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Buffer in June 2015: Fastest-Ever Team Growth, $6.6M ARR

We’re officially halfway through the year. Very excited to share the latest update for Buffer:

Key metrics

Buffer June 2015

2,511,292 total registered users (+3.2%)
206,464 monthly active users (+1.5%)
52,229 average daily active users (+6.2%)
$550,529 monthly recurring revenue (+3.4%)
$6.61m annual recurring revenue (+3.4%)
$2,578,881 cash in bank
34 team members across the world
25 cities, 10 countries, 4 continents

Here’s a graph of our MRR growth over the last 3.5 years:

Buffer MRR

The change in trajectory around October 2013 is most likely attributable to us launching Buffer for Business.

This is exciting as recently we’ve started discussions within the team of doubling down further on Buffer for Business and creating a dedicated product/engineering team to serve those customer problems even better.

Asks: Learning more about product structure

I’m trying to learn how companies structure product, design and front-end development (CSS). These seem like overlapping areas, and could easily be 3 people, or could be one person who has ability in all areas. With 1 person rather than 3, it feels possible to move much faster.

I’m keen to learn how other companies balance expertise and specialization vs speed. If you have any thoughts here or know someone who might have thoughts (maybe a founder, CPO or product people), I’d love to hear from you! Thanks.

Team: Fastest-ever growth and hiring push

  • 34 fully on board team members.
  • 2 new people finished bootcamp and fully joined the team: Kat (Engineer) and Danny (Happiness Hero).
  • 6 people have accepted offers to join the team in the coming weeks/months (3 Product Creators, 2 Engineers, 1 Community Champion). This will make us 40 people.
  • We’re hiring for 14 (!) different positions

Product: Pinterest, Pablo improvements

  • We soft-launched improvements to our Pinterest scheduling capabilities, including letting you pick an image from the page.
  • We made improvements to Pablo, our super-fast image creation tool. A key one is that you can select text from a page and right click > Create Image with Pablo in order to create an image with the selected quote over the top like so:right click with Pablo
  • We’re very close to rolling out the ability to schedule new ‘Retweet with Comment’ Tweets using Buffer.

Key changes to self-management at Buffer

Building on our self-management learnings, we have started to make some key changes to how we view self-management and work together.

We’re moving away from self-management being synonymous with ’no structure’. We’ve realized that hierarchy and structure are very different things, and structure is key to working efficiently. Some the the changes that have resulted include:

  • A bias towards small teams with clear roles. Small teams can feel more ownership and move fast.
  • Embracing the idea of higher level work as a separate task carried out by people, rather than spread across everyone.
  • Starting up mentorship again, through regular 1:1s. 1:1s are a great way to maintain help and guidance, without managers.

To tie all this together, we have started to develop our own internal tool to help us organize ourselves and create visibility to the roles people have. Here are a few screenshots (still very much a work in progress):

Buffer HQ tool

Buffer HQ tool


Over to you

Thanks for being part of our journey. If you have any questions or thoughts, I’d be keen to hear them in the comments!

  • Elizabeth Kramer

    Thrilled to see Buffer’s success continue and grow! You guys set an awesome example to others in your transparency and community experience. Thanks for making my job so much easier!

  • Elizabeth Kramer

    Is the “Retweet with Comment” option live in Buffer now? Where do I find it?

    • Great question, Elizabeth! I couldn’t find this myself and checked in with the team; it turns out we are still just a few days away from being able to roll this out to all our customers! I have updated the post and will keep you posted the minute you can retweet with comment through Buffer!

      • Elizabeth Kramer

        Thanks Courtney! Looking forward to it!

  • Bhavesh Patel ✌️

    Wow! Congrats Joel and the ENTIRE Buffer team! Wishing nothing but the best in many many years to come!

  • I really like the internal “Dones” functionality, especially the ability to comment on each “done”! Internal social networking done RIGHT!

    Congrats on all the growth – Buffer seems to have the right team in place, as well as having a great attitude towards organization with regards to flexibility and making sure new tactics work smoothly and organically, instead of forcing new ideas.

  • Haris Aghadi

    I’m no expert at this but I think product should be a separate role from design and front-end. You might be able to find a really good front-end dev with good visual design chops. So in total you can get 2 people to do 3 roles.

  • Love the transparency + excited to see the growth. Y’all rock. :)

  • Cal Bachand

    Congrats once again to the Buffer team for the continued growth! :)

  • Awesome to see the continued growth and transparency from Buffer.

    The idea of a dedicated team for Buffer for Business is exciting. Using Sprinklr, Radian6, and other enterprise social tools daily, I think there are great opportunities to make Buffer an even more indispensable offering to business users. It’d be a lot of fun to be part of that.

    Looking forward to the upcoming product improvements and seeing more on the new internal organization tool.

    Thanks for sharing each month. Always look forward to it.

  • Luca

    Very interesting as always. Is the dones system an internal tool? Do you have any plan to open source it?

  • Thanks for sharing again! Looking forward to see how the team dynamics and processes and self-management work in a much larger team :)

  • Great growth and cool plans for the future! The “Dones” internal tool looks amazing, and the 1:1s feel like they’d be so helpful. Awesome stuff!

  • @joelgacoigne congratulations on the continued growth. I am doing #leanstartup and moving from interviews to mvp, at some point I’ll have to charge customers for a subscription. I was researching online and remembered your success and open philosophy. Would you mind sharing how you manage (including some tools & APIs) things around recurring subscriptions, individual vs. biz plans, upgrades & downgrades?

  • Greg Nelson


    RE: Your ask.

    Above is an article one of our team members wrote about our product team structure at Hudl. We base a lot of what we do off of Spotify. We link to their videos in that post and they are a fantastic resource to check out. We are constantly adjusting this to fit our needs and it has even changed more over the last 3 months. Feel free to hit me up and I can give you more information.

    Congrats on the growth, I wish you continued success in the future.

    • Josh Anderson

      I second the Spotify model. Works well for us at Dude Solutions.

  • Priscilla Wilson

    The “Dones” section is something I really like. I think it’s important and inspiring to be able to not only see your own productivity, but everyone else’s. Puts your day into perspective and looks like a well-oiled machine!

  • Matthew O’Rourke

    Hey Joel, congrats to you and the Buffer team for all of your success, and thanks for making such a great product! I wanted to comment on the question of having multiple people who specialize in product, design, and front end, vs having one person who excels in all three.

    I recently heard an interesting response to this question, which was that at earlier stages of a company, it can be preferable to have one person who excels at all areas and cover all of the aspects of product, design and front end. The reasoning there is that with fewer projects, one multi-talented individual could be more productive. The time taken to change focus between the different aspects of development would be worthwhile at this stage, because there are relatively few things to focus on.

    Once the team starts to grow and tries to tackle a larger number of projects, it can then be preferable to transition to having a more specialized approach for each person. The thought is that together everyone would accomplish more by each applying a specific focus to multiple projects, as opposed to a more broad focus on fewer.

    I think that this question could have many great answers, and I would be interested to hear other perspectives on what may work best in different situations.

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