Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
10M events a month, free (amplitude.com)
234 points by sb2nov on Aug 5, 2015 | hide | past | favorite | 77 comments

Well, this was stupidly easy to integrate into a web-app, but my first (and only) session has consistently been grouped into the 30-60 minute session length bucket, from the moment the session was born (first event logged) to ten minutes later.

(The user event stream for the individual user shows the correct session length though.)

This would make me wary of the rest of the data. Not to mention that all of the more interesting reports are in the paid plans, which makes 10M free events that you can't report on of limited value.

Edit: The first event for the first user / session in the "real-time activity details" has a usage time of "20 min", wheras the first event for the second user / session starts at 0 seconds, so the bug lies there somewhere, and seems like it shouldn't have a meaningful impact on statistics for an app in production with lots of users, but disconcerting for a first-time dev-user of Amplitude to see bogus values.

What questions are you trying to answer about your web-app?

While I think reports like individual user streams are neat, I find they're not very good at diagnosing a product and driving growth.

One of the best charts for doing that is a simple cohort analysis / retention chart. If you've been storing historical data about your users in your database or in a log file, one thing you could try is importing historical data into Amplitude and then looking at your retention chart. I just finished doing this for a friend in Mixpanel earlier today. Here's the result: http://aacook.co/retention.png

This chart only uses two user events (Sign Up and some usage event you define) but tells you so much. Week/week acquisition (number of new users signing up) is in the first column, new user activation in the 2nd column (number of new sign ups who reached a moment of value) and a basic form of retention (number of users coming back at week N).

In my friend's startup, they're doing a great job with new user acquisition but they have a clear onboarding/activation problem. Less than half of new sign ups reach the authentic usage state. In the following week, another 50% of those users drop off.

> While I think reports like individual user streams are neat, I find they're not very good at diagnosing a product and driving growth.

I was only referencing the fact that the individual user data appeared to be correct in one view, even though the session length distribution chart was way-off. Had it been off for all users, it would be a big problem, but only affects the first session (See my edit above).

I agree cohort analysis is useful, but not particularly difficult to capture and chart on the server side for web apps, or mobile apps with a server back-end. For SPAs or hybrid or mobile apps you need a facility to capture client side events, which is where something like Amplitude really adds value.

It's one less thing to build or run, but if it's hamstrung by limited reporting, free isn't really free - you have to pay to unlock the value of that event stream.

Yeah, it's scary to think a bug could exist in the data when you're making potentially huge company decisions based on it.

Some of Amplitude's paid reports do look really valuable. Like this one: https://amplitude.com/behavioral-cohorts

I've written custom reports like this one and I'd rather not have to write them again. It looks like some of the reports are in beta. Maybe they'll release them for free in the future as they work out the kinks.

Let me know what you're looking to do and I can see what could make sense! Send me a note at spenser@amplitude.com

Thanks for bringing this up! As CanioX mentioned, it'll be easiest for us to figure out what's going on with your numbers if you contact us directly at support@amplitude.com. Please don't hesitate to reach out to us regarding this.

To give a little more context around how web sessions work, the first event creates the session and each subsequent event triggered within 30 min of the previous one will be considered in the same session. The session length is calculated as the time between the first event of the session and the last.

This reminds me of when our "business intelligence people" moved from WebTrends (I think) to Google Analytics. I remember a manager saying: If I hadn't worked with webtrend's data for a couple of years, I'd have no idea what the Google Analytics data means. The reason being, that how Google Analytics counts sessions/visits/bots etc is completely opaque.

So the trends were similar, but the actual numbers where completely different.

I don't understand why people will use "analytic tools" that doesn't actually document what they're counting, and how. At least with Free software, one can have a look and try to figure it out (eg: piwik, visitors). With a lot of "services" your only option for a sanity check is to look at access logs -- which of course is one of the things one tries to get away from when moving to an analytics platform...

(Note: Haven't yet looked at what documention amplitude provides, just noting that documenting how you're counting is actually an essential part of the product -- and something any user needs to know. Seeing your comment here, at leasts hints that that information isn't (readily) available on amplitude.com/docs. If it is, you'd just have linked to it, right? ;-)

We actually do answer that question in our docs! Just wanted to put the information out there so other people can get the information without having to go to another page. :)


Success manager from Amplitude here. Sorry to hear that you are having issues. If you want to send a email to support@amplitude.com we can take a look at whats going on!

