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Xero taps ex-Microsoft CFO Liddell as chairman, former PayPal exec Karpas to lead US unit

Xero, the cloud-based accounting software developer, has appointed former Microsoft chief financial officer Chris Liddell as its new chairman and ex-PayPal executive Peter Karpas to lead its North American unit.

The Wellington-based company's appointment of Liddell as chair is effective from today, with ex-KiwiBank chief Sam Knowles resigning as chair and director. US-based Bill Veghte, who runs HP's enterprise group, has also been appointed to the Xero board.

Karpas has been appointed chief executive, North America effective from Feb. 24, having recently been PayPal's general manager, North America for small and medium business. He has previously held a senor role at Intuit.

"As you would expect from a fast expanding software company, our strategy is to increase US representation on our board," chief executive Rod Drury said in a statement. "These three high calibre appointments are all significant additions to our American-based leadership team and position us strongly in the US and globally."

Xero is forgoing short-term profits as its chases one million customers worldwide, crossing the 200,000 mark at the end of last September, and raised $180 million last year, leaving it flush with funds to stake a claim in the US market.

The shares edged up 0.1 percent to $40.02 today, and have climbed 24 percent this year.

READ ALSO: Liddell signing points strongly to Xero Nasdaq listing - but analyst says it could be tough sell

Comments and questions

Interesting, exciting but a little concerning.

Sam Knowles was well regarded and only held the role for around 2 years. Prior to that was Phil Norman who held the role for 5 years, through the very early hard days. Norman has gone onto other successful ventures - VMob etc.

No doubting the cred and talent of Liddell, who will give huge push into the USA, but this seems like a change forced by the US shareholders who just want to push for fast growth at all costs, as opposed to Knowles and Norman who apparently constantly had a eye on costs and keeping the cash burn down and probably ensured the company didnt run out of control. I hope I am reading this wrong, but it doesnt feel right for Liddell to come straight on to the board as Chair. However huge value could be added by Liddell in the US market so an exciting move.

LIddell helped turn around GM so no doubt will have his eye on costs as well as revenue.

I think this is more an indication that the focus is now the US, even though it is a NZ company. Knowles maybe good but with US as the focus (as it needs to be given their growth targets), Liddell is better.

Those names should satisfy the folks over at Nasdaq...