Sydney.

I don’t quite know the origin of Xerocon being referred to as the ‘Coachella for accountants and bookkeepers’, but it’s a legitimate monicker. The recent, some say unpopular, announcement of Xerocon being staged in rotating global locations, has some wondering how they’ll fill their party calendars.

Cheers to Xero heroes and rockstars!

Here’s a little jingle for you – with sincere apologies to lyricist Herbert Kretzmer:

Do you hear the accountants sing?

Xero’s magic, solution is King,

It’s the music of the ledgers

That will not be unbalanced again!

Here’s to the accountants, skilled and wise,

To Xero, the tool they highly prize,

In the world of cashflow, expertise runs deep,

With Xero they triumph, and errors they sweep.

Why leave it there?

To learn more about Castaway

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