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Bubble & the implications for small builders

Wanted to make a quick separate spin-off post from another thread regarding the future of slow-growth builders who intend to use Bubble long-term. Bubble is an amazing tool to build on, which seems like a good reason to use some critical thinking and look at the long-term implications.

As self-aware business owners, entrepreneurs, and builders who are investing LOTS of time into the platform - one thing that I think we should all be mindful of is that Bubble has taken on MASSIVE financing itself, probably for the right reasons, so it seems pretty safe to say that Bubble is now 100% incentivized to maximize shareholder value aligned with whatever ROI they are pitching in their fundraising rounds (likely a VERY, very high multiple based on the amount of series A, narrative of users generating ‘billions of dollars’, and the investors involved). We’ve already seen the signs of this with the attempted pricing restructures…followed by community backlash…followed by more pricing restructures. Once Bubble’s userbase starts turning into mostly profitable (or VC funded) tech companies, which I’d bet is more than likely to happen, Bubble will probably become a very expensive platform for slow-growth entrepreneurs to build on - I would guess it may develop scaling economics similar to something like Algolia, which also appears to be a engaged in a commercial agreement with Bubble (sponsored integrations). Partnerships tend to exist between companies that have alignment around their respective growth strategies, domain expertise, and economics (Thunkable, Bubble, …). Classic price (Algolia) vs. complexity (Elastic Search) tradeoff. Not a deal killer by any means, just a consideration as we all keep building and growing as intelligent makers and business people :slight_smile:

If I had to speculate a forecast for a slow-growth-friendly Bubble climate (speculation like a weather forecast, I am not stating facts):
Phase 1) solo builders, small teams, & dev shops scrapping around building MVPs
Phase 2) → some of the MVPs raise big rounds while the Bubble sales team infiltrates the enterprise market for internal tooling
Phase 3) → Bubble’s largest % of paying users slowly shift to VC-backed startups and big tech companies
Phase 4) → Bubble’s product-led growth shifts the pricing model to retain VC/Enterprise customer base (this helps Bubble return value to Shareholders…especially as these hyper-growth customers grow themselves). Rinse and repeat for future rounds and IPO if and when applicable.
Phase 5) → the original early adopters of scrappy solo builders who built the traction for Bubble’s series A cry in a corner and start to find other solutions. Life goes on.

Dude, give us a case study

Take a look at TikTok’s entry into the USA, this is a GREAT example of product-driven growth doing a 0-1 play, which Bubble is also doing in the no-code space.

TikTok’s growth in EVERY country follows 4 phases:

  1. To launch into a new market, replicate content from other regions & introduce into target country.
    -----> Bubble community of builders and dev shops are building new “content” (i.e. no code) which is transferable between geographies and languages. Target countries for Bubble growth is currently USA and EU, while content is coming from all over the globe.
  2. Build up a content ecosystem by bringing onboard local Youtube, Instagram, Pinterest, etc. influencers. If a competitor platform spends $10k on influencers, TikTok spends $20k on influencers. This strategy kickstarts a positive feedback loop between content and users.
    -----> Bubble is currently offering ‘free dev plans’ and low cost personal plans, starting a ‘coaching’ marketplace, featuring builders on blog posts, etc. Dev Shops, coaches, and developers are promoting themselves (and Bubble) on social media, which brings on more users to Bubble and makes more coaches, developers, and dev shops that bring on more users… Bubble’s A round likely has a large allocation for Ad Spend and influencer marketing.
    -----> Bubble developers becoming heavily entrenched in a Hook Loop due to massive amounts of investment in time, content creation, and learning on bubble combined with the variable reward involved in any startup/project’s outcome.
  3. Grow DAU to 20-30% of total market share through aggressive ad spend. TikTok believes that once DAUs cross that threshold it will hit an inflection point where DAU will grow by itself, retention will jump, and app will become hyper sticky.
    -----> Anyone notice a lot more FB, IG, Google, YT ads for Bubble lately? I have.
  4. Once TikTok crosses the previous inflection point, product-led growth will take over all engines with full speed ahead. At this point, TikTok will reduce Ad spend and Ad-acquired users will just represent 20%-30% of new user acquisition.
    -----> This may translate into Solo builders / hobbyist Bubblers representing 20%-30% of new user acquisition vs. the ‘early days’ that we are currently in.

