Words of Willem De Kooning on a wall in Rotterdam, Netherlands. Credit

Change

If you have logged in to your Padlet account recently, you’ve probably read about the changes we have made. If you haven’t, never mind. I’m here to list them, tell you why we have made them, and answer some questions that were asked on Twitter immediately following the announcement.

What’s changing?

Previously, Padlet had a free plan which didn’t really have a name, and a paid plan, called Jetpack. Both plans had unlimited padlets. Jetpack users got extra features like search, premium wallpapers, themes, cross-platform video, stats, better support, and custom domains.

We have changed that a bit. We now have Padlet Basic, which is free for life, and Padlet Pro, which is $8.25 a month ($99 a year).

Here is how these plans stack up:

Padlet Basic (Free)

  • Make up to 3 padlets. (You can post on any number of padlets.)
  • Upload files of up to 10MB on the padlets made.
  • Banner ads.
  • Standard support.

Padlet Pro ($8.25 a month)

  • Unlimited padlets.
  • Upload files of up to 250MB on the padlets made. (This applies to you as well as any contributor on your padlet.)
  • Ad–free.
  • Chat and phone support.
  • Custom domains.
  • Folders.

Both free and pro users get: multi-touch drawing, audio recording, video recording, photo taking, image and YouTube search, maps, themes, reactions, comments, content moderation, search, stats, cross-platform video, and premium wallpapers.

So, as a free user, while you can make fewer padlets than before, you can do a lot, lot more with every padlet you make.

We also have Padlet Backpack and Briefcase which are “Padlet-in-a-box” solutions for schools and businesses. Backpack is priced at $1,499 per school per year (unlimited teachers and students). Briefcase is priced per-user.

Existing users of the Free plan

We have grandfathered all the existing users on the free plan. Everyone gets the number of padlets already in their account + the number of padlets they have made since Jan 1, 2018.

The rationale behind this arithmetic is that three months worth of extra padlets would give you enough buffer that you can take your time to decide whether to stay in the new free plan, upgrade, or look for alternatives.

You can see your quota in the account menu of your dashboard.

Existing users of the Jetpack plan

Nothing really changes for you. You continue to pay your original subscription price and enjoy the Pro features.

Existing user of Backpack and Briefcase

Nothing changes for you, either.


Why?

Someone once said that startups are like flying an airplane, but you jump off a cliff with a sheet of metal and build the plane as you fly it. We are often working with very limited information. It’s hard to tell what works. Out of the 10 decisions I make, usually 9 are wrong. I thought our old plans were priced and divided in a way that made business sense. I was wrong.

So we had with two choices: let math take its course and 💣, or correct course. We chose the latter.

Plus, Padlet is maturing as a product. We need to invest more in infrastructure and talent to keep improving — becoming faster, more reliable, more secure, and more delightful. Our changes, if I am right, put us on track to do that.


FAQs

Is Padlet no longer free?

Padlet is still free.

Why introduce paid plans now?

We have had paid plans for years. We have not done a good job of communicating it to people.

As an existing user, will I lose the work I have created?

You will not lose your work. It’s all there.

As an existing user, will I need to pay?

No, unless you want to use more than your quota allows.

If I delete padlets, does that change the quota?

Think of your padlet quota as storage space on your phone. It’s fixed. If you are out of space, you can either buy a phone with more storage, or you can just delete old files. If you have a quota of 10 padlets and you have already used 7, you can create 3 more. If you delete 2 existing, you can create 5 more.

3 isn’t enough padlets for anyone. Your free plan is useless for new users.

It is understandable you feel that way. Your understanding of Padlet is localized. You see how ten of your colleagues use Padlet and assume that’s how everyone uses it. But our decisions are based on observing millions of accounts.

We didn’t come up with the number 3 using a Bingo cage. 90% of our users use less than 3 padlets. They either just recycle the same padlets, or use padlets for 1–2 specific things. So 90% of our users, when they had absolutely no limits to the number of padlets they could create, chose to create no more than 3. Is a plan that works for 9/10 people truly useless?

$99 a year is outrageous.

I won’t argue the price point because when someone says something is expensive, it is crass to say it is not. What I can say is that if you use Padlet Pro to its fullest potential, it will be well worth it.

