MYOB co-founder and Xero backer, ramps up on philanthropy

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Craig Winkler, founder of MYOB and investor in Xero, has sold down 3m Xero shares to add $62m to the charitable foundation he and is wife, Di, founded, called Givia.

Mr Winkler has been a private but generous philanthropist, and looks like he is intending to do more in that space. Unlike many, he shuns the publicity, and makes thought-through donations.

Accounting for Good has a 'brush with fame' moment with Craig, because back in the late 1980s, the AFG Director, Morri Young, was at the Association of Childrens Welfare Agencies and had convinced the Association to switch to Apple Macs (from chalkboards). In spite of their misgivings, the Board agreed, and then - to the horror of the treasurer - Morri wanted to get the bookkeeping done on a computer!  The only thing that worked on a Mac then was the new product - MYOB - which Craig and Brad Shofer had built out of a US company that went on to become Sage. Once Morri had installed MYOB, he was on to the Help Desk pretty regularly (having no idea about computers or accounting) and Craig was the Help Desk support (as well as Sales, Investments, CFO, etc). Craig and Morri had lots of chats, and Morri takes credit for being the beta tester of early version of MYOB for the Mac.

So we congratulate Craig on his success, and his backing of MYOB, and then Xero, and Practice Ignition and probably other applications we use at AFG today. As a wise investor, he is an even more astute philanthropist, taking a personal interest in the projects that Givia backs, even when they might seem hopeless cases. The Xero share sale is no reflection on Xero (he's leaving in way more than he's taking out and remains a Director) but allows him to transfer value from commercial to philanthropy, and we always love that here at AFG.

Photo credit: James Davies, AFR