Xero room to move

Have you ever felt like you knew someone, only to discover that maybe you’d been misreading the signals? When we started this blog, we conceived the name as a little play on words, and thought it would also give Xero some free publicity. It turns out Xero thought otherwise. We’ve now got a new URL, thanks to the Xero legal team!

One of the things about this blog that I hope will resonate with firms nervous about undertaking a journey to the cloud is how uncool we are. As a firm, we have our share of issues to tackle like any other normal accounting practice. We’re not part of the new wave glitterati. Social media is still something we’re relatively new to. We’ve never blogged before. And we’re not caught up in the Xero hype. If there’s any encouragement to be taken from that, I like to think it’s that if we can do it, anyone can!

Perhaps it was that wide-eyed naiveté that got us into trouble recently. When we first decided to move everything over to Xero, we were looking for some real testimonials from firms that had been through the same thing. It’s very difficult to find anything beyond the nauseating gushiness of the Xero fanboy and fangirl clique. So being all giddy on the prospect of our impending transformation, we came up with the idea of blogging about the journey – as it was happening. Not only would this provide a more realistic resource for firms that might consider doing the same as us, but as I’ve said before, there’s a certain catharsis in writing about your experiences – especially when things aren’t going as well as you’d like! Plus, we thought, “Xero are all about the new paradigm of vendor/customer interaction and collaboration! Surely they’re going to eat this stuff up!”

And at first they did. Not having much experience at this, we figured Twitter was the best way to get the word out, so after doing some research online and reading a couple of books, we started writing and then tweeting our posts. The Xero team were soon retweeting us and directing traffic to our blog. It was all rather intoxicating. Heady times!

Does my bum look big in this?

It’s been said a few times before in this blog, but just to be totally clear, let me repeat – we love Xero! But we also intend for this story to be as honest as possible. We don’t buy into the cult of Xero, so we’re going to call it when we think the emperor is wearing a little less than he should be! And I have to say, no one here was prepared for what came next.

After developing a little following of our own, I was contacted by Xero and advised that we were no longer permitted to use the URL ‘approachingxero.com’. It turns out that Xero’s Terms and Conditions for partners precludes the use of the ‘Xero’ name in a URL. The explanation given was that Xero protects its brand very aggressively and that using the Xero name in a URL makes it difficult for visitors to determine whether this is an official Xero communique or not. Let me say here that I accept that this is entirely our fault – had we read the T&Cs initially, we may have avoided this from the beginning.

I guess we interpreted our posts being retweeted by the Xero team, right up to the very top, as being an endorsement of what we were doing – retweeted URL included. Perhaps sites like http://www.xerousers.com/ or Twitter handles like @thexerohero led us to believe that there was some grace extended to partners using and affirming Xero.

We were wrong!

It was suggested that perhaps we change the URL (and the blog name) to ‘Approaching Cloud’. Really? Not exactly catchy! Did the Xero peeps really believe that Approaching Xero was a single entendre?

And anyway, changing the URL would break all of our links. So we decided that perhaps we should find out whether they were serious or not. After asking what the implications for leaving the blog as is would be though, we were advised in no uncertain terms that the path to resolution would be swift and litigious.

OK, we were bluffing. So how do you play this game again anyway?

Ouch Xero! We thought we were friends! In the words of Kenny Rogers though, you gotta know when to hold ’em, and know when to fold ’em. And being risk averse accountants, we’re not much for gambling. So from here on this blog will use the URL https://approachingx.com/.

We know that some will defend this action on the grounds that Xero is just trying to protect its brand. Do you mean the same way that possibly the most carefully managed and protective brand in the world allows sites like http://www.appleinsider.com/ and http://www.macrumors.com/ to continue? Or how about the way another marketing behemoth chose to take a collaborative approach and embrace a Facebook page that had already been set up in their name? Isn’t the 21st century ethos for client relationship management more about the spirit of the law than the letter of it?

We always thought Xero was in this same league and looking to disrupt the status quo. But like I said at the beginning, we’re new to all of this. So maybe it’s us who don’t really get the new paradigm?

Don’t worry though – we still love you Xero. You just need to lighten up a little. And we hope we can still be part of the family. Think of us as that awkward Uncle who always says what he thinks. Sure, he’s a bit of a crackpot. But sometimes he might be just the person you should listen to.

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2 thoughts on “Xero room to move

  1. Have to say you make a very good point about macrumors.com and appleinsider.com. So if the move wasn’t 100% about protecting the brand then it was probably in part about the content.

    If so then I agree, it’s an overreaction. No software is perfect and even the warts you’ve revealed seem to be outweighed by the benefits; I still think your account is (unintentionally) great marketing for Xero. How many businesses can talk frankly about their problems with software and yet still say they love it? It’s a credit to the Xero software, even though it’s not 100% roses.

    It’s a great blog. Don’t hold off.
    — Sholto Macpherson

    • Thanks Sholto. I agree. The most important thing for Xero to take away from this (I think) is that we’ve seen enough to know that we’re absolutely committed to making this work. We’re on the Xero team, and why wouldn’t we be? After years of paying tens of thousands in annual maintenance, we want someone to give the encumbents a shake up too, and we want to do our part to make Xero easier for accounting practices to transition to. That being the case, I’d hope that we’d actually be a fantastic marketing resource for Xero. Independent honesty with a commitment to improvement is of much greater value that the perpetually hyper-positive back-slaps of the Xero zealots! 🙂

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