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Case Code: HROB216
Case Length: 15 Pages
Period: 2010-2019
Pub Date: 2020
Teaching Note:Available
Organization : Buffer Inc.
Industry :Technology & Communications
Countries : United States
Themes: Stress & Motivation/ Entrepreneurship/ Leadership & Values / Employee Benefits
Case Studies  
Business Strategy
Human Resource Management
IT and Systems
Leadership & Entrepreneurship

Entrepreneurial Stress and Burnout: The Buffer Story

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Joel decided to set aside freelancing and focus completely on Buffer for 6 months after he started it. He felt that it would be possible to scale up the product incrementally over time and this offered scope for growth, while his freelance work would remain more or less static over time. In May 2011, Leo joined Buffer as co-founder and started working full time with Joel to develop the iPhone and Android versions of the application. In July 2011, they moved from the UK to San Francisco in the US and managed to get into the San Francisco based incubator AngelPad that offered seed funding and mentoring. The Android and iPhone versions were launched in October and November 2011, respectively. ..
Human Resource and Organization Behavior Case Studies | Case Study in Management, Operations, Strategies, Business Environment, Case Studies
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Although Buffer returned to profitability after taking corrective measures, the company’s growth slowed down. Differences arose between Joel and Leo during discussions related to new product offerings (sustainable vs. rapid), team building (nurturing versus performance oriented), and strategy (being customer-centric versus team-centric). Joel was fine with this since he wanted to focus on sustainable growth, consistently improve the quality of existing products,.


After returning from his sabbatical, Joel implemented many policies aimed at maintaining the mental health of Buffer’s employees. In 2019, Buffer’s management introduced a sabbatical policy whereby employees could take a fully paid 6-12 week break once every five years. This was an optional policy, which provided employees with an extra week off for every year they worked beyond 5 years without taking a sabbatical. (Refer to Exhibit V for a detailed description of the policy). In the words of Buffer’s management, .


From a software company in 2011 known for social media products aimed at improving the efficiency of social media marketers, Buffer had by 2019 moved on to build a full suite of brand-building products for businesses. (Refer to Exhibit VI for a description of the products). The company continued to be a fully remote team and maintained a high level of transparency as envisioned by Joel and Leo. In July 2018, Buffer made the big announcement of buying back the 6.2% stake from Continental Fund, the lead investors of the Series A funding, for a consideration of US$3.3 million..


Exhibit I:Snapshot of the First Version of the Buffer Website
Exhibit II: Snapshot of the Second Version of the Buffer Website
Exhibit III: Buffer’s Values
Exhibit IV: Methodology to Lay-Off Employees
Exhibit V: Details of the Sabbatical Policy
Exhibit VI: Buffer Suite
Exhibit VII: Annual Recurring Revenue of Buffer (January 2012 – January 2020)