A few weeks ago, we had a conversation with one of our most amazing advisors, Hiten Shah. About once a week we have an hour long discussion about everything we do at Buffer, mostly focused on Growth and Product and get his advice. He’s probably been one of our most invaluable companions and mentors along our journey so far.
Hiten showed us an amazing new product, Baremetrics, that one of his friends Josh Pigford had started to build. It was a real-time revenue dashboard for Stripe that you could see in one click just by connecting your Stripe account. What was even crazier about it was that Josh had made the dashboard to make his own revenue public. I was in awe! What an incredible opportunity to take transparency to a whole new level and show it to the world in real-time.
With transparency as one of our 10 defining values at Buffer, we were excited to see this as an opportunity to take transparency even one step further. As a key part of that, we want to extend transparency to our revenue, too. We have strived to remain completely open about our progress, with a few key elements we have made public so far:
- Sharing monthly revenue reports
- Making all salaries completely transparent
- Showing the full equity breakdown of the company
- Sharing the personal improvements everyone is working on at Buffer
- And discussing the lessons we’ve learned along the way.
We’re hoping our latest push toward transparent revenue will be just as helpful and valuable for you and everyone who is interested in getting some real insights into how Buffer works.
So without further ado, we’re excited today to reveal Buffer’s public, real-time revenue dashboard. Below is a screenshot of all the numbers you can now get real-time insights about from us:
The dashboard contains the actual revenue numbers for Buffer, updated in real-time. We’re making it completely open for you to look around, to view reports, and to see how we’re doing minute-by-minute and day-by-day.
It’s all here. You get to see everything we see.
A complete view of revenue: Our real-time dashboard plus monthly reports
We have been publishing as much behind-the-scenes data and info on our Buffer journey as possible. Joel publishes a monthly Buffer report—the same one he sends to our investors. Last month, we debuted a report all about our paying plans and revenue sources, a complete overview of conversion and churn for Business and Awesome plans.
These reports will continue. Our revenue dashboard will simply take this transparency to another level!
Previously, our reports have touched on monthly views of the following metrics:
- New users
- Daily / montly active users
- Monthly Recurring Revenue (MRR)
- Bookings Revenue
- Monthly / yearly revenue and churn
- Conversion rates
- Cash in the bank
- Team size
The real-time revenue dashboard greatly enhances our reporting of these metrics, and it adds many different numbers we have yet to share (and some we have yet to fully track internally either). With the new dashboard, you have access to the following stats in real-time, whenever you want to see them.
- Monthly Recurring Revenue (MRR)
- Net revenue
- Other revenue
- Average revenue per user
- Annual run rate
- Lifetime value
- User churn
- Revenue churn
- Coupons redeemed
- Failed charges
- A live stream of transactions
Here is a bit more about some of the numbers you’ll find on the dashboard.
Monthly Recurring Revenue (MRR)
One of the key metrics (if not the key metric) at Buffer is MRR. This measure most accurately describes the type of revenue we’re actually receiving—a difficult number to find when you must factor in annual payments plus monthly subscriptions.
On our revenue dashboard, MRR is calculated in the following way:
Gross volume from recurring revenue (minus) refunds (minus) fees
This metric tells us the expected revenue we may receive on average from a customer over the lifetime of their relationship with us.
For instance, a $236 lifetime value could be interpreted as a customer spending two years subscribed to our $10/month Awesome plan.
Here’s the official calculation for this metric:
Average monthly recurring revenue per customer (plus) user churn rate
User churn is a valuable metric to understand the rate at which customers are downgrading from paid plans, and it is an integral part to our formula in calculating lifetime value.
On the revenue dashboard, churn rate refers to those customers who have cancelled a paid account (either an Awesome plan or a Business plan), plus failed payments and refunds.
The lower the number, the better—which is why you’ll see percentages highlighted in green when they’re trending downward and highlighted in red when they’re trending up.
If you click through to the full report on user churn, you can see the breakdown by individual plans (where applicable). The stats here represent a three-month average of monthly churn.
Upgrades, downgrades, customers, and cancellations
These three parts represent how customers move in and out among our paid and free plans at Buffer.
- Upgrades are those instances when a user goes from a lower-tiered, paid plan to a higher tier.
- Downgrades are when a user goes from a higher tier to a lower, paid tier.
- Customers are those who are on a paid plan. Another way of looking at this is Customers are those who have upgraded from our free plan.
- Cancellations are those who went from a paid plan to no paid plan.
The live stream of payments (with fake names)
On the right side of the dashboard, we display a live stream of incoming payments, charges, cancellations, and refunds. The stream refreshes automatically as new events occur in Stripe, so you can see in real-time how our revenue ebbs and flows throughout the day.
One important note here: None of the names associated with these payments are real. We value the privacy of our customers and their payment information, so we’ve asked the Baremetrics team to come up with some fake placeholder names in these instances. The charges and all other data, however, are the actual numbers from Stripe.
We hope you find this look inside our daily, real-time revenue to be valuable; for us, the Baremetrics dashboard has definitely been a huge improvement to how we track metrics at Buffer. If there are any questions at all we can answer for you—explanations for these metrics, context for different numbers, etc.—just leave them here in the comments, and I’d love to jump in.
It’d be amazing to hear your feedback on this. Drop me a note below to let us know what you think!