Lessons from the latest SaaS IPO

Amplitude is a software company that just went public. Below are some of the highlights from their prospectus. The key learnings we took away: charge for the value you’re providing, not just by user; upsell by expanding use cases for the client; drive unlimited usage at the customer to make yourself sticky; and international markets matter.

What they do. Amplitude helps businesses “understand how digital products drive their business. We power the teams behind many of the most-beloved digital products to make the right bets, drive innovation, and maximize business outcomes.” They were a Y-Combinator company.

They recently passed $100mm of ARR. “For the years ended December 31, 2019 and 2020, our revenue was $68.4 million and $102.5 million, respectively, representing year-over-year growth of 50%. For the years ended December 31, 2019 and 2020, our net loss was $33.5 million and $24.6 million. Subscription revenue comprised 97% of our total revenue”

Upselling is done by expanding use cases. “Our customers typically look to use our platform for an initial business use case they have identified, such as analytics on a digital product. As our customers experience the value of our platform in helping to drive business outcomes in that initial use case, they frequently expand that initial use case, expand into new use cases, and expand into additional products.”

Pricing is not per user, but rather is value-based. “Our pricing model is based on both the platform functionality required by our customers as well as committed event volume. In many cases, customers will proactively expand their contract within the contract term, generally increasing event volume and platform capabilities to expand existing or address new use cases.”

One year subscriptions, but payments are flexible. “Substantially all of our customer contracts have a subscription period of one year or longer. In 2020, we billed a majority of these contracts annually in advance with the remainder billed monthly, quarterly, or semi-annually.”

Drive usage to win the sale and get sticky. “Our Starter plan is a free-tier, self-service option that allows prospects to easily sign up and begin to leverage the power of the platform in rapid fashion. This plan includes core product analytics with the ability to track up to 10 million events per month. Users of this plan get access to unlimited user seats and are encouraged to add additional team members across functions to proliferate the use of our platform within their organization.”

Land and expand is key to the business. “Our land-and-expand business model is powered by the ease of use, rapid time to value, and broad applicability of our platform to provide actionable insights in real time to numerous teams across an organization.”

There are some 7 figure contracts. “As of December 31, 2020, we had 262 customers that each represented greater than $100,000 in ARR and 15 customers that each represented greater than $1 million in ARR. Customers that each represented greater than $100,000 in ARR accounted for approximately 71% and 72% of our total ARR as of December 31, 2019 and 2020, respectively. As of December 31, 2019 and 2020, our dollar-based net retention rate across paying customers was 116% and 119%, respectively. 26 of the Fortune 100 were paying customers”

International markets matter. “For the year ended December 31, 2020 and six months ended June 30, 2021, 36% of our revenue was generated outside the United States.”

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co-founder at Blossom Street Ventures. Email me at sammy@blossomstreetventures.com