Digital Nomad: Touring Southeast Asia as Part of Buffer’s Distributed Team

TaiwanIn August I was given the amazing opportunity to join Buffer as a front-end developer. At that time I was living in Taipei teaching English. Buffer is a distributed company so while I coded for them I was able to continue teaching.

At the end of October, I left my teaching job because I just couldn’t do both jobs for much longer. It left me exhausted with no time for side-projects. With quitting the teaching job, my girlfriend and I couldn’t stay in Taiwan anymore due to work visas, so we planned a two-month South East Asia trip back home to South Africa.


Pictured: Rice fields on a land excursion while taking a boat cruise from Saigon into Cambodia

Getting to Asia from South Africa is far, so we wanted to use the opportunity to see more while we were in the vicinity. I also saw this an opportunity to try out the digital nomad lifestyle.

Here is a little about my experience traveling and working from hotels/resorts/villas all across South East Asia. (more…)

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Why The Buffer Team Goes On Multiple International Retreats Every Year

Buffer team Cape Town
For me, one of the most exciting parts of the culture we’ve developed at Buffer is our international retreats.

Three times a year (for now) we gather the whole company together. Previously, we took a team of 10 to Thailand and we’ve just returned from our most recent trip to Cape Town, South Africa with a team of 16. Buffer covers all the expenses—flights, accommodation, most meals and fun activities.

Here are some of my biggest learnings on the benefits of our time together on these retreats.

Truly getting to know each other

There are an incredible number of benefits which come from us being a distributed team. At the same time, it means that if we don’t arrange retreats, we would never meet each other.

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Steven Cheng is Buffer’s First Growth Engineer

stevenI’m happy to announce that Steven Cheng is Buffer’s first growth engineer!

Steven—who lives in Taipei, Taiwan—works on all things growth at Buffer, building out the growth dashboard, analyzing experiments and other data, and making recommendations to the product team.

Steven has a ton of startup experience under his belt, spending 4 years at security startup Amorize Technologies through its acquisition 2013. He then worked in Beijing on a location startup, before joining Buffer earlier this year.

Steven is an incredible engineer who also understands extremely well the importance of scrappiness as part of our early growth team. We often have to change direction, explore new experiments and throw work away, which can be a tough challenge. It’s been fantastic to have Steven’s startup mindset to help us push forward. One of my favorite quotes from Steven is this:

“Startup life is like riding a broken bicycle: you fix it and ride it at the same time, the last thing you want is to stop.”


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Revenue and Growth Report: How Our Awesome and Business Plans Fared in March

Buffer monthly revenue and growthWe’re excited to share with you an inside look at Buffer’s revenue and growth stats for the last month. If you read our monthly overview, you likely have an idea of the big-picture progress of Buffer, and we hope the revenue and growth stats here illuminate some of the finer details of our journey.

Our revenue is earned primarily through two subscription sources: Awesome Plan and Business Plan.

In the charts below, you can see how each of these plans did for us in March, with breakdowns for revenue, churn, conversions, and more. If you have any questions on this data, we’d love to answer them in the comments! We’re interested in making these numbers as helpful as possible for you. :)


Awesome Plan

Below is an overview of how the Awesome Plan performed in March. If you’re interested in even more data on this, you can find some additional detail in our spreadsheet.



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Buffer’s March Engineering Report: 5 Whys, Reliability, Open Source, and More

Screen Shot 2014-04-11 at 9.12.15 AMMarch was an incredible month for the engineering team at Buffer.  Looking back, it’s pretty exciting to see what all we’ve accomplished for moving the ball forward and how we’ve executed on some of our engineering goals.  Here are some stats and tl;dr for March:

  • 1 person converted to full-time (yay Dan Farrelly!)
  • 6 “5 whys” conducted
  • 1 new open source project started
  • 15 minutes of system wide downtime
  • Switched to New Relic for platform monitoring
  • Bufferbot (hipchat hubot) now deploys our app

5 Whys

One of the big and exciting changes we made in March is to be slightly more disciplined on reflecting back when something unexpected or unintended occurs. This is something every startup faces, and we’re no exception.  It seems like almost daily there would be something that occurs that’s not ideal and could have been prevented or could be prevented in the future. Some examples of these are unintended bugs, downtime, a mistake made by a developer, or a negative experience from a customer.  We’ve been heavily influenced by Eric Ries’ lean startup methodology, and one thing he suggests is conducting the 5 whys to learn from mistakes.


