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Pricing updates and thoughts

Hey all,

A couple updates on pricing, and then some thoughts and reflections.

Starting with the updates:

  1. We want to make sure that people who have taken a risk on Bubble don’t feel like the ground is shifting out from under them. We appreciate you taking a chance on us, and hear you that this pricing change is a major shift. So, we’re going to enable current users (people who have accounts as of yesterday), to freely switch their apps between the old personal, professional, team, and production plans for the next two years. (After two years, we will disable the ability to change to one of the old plans).

  2. On the new professional plan, we are enabling buying up to 7 additional units of capacity (for a total of 10). In retrospect it seems obvious to us that there should be a scale-up path from professional to production: thank you for the feedback on this.

  3. As several people suggested, we are adding the ability for users on the new professional plan to have one additional version of their app using the new feature we released, which enables a hot-fix version and an ongoing development version

We may make further changes as we continue discussing this, but the above changes are all things we’re pretty confident are improvements, and are rolling out now.

That’s the end of the updates. On the reflections, we want to touch on two topics:

  • The sense of disappointment and betrayal a lot of you are expressing

  • How we think about pricing and why we’re changing things around

I want to be really clear: we care a LOT about not throwing you under the bus. We completely understand that people are betting their passions on us, and that you are relying on an implicit promise from us to do the right thing to let you continue to be successful.

Over the years, we’ve gone to some pretty extraordinary lengths to make sure we weren’t leaving users behind, many of which were behind the scenes and you guys don’t know about. To give one example, a couple years ago when we were doing a major database migration, we discovered at the last moment, after working on the project for months, that one bubble app had a custom type with so many custom fields that it wouldn’t fit in the new storage system. It was just a single one app, on a cheap plan, but after looking at the app, it looked like it wasn’t possible to delete those fields without completely restructuring the app. So to keep that app working, we modified our code to have an alternate storage mode, which we did in a crazy 48 hour sleepless push (which may have been the last straw that led to an ex-girlfriend breaking up with me, but that’s another story…)

From day one, it’s been obvious how much Bubble means to the community. Back when the Bubble team was just Emmanuel and me, and Emmanuel answered every customer email himself, he was off the grid and not answering emails for three days, and came back to an email from one of our more active users with the subject line “Why do you hate me???” The level of emotional involvement from our user base has been a constant from the beginning, and one of the main reasons we’ve been successful.

So, we absolutely and completely understand that the fundamental unit we are offering is trust. That cuts both ways, though: we need to be able to trust you guys to hear us out, take our actions with an expectation of good faith, and understand that we are going to make changes to how things work over the course of Bubble. For us to be successful and the community to flourish, we can’t be locked into decisions, pricing or otherwise, we made years ago. Our goal is for Bubble to be the best platform in the world for building applications, and that means we have to be constantly changing things up and trying new things.

We did a really bad job with this pricing change rollout. We didn’t adequately think through all the scenarios of how it would impact each user, and missed some important use cases. We did it a time when most of the recent work we’ve been doing has been behind-the-scenes (hiring, raising money, training and on-boarding our new team members, and working on giant infrastructure projects that don’t have immediate payoff but pave the way for future scalability and performance wins), so it hasn’t been obvious that we’ve been adding value. And we didn’t communicate our thinking at all, nor really put ourselves into the shoes of our users and realize how it would be perceived. So, we completely understand the reactions of shock and betrayal. That said, we’re still the same team you’ve been trusting for the last seven years. We’ve added some new faces, but they all buy into our mission, and Emmanuel and I still take responsibility for every decision Bubble makes. So I hope you guys are willing to re-extend your trust here.

Shifting topics, let’s talk about how we think about pricing.

Pricing Bubble is really hard, and from day 1 we’ve been struggling to find the best way to do it. We have two main challenges.

