There’s been a lot of news—and a lot of new at Xero. The company just announced that its appointing Chris O’Neill to the newly created role of Chief Growth Officer. Reporting directly to Xero CEO Steve Vamos, O’Neill is tasked with the job of setting and meeting strategic objectives for Xero’s newly-created Applications & Services division, which is part of Xero’s small business platform.
The Applications and Services division houses several of Xero’s existing businesses, including some recent acquisitions that will be critical to helping Xero take its business to the next level. The division includes Financial Services, Payroll, Planday, and the Ecosystem/Xero App Store.
As important, O’Neill will also take responsibility for growing Xero in the Americas, as Xero extends senior leadership roles beyond Australia and New Zealand. In this role, he will work closely with Xero President Americas, Tony Ward. In February, Xero also appointed Mitch Lawson, who had headed up its global brand strategy, to Marketing Director for the Americas.
O’Neill brings experience serving as a senior executive, board member, and investor for a number of global companies, including Google and The Gap, and as CEO at Evernote, to his new role. He’s also worked extensively with VC firms, such Glean, an AI-powered startup; and is an advisor with Sagard Portage Ventures, a venture cap advisory firm to fintech companies.
Since its founding in 2006, Xero is has grown to become the top accounting brand in New Zealand and Australia, and now has more than three million subscribers worldwide.
Since entering the U.S. market in 2011 and Canada in 2018, the vendor has made some inroads in terms of increasing brand awareness and attracting customers in the Americas. However, it has faced strong headwinds from Intuit QuickBooks, especially in the U.S.
Xero’s recent actions underscore that it believes that it is still early days in the small business cloud accounting software market. Indeed, SMB Group research shows that there are still millions of small businesses in the U.S. that don’t use any accounting software or use desktop accounting products.
To capitalize on this opportunity, O’Neill and team will need to think outside the box to disrupt the status quo and elevate Xero brand awareness—and consideration—in North America. We’ll be watching to see how Xero pulls together its marketing, positioning, sales, partnerships, acquisitions, and solutions to fuel its next wave of growth.
© SMB Group 2022