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The Inside Scoop from Balsamiq:
The juiciest details about what happened in 2016
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Detailed Financial Charts!
Company Improvements!
Projects that failed!
Hello friends of Balsamiq!
Just as we promised, here's our first newsletter. It contains details that we won't share more publicly for another month or two.

We really want to establish a close relationship with our super-fans, and the newsletter is one of the ways we're trying to do so.

We hope you'll enjoy this edition. We can't wait to hear your thoughts about it!

Looking Back at 2016

As usual, we shared a ton of information about our past year on our blog: https://blog.balsamiq.com/looking-back-2016/

And here's what we DIDN'T publish on the blog! :)

Admin and Finance Charts

Here are the revenue numbers from 2016:
Revenue is growing steadily at almost $6.6M. It didn't grow quite as much as we expected because of a number of reasons, but we're not bothered by it. We've always focussed on long-term financial health, not quick growth.
Desktop and myBalsamiq had a good year. Plugins a little less but we know why: we migrated a large chunk of customers to Atlassian Marketplace, and gave each customer 7 months of free service to ease their pain.
The geographical distribution is pretty much identical as in past years. As usual, Australia is overrepresented because that's how we track sales that happen via Atlassian Marketplace (Atlassian is based in Australia, but the customers really come from all over the world).

We won't know our exact profit numbers for another few months, but we expect them to be very healthy as usual (we historically have over 30% profit margins).

Company Improvements

As our company grows, we're constantly evolving our policies to keep up with our challenges.

Here's what happened this year in the area we call Company Kaizen, continuous improvement:

  • At the beginning of the year, I asked the company if they wanted to introduce people managers. The answer was a loud, resounding no.
  • Instead, we formalized the role of Project Managers a bit. We now call them Team and Project Organizers (to get that loaded "Manager" word out of there).
  • We reviewed our Professional Development and Get Together budgets, and encouraged people to use them more.
  • Introduced Team Quarterly Review and Planning meetings.
  • We changed the format of All Hands Monthly page, to focus less on individual work and more on team work and individual personal news.
  • We revamped and renewed our Monthly Media Club meeting.
  • I got a CEO coach! I hired Paul Kenny of Ocean Learning and Business of Software fame to tell me what the heck I should be doing as the CEO. We had 6 great sessions, and I'm still executing on all the advice Paul gave me. Highly recommended!
  • At the retreat, we split into groups and had a lovely session following the Case Clinic format.
  • Our Bay Area employees got together for a few loneliness-busting co-working days.
  • We discussed the idea of introducing Sabbaticals, but we didn't take any action yet. We'll discuss it again in 2017.
  • We defined and published The Balsamiq Mantras.
  • We wrote and published The Balsamiq Marketing Checklist.
  • We updated how we run quarterly 1-1 reflections, and split the salary review into different meetings.
  • We started Health channel in Slack to motivate each other to stay healthy.
  • We started a Lovefest and an Opportunityfest channel in Slack. A blog post about them is coming soon.
  • We started having "Friday Funtimes" meetings: we put five employees chosen at random in a Google Hangout for 30 minutes every Friday, with no agenda. Just to hang out. This was something we stole straight from Michael Pryor's Business of Software talk.
  • We introduced "Peldi Office Hours": I'm available to any employee for 90 minutes every Monday to talk about non-work stuff.
  • We introduced a simple policy to help with "Conflict Resolution and Giving Difficult Feedback".
  • We started using KnowYourCompany and we're loving it!
  • We started looking into making project retrospectives (Postmortems) more common.
  • We built an internal tool to help us manage our many current and future projects, which we're calling Acetaia.

Projects That "Failed" This Year

Not all of our projects bore fruit. It's a normal part of craftsmanship, no need to be ashamed of it.

Here's a list for 2016:

  • We tried to hire a full-time programmer in the PST time zone (again), but it didn't work out.
  • We tried to get faster internet at the office but couldn't.
  • We seriously tried to use Basecamp and Facebook Workplaces instead of Hipchat, but they didn't stick. We ended up switching to Slack instead.
  • We tried to hire an investment broker in the US but it got complicated.
  • We started developing some features in our Flex codebase only to decide that they were too risky to be shipped. We'll rebuild them on the new codebase instead. The features were: find and replace, nested symbols and a larger canvas size.
Thanks for reading our first newsletter! See you next month with some more behind-the-curtain details from Balsamiq-land! :)

If anything surprised you or sparked your interest, don't be shy and send us an email or chat with us on Slack! We'd love to answer any questions you might have.
 
We hope 2017 brings you and your families health, happiness and success.

Onward!
Peldi for the Balsamiq Team
 
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