The first challenge is that our cost model is super complicated. Each Bubble app incurs a variety of different kind of expenses for us. Off the top of my head:

  • Webserver CPU
  • Webserver RAM
  • Database CPU
  • Database storage
  • Database RAM
  • CPU in our application storage database
  • Storage in our application storage database
  • RAM in our application storage database
  • S3 storage
  • Cache cluster CPU
  • Cache cluster RAM
  • Bandwidth into an out of AWS, as well as between different AWS systems
  • Cloudfront costs
  • Volume of log data produced and metrics data produced
  • External APIs that we pay for
  • Customer support

… and I’m probably forgetting a few. Not only are there a lot of different variables, but:

  • Different apps use different ratios of each one
  • Not all of these are easy to measure and attribute to a specific app
  • The ratios change over time as we change Bubble’s code

In addition to all that, we also have to pay for R&D and the growth of Bubble, which isn’t attributable to a single app but needs to be paid for to be able to provide the platform we want to provide.

The only realistic way to handle this kind of cost structure is to accept that we’ll lose money on some customers and make money on other customers, and put together pricing bundles with limits and extras to try to shape something that lets us be profitable while offering customers a range of choices that fit their business needs.

Some of you have wondered why this is still necessary with our recent fundraising. It’s true that some companies scale on VC capital with an unsustainable business model, and then hope to fix things when they’re ready to IPO. We do not want to do that. It’s a high-risk strategy that we think is a betrayal of the approach we’ve taken so far. We see our fundraise as a way of letting us take short-term bets and to spend money today that otherwise we’d have to wait two years for, but we don’t see it as an excuse to not continually work on our pricing and sustainability.

The second pricing challenge we face is that the amount of value we provide to customers is radically different. On the low end, we have people who are just trying things out, and aren’t making a cent yet, but have the expectation of making money in the future. On the high end, we have people running successful businesses on us that we are saving hundreds of thousands of dollars a year by drastically reducing the size of the engineering organization they would need if they built things by hand.

We care a lot about our customers who are using Bubble to learn and to try out ideas, so we don’t want to build a pricing model that locks them out. But we also want to make sure that we’re capturing a reasonable percent of the value we’re providing to our bigger customers, because that’s going to make Bubble long-term sustainable. It’s very hard to make money selling an extremely complex technical product to price-sensitive users who are trying out ideas, so it’s really important that when users do become successful, we financially share in that success.

So we are trying to construct a pricing model that keeps Bubble accessible, which we value personally and feel is a key driver of growth, but that also lets us charge customers who have more money something proportional to the value we’re providing without them feeling like we’re hiking up the price arbitrarily for them.

A big part of making that work is making sure our pricing communicates that Bubble is a valuable, complicated, expensive product, and that if you’re using it for learning or testing things out, you understand that it gets a lot more expensive as you grow on us. For an organization that’s off the ground, Bubble replaces: a) hiring front-end engineers, b) hiring back-end engineers, c) hiring a DBA, d) hiring an technical operations team, e) hosting and scaling costs. We feel our current pricing doesn’t make that clear, and wasn’t giving users enough incentive to upgrade once their businesses took off. The fact that people in this discussion have been comparing us to tools that produce html, css, and javascript, but don’t let you write arbitrary business logic, build a custom database schema, and handle hosting and scaling, demonstrates that we’ve been doing a poor job setting expectations around the value we provide.

So, we’ve been discontent with our pricing for a while, and making adjustments are overdue. We’d rather do them sooner rather than later, since the more users who join on the old pricing, the harder it is to change, which is why we made the changes now instead of waiting til when we had more wins and good news to pair it with. That said, we did a really poor job of the rollout, and a big part of this is also experimentation and learning: we’re not sure this new pricing is exactly right either, and we’d like to see how new users who don’t already have the current pricing scheme in their heads react to it.

Anyway, I hope this gives some visibility into why we feel we have to change things. We very much care about keeping Bubble accessible, and doing that while making sure Bubble is financially viable as we continue to grow and incur costs is not easy. We care a lot about you guys, and want to build the best possible platform.

