3/21/22: View the latest update here: Pricing: the path forward from here
We’re still working through the feedback on the specifics of the pricing change, but we wanted to respond to the concerns about trust and platform stability that many of you have raised.
To summarize the concerns:
- Many of you have made massive investments in Bubble, and/or made commitments to your clients, and rely on Bubble being predictable and not suddenly changing out from under you.
- Given that the original planned pricing is a non-starter for many members of the community, you are concerned about the decision-making process that led to the plan. How did we land somewhere that was so off-base? And what does that imply for how we’ll make decisions in the future?
In short, because of the magnitude of impact a change we make can have on your business, you need to be able to trust us.
The short answer is: you’re right. We do have a responsibility to be a trustworthy platform, and we made serious errors in how we approached this process. We feel terrible about this, because we all try very hard to do right by our users, and as many of you have pointed out, mistakes like this are needlessly destructive to both Bubble as a company and everyone who depends on us. We are very, very sorry to everyone whose business was impacted by our announcement, as well as everyone who put plans on hold, or dealt with fear and anxiety because of it.
We’re still post-mortem-ing this internally to make sure we understand exactly how we went off course, but I want to share our preliminary thoughts on how our collective decision-making failed:
- Our user testing wasn’t sufficiently iterative or comprehensive. Near the beginning of the process 9 months ago, we conducted about 30 user interviews of new and existing users testing out a bunch of different pricing schemes, and relied on that feedback to shape our decisions. We deliberately didn’t show concrete numbers for most of these interviews, because we wanted to get a sense in the abstract of what structures made sense to people without the specific numbers we picked biasing people in favor of one structure or another. We relied too heavily on this qualitative feedback, and as we narrowed in on the planned pricing, we didn’t show the numbers for the new limits to very many users. However, the level of the limits made a major difference for how viable the pricing scheme was. Also, in retrospect, it’s not clear we got a broad enough sampling of the community for our initial interviews: as many people have pointed out, there’s a huge diversity of business models and needs across our user base, so we likely needed a larger sample to make sure it was truly representative. Finally, we didn’t do a good job of leveraging our existing network of power users, community contributors, and successful businesses as part of the feedback process.
- We under-weighted some of the critical feedback we did hear. Various users we talked to did raise some of the concerns that you’ve been expressing. But because most of the conversations occurred in the abstract, without specific numbers, these concerns didn’t come out as forcefully. That said, our team did originally consider concerns you all raised, including the fact that apps have a lot of variation in how many DB things are needed per user, and the risk that limits on DB things could encourage poor app design practices. We knew going into our pricing work that there’s no perfect pricing for a product like Bubble, and we expected that there would be tradeoffs with whatever we decided to go with. We knew that there would be no way to make everyone happy (our current pricing definitely does not make everyone happy), but we underestimated the severity of these issues, and didn’t do enough follow-up digging to validate how real a concern they were. This is one of the points we plan to spend more time on in our internal post-mortem; we want to make sure we didn’t fall into group-think, or create an environment where people on the team weren’t comfortable pushing back.
- We over-weighted the value of a delayed rollout for existing applications and our promise to reach out to people 1:1 to work through issues. We spent a lot of our time and energy debating the best way of doing this, to make sure that there was a valid path forward for the apps that would see a steep price increase. As a result, I think we got tunnel vision on that point and missed some broader context. One key piece of that context we missed was planned work – projects that agencies and freelancers had sold to clients, or people who had invested in learning Bubble and building out a specific app idea but hadn’t subscribed to a plan yet.
Beyond those specific points, we overall failed to get enough community involvement and feedback on a major, impactful change to the platform. In general, we’ve been trying to build a culture of engaging our users early and often. We view the new responsive project as a major success on that front: we workshopped it extensively with users and ended up making major changes to it even before the beta release. We failed to extend that culture of user engagement to this pricing change. In retrospect, that was us failing to trust the community enough, and we see that as a major mistake that in turn eroded your trust in us.
As we discuss more internally about what happened, I’m sure this picture of where we went wrong will get more accurate and specific, but I wanted to provide full transparency into our current thinking. We don’t see a way of achieving what we want to achieve – making Bubble a stable, robust, world-class platform that makes no-code the default way of creating new software – without asking you to place trust in how we run the company. The only way we can ask for that trust is if we’re transparent about our mistakes, even if it shows our weaknesses as a team. We see Bubble’s long-term success and your long-term success as inextricably linked: we don’t think we can succeed without doing right by the community, and we don’t think the community can succeed without us successfully running the business.
Here’s how we plan to move forward. We do think that our current capacity-based pricing is not setting Bubble or the community up for long-term success. That said, we plan to sharply correct in the direction of getting community engagement and feedback. As we incorporate the feedback we’ve already gotten into our thinking, we’ll be sharing our updated thoughts with our users. Specifically, we promise to share any revised plan with our users, with time for the community to engage and comment on it, before finalizing it. We may do this multiple times as necessary to iterate on feedback. We can’t promise to arrive at something that makes everyone happy, but we can promise to get to something that works in general and sets everyone up for long-term success.
Again, our sincere apologies for missing the mark on this. We really appreciate everyone who cares enough about Bubble to speak up when something is wrong, and we will work to make this right.