Photo by Peter Conlan on Unsplash. Illustration courtesy of the author.

Choosing Profitability Over Growth

How some startups refuse the usual path of extreme-growth and take the road less travelled.

Nicolas Carteron
Published in
11 min readOct 19, 2020

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Writing a pitch deck teardown about Buffer earlier this week, I discovered on Crunchbase that they had only taken in $4M in financing.

Trying to learn more about the terms and investors, I stumbled upon their corporate blog. I was aware Buffer was a successful company, but I didn’t know at what scale and how they got to where they are today.

As it turns out, they did so in a most unconventional way: they grew “slow” (VC-slow) and steady over the years.

Not only are they are a completely transparent corporation, giving out their real-time revenues, employee salaries, equity schemes, cost structure, everything is out there for anyone to read, but they also refused the growth at all costs traditional way of building a startup.

Even more than that, they put their money where their mouth is, and bought out their Series-A investors to focus on profitability and slow down growth.

Focus on profitability? What a strangely refreshing concept in the startup world!

After 10 years of operations, Buffer “only” makes around $21M in ARR. With a profit margin of around 25% (according to their CEO)…

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Nicolas Carteron
Pitch Decks

I write about politics, business, society and culture on Medium. For startup/business content, check my newsletter: fundraisedd.substack.com