Last week, I was looking into startups sharing their revenue numbers publicly as part of the research for my weekly newsletter. I had just heard about how Transistor.fm had recently stopped sharing their revenue numbers with the public. It made me look into the all-time hero of open revenue data, Buffer, only to find that they also stopped sharing their revenue details.
So what is going on there?
Turns out there is a time when open revenue is great, and a time when it's not. It appears that in the beginning, the benefits of sharing this kind of information is incredibly high: it positions your business as an honest, small but aspiring, and transparent company. That builds a lot of trust. People love the underdog.
At some point, many companies who benefitted from this start looking at this kind of transparency as a risk. There are just too many eyes on their data. Not only does the competition see their numbers in great detail, but they also get to do so without sharing their own. At a certain point, transparent revenue turns into a one-side information advantage that you freely gift to any existing or would-be competition.
And that's when companies stop being transparent.
I've written at length about this on my blog at Too Many Eyes: Why Bootstrapped Companies Stop Being Transparent (Eventually) and of course in last week's newsletter.
I've heard from many indie hackers that they'd love to share, but are afraid of these unforeseen consequences. What's your opinion? Worth the risk? Breaking new ground?