The thing I don't like about analytics as a service is that, most of the time, it's highly opinionated about how to track and visualize data. We tried a number of analytic services in the past, but no matter how flexible they were, we always found corner cases or certain ways of visualizing and presenting the data that we wished existed but for some or other reason weren't possible, because each respective service always expects you to do things in a certain way at the end of the day. Which is understandable, because you can't have a fully featured dashboard right off the bat without an opinion about how should that work and be presented, so as an analytics provider it isn't an easy problem to solve unless you go the keen.io route and offer an analytics as back-end service only.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that, while services like these are great, I find that eventually after a certain size startups will almost always need to have in-house analytics infrastructure to cover all use cases and needs specific to the business. Not that services like Amplitude don't have their place, which they do, I just wish there was an universal solution to that problem. But I suppose you can't help rolling your own infrastructure given specific enough needs.

Engineer at Amplitude here. Thanks for your thoughts!

We've been thinking a lot about this exact issue over the last few years and have come to the same conclusion: when dealing with a platform that provides a ton of value out of the box, you need to be somewhat opinionated, and you can't expect to cover every use case. Different customers can have very different questions about their data and unique insights that they want to discover.

To address that, we offer direct SQL access to the raw data in Amazon Redshift. While Redshift isn't the best solution for powering high-performance, realtime dashboards, its main benefit is that it supports most of the SQL standard, which means that you can answer close to any question about the data. This duality of the fast, easy-to-use dashboards that provide immediate value and the flexibility of Amazon Redshift for deeper, customized queries has helped a lot of our customers overcome the problems you describe.

Hope this makes sense, and we'd love to hear your feedback!

This is awesome, it's exactly what we have been looking for. Our business analytics team is very comfortable with SQL and it's been a pain finding any analytics platform that offers that sort of access to the data. And on top of that they are super expensive, so we've gone the hosting our own solution with Redshift route. But our tech team is small and maintaining an analytics platform has been a distraction so we really want to find a third party hosted solution that works. Definitely going to check you guys out!

Edit: Also just saw you guys just recently raised a round, congrats!

We have been using Amplitude at 12 Labs (getapplause.com) after having tried several analytics platforms, and it's an amazing platform. Large free tier, really intuitive interface, and the tracking is really accurate (we did rigorous testing to verify that).

Jeffrey, you undersell yourself! (The best engineers always do...)

Jeffrey's the VP of Engineering at Amplitude who built the core of our current infrastructure.

Can you say what you charge for SQL access? I have been unsatisfied with 100% of analytics solutions we've tried because of our inability to answer specific questions about how our games are played. SQL or SQL-like query access to the data is something I've wanted for a while.

Hey, just send an email to amaddox@amplitude.com - he can chat about SQL access!

Have you looked at Amplitude? Because those reasons are exactly why I became a customer (and later an investor)

If you ever get to that point, you can use raw Redshift access to do whatever queries you want. I used to use Zynga's pretty state of the art analytics infrastructure, and Amplitude dashboard was the only thing that covered most of my edge cases. For the rest you can always go raw SQL.

I think Amplitude gives you access to the RedShift cluster which is hosting your data. You can then connect it to any custom vizualization tool and analyze it to your satisfaction.

What's support like for this plan? I previously worked at an analytics startup in a support role and there were always tons of questions. It got expensive to provide excessive support to free plan customers; they were often the least savvy ones and had the most questions! I always wanted to error on the side of helping out the customers, but there's a point where your employer is losing serious money. For your system to not have a ton of questions during onboarding and throughout to the average user, would be amazing. Or is this an expense you plan to eat for now as you grow?

In theory there should be no support for most customers on the free model. Having a cost with no associated revenue is bad. This is different if you're looking to bump prices later or get a special reference, but this doesn't seem to be that kind of case.

The other strategy companies use is "Burn out the support team by starving them for resources" but I don't like that either.