Take our broadcast feature. If you use it to share padlets in a classroom, you’ll save 5 minutes of setup time. It uses bluetooth and ultrasonic audio to beam your padlet to every student’s device. No need to write URLs on a whiteboard that students will mistype or paste printed copies of a QR code in every corner. That’s close to 2 hours of teaching time saved every month if you use Padlet everyday as opposed to another product.

Just give us the text posting for free. Charge for fancy features.

Padlet without images, video, drag and drop file uploads is just not Padlet. We only want to ship a version of our product that we can be proud of, free or paid. It’s the “fancy” features that make us proud.

It is tyrannical, it’s vain, it’s the way of the maker. I’m sorry for subjecting you to our tyranny.

Other companies are able to offer their products for free. Why can’t Padlet just be free?

Oh, it would be the easiest thing for Padlet to be totally free. But we don’t want to make the decisions totally free products have to make. We don’t sell or misuse your data. All products that you are using for free are doing that to you. You may be ok with the trade, we are not.

If recent events are any indication, misusing personal data goes much beyond showing you handbag and Honda Civic ads. It can be used to undermine democracy. Sure, no one’s using Padlet data to influence elections, but we want no part in that shady business.

Why not just show ads?

Given the sheer number of people that use Padlet, it would be so easy for us to throw a banner ad on every page and call it a day. Easy to require you to watch a 10 second video clip before you can contribute. Others have made that decision, we choose not to. Good work happens when we focus. Ads distract. (We experiment with advertising on some pages but we have never shown ads on a padlet itself. That space is sacred.)

Plus, ads are ugly. Gerard, our designer, agonizes over getting our designs pixel perfect for days. What’s the point of doing that if we’re going to throw a hideous ad for some miracle bacteria on the page?

Why did you make this decision all of a sudden, without notice?

This decision has been one year in the making. We looked at a lot of data, different ways to grandfather etc. It wasn’t done overnight.

To our existing users, we feel we have given them a generous quota based on their historical usage so they can continue using Padlet the way they have for a while. If you feel that, in the words of a competitor, we have pulled a rug out from under you, please email us at hello@padlet.com.

My quota is 20, but my friend’s is 30. That’s not fair.

There are users with over 500 padlets. Same quota for everyone would have meant giving everyone over 500 padlets. We could not have supported that kind of limit for everyone. The next best alternative, then, was to give people a quota in proportion of their past usage.

I used to love Padlet but I can no longer recommend it because of the limits on the new free plan.

It’s unfortunate. All I can hope for is that we can win some of the love back over time with all the things we have in the pipeline. If this forced change of heart has led to extra work in the form of changing presentations or promotional literature last minute, I’m sorry for putting you through it.

I’d like you to consider though that the limits on the free plan aren’t as restrictive as they seem to you, as our data shows. Padlet doesn’t ship useless products, not even free ones.

You could have handled the announcement better.

I agree. I’m sorry. Padlet is a very human company. And like most humans, we are full of mistakes, but basically good.”

Padlet has horrible community engagement.

We are a 6 person company of 5 super talented people: 3 engineers — SY, Linh, and Colin; 1 designer — Gerard, 1 support person — Carla. And then there’s me. Close to 10 million people come to Padlet every month. That’s 3 million people for every engineer to support every month. Carla answers over a 100 emails every day.

We have a web app, ChromeOS app, iOS app, Android app, Kindle app, Windows app, and extensions for three browsers.

Our apps are available in 35 languages.

In the last 6 months, we have launched:

  1. Drawing
  2. Audio recording
  3. Video recording
  4. Photo taking
  5. Google images, YouTube, and GIF search
  6. Maps
  7. Backchannels
  8. Profanity filtering
  9. Broadcasting
  10. Likes, upvotes, star ratings, and grading
  11. Completely redesigned, gorgeous dashboard
  12. Themes
  13. Brand new apps for iOS and Android
  14. Folders
  15. Windows app

Plus a lot more under the hood.

I mention this to not brag but to make you understand that the answer to every “Why isn’t Padlet doing this, why isn’t Padlet doing that?” is — “We have our hands full.” It is not from a lack of want.

In fact, the rationale behind these plan changes is to have more resources to do things like community engagement better.

I hate you. I want to leave. What are my options?

It depends on what you are using Padlet for. I’d say Google Docs (+ Slides and Sheets), Microsoft Word (+ Powerpoint and Excel), and Apple iWorks (Pages, Keynote, Numbers) are the best alternatives.


