Buffer develops and sells social networking productivity products. It primarily provides a platform that enables users to schedule posts across multiple networks from one place, and provides customisation and integration options.
Buffer was founded in 2010 by web designer Joel Gascoigne (“Gascoigne”) and Business Management graduate Leo Widrich (“Widrich”). The concept for a social media productivity application was initially developed by Gascoigne after he graduated from the University of Warwick. He first created a landing page to test consumer appetite for the product, to see whether the project was commercially viable.
Once the site had attracted a sufficient number of registrants, Gascoigne began to design and build the first working version of the application software, a process that reportedly took only seven weeks.
The first version of the Buffer software was launched in 2010 with limited features and only Twitter functionality. The platform gained its first paying user within its a few days of operation, the first of a quickly growing user base, which totalled 100,000 within nine months. The Company moved from the UK to the US in 2011, where it remans headquartered.
Following this move, Buffer began attracting investors, receiving an undisclosed amount of seed capital from startup incubator AngelPad shortly after its arrival, as well as a further $400,000 in angel investment that same year. Buffer completed its first formal round of funding in 2014, raising $3.5 million from investors including Red Swan Ventures, Collaborative Fund and Marc Bell Ventures. This Series A round saw the Company valued at $60 million.
Business model of Buffer
Buffer serves individual social network users, small and medium-sized teams within businesses, and large enterprises. The Company claims to serve more than 3 million individual users worldwide, comprising general social media users, sole traders and freelance workers, its largest user markets being in the US, India, the UK, Canada and Australia.
Buffer also serves more than 2,500 businesses across multiple sectors, with publishers, media houses and marketing agencies comprising a large proportion of the Company’s clients. These customers include high-profile media and publishing organisations such as Business Insider, NPR, Fortune, About.com, and Vice.
Buffer’s principal value is that it streamlines the experience of posting to social media, enabling users to operate more efficiently by scheduling text, photo and video posts across one or more social media accounts from one single place.
The Company’s products also allow for user customisation options for both texts posts and images. Buffer products are compatible with the most popular social media platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and LinkedIn, and can be accessed from any device at any time through its website and mobile applications.
The Buffer platform can be accessed through the Company’s mobile and desktop websites at www.buffer.com, as well as through its iOS and Android apps.
Buffer functionality can also be accessed through a web browser extension which is compatible with the Internet Explorer, Google Chrome and Safari browsers.
Buffer offers a range of self-service products which can be purchased via the Company’s website with no required interaction with sales representatives. Once registration is complete users are able to access the full suite of Buffer tools.
The Company provides support resources to its users through help and support sections, which include FAQs, user guides, tutorials and case studies. It also enables customers to contact support staff directly through Twitter and a designated feedback section on its website.
In addition, Buffer hosts social media, culture and engineering blogs to keep its customer base informed of issues affecting the Company and the industry more broadly.
The Company is also known for its transparency, providing users access to its revenue, executive salary and equity information.
Buffer develops, maintains and sells social media productivity applications and products. Its flagship product, available to both individual and business users, enables its users to schedule posts across several social media platforms at once – including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest accounts – so that posts are published at the time when it can reach the greatest proportion of its audience.
The product also allows users to customise posts for each individual network before publishing. The Company’s free-to-use Pablo product lets users search a library of more than 50,000 royalty-free photos which can be combined with custom text and published across the users’ social networks, while its Respond product enables users to manage all their Twitter mentions, searches and direct messages in one place.
Buffer’s main partners are technology companies and application developers, primarily businesses operating within the social media space. The Company has collaborated with a number of these companies to provide integrated solutions and optimise the social networking activity of Buffer customers.
Buffer’s partners include RSS feed application Feedly, productivity app If This Then That, web curation app Pocket, Twitter management app Tweetcaster, and Twitter analytics company Followerwonk.
Buffer’s key resources are its software platform and its personnel, with Company’s revenue depending on the quality of Buffer’s products and services and the expertise of its staff.
Searches of records held by the US Patent and Trademark Office identified no applications registered in Buffer’s name.
The Company’s IT infrastructure also plays a key role in Buffer’s operations.
On its website Buffer breaks down where its revenue is spent, with the Company’s principal cost being the retention of its personnel. Of the Company’s personnel costs, the majority is accounted for by its product development team.
Among Buffer’s other major costs are server maintenance and rental, cultural costs – including team-building retreats, payment of fees to payment solutions company Stripe, and marketing and advertising.
Buffer generates revenue through the sale of its various social networking productivity apps, which are available on a subscription basis. These sales account for the Company’s current monthly recurring revenue of $822,000 and the annual recurring revenue of $7.81 million recorded in November 2015.
The Company offers three main paid-for products to its customers: Buffer for Individuals, Buffer for Business, and Respond. Each of these products command differing monthly fees. Individual and business subscriptions are priced depending on the amount of profiles, users and scheduled posts required, with individual subscriptions costing as much as $10 per month and business subscriptions ranging between $99 and $399 per month. The Company also provides enterprise packages to larger businesses which start at $899 per month. Buffer’s Respond service is available in three packages: the basic Starter package, the more advanced Pro package and the Custom package, which is tailored to the requirements of each individual customer.