One of the nice things about raising a Series A is it allows us to be more aggressive in doing things that don't have an immediate ROI- helping out people who aren't paying us is one of them. We view it as a long term marketing expense to make future potential paying customers happy.

The other way to attack it is to do things that scale better- for example better onboarding documentation or hosting webinars.

From experience testing Domo, RJ Metrics and Looker (which we ultimately went with), I know the ETL and modeling piece of integration can be extensive.

I'm curious to what degree you plan on assisting customers with that. While we have a team dedicated to working on this stuff now, initially one plus that RJ Metrics had going for them in my mind was that they had unlimited support that explicitly handled the modeling once we handled the ETL, and had dedicated analysts on our account.

Now, the obvious tradeoff there is that they don't know our data as well as we do, and all data has nuances. But for a fledgling company that can't dedicate manpower to analytics because they need to ship the product, that is a big game changer.

Ultimately we went with Looker for several other reasons, but that is an interesting factor to consider with your approach to sales/marketing.

OTOH if you can afford the time and resources, then human customer support is an excellent source of user research. If you record these customer queries you can discover what's the next bit of functionality that your users want, that your competitors don't provide. You also discover which existing functionality isn't explained well enough.

You can use the normal self-service helpdesk methods to filter out the newbie questions.

What's your security story? A search for "security" or "privacy" on your help docs returns zero results. The privacy policy makes no mention of any certifications (SOC 2 Type II, Tier 3 SSAE 16, TRUSTe, third-party audits, etc). How can I trust my data with your service?

Here you go: https://amplitude.com/privacy

We're also in the middle of a 3rd party SOC 2 audit right now.

Hi all, founder of Amplitude here. We've always felt volume based pricing to be bad for analytics culture as it discourages tracking and so are taking as aggressive of a stance as we can here. Would love HN's feedback!

Oh, hello Spenser-- haven't seen you in years. We went to MIT together. Congrats on the launch!

Hello! Definitely miss MIT. Can't find anything on your profile, who am I talking with?

Game developer here, currently deciding between you guys and Mixpanel. Could you offer pros/cons to each platform? We are looking to create a bunch of custom dashboards for in-game activity.

There's a good amount of stuff on Google, but here's a recent convert's take: https://medium.com/@illscience/mixpanel-vs-amplitude-6b3ba36...

But isn't volume-based pricing a good approximation of cost-based pricing? With the new setup, are low-volume customers paying extra to subsidize high-volume customers?

what is your backend stack ?

is redshift that cost effective ?

We offer Redshift and raw SQL access as an add-on to the analytics, it's not used to power the dashboards at all.

We've actually developed an in house backend from scratch that's gone through ~10 or so iterations. There are 3 main data stores:

1) We have a real-time in memory data store (similar to Redis) for recent data that aggregates data in various ways to display on the dashboard 2) We have a batch service backed by Amazon S3 that for data older than 24 hours that also aggregates data 3) We have a column store for more complex queries that can't be represented by the aggregated data

On top of all that we have a distributed query engine that access all the data stores and queries the appropriate ones in parallel at query time on the dashboards.

We'll have a blog post that has more details about our stack in the next week or so.

Internal Server Error -- HN effect?

Sorry, should be fixed now! Are you still seeing any issues?


"Analytics is often the single largest infrastructure expense for a company." I'm interested in seeing some supporting evidence. Listed references do not refer to any study or real evidence. This may be true for companies that entire strategy is analytics or ad-based. (See Deloitte 2014 CIO survey -- lots of companies not even doing analytics or feel they are not spending enough on analytics.)

Sorry, this is mostly anecdotal. I've seen it quite a few times myself. Many teams that have tried to track their data at full volume on mobile with existing providers end up paying more for analytics than any other piece of their stack, and so end up doing things like sampling down their data. Would love to hear other people's experiences with mobile infrastructure.

sskates/et al: This is awesome - we will be trying it. We've built internal tools very similar to what you guys are doing, so it's great that we have the option to not do that anymore! Question: I am super tempted at using the free tier, and just route a sample of users towards Amplitude. After all, using just a sample is enough to discover patterns, test hypothesis and identify product-change ideas. While the ~$1000/mo price range could probably make a lot of sense for us later, right now it's a bit too much. Can I be confident you won't change the free tier deal in the near future?

