Confused About Subscriptions for User vs. Workspace

So, I’m really confused about how the subscription works (premium vs. free). From what I can tell after some testing, it appears that when you subscribe to “Premium” you aren’t actually subscribing for yourself as a user but only for a specific workspace. I just have a really hard time wrapping my head around that.

For example: I have my one main workspace on the Premium plan, with multiple folders and various people having access to different folders. My coworker has her own separate workspace and we have a couple spreadsheets that we collaborate on within her workspace. Recently, she wanted to upgrade her account to Premium so that she could use the Gantt chart view in one of her spreadsheets. However, because of these spreadsheets which I collaborate with her on, she us unable to upgrade to Premium without paying not only a license fee for herself, but also for me. In other words, when she tries to upgrade her workspace, it is requiring that she pay for 2 licenses (herself and me). However, that doesn’t make sense because I am already paying for the Premium plan. Why should she be required to pay for extra licenses when I’m already subscribed to the Premium plan?

Another problem: to upgrade her workspace without paying for other collaborators’ premium plans, she must change the permissions on all the collaborative documents to “Edit” rather than ‘owner’ or ‘collaborator’ … and this is the important point: she must do this within files that do not use any of the premium plan features. In other words, if she upgrades to premium just to use the Gantt view in a single workbook within her workspace, then other spreadsheets are essentially downgraded to capabilities less than the Free account allows (unless she pays extra for licenses for other users just so that they can continue being collaborators on those files). Note: A free workspace allows others to be Collaborator/Manager/Owner, but if you upgrade to Premium, then you can no longer allow people to be Collaborator/Manager/Owner without paying a license for them.

Another problem: I just realized that in my workspace I was paying for an unnecessary number of licenses just because somebody was marked as a Collaborator. After some testing, I found that all it takes is to use the sharing options in a spreadsheet and mark a user as a Collaborator, and you can end up unknowingly increasing the number of licenses you are paying for. There wasn’t a notice or anything to indicate that my number of paid licenses increased, and there isn’t anything to indicate whether any of the users are already licensed users or not. This could be a pretty costly mistake since a user could easily add a bunch of users without realizing that their subscription costs just went up.

My preference would be that the subscription be based on the user rather than user+workspace. Either that, or if you upgrade a workspace to Premium, it should allow all users to access the Premium features within the files in that workspace. Or, don’t require the “Collaborator” and “Manager” to be licensed users.

Correct, each workspace has it’s own subscription plan. This means that you as a user may have different levels of feature availability in one workspace vs another. Workspace-level subscriptions have become a common model among productivity and collaboration tools such as Notion, Airtable, Coda, Loom, HotJar, etc.

Correct, the Free plan allows up to 5 users with Owner, Manager, Collaborator, or Editor access. If you need access to a broader set of features available in our Standard plan and above, you must upgrade the workspace to one of our paid plans, and all paid plans charge for all users above the Editor level. Note that many of our competitors charge for Editors as well, so from this perspective our pricing is favorable (i.e. more affordable).

This is not intentional. Can you let us know where you marked this user as a Collaborator? We have a warning in the Share dialog that should be shown when you move a user from a free role to a licensed role if they are not already a licensed user. If there are any places where this notification is not shown we should address this ASAP.

Meanwhile, we will also soon be adding an email confirmation to workspace admins whenever a new license is added to make sure no additions go unnoticed.

We considered this model while building the system. The problem we ran into with it is that if one user paying $18/mo for Premium had access to 10 workspaces, he/she could create Gantt projects and obviate the need for 10 other companies to pay for that feature as long as they had non-paying Editors in the workspace. This would make our business model unviable. Not to say there aren’t other permutations that might work closer to what you are referring to and still work out financially for us as a business, and we are certainly open to exploring them.

One thing to note however, is that compared to all of our known competitors (Airtable, Smartsheet, Asana, and others) our prices are generally lower, and we charge only for a subset of users that they do (i.e. most actually charge for Editors, we do not). So while our model may not be ideal for everyone, the net price you pay for is lower than most if not all of our competitors.

Lastly, and importantly, as a template partner your workspaces should be on our partner plan. I will reach out via email to make sure we have each of your workspaces configured properly for this.

Thanks for the candid feedback!


Thanks for the detailed answers, Matt.

I didn’t know about the 5-collaborator limit on the free plan (because I haven’t needed more than 5 yet). :slight_smile:

Can you let us know where you marked this user as a Collaborator? We have a warning in the Share dialog that should be shown when you move a user from a free role to a licensed role if they are not already a licensed user.

I just tested this again: From the Home page, I changed the permissions by clicking on Share for a folder, then I changed the user from Editor to Collaborator. No message popped up related to the increase in # of licenses. I checked the Users page and the User now had a check in the Licensed column. Next, I changed the permissions for that user back to Editor for that folder, but on the Users page, the License column was not automatically unchecked. So, I manually unchecked the box to remove the extra license. Hopefully that is specific enough for you to reproduce and debug.

I see the loophole with the user-based subscription. And perhaps it is common to have the subscription be based on workspace+user. And knowing that now, I can just avoid creating additional workspaces. However, the situation that I think could use some more thought is a case like this: User A creates Workspace A and User B creates Workspace B, and both of these workspaces are Premium. But, if User A adds User B as a Collaborator to Workspace A, they need to pay for the additional license. And if User B adds User A to Workspace B, they also pay for an additional license. So in this situation User A and User B are paying twice to collaborate with each other because they are using separate Workspaces.

This is what we have done to avoid paying twice (and note that both users are within my own company): User A (me) includes User B as a Licensed User in Workspace A. User B maintains Workspace B as a Free plan and does not use that workspace for collaboration (other than “editors”). If User B wants to use Premium features, then they use their designated folder within Workspace A.

So, this isn’t really a problem anymore … it’s just learning how to work efficiently within the system that has been created. Thank you!

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Yes, thank you for these steps! Noted and we will improve the license added notification here.

Correct and this is standard for the model based on our research. To avoid this we recommend using Folders within a single workspace to collaborate across a company. Enterprise plans obviate the need for this by providing organization-wide access to all company workspaces across a domain for a single fee per user. This feature of our Enterprise plan is planned for development later this year.

Great to hear it and really appreciate this feedback!