What’s next?

There is one aspect of this change that bothers me. Yes, Padlet is still free. Yes, Pro is completely optional. But a lot of people need Pro to do their jobs well. Even if Padlet Pro is worth it, there are people who just cannot afford the price tag. Many teachers use Padlet. They are already spending way too much out-of-pocket on classroom supplies. I’m sitting here writing this on a company provided computer, while a teacher has to pay for their own crayons. It’s not fair.

Although we (Padlet) cannot solve the structural problems that lead to the inequalities of our society, we can do our bit to help. Affordable technology is a great equalizer. A more affordable Padlet is good for the world.

It is a huge priority for us that over time, Padlet Pro becomes cheaper. We are constantly looking for ways to save cost and eventually pass those savings to our users.

We are also working hard to make Padlet the ONE software you use for all your content and collaboration needs. (Many people have told us it already is.) Over time, you’d have to pay for fewer different software and you’d get more value out of your Padlet Pro subscription. E.g. we launched Backchannels on Padlet recently which is traditionally its own class of software. You’ll soon be able to make the most beautiful storyboards and timelines with Padlet. There is a lot of good stuff we are working on.

Now that’s the long term plan. In the short term, we are doing the following to make Padlet Pro more affordable:

Referral program

We’ll reward users with free padlets when they invite other people to our app. We have already started limited tests on some accounts and are slowly opening the program up to more people. If you are interested in early access, please sign up for the mailing list here:

https://padlet.com/betas/referrals

Update: Launched Apr 24, 2018

Group discounts

We’ll offer a discounted pricing on Padlet Pro when 3 or more licenses are purchased together. The licenses don’t need to be purchased by the same company or school. We expect this to be out in 2 weeks.

Monthly Pro plan

To make it easier for users to pay for Pro, we’ll allow payments to be made monthly. Our education users will also be able to pause their subscriptions for 2 months every year. This should be out in 1–2 weeks.

Update: Launched Apr 27, 2018

Starter plan between Free and Pro

We’ll offer a plan that is priced between $0 and $99 and gives you between 3 and unlimited padlets. We are still working out the details. Expected launch date is May 1.

Scholarships

We’ll award Pro accounts to people who need to use Padlet beyond the free quota but don’t have the means to pay. The ideal recipients would be those who use the platform creatively and impact others with their work. People from all walks of life — education, business, arts, healthcare can apply. We are aiming to offer our first scholarships in July. If you want to stay up to date on it, please sign up for the mailing list here:

https://padlet.com/betas/scholarships


There has been a pretty strong and varied reaction to the changes: many users have supported us publicly and privately. Many are upset. Some are angry. A few competitors are delirious with schadenfreude.

To those who have supported: Thank you so much. Your words of encouragement, GIFs, phone-calls mean a lot. This much empathy for a complete stranger is unreal. The people you do know are truly blessed to have you in their lives.

To those who are upset, angry: I totally understand your frustration. If I were in your place, I’d be frustrated too. Padlet was a habit. Habits make you feel safe. The new changes would *potentially* make you change a habit. It’s like Adidas discontinuing the only pair of socks you ever liked (go to hell, Adidas). It’s like the neighbourhood grocery store no longer keeping your favorite coffee (Dunkin Donuts Caramel Coffee Cake). It’s not pleasant. There is enough uncertainty in life as is. You don’t need another one. I am sorry for putting you through it.

To those who have enjoyed the whole thing: You’re most welcome.

We are taking all reactions —love, anger, disappointment, and joy as a sign that we’ve made something important, something people care about.

We at Padlet don’t wake up everyday thinking about pricing plans. What brings us to work is a shared passion for building something we can be proud of, something that enables you to be proud of yourself. All we want is to make you badass at what you do.

Change is hard. Sometimes, doing the right thing means disappointing a few people. I’d like everyone to remember that these changes were made to make Padlet better for you.

Thanks for reading. If you have any questions, criticisms or concerns that I have not addressed here, please email me at hello@padlet.com or tweet at me at twitter.com/padlet.

Love, laughter

Nitesh

Thanks to David Petersen, SY Quek, Carla Domingo Sese, Ryan Petersen, Tejas Viswanath, Anand Bhaskar, Melanie Broder, and Alice Keeler.

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