That's great to hear you're planning to use Amplitude!

I'll personally guarantee that we'll never remove stuff from the current free plans- in fact we hope to add features to the free plan and increase it's volume as time goes on. Let me know if you need any other guarantees!

I can vouch for that. Free is great value (though we are now Premium). Amplitude has been tremendous to use and I can't say enough great things about it as a customer.

Want Analytics? It's spelled Amplitude.

We've been struggling with metrics for awhile now. We're hitting all the "enterprise" plans with our sessions + mau, and just can't afford it. Seems silly to build and maintain our own metrics, so glad we finally have Amplitude for all our needs.

The dashboard api is amazing. We only need a few simple numbers, and the API works fantastic.

Thinks like custom dashboards are cool, but we're able to just grab the numbers onto our own that we have melded with other services as well.

Thanks for the kind words! Hearing that makes me really glad that we decided to invest in making a solid API so people could roll their own dashboards.

This is great for companies without a lot of data yet. Often times a big hurdle is the large price tag based on volume, when a company may have no clue as to their actual volume benchmarks because they haven't gotten as far as tracking their event data to the level they could/should. So a salesperson asks how many events they would have, and the response is "how the hell should I know?"

Your growth discovery engine feature looks pretty cool, as does the event path report. This looks similar to conversion path reports I've seen in GA's attribution data.

Unfortunately, a lot of times those reports look nice but don't help much because they fail to provide meaningful insights when dealing with any sort of user volume. I've always wanted some sort of zoom out view that lets me view color-coded patterns or something like that so I can visually get a sense of what is going on and let my brain's pattern recognition abilities go to work to spot clusters. This is what in turn informs the questions to feed into your growth report, since your customers may not know the right questions to ask yet. Providing tools to give the answers isn't enough, you have to provide tools that spit out the questions ;)

Because we have a huge infrastructure advantage, we try to structure it in a way where you don't even have to worry about data volume- as long as it's not killing us on server costs we're fine.

We actually tried to make a fully automated version of growth discovery engine and customers hated it! To our surprise- people don't trust the result if Amplitude hands it out on a silver platter. They want control in setting up the analysis so they know what they're getting out of the system. It's the same sort of aversion people have towards "magic" in programming. Eventually as people get more comfortable we'll automate more of it!

That is actually shocking about not trusting the results. From the screenshot, they appear easy enough to verify (although some might require significant resources to implement/act on).

Out of curiosity, what sorts of things was your initial attempt spitting out as insights?

Also, as someone likely in your target audience (senior digital marketing/analytics guy), I have a suggestion for your site that I see lots of similar businesses fall victim to.

I want to see how the product works without investing time or having a sales conversation so I can determine if there might be sufficient fit to even warrant investing more of my extremely limited time.

You have some small screenshots and some marketing text. Consider adding a full demo account with pre-populated data that people can poke around in WITHOUT providing an email address. At the very least give me full-screen images when I click a screenshot. I want to see your interface. I want to see what data looks like in there, how I can expect to manipulate it, create reporting views, filter, etc. And again, I want to do all this without being pestered by a sales person or being added to a list.

The marketer in me is saying "well, maybe consider A/B testing gating such a demo behind an email capture or more involved signup form", but the other part of me that gets pestered by sales people for things like this day in and day out, and really geeks out on this stuff is screaming "just let me see the F-ing product!"

Sorry I'm just seeing this now -- but we actually do have a full interactive demo of the product with pre-populated data, just like you suggested! There are CTAs to try the demo all over the website if you're using it on a desktop/laptop. Were you looking at the site on mobile? (https://amplitude.com/)

So that is exactly what I was hoping to see, but the email gate prevented me from moving forward. I entered "utc@ftc.gov" and it worked though. Nice product! Wish I could have seen the growth discovery beta in there. Definitely a different offering than Looker, but still has some nice stuff.

Back to my previous point...are you A/B testing the email gate on demo? You don't tell me how my email will be used, and my only assumption is that it is to add me to some drip mailing list I have no interest in, get your newsletter which I have no interest in, get contacted by a sales person which I have no interest in at that point, etc. All of that leads to me bouncing without seeing how awesome your product is.

