The TLDR is that Buffer bought back the shares of their main Series A VC investors. The VC investor business model wasn’t a fit for how Buffer wanted to grow sustainably.
This is an “alternative to VC” trend that I’ve been following for a while. IndieVC (who are structured as a VC but with a different business model) are big champions of this as well.
The Wistia team did something similar in July of this year:
We turned down the offer to sell Wistia and instead took on $17.3M in debt. This allowed us to buy out our investors, gain full control of Wistia, and take the path less traveled in the tech industry.