Xero founder Rod Drury on why he doesn’t want to be CEO anymore — and what he’s going to do instead

Rod Drury. Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images

  • Rod Drury, the founder of Xero, is stepping down.
  • He will be replaced by replaced by digital business veteran Steve Vamos.
  • Drury will now turn his focus to building new products for the platform.
  • In early trade, Xero shares fell 3.8% to $31.61.

  • Rod Drury, the founder of Xero, the group from New Zealand which changed the global accountancy software market, is stepping down as CEO to be replaced by digital business veteran Steve Vamos.

    “It’s been a huge 11 plus years building Xero,” says Drury.

    “It’s amazing to consider we started with just four people in a small Wellington apartment and we now have over 2,000 people across 17 offices in eight countries, and over 1.2 million subscribers.

    “I’m so proud of the Xero team, the community that’s formed around us, the positive impact we’ve had on our customers, and the shareholder value we’ve created.”

    In early trade, Xero shares fell 3.8% to $31.61.

    Drury steps down from April 1. He will become a non-executive director on the Xero board and says he’s not looking for new board positions.

    “For the first 10 years we had to build the complexity of SAP for small business, build a global business platform and build a global business channel,” Drury told an analyst briefing.

    “That’s worked really well and I am super stoked to get to that point. Now have we have a lot of options on what new things we can provide on that platform.

    “For me, I was finding that I was a little bit stretched. There is so much innovation that we can build and the day to day running of a business globally and working all of that out.

    “What I am so passionate about is the ability for us to now build fantastic new products for our platform and I would really like the time to focus on those.

    “I am not planning to do anything else. I’m not looking for other directorships.”

    Xero’s Wellington office.

    His replacement, Vamos, has more than 30 years’ experience in technology and digital media including IBM, Apple and Microsoft. He has lived and worked in Australia, the US and Asia.

    He was Chief Executive Officer of Microsoft Australia from 2003 to 2006 and Managing Director of Apple Computer Australia and New Zealand between 1994 and 1995. He is a non-executive Director of Telstra and Fletcher Building.

    Vamos said: “What Rod and Xero have accomplished is rare and remarkable. I’m excited to have this opportunity to lead Xero’s growth and development going forward. I have really enjoyed the opportunity to work with the Xero leadership team and we have a clearly communicated strategy, which we are committed to executing.”

    Graham Smith, the chair of Xero, said: “We believe Steve Vamos brings an invaluable skill set to lead Xero. He has worked in some of the world’s largest tech companies and is a recognised, purpose-driven people leader, with a focus on growth and operational excellence.”

    Xero is now earnings positive. In November last year the company posted a half-year loss of $NZ21.08 million, an improvement of more than 50% on the same six months last year, as revenue jumped 37% to $NZ187.8 million.

    The company had a positive EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation) for the first time — $5.4 million compared to loss of $25.9 million in the same six months last year.

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