My guest today is Spenser Skates, CEO and co-founder of Amplitude Analytics. Spenser founded Amplitude in 2012 with a thesis that building the best product requires, deep cross-functional understanding of customer behavior. During our conversation, we discuss Spenser’s long history in programming and how his early experiences tie into his work today. We also explore the nuances of equity compensation, how different VCs can play a role in the success of a startup, and Spenser’s desire to see more direct listings vs. IPOs. While many founders follow the path of others, it is clear Spenser takes time to challenge the status quo.
Before we transition to the episode, I wanted to highlight our newest series, Business Breakdowns. In this episode, you will hear how Spenser’s team worked with the meditation app, Calm, to optimize for customer growth. It was particularly interesting to hear this story after listening to the Calm breakdown. Find episodes of Business Breakdowns on your preferred podcast provider or on joincolossus.com
I hope you enjoy my conversation with Spenser Skates.
For the full show notes, transcript, and links to mentioned content, check out the episode page here.
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[00:03:15] - [First question] - How he won the Battlecode tournament at MIT twice
[00:06:43] - A few key insights that helped him win the tournaments
[00:08:34] - Lessons learned at MIT and the road to starting Amplitude
[00:13:57] - A typical customer experience when using Amplitude
[00:17:17] - How their platform extrapolates key data points in user data that others don’t
[00:19:03] - His most productive mistakes made while building the company
[00:21:10] - The strange history of equity and his thoughts on how it should be used
[00:28:08] - The recent changes in the vesting schedule for newly issued equity
[00:29:59] - Lessons learned from working with some of the best investors out there
[00:36:20] - His thoughts on the IPO process and going public writ large
[00:41:04] - The role the SEC plays and his perspective on SPACs
[00:44:01] - Differences in direct listings compared to traditional IPOs
[00:48:36] - His thoughts on dual-class structures and corporate governance
[00:50:11] - Hopes for Amplitude as he looks five years into the future
[00:52:03] - The potential value unlock of smart software for end-users
[00:55:08] - The kindest thing that anyone has ever done for him