Buffer Rejiggers Its Open Salary Formula

Buffer, a company known for its radical transparency, has reformed its salary algorithm that it uses to calculate the pay of its staff.

It’s been several years since Buffer first published its salary list. The company also has an equity chart that anyone can read, and a revenue dashboard that you can use to track its performance. In fact, the company is so radically different from other firms that we see in tech, TechCrunch has had the Buffer kids in twice for interviews, most recently on Bullish:

What is new in Buffer’s compensation chart? I spoke on the phone with co-founder and COO Leo Widrich about the situation, who framed the choice to shake up its methods due to scale — Buffer, according to the executive, now has more than 60 employees.

For some workers, their salaries will rise. Widrich noted specifically that its engineers in expensive markets will pick up a raise.

Most interesting in the changed salary format is what Buffer calls “The Good Life Curve,” an up-to $8,000 boost in worker income that helps the firm correct for the varying cost of living around the world. To quote the firm itself, “Our previous formula took into account the cost of living in a city, but not the market rate. […] The new formula now includes an elastic part that adjusts to the cost of living and market influence of salaries for different roles.”

Of course, the company has a new list of salaries on its website so that its data is, as always, open for anyone to peruse.

In fact, the company is sufficiently content with its new method of calculating compensation, that it built a small calculator to let you take a run at it yourself. This is how I learned that if I was a frontend developer at Buffer, with intermediate experience, living in San Francisco, with a lower risk-tolerance and no kids, my salary would kick in at $134,340:

Screen Shot 2015-11-24 at 12.43.01 PM

That should cover brunch, I think.

Here’s a question: Buffer has done very well by being open. But one company is not a trend. It will be interesting to see if this particular bit of Silicon Valley culture can spread.