As announced above, we’re making some immediate adjustments now based on the initial reactions, and we’ll continue this conversation and reply to people more specifically over the next week. Thank you all for your patience and for your continued support of the Bubble community.

– Emmanuel and Josh

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Thanks!

There will be much more to discuss, but thank you again for your goodwill and for making you feel that you are taking the community seriously.

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Those changes are a perfect compromise! Thanks!

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Appreciate the response! I think the adjustments to the pricing model you outlined address all of my personal concerns well enough.

As part of my day job, I’m constantly having to justify the value of our product (that costs in the hundreds of thousands to millions per year) and know how much of a nightmare that is, and our buyers are extremely technical.

While Bubble is very different than other tools in terms of what it provides, I worry folks don’t have a proper understanding of what running an app built with another tool actually entails. It’d be interesting for someone to do an end-to-end process of building and running a simple app in prod across Bubble and other tools actually looks like, so folks can compare it and get the value.

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During these two years can I create a brand new app in the legacy pricing scheme? If not. Still unhappy.

And still was hoping to have 1 or 2 dev versions on personal plan.

Why wouldnt we single developers need to branch before scaling?

I don’t mind paying 25 USD per month for an app that performs better. It’s only less encouraging to actually upgrade.

Why can’t you allow us to add a domain to free plans before we upgrade? You could put a floating group on the page that says ( this is made by bubble ).

This would allow us to test before we upgrade.

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Thank you Josh!

To be honest, I was not really disappointed about the price changes as you guys delivery a valuable service which have no competitors at this moment. There are few options on the market, but bubble have a different purposes and it’s really hard to compare. I was only concerned, that this changes was not announced a way in advance, but I’m glad that you are taking care of your community and made a well explained post above.
There are definitely more place for suggestions from a community, which will eventually bring the attractions for a new users!

“Mistakes are bad if you can’t learn from them”

I’m still happy to be with bubble.

Thanks,
Oleksiy

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Thanks @josh and @emmanuel! Much appreciated.

@andrewgassen

I know the exact process well as I have been running VPS’s for years in Linode, Digital Ocean, and AWS. Outside of completely unmanaged platforms like those above, there are many Managed Hosting providers like Cloudways or Pantheon that manage the infrastructure for you.

I can stand up a decent-sized server on DO for $20 per month, take 30 minutes to install Virtualmin, re-point domain, and within less than 1 hour be ready. Managing a system is relatively low in the beginning, while the footprint of infrastructure can get more complicated over time (CDNs, load balancers, caching, etc), at that point you should be generating some type of revenue and could hire an admin, even part time, to manage the system.

And the beauty of all of this is that I’m not stuck in a proprietary platform.

That being said Bubble had/has some advantages over these other ways and as long as there is perceived value to the users, then Bubble will continue to be successful, but once the cost/benefit analysis determines that it is no longer financially, or technically feasible, to continue using the platform, as this most recent set of changes did, then you’ll have many loyal users, and an unknown amount of potential new users, finding alternatives.

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In the beginning you could create unlimited apps. Right now I do think that there should be a possibility to create plans that have a max amount of visitors. ie. an app that has millions of visitors a day should pay a different price than a startup with 1 visitor a day.

I think that’s also how Bubble pays AWS for their infrastructure. Your pricing should be based on usage. Right now the small guys are paying the bills of the big guys.

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Thanks @emmanuel and @josh for this response.

As they say the true test of a person’s character is not when all is well, but how they react when they face adversity. Some of the decisions in yesterday’s update were questionable but I didn’t lose trust in you guys yet - was rather waiting to see how you respond to your community.

And I must say I’m very happy and satisfied with how you guys have reacted.
It’s actually a great sigh of relief because most of us really trust you guys and have invested so much time into this platform - assisting on this forum, creating plugins and templates, pitching bubble to others, etc.
So if you guys hadn’t reacted well like this it will have been a great betrayal and heartbreak.
I’ve always felt a feeling of genuineness in your cause any time I hear you guys speak, especially all the times i’ve listened to Emmanuel on different podcasts (strangely I haven’t heard Josh’s voice before lol).

