Five (and a half) follow-up questions for Buffer cofounder Joel Gascoigne

Hawaii gets plenty of visitors. What we don’t get a lot of are successful startup founders out here sharing their stories. So it’s awesome when one of these Silicon Valley celebrities makes their way out here and wants to do a fireside chat with the local startup community.

This time that celebrity was Joel Gascoigne, cofounder of the social-media scheduling extraordinaire Buffer.

We’ve used Buffer to manage our social media content at Kumu for a while now, but the tool isn’t why we love these guys. We love them because of Joel and Leo’s relentless push for transparency and organic hierarchies within organizations.

It was a great talk overall and Daniel Aipa did a good job summarizing the key points if you missed it. There’s never enough time for everyone’s follow-up questions, so I figured I’d throw them out here and let Joel respond if he has time. If not, hopefully they’re still useful questions to think about as you blaze the trail with your own startup.

Follow up questions for Joel

  1. Have your formulas for equity and salary changed much since you first came up with them? If so, do existing employee salaries and equity shift with them?
  2. You said pricing will always be wrong — what tools do you use to make sure you’re in the right ballpark? Do you grandfather existing customers when you make a large shift?
  3. You’ve let go a surprising number of employees for a company your size. When it comes time to part ways, is it better to give detailed reasons why someone isn’t a good fit (so they can learn from it) or just keep things short and polite?
  4. As a distributed team, how do you juggle the differences in work ethic across cities and continents?
  5. Are the employees in the A-tier locations worth the salary premium? Is the goal here to make up for differences in work ethic or cost of living? Or something else entirely?

And lastly, are you actually getting any work done out here or are you just hanging out on the beach and drinking mai tais all day?

Joel, thank you for coming out and chatting with our local community. Inspirational stories from successful startups are hard to come by out here and we appreciate you sharing yours.

I know coffee is the standard form of introduction but it’s hot out here and warm drinks aren’t my thing. If you’re ever interested in grabbing some cold beers and sharing some waves then hit me up. I’ve got boards.


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