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Looking Back at 2019

Hello friends of Balsamiq!

This post continues our tradition of looking back at the previous year and sharing our plans for the current one. Previous editions are here: 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2009, 2008.

The long road to Balsamiq Wireframes for Desktop

As you've heard for years now, we have been fully rewriting our tool from the ground up to provide you with a native experience on the Web, Mac, and Windows. We shipped the Web version in 2018, and have been working on bringing the new codebase to Mac and Windows since.

Well, 2019 is the year we finished this massive project. We released Balsamiq Wireframes for Desktop on January 15th, and it has been received incredibly well.

If you're still using Mockups 3 for Desktop, we highly encourage you to give Balsamiq Wireframes a try. It's so much better, y'all. 😊

Ensuring that the release would be as smooth as possible was a year-long project. We ran two private beta programs, as well as an early-access program which we call the gamma. All in all, over 1,000 people tested the app before we launched.

Balsamiq Wireframes for Desktop is a paid update for existing customers, something we have never done before. So we had to update our website and improve our shopping cart software accordingly, which is not easy when you have over 10,000 transactions a month like we do.

We also had to completely revamp our documentation, create new intro videos, update our legal documents, and a lot more. You can see why this project took up most of our company's efforts in 2019.

We're very proud of what we've accomplished. If you like using desktop apps, give it a try! The new version even lets you work on your Balsamiq Cloud projects!

Our online services

Speaking of Balsamiq Cloud — we shipped it in 2017, and after some growing pains in 2018, it really came into its own in 2019. We added some features — project history, email notifications, a new fullscreen presentation mode — but mostly what we worked on was scalability. We added metrics, alarms, removed bottlenecks, ditched two outside vendors in favor of homegrown solutions (both cheaper and more flexible) and kept up with security updates throughout the year. As you will see below, Cloud is now our #1 product. We're finally mostly a SaaS company! 😊

Our integrations with Atlassian Confluence, Atlassian Jira, and Google Drive had a blockbuster year, growing over 25% year over year! The growth was mostly due to Data Center licensing, a new offering from Atlassian for their biggest customers. It didn't take much effort to support on our part, but it brought a bunch of big customers to us, basically for free. Thanks, Atlassian! 😊

As always, we did a lot of maintenance work for integrations this year, but we also managed to squeeze in quite a few new features: notifications, mentions, new fullscreen presentation mode, image links, and a whole new admin interface for our Google Drive integration which enabled us to offer it to schools for free. We love it!

We continued to do a lot of work around privacy: it's something we want to compete on, we want to be best-in-class when it comes to protecting your data. It's a lot of behind the scenes work: bringing more services in-house, clarifying our legal documents, changing our internal processes, regularly auditing ourselves to make sure we do our best to stay compliant with privacy laws like the GDPR. It's hard work, but it's the right thing to do.

Our company

Over the years, we have learned that our company has to be as awesome and solid as our product. Making it so takes as much work as making the product itself. Last year was no exception.

We welcomed Kendra and Billy to the team, bringing us to 33 employees, still spread around 5 countries and 2 US states.

We finished working on our new office in Bologna, Italy — we call it The Nest — and used it to host an awesome company retreat and several other smaller events. Oh, and a few people actually work from there every once in a while... 😊 but we remain optimized for working from home.

We did a major rework of our internal wiki. It had accumulated 10 years of work in a single Confluence Space, so in 2019 we decided to split it up. Teams now have their own Spaces and are working on developing their team playbooks, documenting their best practices. We also greatly cleaned up and revamped our all-company handbook: it's very lean and much more useful now.

This is just the tip of the iceberg; there is a mountain of ongoing work involved in running our not-so-little-any-more multinational company. Again, it's hard work, but we're happy to do it if it means that we can build a long-lasting company that will serve our customers for years and years to come.

Our revenue numbers

Speaking of longevity: you can sleep well at night, things are looking good over here. Total revenue in 2019 was USD $6,668,254.74. 😊
Revenue Total Balsamiq 2019

As you can see, after the decline of the last 2 years — due mostly to our "full rewrite" project — we grew over 11% in 2019. That's a very big jump, especially for an 11-year-old company, and it brings us back to the nice and slow growth trajectory we were having in 2014, 2015, and 2016.

The jump is bigger than what I like though: if not managed well, more growth means a bigger company with more complexity, more bureaucracy, slower speed, poor customer service...I don't like it. I often joke that we're like a central bank: we aim for a nice 2% growth year over year. We believe it's the best way for us to last a long time while maintaining our company culture and overall quality.

Revenue Type Balsamiq 2019

As you can see from the chart above, Desktop continued to decline (we hadn't shipped the new version yet), but the decline was offset by big growth both in SaaS (Balsamiq Cloud) and integrations (primarily Atlassian Data Center).

Finally our recurring SaaS revenue has surpassed our Desktop revenue. We're no longer a shareware company, we're a SaaS company now! Bye bye 1990s, welcome 2010s! Oh wait, we're 10 years too late... 😊

A quick peek into 2020

Now that the big rewrite is done, what on earth are we going to do with our time???? 😊

Well, first we'll make sure the new codebase becomes rock solid, focusing on bugs for a few months. This will give our customers time to update from Mockups to Wireframes, too. In the second half of the year, we’ll finally be able to dedicate time to long-awaited features. We can't wait. Stay tuned here and on our blog for updates.

Our company will continue to grow and get more solid as well. We are improving how we build products and how we structure our teams for maximum independence, efficiency, and, of course, longevity.

We hope we won't grow too much, but our predictions so far say otherwise... 😊

Stick with us, it will be fun!


Peldi for the Balsamiq Team

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Comments (1)

  1. Thank you for sharing the journey. I especially appreciate the window into the back office journey. Much 2-4%/yr success in this next 10!

    Dean Church