5 great lessons from TikTok’s growth:

  1. Think and act local
  2. Buy market share fast
  3. Ride other networks in the beginning
  4. Understand future trends (i.e. betting on short videos vs. long form)
    —> (similar to Bubble and Bubble devs betting on no-code)
  5. Offer new business model for creators
    —> Bubble marketplace, Bubble coaching, Bubble accelerator, Bubble Flamethrower Bubble Blower …

I do enjoy a post that reflects on Bubbles strategy.

out of all possible products to compare Bubble with, from Excel to Trello to Dropbox to Airtable, why go for Tiktok? Success can not always be obtained by copying the nr 1 successful outlier in a completely different industry.

You are right, in general a larger percentage of its users will be tech companies or in general fortune 500 companies although behaviour change for adoption is slow and bubble is not exactly easy to learn on the job. I remember at my old company from 100 people, only 10 understood excel well and had no time to teach anyone or work on it.

Going to enterprise will indeed allow them to charge more. To be fair you do get a lot of value for the 130 a month plan.

I hope the free and basic versions stay and rather get more features. Those versions need to stay no brainers otherwise entrepreneurs will flock to airtable and notion (which according to google trends they are doing already) and we lose word of mouth.

My solution would be to have a 70 a month and a 200 a month plan instead of the current 130 a month plan. Production can be made 700. I just know many clients will never pay 130 as they are testing and know the 130 will never come back to them. If you can pay 130 you can pay 200, same with 500 and 700.

As a Bubble influencer I can tell you (surprisingly) that influencers are not paid money by bubble. [Imo plugin builders should all get merch or fees reduced as they are so few but add so much value to ecosystem. ]
There was 1 test project: influencers got money for tweets, but this was not a big budget.
There is also no real strategy to get into new geographies, they just let users do that part.
Expansion into enterprise is not immensely focused at the moment, I think they know they first need more robust frontend, backend, server location choices etc

Ad spend is aggressive. The ads promise what only 0.1% entrepreneurs achieve. Huge success and funding . Almost seem misleading, especially given bubble currently offers no education towards how to market & do the rest of entrepreneurship not based around product. I personally would advertise speed to market and flexibility. This is also a better fit for enterprise.

A reminder to Bubble how Figma or Excel or Google Docs won. Mostly free, very low price, very low % capture of value. This leads to everyone using it and spreading it. As no solution that is 10x better can be built, this wins the entire market in 10-20 years.

The current path is the path to 10 Bill instead of 50Bn which is a shame.

Platform economics / content creation. You’re right, there are many great comparables. I chose TikTok because I see Bubble as #1 a platform of content creators (i.e. no-code content creators) and #2 a tool.

Agreed, my previous company used a pro plan and it was well worth it. Granted money was not tight at that scale vs. that of a ‘struggling maker’, which I think the personal plan is geared toward. My motivation behind the post is mainly to discuss the economics at scale (beyond a pro plan) as one’s business grows with time, taking into consideration potential pricing changes that may occur around storage, CPU usage, etc.

Or, one can just pay an exorbitant amount of $$ to a consulting company for an HBS or GSB MBA to quote Porters 5 (suppliers gain influence over a company if the company is heavily dependent on them) and advise the company to move away from a platform like Bubble at scale. I would guess that Bubble is already strategizing how to deal with this (or avoid targeting customers who get to that scale)

This is another reason I chose TikTok to use as a comparison point, ByteDance had a strategy and their competition was Youtube (Google), which is a massive feat. To your point, users generate all the value while the company executed strategy to capture market share.

You know what blows my mind?
ChaptGPT could probably do a decent job at having this conversation for us :rofl:

Bubble is growing? Huh.

implement Bubble in the organization as an internal tool with the on-premise deployment will increase the growth of the bubble more than you expect and will open a vast market feeling dull from traditional programming, I see that on Covid-19 crisis
I hope bubble owners believe and think in that solution