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
As individuals, we view transparency as a lifestyle of authenticity and honesty.
As a team, we view transparency as an effective way to work remotely and establish a culture of trust.
As a company, we view transparency as a tool to help others.
We share early in the decision process to avoid “big revelations.”
We strive to make all communication clear and avoid making assumptions.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Then, in March, our equity formula was made transparent internally as well.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.)
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.
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.
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.
In the same month, we shared our company budget and operating expenses transparently.
We moved our transparent salaries from a spreadsheet to a table more prominently displayed on our website and added in a clear depiction of our salary formula and compensation philosophy. We also updated our salary formula to move from four to just two cost-of-living bands with the goal of moving to location-independent salaries.