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:


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:

Buffer baremetrics dashboard

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
  • Fees
  • Other revenue
  • Average revenue per user
  • Annual run rate
  • Lifetime value
  • User churn
  • Revenue churn
  • Customers
  • Upgrades
  • Downgrades
  • Cancellations
  • Coupons redeemed
  • Failed charges
  • Refunds
  • 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

Screen Shot 2014-04-28 at 9.34.08 PM


Lifetime value

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

Screen Shot 2014-04-28 at 9.33.46 PM


User churn

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.

Screen Shot 2014-04-28 at 9.35.54 PM Screen Shot 2014-04-28 at 9.35.45 PM

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.

Screen Shot 2014-04-28 at 9.37.15 PM

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.

Screen Shot 2014-04-28 at 9.37.53 PM

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.

Screen Shot 2014-04-24 at 10.56.17 AM

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.

Your thoughts

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.

Screen Shot 2014-04-29 at 10.25.50 AM

It’d be amazing to hear your feedback on this. Drop me a note below to let us know what you think!

P.S. A huge thanks to Josh Pigford and the Baremetrics team as well as Hiten Shah, our amazing advisor and mentor, to make this collaboration happen.

P.S. If you liked this post, you might enjoy our Buffer Blog newsletter. Receive each new post delivered right to your inbox! Sign up here.

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Written by Leo Widrich

Co-founder and COO at Buffer. I enjoy writing about Buffer’s lessons learnt, social media tips and updates to Buffer. For some more personal posts, check out leostartsup.

  • Jordan Muela

    This is ridiculous. I can’t believe how transparent you guys are.

    • LeoWid

      Thanks Jordan!

  • Mike Coutts (@couttsdotcom)

    How do you guys pick vendors?

    • LeoWid

      based on how transparent they let us make their dashboards! Just kidding. :)

      We’re actually building most of the things ourselves, like our growth dashboard, etc. Otherwise, we don’t have a specific way of choosing, we just test a few products we think we like and stick with those that are most helpful. :)

  • Andy Newbom

    crazy awesome

  • http://peter-rocks.it/ Peter Piskun

    Absolutely fantastic! I wonder how far you can go with your transparency policy without facing problems (like haters, problems with investors, etc.). As this is a completely new approach of doing business – are you afraid of the consequences?

    • LeoWid

      Hi Peter, great question, I do think these things will come, but then again, there might always be people who don’t agree with what you’re doing. I believe that if we’re just focused on providing great value to our customers, then hopefully that’s all that matters! :)

  • jc222


  • mattcantstop

    I am very excited for a world where the mentality that wants to make a private business very transparent also seeps into politics. Where all dealing are out in the open, as well as discussions that craft policy.

    I love this movement for transparency and love watching Buffer pave the way for many other companies.

    • LeoWid

      Thanks for the kind words Matt and that’s a great point, it’s amazing to see how many other startups have started to become more transparent and it’d be incredible if other industries and areas might try similar experiments!

  • http://workado.com/ Justin McGill

    This is insane. I absolutely love the dashboard and seeing these insights as it’s a compass, if nothing else. LOVE the idea of the baremetrics tool as well. I always dreamed of the day where I could just sit back and look at beautiful dashboards that told me everything I needed to know lol

  • http://natashawalks.com Natasha Walker

    Talk about a whole new level of transparency. It’s great how committed you guys are to sticking to your values!

    • LeoWid

      Thanks Natasha, yes, we’re trying our best to follow them as good as we can!

  • http://belovednewo.blogspot.com/ Laura

    I absolutely love how much you guys value being transparent. It shows that the Buffer team truly lives by the 10 defining values. While the number stuff isn’t really my thing, I love the more personal stuff. I love reading the Weekly Improvements and knowing what you guys are reading. It makes me feel a little more connected to everyone I talk to!

    • LeoWid

      Hi Laura, thanks so much for the kind words and so glad the weekly improvements are an interesting insight for you! :)

  • Michael Psarouthakis

    So transparent but less invisible. Outstanding and company looks like it is doing great. Keep it up!

    • LeoWid

      thanks Michael!

  • Ellis Reppo

    This information is incredible! Thanks for posting all of this. So far this is what I have learned. “Traction”, at least in the case of Buffer, means ~ 20% average daily growth in active customers for the first month. After about 2-3 months in, the average daily growth rate in users is ~ .5%.

    Thanks once again for making this public. So much data to ask questions of!

    • LeoWid

      Hi Ellis, wow, thanks for digging this number out – I didn’t know that, that’s very interesting!

  • http://twitter.com/geugeniocontent Gene Eugenio

    You should make a widget that tracks how much money bloggers make per month. I’d love to get that WP widget. Get at me on Twitter if you’d like specifications on this. I’d also be your biggest booster.

    • LeoWid

      Ha, genius idea Gene, I think that’d be really useful!