Some of us with a bit of programming and IT background know the value that Bubble provides. And it is fair that you guys gain financially for providing such value. And as i’ve personally said several times on this platform I believe Bubble’s pricing compared to other platforms is a bit on the low side. There are even few plugins with monthly subscription higher than some bubble plans themselves.

But I think you guys should also be always aware that what you’ve done goes beyond just a product or business as usual. There is a huge social aspect to it. You’re truly changing the world, making it a better place, not the usual cliche we hear from startups. You’re really democratizing software engineering.

Conventionally on a personal note I shouldn’t be doing bubble stuff. I’m almost done with PhD in Computer Science, my training is in requirement modeling and analysis in safety-critical systems. But here am I spending a lot of my time doing bubble stuff and after school I may end up doing something Bubble related instead of working in an aerospace or automotive industry, building self-driving cars like my colleagues. There is no greater joy to turn someone’s vision into a product in a week or two or someone sending you a personal thank you note how your plugin saved them several days of work and headaches allowing them to realize their dream.

You guys should always remember there is a social calling aspect to your business and you shouldn’t leave anyone behind. So pricing should really be thought through very well.

I will like to end this long post with a proposal for pricing as has been proposed by many on this forum. Bubble should consider letting people pay for what they need on top of some base features in each plan. Something similar to what Backendless calls Functional packs (Backendless is overpriced though i think :face_with_raised_eyebrow: ).

So lets say your plan offers 1 collaborator or even no collaborator at all. If you want to have more collaborators, instead of moving to a higher plan you buy a functional pack say $x/month for one collaborator or $y/month for unlimited collaborators.
You’re on a professional plan and want to have more version branches, buy a functional pack.
This way the platform grows with people instead of forcing people to jump from one plan to another just because they want to use a custom domain and don’t require anything more in the plan.

Oh and please allow free plans to purchase plugins because it is affecting plugin sales :grinning:.

Thank you guys, you’ve spoken well.

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Yes, please allow free users to purchase Plugins.

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Thanks for listening and taking the time to respond and react properly to all the concerns, instead of trying to put out each little fire one by one in that dumpster fire of a thread.

Keep up the great work @emmanuel @josh and the Bubble team. We appreciate what you have built and especially appreciate the time, headaches and relationships you have sacrificed to get it here!

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Just want to say great work @Emmanuel & @josh.

What you have created is a real gamer changer. As a non-technical co founder you really have opened up a world of possibility and changed the game. No longer do I have to pay crazy amounts for developers to build stuff that is locked away. If that means pricing tweaks to make the service better and for you guys to run a sustainable on going business then I’m behind it.

On a personal level I know what it’s like to start a community, make changes and get backlash. I know what it’s like to put your heart and sole in to something and it’s hard not to take the criticisms personally. I’m very much of the opinion with you guys that you can very much assume best intensions.

Keep doing what you’re doing guys.

Revolution is exhausting and you are at the forefront of a revolution.

Dom

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Very impressed by your response to the community @emmanuel & @josh.
On my side, the updates you proposed to the pricing makes complete sense, and answer to my initial questions about it. Working with and for businesses, I keep thinking that the pricing - at any tiers - remains a bargain for a lot of our clients, for the reasons you mentioned .
Having said that, I discovered and still use Bubble for myself as maker. So definitely agree that this use case and persona should be preserved and central for Bubble.

You guys have a great challenge to accommodate both side, but until now (and especially now), you definitely succeeded on that.So Keep the great work ! :ok_hand:

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Thank you @josh & @emmanuel! Everything you outline above is completely understandable, fair, and re-ignites my excitement about Bubble’s future!

I can confirm that you can create new apps and change to any legacy plan. So that’s great. Thanks for that guys.

