What we spent in each category over the years
Buffer Price vs. Buffer's Costs
Details of expenses
Buffer operates as a software-as-a-service (SaaS) company. This means our software is hosted on the cloud and used over an internet connection via a web browser or mobile app. Our hosting costs include service providers like AWS, Cloudflare, MongoDb, Twitter etc.
Cloud hosting is crucial for Buffer because it offers scalability, reliability, disaster recovery, cost efficiency, and flexibility. It allows us to easily scale our infrastructure, ensures high availability, provides backup and recovery mechanisms, reduces upfront costs, and enables rapid innovation and deployment.
At Buffer, we rely on Stripe, Google, and Apple for our payment processing needs. These platforms play a vital role in simplifying our payment operations by providing a secure infrastructure to process credit card transactions, handle multiple currencies, and manage recurring payments without complex development. Security and compliance are crucial to us, and using payment processing tools ensures the protection of sensitive customer payment information and maintains regulatory compliance.
By leveraging these payment processing platforms, we can concentrate on delivering an exceptional user experience and providing value to our customers, without the added burden of developing and maintaining a payment system from scratch.
Employee expenses is our largest budget category making up over 80% of our total operating expenses. This category includes the cost for our team salaries, payroll taxes and benefits such as health insurance, employer contributions to 401k & pension plans, and continuing education (like conferences, free books and coaching!).
We view compensation and benefits as the set of tools that empower our teammates to bring their best to Buffer so that we can share that same generosity in service of our customers. We want every single customer interaction to be a delightful experience. By ensuring our team members are fulfilled and engaged with their work, we can build the solutions and tools that support our customers to achieve success and fulfillment in their personal and work lives.
Buffer is committed to providing a fair and competitive compensation program that honors the value that teammates from all around the world bring to our company through their work. We are also committed to full transparency with our salary and benefits; we share all context and factors openly to create trust on our team, hold ourselves accountable, and serve as a benchmark for others in the industry.
Additional Operating Expenses
Additional Operating Expenses
There are several categories of expenses that help support Buffer’s overall operations. These include expenses like outside services such as accounting, legal, and consultants. This category also includes our costs for office expenses like business insurance, bank charges, and internet and co-working costs to support our team to work wherever they are happiest.
Our travel budget includes all costs involved in team gatherings like retreats and meetups. We aim to have one company-wide retreat every year.
Travel is embedded into Buffer’s values—so much so that our entire remote team meets up every year at various spots around the world. It’s remarkable to see the impact a week in the same place has on our team. After a week together, remote work is smoother, teammates are more energized and forgiving, projects leap-frog previous obstacles, and everyone is more connected to the mission. Our time together in-person as a Buffer team is special and rare. It’s designed to allow our team to soak up as much focused time and attention as possible for collaboration and conversation.
Our retreats have taken us to Australia, South Africa, Spain, and Thailand (among other places) and our last retreat in 2019 was in San Diego, USA. Due to Covid, we haven't had the chance to get together for a full retreat yet. In place of a retreat, we've had smaller regional meetups in 2022. Buffer covers airfare, accommodations, food, and some activities during retreats and meetups.
Software and Tools & Computers
Software and Tools & Computers
We use a variety of software tools to support our team and customers. These include admin tools like Slack, Dropbox, Threads, Expensify, and Notion (to name a few!) plus additional tools like Chartmogul, Mixpanel, and Segment. Each area also has various tools to support their needs like our Advocacy team that uses Zendesk to serve our customers and Marketing that uses Customer.io and Pendo for customer communication and engagement.
Our admin tools are essential for our setup as a global remote company, as these products help us communicate and collaborate both asynchronously and synchronously. We are intentional about the tools we choose and continue to use as a team, as they significantly impact our efficiency and output as a company. Working with some of our bigger tools and making sure it’s a great fit for us as a company is an ongoing process, and we want to make sure we’re using the best product for its intended purpose. We are also investing in building our tools in certain areas, as sometimes a more customized approach will be better for our team and customers. Using tools such as Retool, we can build some internal tools much faster to benefit our team.
This category also includes the cost of computers for our team. Each teammate is eligible for a new computer every 3 years.
Our Marketing budget includes costs for advertising (i.e. paid marketing on platforms like Google and Meta) as well as costs to support work with a content agency and other consultants like those that provide services for app store optimization.
This category supports the cost of sales taxes in US states where we have reached Nexus (i.e. a business presence in a particular state). We also pay VAT in the United Kingdom.In years where we are profitable, this category also includes income taxes to the US IRS.
At Buffer, we believe in the power of collective success and the importance of recognizing the contributions of our team members. That's why we have implemented a profit-sharing program as a way to share our success with the people who make it possible.
Profit sharing allows us to align everyone's interests towards a common goal. When Buffer thrives and achieves profitability, we believe it's essential to celebrate and reward the collective effort of our team members who have played a crucial role in our achievements.
Ultimately, profit sharing at Buffer reflects our commitment to fostering a collaborative and supportive work environment. It demonstrates our appreciation for the hard work and dedication of our team members and reinforces our belief that our success is truly a shared achievement.
We’ve put together a simple, consistent method based on our net income (revenue minus expenses minus income taxes) to determine how to distribute the company’s profits. We will allocate between 8% and 15% of our profit, based on the year’s performance and other strategic uses of excess cash. Additionally, we will allocate a further 20% of the chosen profit share number for charitable contribution.
Seeking opportunities to give back has always been part of the Buffer DNA. We started the wonderful tradition of profit sharing and charitable contributions at the end of 2017. Since then, we've been in the privileged position to make donations to charitable organisations the years we’ve been profitable. This has always been a unique opportunity for us to come together as a team to celebrate what we've accomplished last year by giving back to charities that have a positive impact in our world - selected by all Buffer teammates together.
We go through two stages when determining which charities to support, nominating and voting. In the first stage, we invite the entire team to nominate their favourite charities based on a set of guidelines provided. In the second stage, we move to voting. Based on the nomination from the team, we put together a shortlist of charities. Every teammate would vote for one charity for each of the two causes, and the two charities that receive the highest votes overall will receive the donation.
In the last few years, we’ve donated to charities such as Cool Earth, Village Enterprise, Charity Water