      • http://www.geneeugenio.com Gene Eugenio

        Seriously. There are many affiliate marketing blogs out there that have to MANUALLY report their income. If there is a widget that pulls info from several affiliate stat API sources, there would be an OBJECTIVE industry platform re income. Also, this is a B2B opportunity for your company and these people are VERY INFLUENTIAL. Just throwing the idea out there, Leo. I see the problem again and again and I wish there was a solution for it.

  • joshkerr


  • http://filipecastromatos.com Filipe Castro Matos

    Are you really from planet Earth?! Because this is something that I’ve never imagined I could see here! This is insanely great, well done!

    I couldn’t be more proud of paying an annual subscription to a company like yours! :)

  • Agnes Dadura

    Awesome tool, and nice numbers Buffer! It’s like a love child of metrics and transparency!

  • http://kayakonlinemarketing.com/blog Randy Milanovic

    Well done

  • cayn0r

    This is indeed good stuff! The baremetrics app looks very sexy as well!

  • Gary Harrower

    This is really cool. Does the Average Revenue per user include users on the free plan, or only paying members?

  • Gaetano Sanfilippo

    Hi Leo, It seems you are a pretty open guy, aren’t you? I am very interested in knowing more about Buffer’s user acquisition strategy. Would you share the key points of what that was and how you achieved your current results? Thanks, Gaetano

  • philippe

    This is awsome. Great new way of thinking and doing business. Your blog is going its way around in the netherlands. Lets see which dutch company will follow you.

  • http://www.digytouch.com Konrad W. Gorak

    Love the transparency at Buffer. What about the failed payments? How do you take care of those clients who switch off from Buffer?

  • Evan Dunn


  • RivkaK

    This does so much for so many people! Thank you for always raising the bar guys!

  • brad_dubs

    While I think what you guys are doing–in regards to transparency–is great, I’d like to raise a point here. Publishing your salary formula and a public revenue dashboard are great initiatives for Buffer as a company, but they don’t provide any real benefit to me as a paying customer (for transparency’s sake, I work at Causes). It took time to write up these posts, implement the integrations, etc: time that could have been spent building a feature you think needs to be implemented in order to maintain or gain a stronger competitive advantage.

    Of course, it’s not up to me to tell you guys how to spend your time. After all, you’ve managed to build a pretty awesome product without any of my input so far ;). However, it would be nice for you all to be transparent about things that actually matter to the paying customer. This could be your product’s roadmap or maybe a leaderboard of the top feature requests you receive through support. Things that would help your paying customers understand when new features (the things we pay for) are going to be implemented.

    In my specific case, I’ve recently started seeking a better solution to Buffer, one that let’s me geo-target posts and view my analytics in aggregate. I started this search after submitting a help desk ticket asking when/if geo-targeting was going to be implemented anytime soon (the answer was “We get that request a lot. I’ll make sure your feedback is incorporated.”). If it weren’t for Sprout Social’s inflexible pricing model (they wouldn’t let me append UTM parameters unless I had 5 team members on the plan, which equates to ~$250/month) and Hootsuite’s joke of a UI, I would have made the switch already.

    I totally get that all the transparency related posts help with things like building brand trust, extending visibility via press hits, and recruiting top talent, but they don’t directly benefit me, the end user.

    • seth the chef

      Wow. Brad is right. We all like Buffer and celebrate them leading the way in transparency. But it’s all too easy to get excited by the flavour without paying attention to the correct ingredients. This is something I’ve spent 35 years mastering, so should Buffer.

    • http://joel.is/ Joel Gascoigne

      Thanks Brad, this is a really great point. We certainly need to get the balance right here, and get it better than we have right now.

      We’re moving fast with building more power into the product, especially on business plans. We’re rolling out Feeds as a key new feature this week so you can pull in your own or favorite RSS feeds and share the new content from the blogs easily using Buffer.

      We have a feature to group social accounts in the composer for business plans and that’s really the first step towards aggregated queue and analytics, so I think we’re not too far away from those. I appreciate the kind words on our product and also the nudge to move a little fast with some of the obvious things we need to add.


      • brad_dubs

        Thanks for the reply Joel! Btw, I’m located in SF if you guys ever need a usability participant or just want to grab a coffee and chat. Feel free to DM me on Twitter (Disqus handle is my Twitter handle).

      • SouthOfTheBorder

        I too would appreciate a public bug and feature list from BufferApp. I have sent many bug reports and feature requests to Buffer support. The answers are fast and friendly. Bugs are usually resolved fast. But never say when a new feature is actually coming or really how popular it is.

        A public bug/feature list with voting by your paying customers one which they want would be great!

    • http://filipecastromatos.com Filipe Castro Matos

      I understand your point of view, it’s a great point as @joelgascoigne:disqus said. However, I believe that the time they invested doing this will benefit everyone in the future, including us as paying customers.