Still hoping for versioning in all paid plans(legacy and new ones).

I am single developer. I need branching. Can’t afford going pro on every app I am working on. Branching is just so core to any development that I can’t understand why it’s not part of all paid plans.

@josh and @emmanuel you guys use GIT right? Can you imagine your GIT host charging you a premium for each branch you created? It’s nuts right?

Ok, we are not using GIT for Bubble apps, you have had to build your own Bubble GIT.

But that is actually your product proposal. Get rid of the GIT command complexity and provide a visual interface for non-technical people.

That is what Bubble is. Why close behind a 100$ barrier your own idea of GIT? Does your GIT provider charge you by number of branches? No right? Don’t do the same.

Versioning should be CORE to the product because it allows people to build better Bubble apps. It allows Bubblers to provide BETTER quality to their clients. Which in turn should increment the trust of everybody in Bubble.

Without versioning we Bubblers are building worse apps. Our deployment is bad and our change management even worse. Overall service quality is bad. Don’t do this.

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Thank you for a thoughtful response and some commonsense changes here!

I had a sleepless night thinking about what we were going to do and how I was going to approach this with the rest of our small team.

I felt like I have been here before but in a traditional built app (which I still manage with traditional coding developers and which I administer on AWS with very similar service stack, so I am not oblivious to the costs.).

The reason the community is so great is because you have in essence created a movement based on liberating ideas from those few of us who know how to raise funds and chase the next dollar to turn the idea into something real. Which I may add is not a sustainable business model in anyone’s book! So applaud your approach to fund raising.

So it was heartbreaking to see changes made as if we had just returned to our barely road worthy cars to find someone had stuck a fire hydrant next to it accompanied by a $500 parking ticket stuck to the windshield.

This community is different! This community has laid it’s heart at your feet and is why many of us are so angry and frankly pissed off!

We have spent years learning Bubble and helping to cocreate and help out each other where we can. Many of us have spent way more than the subscription price filling in the gaps where documentation was lacking or non existent, where issues required crazy workarounds all because we believed in the Bubble vision!

Now, I am not oblivious that this is a business and you need to make money to survive and I am all for that! But, do us all a favor! Before making another decision talk to your community of cocreators. Let us know why you are making a decision and what we can do to mitigate our risk and avoid getting that $500 parking ticket, at least until we can afford to pay it.

I am writing this at 5am AU time because I still haven’t slept working through possible scenarios, but will reserve judgment, watch and listen over the next few weeks until I know more about what surprises we need to plan for if we continue with Bubble.

We at least now know we can buy capacity until we can make the leap, what ever that will look like.

@josh @emmanuel You have a vast amount of knowledge and insights in this community, harvest it, learn from it and step outside traditional thinking and once in a while - go talk to users and listen, really listen to the Why and not just the What!

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Now that’s what I’m talking about!

I think we all deserve a pat on the back - The Community for reminding (yet again) what makes hanging out here so awesome, and @josh, @emmanuel and the whole team for reminding us why we trusted Bubble in the first place.

We’re behind you all the way.

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I would be very interesting for people who test to launch several small business, to give the opportunity to have several (2,3… or more :slight_smile: ) app with the personal plan… Or a price less expensive for the next apps…

Hi @josh & @emmanuel,

thanks for being this responsive to the community.

It has been an awesome journey with Bubble so far & your commitment is not in question at all.

As you said you are still open to feedback and learning about the right price point; here are my views:

  • Apart from having the monthly plan which I think is sensible, make it more clear that you can stay on a professional plan and add capacity as you scale for $30 (similar to the point that @Codeables made). This is especially true since there is still room for improvement regarding Bubble’s performance.

  • We’d love to have more flexibility and thus a more modular approach to pricing connected to certain features (even though plugins should be available for anyone on free plan)

This way your customers can naturally adjust the cost of their apps to what their business actually needs & is going to need in the future.

Thanks for reflecting on this & building such a great product.

Best,
Julius