Author Archives: Spenser Skates

Spenser Skates

About Spenser Skates

Spenser is the CEO and Co-founder of Amplitude. He experienced the need for a better product analytics solution firsthand while developing Sonalight, a text-to-voice app. Out of that need, Spenser created Amplitude so that everyone can learn from user behavior to build better products.

Growing up from a Startup to an Enterprise Company

We started off the new year with a failure. On January 4, 2016, one of our engineers mistakenly deleted several tables containing Amplitude metadata critical for processing and visualizing event data. Although we were able to fully recover all data, the deletion resulted in a week-long outage that affected all of our users worldwide. This was our first major outage as a company. We made a mistake – one that was costly to us, and more importantly, costly to our customers. We failed to maintain the quality of service that we committed ourselves to provide.

The days following the outage were a frenzy of figuring out how to best remedy our mistake and how to communicate what had happened to our customers. I wanted to provide insight into our decision-making process during the outage, what we’ve learned, and what we’re doing going forward.
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Employee Equity is Broken, Here’s Our Fix

Equity compensation for startup employees is broken. Ownership of a company is supposed to be one of the biggest upsides of joining an early stage startup, but it’s riddled with traps. Employers don’t share as much information as they should and employees don’t know the right questions to ask to make sure they get treated fairly. I have only seen prospective hires ask questions about equity compensation when they have been screwed over by a previous startup. It took being screwed over to even know where to look!

Founders are in the lucky position that they have a seat at the table during any decisions that impact their equity and can advocate for what’s important to them. I’ve never seen employees be afforded that even though they’re the biggest contributors to a company’s success (much more so than the founders or investors).

We feel strongly about changing the status quo at Amplitude. Today we’re announcing two big improvements to the standard way startups grant equity:

  1. We’ve extended the post-termination option exercise window from the standard 90 days to ten years for all employees – regardless of how long they’ve been at the company.
  2. We provide every hire with detailed information about what the equity that we’re granting them means.

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The Future of Analytics

10 Million Events a month. Completely Free.

Analytics is often the single largest infrastructure expense for a company[1][2][3].

We’ve been taught to pay for analytics linearly by data volume: see here, here, and here. This is bad for product managers and bad for analytics culture. Paying by event volume discourages you from tracking everything you want to. You’re effectively performing a cost benefit analysis with every event you instrument. Continue reading