      Yes, brand trust or press don’t give us right now that feature we’re waiting for a long time ago (in my case I’m eagerly waiting for integration with personal profiles on Google+ !). But I believe this is a long term investment that pays off in the future. And I’m saying this because I already felt this. :) I’m a paying customer of Buffer since Nov 2012 and I don’t have nothing to complain about all the initiatives they had that aren’t directly related with the product (all this campaign for transparency in companies, the awesome content they build on a consistent basis, etc.). In fact, I’m really thankful about everything because, besides being associated since early to so great brand & company, I felt a tremendous evolution in the product since then (“in my time” I had no Google+ integration or custom time scheduling, per example).

      I experience everyday the struggle of trying to create value to my company with stuff that it’s not related with the main product that we sell. But I know that every well planned and made effort will pay off in the long term. Because a company is more than a product and a product doesn’t sell for itself (I already saw many great products that failed or didn’t explore its all potential because they hadn’t a great company on their back).

      What Buffer is doing is extraordinary. For me they aren’t one more company to follow, they are THE company to follow. It’s incredible how much I learn with their evolution everyday while I make the most of their product. And today I say: I don’t pay only for the product, I pay for the company! Because I want more of everything, not only more features! :)

      Just to end up this already long comment: 2 months ago I was talking with one of Buffer’s investor, Andy McLoughlin, and I beg him to invest more and help grow these guys because they completely deserve as they offer value to all stakeholders. And also because I can’t already live without Buffer!

      • brad_dubs

        This isn’t an entirely realistic scenario, but if you had to pick 1) a public revenue dashboard or 2) personal G+ account integration, which would you choose? Rhetorical question and what Joel said about them trying to strike the balance is what it boils down too. Definitely not saying they should stop being an amazingly transparent company by any means. :)

  • Elijah Kitaka

    You probably have no clue how valuable this is to startups around the world that don’t necessarily have access to the same advisors that you do. It’s like sharing yours and your advisors brains with other teams globally. I look forward to your posts not too much to know about the insides of Buffer but to evaluate what my own start up in Uganda should start, continue, or stop doing. You’re doing awesome!

  • http://www.Socialimpressions.net/ David Pride

    That is awesome!

  • Guest

    Joel, you are pushing the limits of entrepreneurship and company culture:)

  • http://twitter.com/ferenc Ferenc

    Joel and Leo, you are pushing the limits of entrepreneurship and company culture:)

  • http://kpanastasi.com/ Katya Pavlopoulos

    Incredible! When I saw the headline in my email, I thought wait… what? That can’t be what I THINK they’re saying… I just love love looove that Buffer, unlike some other businesses, actually takes their own values seriously and is not scared of innovation. That is so refreshing!

  • SouthOfTheBorder

    Love the transparency on your organization, growth and financials. You are an inspiration to a more transparent world.

    Suggestion for future dashboard of software quality and customer service: average time to reply to customer emails, average time to resolve bugs, oldest bug in days, number of outstanding bugs, percentage of uptime of app per month, how fast your pages load, security holes patched.

  • http://vimeo.com/othmaneelrhazi Othmane El Rhazi

    good stuff!

  • http://blog.digitalinsights.in/ Omkar Mishra

    You guys took transparency to a whole new level.. Kudos to the buffer team

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  • BenM

    What accounting system do you guys use?

  • http://christinedlg.tumblr.com/ Christine de la Garza

    Leo, your transparency has been so incredibly valuable – thank you so much. I’m Founder & CMO of a digital parenting SaaS product called RAKKOON), and I’m crunching the numbers story as we push forward raising seed capital. It’s been virtually impossible to find reliable CAC/LTV stats like these, specifically with a consumer facing SaaS product. There’s plenty for B2B. I’ve been hacking the picture together from various sources, so this has been amazing! I do have a question regarding your marketing efforts and how they align with your numbers i.e. have you shared which efforts have been the most successful for you? Do you use any particular tools to measure ROI of your marketing efforts, and if so, which ones? I feel that there is a lack of transparency regarding marketing strategy/planning and it’s impact on growth. Most companies consider that their secret sauce (or they aren’t tracking it so it’s muddy), and therefore we rarely get to peek behind that curtain and see where/how marketing and/or sales impacts growth in real-time alongside numbers. Would be something to share. Thank you again! Keep up the great work! (I’ve been a Buffer customer for quite some time now and love it!).

  • hsekhon

    I’m at a loss of words to describe how amazing this is. This is transparency at a whole new level. Makes me a proud customer.

    Crazy good!

  • Yngve Høiseth

    The https://buffer.baremetrics.com/dashboard doesn’t work for me at the moment. The error message reads “We’re sorry, but something went wrong. If you are the application owner check the logs for more information.”

  • http://www.dialogfeed.com Dialogfeed

    Is such transparency a new trend ?

  • http://twitter.com/allnacho Ignacio Alonso

    Im currently finish my final test on analytics and I’m using buffer as an example! Very clear way of explaining some of your revenue KPI’S @LeoWid:disqus