Tired of your VCs? How to free yourself.

By 2017, Buffer co-founder and CEO Joel Gascoigne was facing a painful decision: His social media analytics firm was heading into the red, and he could either cut costs, by laying off employees at his San Francisco startup, or he could try to raise more money.

He chose the former, unwilling to grow at a loss. But Buffer’s investors didn’t love that decision—and started questioning whether Gascoigne was the right person to lead his company. Those conversations “shocked me to my core,” recalls Gascoigne, who eventually

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