Buffer transparency

One of our most well-known values at Buffer is 'Default to transparency.'
Over the years, we have made as much of Buffer transparent as possible. This document is a collection of transparent pieces of the company, along with a timeline of the dates that they became transparent.

Default to transparency

Elements at Buffer that are transparent

Finances and salaries

Workplace culture

Business and SaaS strategy

End of year reports

Equal pay report

History

Here's an overview of the transparency timeline at Buffer, as you saw above, much of the company is transparent. Here's more of the story of when that happened and how it came about.

2010

The first version of Buffer, the product, was launched November 30th, 2010. The launch appeared on Hacker News as a part of the November Startup Sprint.

2011

In early 2011, our co-founder CEO, Joel Gascoigne, publicly shared several milestones around Buffer users. He tweeted about reaching 500 signups in February and about 5,000 tweets sent using Buffer later that month. Then, in March, Buffer's first public roadmap was shared.

Tweet signed by Buffer's CEO, Joesl Gascoigne, about reaching 500 signups to Buffer

At the end of 2011, we raised $450,000 and shared the names of the 19 investors and how we met them. At the time, there were 80,000 users a day, including 1,400 paying users who provide a revenue run-rate of around $200,000.

2013

The next phase of our transparency journey involved several things going transparent internally first before being moved to external.

In February 2013, Joel emailed the team to share the first-ever salary formula along with the whole team's salaries.

Joel's email to the team about open salaries.

Then, in March, our equity formula was made transparent internally as well.

Joel's email to the team about the Open Equity formula.

In May, we published the first version of Buffer's then-8 core values along with the exact fundraising deck used in the 2012 seed round.

Part of Buffer's 2012 fundraising deck.

In September, we shared our first investor's update, and in October Buffer was hacked, and we shared our live blog with updates on the situation publicly.

In December, we were ready to share salaries externally, and we published the spreadsheet with our salaries. This resulted in a huge jump in applications to work at Buffer. This Quartz article wrote:

Buffer received 2,886 applications for job openings in the month since the Dec. 19 news of its salary transparency showed up on its blog, compared to 1,263 in the 30 days beforehand

The end of 2013 was also when Joel answered a Quora question about how much equity Buffer gave away in the seed round.

2014

In January, after the overwhelmingly positive response to transparent salaries, we shared our first hiring report with details about the number of applicants that applied for various positions, along with the number of interviews and offers from that month.

Buffer's equity formula, which was made internally transparent in 2013, was made externally transparent in April of 2014.

The open equity formula.

In the same month, we took transparent revenue to the next level. Instead of only tweeting out numbers, we added a public revenue dashboard with real-time revenue numbers.

A revenue screenshot from Baremetrics.

In May, we shared our first Happiness (now, Advocacy) team report, and in October, we raised a transparent Series A round where we shared our valuation term sheet. In December, we shared a pricing breakdown of exactly where your money goes if you were paying $10 for Buffer.

Transparent pricing breakdown.

2015

We shared our first diversity dashboard in June, along with our full diversity stats. We know we did (and still do) have work to do when it came to diversity, and we wanted to share the details that can help us grow as an inclusive and diverse team.

Buffer's diversity dashboard.

In November, we made an update to our salary formula.

Our original formula was: Salary = job type X seniority X experience + location (+ $10K if salary choice)

The $10,000 was a choice teammates were given up until early 2016 to add more equity or more salary when they joined.

The updated version of the salary formula was:

Buffer's salary formula.

Along with the launch of an updated salary formula, we released the first version of our salary calculator, which anyone could use to see what they would get paid if they worked at Buffer.

In December, we acquired Respondly and shared as much of the process transparently as we were able to.

2016

In April, Buffer's product roadmap evolved to become a public Trello board that is still operational and up to date.

Buffer's transparent roadmap.

In June, we made the hard decision to lay off ten team members, 11% of the team due to an ongoing cash-flow crisis. Additionally, our founders took 40% pay cuts and we cancelled the retreat.

Buffer's band balance timeline.

In September, we shared changes to our vacation policy. We shifted from an unlimited policy to a minimum policy in the hopes that the move would encourage more teammates to take time off. (We later reported that it did.)

Vacation days taken in 2016.

At the end of 2016, we shared our first End of Year report, which shared more detailed numbers from the past year, including the number of customer tickets solved, new Buffer babies, posts sent through Buffer, and our revenue for the year.

2017

In February, our COO and CTO decided to leave Buffer. We shared more about this change and the vision for the future of Buffer. This change marked the Buffer's decision to operate by a single unified vision of long-term growth, sustainability, and a focus on company culture.

In April, we shared Buffer's first Equal Pay report, a report that detailed what men and women earned at Buffer.

Buffer's first equal pay report.

In December, we had our first profit share of $300,000 and charitable donation of $50,000.

2018

In August, we decided to spend $3.3 Million buying out our investors. We made this decision because it was clear that Buffer had become less of a fit for VC funding. We had been steadily increasing our financial sustainability by growing our profit margin. We also worked hard to create and promote a culture where teammates could enjoy their work for years without it leading to burnout.

Chart from Buffer's stock buyback.

In the same month, we shared our company budget and operating expenses transparently.

2019

In June, after two years of successful profit sharing, we shared our formula for profit sharing and charitable contributions.

Buffer's profit sharing and charitable donation formula.

2020

In April, we shared every team communication we had around COVID-19, including a shareholder update.

In May, we tested out a 4-day workweek at Buffer intending to reduce team-wide stress. In June, we decided to extend this pilot of a 4-day workweek for the rest of 2020.

Questions?

If you are a member of the media

Reach out to Hailley at press@buffer.com with any questions and check out our press page for resources.

If you'd like to work at Buffer

Head to our Journey page to learn more and check out this blog post to read about how we hire.