I obviously recognize I might be in the minority hence my question about testing, and if the numbers make sense they make sense. Just my $.02 as someone that would likely be a highly-qualified lead and has seen a million sites/products like this.

Agreed, an email gate is something that we'll be testing a lot in the future. For now- you can go directly to amplitude.com/demo and you can get around the email gate. Hope that's helpful!

Also- around the first version of growth discovery engine, it spit out a bunch of precomputed groups of users with no input and ranked them by which ones were most correlated with retention. We beta tested it with many of our existing customers who were looking for functionality like this and they all didn't like how magical it was. I know, I was surprised too, who doesn't like automation!

Looks good, just giving a shot at integrating. On the API, it would be great if your events API would accept a user-agent string, would make generating events on the server easier, and lighten the JS blob for clients.

We just migrated over to Amplitude and they've been great to work with. With another company we were maxing out our # of events pretty regularly. The solution was to upgrade, but each new tier was significantly more. In a startup, you want to measure more items, not less, so this model makes a lot of sense. Varun and Bryan have been great to work with. I'm also pretty excited to start working with their data science team. Feel free to ask me any questions. I highly recommend these guys!

Has anyone tried both Mixpanel and Amplitude? What are your recommendations? We are deciding which one to use for our startup. We are specifically interested in measuring: 1/ retention (as per Amplitude's video), 2/ usage patterns on mobile, and 3/ user flows. Thanks

This is a good blog post about how a customer switched from Mixpanel to Amplitude!


As a data analyst this is really cool. As a user, it's terrifying to see how easily I can be tracked and quantified.

thank you!

Just want to say that we're a very happy Amplitude customer and have been since early on.

This looks neat and the video on the post highlights stuff that we've always wanted to do with mixpanel, but couldn't really manage that easily. Even things like copying a query and just changing one parameter is a drag with mixpanel.

All that being said, the free plan doesn't include all those neat features like cohort analysis, and the paid plan is way beyond our reach at ~$1k. We're currently paying around $300 to mixpanel, and that's already maxing out our small budget. We would love to have a paid plan with less events, but more functionality at a more affordable price point.

You can get started on the free plan with more data and Microscope- which on it's own many teams have already have found to be a gamechanger. Message me at spenser@amplitude.com and we can figure out a way to make it compelling.

thanks Spenser. Dropped you an email. Hope to hear back and figure out a way.

This is amazing. Always thought that Mixpanel was overpriced

It always strikes me that data collection and data analysis are tightly coupled, when it comes to pricing. And then when you look at the tiers that are available (995 a month really?) it makes even less sense. Yes its cheeper than me hiring in house to "do it myself" but it still feels like I'm being taken advantage of.

Here is the reality of how this works. Someone on the business side sees a shiny dashboard and wants one. The product involved gets pitched over the fence to engineering, and we go to the site. We know from go that we are fucked cause the header doesn't mention API/Developer or the words integration. Because we have a JOB that we probably like we click on help...

Oh look integration docs, Maybe there is hope for this turd!

Wait I'm on zen desk? There are broken pages (there are broken pages)? No public forms (well at least they aren't apparent).

This tool like the 16 other analytics packages we run, are going to be a flash in the pan, or so narrowly defined that it will be single use. Im not going to put anything useful in here, because, well when we hit that cap we will be asked to "cull data" rather than pay.

Keys to success in this space: Give a shit about the guys implementing your service. If you can't be bothered to build and run and host your own documentation I don't know what to say. If your going to send me to a third party, at least have user forums / public user communication front and center. Let me know that people are having issues, that your addressing them.

Give me a way to tier out data. Yes you sold my business person on the "free" tier thats nice. Let me give you the data they are going to want at some point, let me do it in such a way that you can put it in cold storage till I need it. Give me a way to back it up to your S3 at cost, or to where I want (my own S3 my own data storage solution for free). Give me a way to "keep myself under the cap" by moving the data I want around.

A while later, some business person wants to see "something new" in the dashboard... Well guess what, we have been collecting that all along, go pay the vendor get the history and see it in real time. If you can do THAT without having to involve ME as an engineer then you have a winner on your hands, otherwise your just analytics implementation 17 and we will move on to 18.