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Hiring at Buffer in March: Increasing Engineering Salaries in SF, 1,944 Applicants, 3 Offers Made

Buffer Hiring ReportIt’s been a great month for growing the Buffer team in March. The team is currently 20 people, compared to 17 in February. Here’s an overview of everything happening in the individual areas:

Applications overview

We saw an incredible amount of 1,944 applications come in in March, which has been absolutely, positively overwhelming. Here is a breakdown of the different areas:

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Introducing Open Equity: Buffer’s Equity Formula and Full Individual Breakdown

Ever since we established the Buffer values that are at the heart of our company culture, we’ve been continuously on the lookout for new ways to live those values every day – particularly our important value of defaulting to transparency.

Last year, Buffer shared all of our salaries and the formulas behind them. We regularly share what we’re reading, how we’re working to improve ourselves – even the mistakes we make. Without this ongoing commitment, our value of transparency is little more than a word written on a piece of paper.

That’s why today we take one more step toward turning Buffer into a completely “open company” by sharing our equity structure and individual breakdown, too.

What is Open Equity?

I’ve always wanted to demystify equity. Although the concept is deeply ingrained in startup culture, it’s often a cloudy topic. Many tech companies give you options, but explaining them is so complicated that employees still struggle to know what it all means. And with Buffer being a fully distributed team, many of our team members are far outside the Silicon Valley tech world and haven’t had experience with it before.

Leo and I had no idea how to approach equity at first. We ended up doing quite a bit of research, talking with people we trust who had great guidance for us. In the end, we set aside 20% of Buffer to give out as stock options to our team and advisors.

Right now, there are 11,256,468 Buffer shares issued and available. We issue them to team members through our “Open Equity”– a simple formula to calculate equity (actually, “options” – but more on that in a minute) that is open to the whole team. Here’s how it works.

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Buffer March Update: More Focus on A/B Testing, Our First Happiness Engineer and 10% MRR Growth

Buffer logo white

March was a really amazing month for us at Buffer: 10% MRR growth and awesome increases in daily and monthly active users, too! I’m happy to share with you our update for March that I just sent to Buffer investors. Let me know if I can answer any questions about this. :-)

If you want to read our update from February, you can take a look here.

Traction update

  • New users: 71,000 (Total: 1,407,000, from 1,336,000: +5.3%)
  • Daily active users: 39,000 (up from 36,000: +8.3%)
  • Monthly active users: 157,000 (up from 145,000: +8.3%)
  • Monthly Recurring Revenue (MRR): $246,000 (Annual: $2,952,000: +10.3%)
  • Bookings revenue: $352,000 (Annual: $4,224,000 up from $3,996,000: +5.7%)
  • Cash in bank: $545,000 (last month: $523,000)
  • Team size: 19 people across 5 continents


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How Buffer Has Reacted to the ‘Heartbleed Bug’ to Protect Our Customers

heartbleedYou may have heard some talk recently about the “Heartbleed bug.” That’s the scary-named vulnerability that was just discovered in the software library that protects many sites on the internet – including Buffer.

We wanted to make sure to tell you exactly what we know and what we’ve done about Heartbleed at Buffer to keep your information as safe as possible.

What is Heartbleed?

The Heartbleed bug was just recently discovered on April 7th in OpenSSL, a kind of cryptography software that protects an estimated 66%+ of the entire web. It can allow anyone on the internet to decrypt protected web traffic and potentially uncover names, passwords, and content you send to secure web sites. Although it was just found, the bug has been around for more than two years, which means a lot of sites that we all use every day may have been affected. That’s the gist, but you can learn a lot more about it at the Heartbleed FAQ.

How Buffer has reacted

To fix the vulnerability in Buffer, we have worked with Amazon Web Services to patch the vulnerability and re-keyed all of our SSL certificates. This closed the vulnerability for all Buffer customers. That means for your security, you’ll be logged out of your Buffer account and will need to sign back in. We know this isn’t ideal, and we’re really sorry to add these additional steps to your day.


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Behind the Scenes: How Buffer for iOS 7 Was Built

Buffer ios app launch graphicToday, we are thrilled to announce the newest version of Buffer’s iOS app, which represents a major upgrade in design, code, and features. We’ve gone through many iterations, and we’re hoping you like what we’ve come up with. The end product was more than five months in the making, and we thought it might be neat to give you a behind-the-scenes look at the development process.


The first thing you’ll notice with most iOS 7 app updates is the new design. We’ve simplified the design within our iOS 7 update, making use of a flatter UI to match that of iOS 7, gone are the gradients throughout the app. We’ve continued to use some shadows to add contrast to various elements—more so than some other apps have. We hope we’ve found a good balance.

We spent a good chunk of time working on updating our composer within v3.0. We’re no longer hiding options below the keyboard; instead we are making use of new full screen views to allow you to choose which accounts to post to, which photos to attach, and what custom times to post. (more…)

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