Liddell (left) speaks at a 2011 GM investors conference in Moscow, Russia.
Liddell (left) speaks at a 2011 GM investors conference in Moscow, Russia. Bloomberg

Xero chairman Chris Liddell has stepped down from his role at the accounting software company to take a position in the Trump administration.

Liddell has been replaced by former CFO of CRM company Salesforce, Graham Smith. Smith has already served as a director at Xero for two years and chairs the audit and risk management committee.

Based in the united States, Liddell is a New Zealand native. Some of his previous positions include vice chairman and CFO of General Motors and CFO of Microsoft.

Liddell's appointment as assistant to President Trump and director of strategic initiatives has raised eyebrows in the accounting software community, many of whom have questioned CEO and founder Rod Drury on social media for his warm comments about Liddell, and whether they indicate a support of the Trump administration.

In an interview with New Zealand publication National Business Review, Drury said, “I think it’s always good having a direct path in [to the White House]. That doesn’t mean anything really specific other than we know somebody in there who is very close to power.”

Drury added that it would be good to have someone with “a strong sense of Kiwi values” in the White House, and that he thinks Liddell will be a “very positive influence there.”

Drury said that Xero has a strong succession plan in place. Liddell’s replacement Smith has more than 25 years of finance experience in the software and SaaS industry. In addition to his time at Salesforce, he has held executive positions at Advent Software, Vitria Technology, Nuance Communications and Oracle.

Ranica Arrowsmith

Technology editor for Accounting Today.