Since being founded in 2014, Hotjar has been bootstrapped and profitable. To date, we’ve only reinvested into the business and no dividends have been paid out to shareholders. We’ve done this because we’re truly passionate about our vision, the work we do, and the people we do it for, and we believe that we’re building the foundations of a long-lasting business.
We’ve always believed in documenting our journey transparently, but it’s been almost two years since our last official company update, when we announced that we were investing €4 million into improving Hotjar and making it even better for you and your teams. Since then, we’ve had some successes, made some mistakes, and kept investing in the business—by the end of 2019, we’ll have added an additional €13 million on top of what we last announced. Today, I’m sharing an overview of how we did it, what this means for you, and what we’re doing next.
How we’ve been investing in the business
Since the beginning of 2017, we’ve invested a total of €17.5 million into Product, Engineering, and Customer Experience — after the €3.7 million we announced in 2017 (we did not quite hit the €4 million we originally predicted), we grew our investment to €5.5 million in 2018, and we’ll reach €8.3 million by the end of 2019.
But numbers on their own don’t mean much, so here’s a roundup of how we actually invested these resources into making Hotjar a better product and delivering a better service to you and your teams.
1. Growing a world-class remote team
Over the last 2 years, we’ve been extremely busy hiring new team members: the overall team has grown from 20 people to 71.
The Hotjar team has more than tripled in size since Jan 2017, going from 20 to 71 remote team members
Hotjar is a fully remote company, which means we can bring the best talent on board regardless of where our team members live.
Still, it takes a lot of time to hire, train, and build efficient and productive teams; with an extra 50 people, we had to change tools and processes to remain as lean as we were as a team of 20. For example, in 2018 we had to form a new engineering team from existing team members to focus specifically on improving how we deploy changes and updates. Not having this in place would have made deploy times get longer and longer, leading to a bottleneck for all our teams.
2. Bringing you better, faster support
As the team grew, we made many improvements and investments in the way we support and help our users and customers.
For example, we’ve more than doubled the size of our support team (the Customer Experience department now makes up 34% of the Hotjar team), including hiring more Support Engineers and creating a new Support Ops team.
Back in Jan 2018, we also moved over to a new ticketing platform (Zendesk) that can scale with us and allow us to manage your requests in a prioritized, more efficient manner.
Additionally, we continue to invest in improving our knowledge base and the overall help experience so our users can self-serve and solve their problems faster. These changes have paid off, as we’ve retained an average support CSAT score of over 95% despite doubling our number of customers and users—which means that if you ever need help with your Hotjar setup or account, you can be sure there’s someone ready to assist you.
3. Improving Hotjar (but not as quickly as we wanted to)
Since the beginning of 2017, we successfully worked on several key projects and updates that include:
Addressing over 500 reported bugs and issues (which is a typical part of a Software company workflow)
The reality is that we had more ambitious plans, but we haven’t shipped as many key changes as we wanted to. For example, we had a false start to our ‘events-based architecture’, which would allow you to better segment and filter data, set events and goals to track, better connect the dots between analytics and feedback, and pave the way for more automated insights. We realized we didn’t have enough resources to execute on this change as fast as we had hoped. We also made mistakes while building a Hotjar mobile app, which we shared transparently on this blog.
These lessons have made us stronger, bolder, and ready for the exciting challenges ahead.
4. Privacy by design and GDPR
One of the largest and most important projects we worked on in both 2017 and 2018 was making Hotjar GDPR-ready. 9 months of work by the product, engineering, and legal/ops teams were invested into taking the steps necessary across the entire company to ensure compliance with the GDPR.
Some of the (many) things we accomplished included improving anonymity within our analytics tools and making changes to allow you to tailor consent requests within Hotjar’s feedback tools. We also worked on interfaces that help you address personal data requests from your customers.
a piece OF OUR GDPR work: suppression features to protect privacy
More importantly, we welcomed the reinforcing elements of the GDPR as a continuation of our commitment to a ‘privacy by design’ approach. From day one, Hotjar was designed and built with privacy in mind: we created a service to help understand and interpret user behavior anonymously, without personally identifying individual users.
We believe we have a responsibility to safeguard privacy and support anonymity in user behavior analysis, so that trust between you and your visitors, prospects, and customers can be assured and maintained.
A new vision for the future of Hotjar
At the end of 2018, we refreshed the Hotjar vision to move away from just ‘democratizing’ user feedback and analytics to focus more on the outcome you care about—getting better results by building better experiences for your users and customers.
We’re presenting it here publicly for the first time, and we are truly excited about executing against it over the months and years to come:
Hotjar’s new vision shared with the team in 2018
New team structure & two VPs
To build a product that truly delivers on this vision, we know that we need to build the Hotjar team further (as you can see from our careers page).
We have already started by hiring specialized engineers and a technical program manager; during the second week of April, a VP of Engineering has joined the team with a focus on improving our architecture and speed of execution.
Later in the same month, a VP of Marketing also joined our leadership team. Among other objectives, he will be focusing on empowering the entire Hotjar team to better understand you, our customers, and deliver an even stronger brand and buyer experience.
Finally, this year we will also be hiring two new product & engineering teams. All these new hires will mean we can move faster and deliver more updates and value to you.
Learning from our mistakes, we are also committed to going further and restructuring the way our teams work together. In 2019, we’re giving new multi-disciplinary teams (called Tribes) more ownership and autonomy—which means faster updates and improvements.
A new Premium plan and pricing research
Our team has always focused on creating fast, easy to use, and affordable software for sites and businesses of all sizes. But with more and more sophisticated requests coming from high-traffic sites and larger businesses, we decided to build a plan to meet these needs. That’s the Hotjar Premium plan, which is currently in beta and being tested by a few hundred Hotjar customers. We will have more news on the Premium plan and its official launch later this year, after we’ve collected sufficient feedback and made any required changes.
Finally, we’ve also been doing extensive research on the plans and pricing we introduced back in 2015. While we’d love to say we put a lot of thought into the prices we set back then… the reality is we just chose no-brainer prices we knew anyone would be willing to pay for the value Hotjar delivers.
A lot has changed in these last 4 years—Hotjar has grown to be faster, more sophisticated, secure, and flexible —so for the first time since we started the company, we’ll be working on testing different pricing for new customers starting June 2019. Of course, all our existing customers will continue to pay current prices (as long as they continue to be customers), and we are still fully committed to continue supporting and improving Hotjar Basic—the free version of Hotjar—forever.
In the spirit of transparency, we’ll always communicate any official pricing changes publicly, whether you are directly impacted by them or not.
A final thank you note
As a bootstrapped and capital-efficient business, we’ve moved a little slower than we had hoped for. As always, we have ambitious plans and with more investment going into the business in 2019, we’re excited about how much more we can achieve.
Without our initial founding members and you, our customers and supporters, this would not have been possible… so a huge THANK YOU for your patience and support!
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David is the CEO and founder of Hotjar. Before founding Hotjar, he spent a decade generating hundreds of millions of dollars in growth consulting some of the web’s most sophisticated companies. Founded in 2014, Hotjar is run fully remotely by 70+ team members across 17+ countries and is used on 400,000+ sites worldwide.