What I'm doing now (Feb 5, 2018)
This update was written on Feb 5, 2018. The purpose of the page is to share what I'm up to and working on currently (aim to update every few months). Check out the latest update.
Current location and travels
I currently live in New York City (in Midtown East) with my girlfriend Jess, and I also travel a lot (mostly for fun, sometimes specifically for Buffer).
In 2017 I traveled to: Spain (Madrid and Barcelona), Cuba (twice), San Jose, San Francisco (twice), Portugal (Lisbon), Boston, Canada (Toronto and Niagara Falls), Dominican Republic (twice), Breckenridge, Japan (Tokyo and Okinawa) and Costa Rica (Nosara).
In 2018 so far I started the year in Costa Rica and have done trips to Miami and Stowe, Vermont. I have plans (some are tentative) to travel to Toronto, Breckenridge, Whistler, Singapore, San Francisco/Berkeley, Princeton, UK, Japan and Hawaii.
Hobbies and exercise
2018 started really well with surfing in Costa Rica over the New Year. Jess and I surfed 8 times in total which was every day and a second session two days. We surfed with a great local instructor, Juan Surfo, and he helped us both improve a lot. It was the first time I started to really understand how to read whether a wave is a left or a right.
I continue to do bouldering quite a lot in New York City, but unfortunately I have an issue with my wrist that is on and off, and is causing me to go much less frequently than in 2017. I'm seeing a doctor soon about this, so hope to be back climbing again soon.
I went skiing in Stowe, Vermont for a weekend in January and have really loved getting back into this hobby in the last year. I used to ski a lot when I was younger, but it's been almost 10 years since I did it regularly. I'm getting back into it and feeling better each time.
One of my best decisions of 2017 was to go to the Dominican Republic to learn to kitesurf. I had some lessons sporadically in the years previous (in Cape Town and San Francisco) but had never put the consecutive days in to get to a good point. I spent almost a week in the DR and had lessons for 3 hours every day. It was awesome, I managed to get standing and kitesurfing downwind and upwind. I still need a few more lessons, but so happy I did this trip.
I'm lucky to have a pool in my apartment building so I try to swim quite a lot and generally swim half a mile 2-3 times a week.
What I'm working on at Buffer
Very excited about a number of different initiatives we're currently working on.
Buffer Reply, our product for customer service and community management, has been growing nicely and is ready to be brought further into the overall product family. It currently has quite separate branding, and we are planning to bring it fully into Buffer, as well as allowing customers to have a single login and single place for billing between all Buffer products. It will still be priced separately, as we want to provide flexibility in choice of products and pricing for each.
Buffer Analyze is right at the first-version Minimum Viable Product phase. We are inviting the first few customers to trial it and see whether anyone finds enough value to pay for this early version. We are moving fast with it and have plans to add a lot more value. If Analyze is successful, we will build out full signup flows. For now, we are piggy-backing on the Buffer infrastructure and offering it to existing customers, so we can avoid building out signup, login and billing separately.
We had a great leadership team mini-retreat in Miami in January, and the team is feeling very cohesive, product and at a high level of trust and accountability to each other.
My personal role right now is balanced between setting the overall vision/strategy + managing the executive team, and still playing a big role in product in terms of strategy and coaching as well as the odd special project. I'm loving Buffer as much as I ever have, and I feel a momentum building since our tough 2016/2017 times. I am optimistic and excited about what we'll make happen in 2018.
I'm currently reading Sapiens and Ready Player One. I am absolutely fascinated by Sapiens and enjoying it a lot, but finding it slow going. I dip in and out every so often, sometimes not reading for a week. Ready Player One is a more recent one I've picked up and I'm quite hooked on it and getting through it fast. I have both the Kindle and Audible version and can seamlessly go between the two, so that's helping me read/listen at a speedy pace. Other recent books I've read fully or partially: Scaling Up, Daily Rituals, The New One Minute Manager, What Happened, Raising the Bar, Escape from Camp 14.
I managed to do Duolingo for 30 days straight before I failed and rested from it for a few days. I was studying Japanese, and learning Spanish from scratch. I found it more effective for a language I already partially know (Japanese), it was a great refresher of vocabulary. It felt a more challenging for Spanish, where it wasn't teaching me verbs properly but I could sense that it would be very valuable. So I found myself guessing verb endings and gender and such, which felt a little ineffective.
I've invested in 9 startups since December 2014, and it has been a very rewarding experience. I've been grateful to the companies who have let me invest, since I am a small investor and currently put in only $10k per startup. Whilst I have a lot going on with Buffer, I try to make myself available to the founders and have enjoyed sharing my thoughts and advice frequently with a few of them. I didn't make any investments in 2017, as I reinvested in buying some Buffer stock and rebalanced my portfolio a little so that I didn't have too much illiquid non-Buffer stock. However, I did invest in cryptocurrencies over the last few years, using dollar cost averaging for a stretch of time, and that has done well, so I may plan to invest in a few startups again over the next couple of years. I also have investments in stocks and bonds through Betterment and Robinhood, and those have done fairly well too.
Alongside helping founders of companies I've invested in, I also want to start spending a small amount of time (1 hour every week or two) making myself available for early stage founders to share their challenges and try to be a good advisor. This is something I've done much more in the past, but it's been a busy couple of years.
As a founder, I am not too interested in the "go big or go bust" path anymore, and have adjusted my approach with Buffer to match this. I want Buffer to be around for many years, decades, to come. I also want us to always be focused primarily on customers and the team. I've put effort into ensuring our ownership structure and investor-base is set up to support this approach, with the understanding that the best investor returns will come as a side effect to solving customer problems and having a motivated and fulfilled team to serve them. As an investor, I strive to be a slightly different voice to the usual, and will always be on the founder's side.