Really sorry about issues on Zendesk, thanks for pointing them out! We've rolled out new docs today and are still ironing out a few bugs. Any pages that aren't working for you in particular?

Also- totally agreed on there being a lot of other analytics products out there, which is why we felt the need to be aggressive with giving away so much data for free.

What do you mean to tier out data? Would love to hear how we could make it compelling for you.

Its not that there are a lot of analytics products out there, its that most places have a lot of analytics implementations. One of them could do the job, and probably do it well, yet we keep adding more of them. Lets break down why.

1. Product person A, adds your product into the stack and pushes RIGHT UP to the limit you have set. 2. Product person B needs "some new slice of data" but guess what... your 12k annual cost is way more than they want to or need to spend out of their P/L, and their data is going to push the organization over the cap, so they look at a new product.

1. Product person A adds in your product to whatever portion of the platform they are responsible for. it lives in a vacuum there. 2. Product person B comes along and lacks awareness or training on how to use your tool. They can implement another tool, get free training and not have to involved them selves with product person A.

1. Product person A adds your product into the stack, the engineers who implement it find issue with your API/documentation/support. 2. Product person B wants to add your product into the mix, and the ENGINEERS say "were not doing that again find another vendor".

All of the above situations create "fragmented" insights. As an example one of my employers used Mixpanel for mobile analytics. They were happy with "real time sales numbers" but the reality of "were not shipping a sub set of those orders" is where the rubber meets the road. Not only does fragmentation make it hard to get real insight but it makes it hard to troubleshoot things as well.

You want my data, take it, but take ALL of it. Don't just take the events I want to send you, take the logs, take it from mobile and web, take it from the backend systems, take it from my shippers. Take more than JSON over http, let me open up a socket and give you the fire hose, give me librarys in Go, java, php, python, C*. Give me a set of logging tools that gets you that data quickly. Give engineers a way to send you more context than just the user (process, session, transaction, response time). Give me a way to tell YOU what data to keep "hot" and what data to archive... Just take all the data. If you have it all in one place, your going to make the engineers life easy, the first time some product person runs up and says "conversions are up on our new launch" and wants to take credit for the UI changes, and I can lay a graph of response times over it and say, "well it might be cause the server is faster, and people aren't walking away" your going to not only have my business but everyone else I can convince to adopt your product.

good, analytics has always been overpriced

Are you Safe Harbor compliant?

Yes! Just got certified a month ago: https://amplitude.com/privacy

The pricing page is unclear; is the $995 business plan per month or per year?

Sorry, that's per month, will make that more clear on the page.

Thanks, I'll add this to a website tonight.

Just signed up. this is good enough that I'm willing to move away from Mixpanel, I love Mixpanel, but with this type of offering and what seems like a much more refined UI, I'm sold!

So, you moved from volume pricing to limiting features that we can use instead. heh.

Ok I'll bite. Going from volume based pricing to feature based pricing is standard as an ecosystem matures and the underlying "resource" becomes commoditized. We offer both more features (Microscope- it's pretty cool, please check it out!) and more volume on our free plans than similar competitors so I hope that's compelling enough. Things like enterprise support and complex features are better put on the paid plans where larger organizations are happy to pay for them. Long term, the idea is you want to charge by value, not by cost.

You know what? 10 million is not cool, but 1 billion is. Nowadays many apps already can exceed this many API requests. If you go with an open source and self-hosted solution, then you can have a billion events per month for free, on a modest Linux server. Have a look at Piwik and Countly for mobile & web analytics that. Both companies have a lot more on-prem options for a fraction of price of analytics companies ask for, due to the fact that they build their pricing on number of servers and not API calls.

10M is cool and Amplitude is an amazing service. Pretty lame the way you're trying to hijack the thread.

Flurry has been doing that for ages, as well as Google Analytics. What's the point to announce it like it was never done before, and everybody is ready to "buy" it like Apple Watch? :)

When you're ready to give away 1 billion, feel free to create a HN post to announce it.

Applications are open for YC Winter 2023

Guidelines | FAQ | Lists | API | Security | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact