By Somesh Dash, Tom Loverro, Jules Maltz and James Black
Today, at IVP, we are thrilled to congratulate Spenser Skates, Curtis Liu, Jeffrey Wang and the entire team at Amplitude (Nasdaq: AMPL) on a successful IPO through a direct listing. Amplitude is a software powered analytics platform that helps companies build better digital products and customer experiences. If you have used Airbnb, ordered Doordash, Instacart or Postmates, joined a Peloton spin class or Ubered somewhere, your customer experience was better because Amplitude empowers product innovation at all those companies and many more. An increasingly digital economy fast tracked the company’s growth through the pandemic, and Amplitude now has more than 1,200 paying customers, including 26 of the Fortune 100, with 22 over $1M ARR and 311 over $100k ARR.
Engineering Driven from Day One
Amplitude was founded in 2012 by Spenser Skates and Curtis Liu, who had been collaborating together since their freshman year at MIT. Spenser and Curtis first met as opponents at MIT’s Battlecode competition (they teamed up the following year) and exhibited superb engineering talents – not something you see every day in both co-founders. The duo later participated in MIT’s Entrepreneurship Competition with an idea for a music streaming service.
After graduating from MIT, Spenser began working at a Wall Street high frequency trading firm and Curtis at Google. They maintained the entrepreneurial bug and kept pursuing startup ideas on the side. A year later, both quit their jobs and moved into an apartment in San Francisco to focus on a startup. While working on a voice recognition app named Sonalight, they also built an internal analytics system to understand user behavior. When they decided Sonalight was a bit ahead of its time, Spencer and Curtis set out to build something with widespread impact. They first talked to more than two dozen product teams to understand the unmet need in digital analytics and Amplitude was born.
From day one, Amplitude’s founding team had an engineering-first product obsession that enabled them to continually build upon an incredible platform that by design could go far beyond humans trying to solve the same problems. Along the way they continued to grow an incredible team of technologists, executives, investors, and advisors. Stanford computer science graduate Jeffrey Wang joined as chief architect and co-founder in 2014 after working for Palantir and Sumo Logic, and Amplitude launched out of stealth mode.
Amplitude is pioneering a new category of software called Digital Optimization. Its Digital Optimization System serves as the command center for businesses to connect digital products to business outcomes, quickly becoming a strategic investment for every company to survive in a digital-first world. Amplitude differentiates itself from other analytics companies with a best-in-class product suite that allows its customers to seamlessly pull and track sophisticated data about their users. Its solution is equally strong across both native mobile apps and web. Product, growth, marketing, data and executive teams use Amplitude to democratize product data, allowing any employee on the team to track and answer complex questions about user behavior.
Due Diligence at a Warriors Playoff Game?
In April 2017, IVP actively targeted Amplitude as a potential investment in the product analytics space. Our experience in backing and working closely with companies like Omniture (pioneer of technology for marketers) and Marketo (SaaS-based enterprise analytics) helped inform our conviction that Amplitude was a very special company. They had a deep understanding of where product analytics were headed with both established and the next generation of companies. We talked to several customers including some Fortune 10 companies and some of our own portfolio and their love for the company only elevated our excitement to back them.
Our team got to know Spencer and Curtis for months before we invested, over coffee, late-night phone calls, and even at a Warriors playoff game. That year the Dubs won their fifth NBA championship with the ‘fantastic four’ Steph Curry, Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green. Their magic must have rubbed off on IVP because in June 2017, after having developed strong relationships with Amplitude’s co-founders, IVP was selected in a competitive process to lead a $30 million Series C financing round. We were not offering the highest valuation, but our growth stage experience and early and ongoing suggestions for executive hires, board members, and customer introductions helped us stand out. More importantly, our alignment around mission and values enabled a deep partnership to form that has endured countless ups and downs and a global pandemic.
Helping Customers Exceed their Customer Expectations
When IVP first invested in Amplitude, we observed that the company had the potential to do for Product what Adobe has done for Marketing and what Salesforce has done for Sales – they have more than delivered on that vision. And this was not by accident. Spencer and Curtis remind us in many ways of Silicon Valley’s early days – truly mission driven founders who on occasion sacrificed their own personal compensation to reward employees who had done exceptional work. These actions are what truly defines greatness and Amplitude demonstrated those values throughout the course of our investment.
As a result, Spencer and Curtis have grown the team to nearly 500 employees and Amplitude’s Digital Optimization System serves customers across every industry, including finance, media, retail, industrials, hospitality, healthcare, and telecom. They have been very innovative in evolving their business model, and grown from focusing on product analytics to transforming customer experiences.
A Milestone Toward a Bright Future
Today Amplitude went public through a direct listing, which was IVP’s 126th portfolio company to list publicly and its 11th in 2021. A company with people, technology, customers, and market opportunity like Amplitude has a clear path to success as a public company. As digital transformation continues across every industry, great user experiences will continue to evolve and improve – and Amplitude will be a large part of making it better. Amplitude addresses an underpenetrated $37 billion market opportunity with an exceptional product suite that was recently named #1 in Product Analytics by G2, as well as #22 among all software products. Today’s listing is only a milestone on a long journey far into the future. We’re honored to work with the Amplitude team and look forward to further collaboration in the coming months and years.
The comments expressed above are not a statement on Amplitude’s behalf.
Somesh Dash, Tom Loverro, Jules Maltz and James Black are investors at IVP, a later-stage venture capital firm based in Menlo Park, CA.