Last Thursday we won the Startup DemoDay competition at WeWork, the co-working space where we have our San Francisco office. That was awesome. We got to demo Silk for hundreds of people. We won the “People’s Choice” Award with twice as many votes as the nearest participant (although all of the demoing companies were impressive). Our favorite part of the evening, though, came after the awards at the end of the night. We got the chance to build a useful, insightful Silk for a data-savvy customer. Live and in real-time. In 15 minutes. No lie.
That customer was three senior folks from the Buffer Happiness Team (Åsa Nystrom, Carolyn Kopprasch, and Mary Jantsch, a trio of talented ladies. We knew them virtually quite well. We had interacted with each other often over the past year. Buffer is our primary social media management and scheduling tool. We like it a lot. When we were demoing Silk for them, they got it right away. And then they said something interesting: “Why don’t you build a Silk of our salary and equity data? It’s posted online.”
Buffer is an unusual company in that the CEO Joel Gascoigne has a policy of radical transparency. There is a specific formula for employee salaries and equity grants. Everyone knows exactly what everyone else is earning because it’s publicly posted. It’s one thing to see this data in a spreadsheet. But it’s entirely another thing to see it visualized before your eyes. The Buffer team pointed us to the spreadsheet and I gave it a quick look.
The data needed a tiny bit of scrubbing, and this gave me a chance to give a few pointers on good data hygiene for spreadsheet-to-Silk conversions. We deleted two rows that had horizontally and vertically merged cells (you need a perfectly flat spreadsheet for good conversions). We downloaded that spreadsheet as a CSV and quickly uploaded it as a Silk. Then I built a nice pie-chart visualization (see above) with inline filters showing the salary breakdown of Buffer.
I copied the visualization to my Silk clipboard, went to the homepage of Open Salary and Equity Buffer Silk, and pasted it onto the home page. We also dragged a picture of Joel and Leo talking to make the home page prettier. For good measure, we added a nice column chart of the equity distribution. No surprise - Joel and co-founder Leo have the biggest stakes but others on the team also have significant stakes.
Voila! The data was published and online, and with beautiful SEO and easy to read on iPads, phones and laptops. You could filter data by role, seniority and any other parameter that was a column header on the spreadsheet. Jaws dropped. High-fives all around and big smiles. We thought Joel might like it so we tweeted him. His response is below.
Thanks, Joel. We think Silk is very cool, too.
Note: If you are a Radical Transparency company, please contact me about putting your data into a Silk. We’d like to create a comparative Silk with data from multiple Radical Transparency companies. Thanks for reading.