09 Oct 2014
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Xero lines up heavy hitter for US push

By Heather Wright

Xero has appointed Andy Lark – who chaired the New Zealand Government's Technology beachhead in the US market – to strengthen the company's push into the United States.

The ex-patriate Kiwi's role of chief marketing officer for Xero's US operations was referenced in the company's latest operations update, which also highlights half-year subscription revenue growth of 85%, year-on-year, for the first half of 2014.

Subscription revenue hit $52.0 million for the half year, up from $28.1 million for the same period last year, and customer numbers have hit 371,000, a 76% on a year ago.

With monthly committed subscriptions growing to $11.0 million, annualised subscriptions have grown to $132.3 million, an 87% increase from the same time last year.

However, the company admits it expects a net loss after tax for the six months to 30 September 2014 to be around $25 million.

Lark's appointment is something of a coup for Xero. An internationally recognised marketer and online leader, Lark has held senior roles and directorships at many technology companies, including Dell, Fronde, No 8 Ventures, Nortel and Sun Microsytems.

Most recently, he was chief marketing and online officer for Australia's Commonwealth Bank, where he was credited with 'revitalising' the brand.

Lark has previously involved with Xero as an advisor.

Xero has 22,000 customers in the US and says the opportunity there is 'open'.

“Early adopter accountants are beginning the transition to the cloud and delivering advisory services,” the company's Operating Update says.

Lark's appointment comes just weeks after Peter Karpas stepped down as Xero's head of North America. His position is currently being filled by Ross Jenkin's Xero's San Francisco-based CFO.

Xero says further executive appointments will be announced over the coming months.

Meanwhile, the Xero update also shows Australia is Xero's largest market, with customer numbers doubling over the last year, to 158,000, and annualised subscription revenues of $63.9 million.

New Zealand followed with 119,000 customers, up 38% on a year ago, and $34 million revenue

The UK, with 61,000 customers, contributed $20.9 million in revenue.

Xero says both Australia and the UK are now 'significant growth engines' for the company.

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