Amplitude, a Y Combinator-backed mobile analytics service aiming to take on the likes of Flurry and Mixpanel by offering advanced features at more competitive prices, is officially making its public debut today ahead of YC’s Demo Day. And the company has actually gone through this process before, as it turns out – it’s the same team from the text-by-voice Android app Sonalight, which was in the YC Winter 2012 cohort.
Explains Amplitude co-founder Spenser Skates, Sonalight did “decently” well, reaching hundreds of thousands of downloads, and some number of paying customers, but it never really became a mainstream success. However, the team, as a part of the process of building their own mobile app, had also spent a lot of time creating their own tools for analytics in order to examine their data in custom ways.
Other developers in Y Combinator were soon asking for that same product, after getting a look. So the team pivoted from Sonalight, and built what’s now called Amplitude.
Things got off the ground around a year and a half ago, says Skates. “We looked at the market, and we knew a lot of other mobile companies were really unhappy with what they had for analytics,” he explains. Companies would begin with something free like Flurry or Google, then work their way up to advanced, but expensive services like those from Mixpanel or other enterprise-level players.
But Skates thought they could do something better by building a more developer-centric service, and one that was focused on mobile only.
Today, Amplitude has grown to around 30 business customers using its platform (via its open source SDK), and has a reach of around 20,000 applications, thanks to an integration with the Corona Labs SDK. But the service hadn’t been available for public sign-ups until now.
What makes Amplitude different is not only its strict focus on mobile, but also on delivering real-time analytics for things developers need to track like funnels, segmentation, monetization, and more. Plus, it does so at a lower cost. This is especially important for new launches, says Skates. “If you’re launching a product, you need to know right away if it’s succeeding or failing. You don’t want to wait 24 hours for the data,” he says.
Another feature that makes Amplitude stand out is that it offers direct database access to the raw data. That is, developers can connect directly to its servers and type in a SQL query on the raw data itself, and then analyze the data in any way they want, or pull it into Tableau, for example.
It’s this feature in particular that’s attracted several ex-Zynga employees who are now running their own mobile startups. A few notable customers include former Zynga GM Siqi Chen, now of Heyday; former Zynga VP Bret Terrill, now of 12 Gigs; plus Michael Carter of Game Closure; Hullabalu; LVL6; and others.
Skates says that Amplitude has been attracting customers who have “experienced the pain” of using other mobile platforms, as well as those who are looking for the advanced feature sets without the higher costs of using something like Mixpanel.
“Our costs are probably a fiftieth of Mixpanel’s,” he says. “Mixpanel keeps all data in memory to serve at query time and we pre-process it. But the hard part about pre-processing is you need to be able to predict in advance what people are going to query on, and we’ve figured out a way to do that. We’ve been very smart about how to save space, and computation in memory in order to deliver that very cheaply,” says Skates.
The company offers a freemium service, with plans that range from $299 to $1999 per month up to enterprise pricing. Today, Amplitude is growing at 30%-50% month-over-month in terms of data collected, and is seeing around 8 billion events per month (or around a third of what Mixpanel does, Skates notes).
San Francisco-based Amplitude is a team of four full-time, including co-founder and CTO Curtis Liu. The company still has a small amount of angel investment from its Sonalight days, but is not discussing its funding plans at this time.