Sacra Logo

How does Airplane differentiate between users and creators and is there a usage component to pricing in their enterprise tier?

Ravi Parikh

Co-founder & CEO at Airplane

We, like Retool or some of the others in this space, just do naive seat-based pricing. There's no distinction between types of seats. 

There’s certainly pushback we get where people will say, "If I'm going to roll this out to my whole org, there's going to be teams that use it less than others. There'll be teams that are creating versus those that are just consuming. There are people I just want to view stuff; I don't even want them to run any write-based operations. Why do I pay the same for all of them?"

The way we've solved this for now—it's not a permanent solution—is just that the seats are really cheap. It's $10 for our Team plan. On our Enterprise plan, I'm not going to say what it is, but it's way lower than all of our competitors. 

We're not trying to use cheap as a lever to win deals and like I mentioned earlier, 90% of our deals are build versus buy. It's more, just that at our current stage, we're closing business fast enough that we're not trying to squeeze every dollar out of every customer.

Heap initially had a generous free tier. But once we started scaling sales, we really nerfed the free tier and started monetizing aggressively, and I think that was a big mistake. Amplitude did not do that. Our organic sign-ups at Heap were climbing steadily over time and then, we made that change—they kept climbing for a little bit but then, they leveled off. We just killed that word of mouth effect without knowing that we had killed it at the time. Our revenue did skyrocket, because we started really pricing the product more effectively. But it killed the golden goose a little bit from those free leads we were getting.

It's a deliberate strategy to be like, “Let's leave some consumer surplus on the table, not unnecessarily, but let's just optimize for getting deals done quickly, getting good logos, good case studies, good reference customers, and getting people who are going to love the product and tell their five friends.” That's more the strategy right now. We've sidestepped the issue. 

In a more medium- to long-term sense, there probably will be some sort of usage-based component to Airplane's pricing partially because the use cases for Airplane are a little different from a Retool or something like that. It's a purely UI-based tool. So, you have like 25 or 100 support agents and that's who you monetize on.

For Airplane, there's a lot of usage of Airplane that isn't really user-based usage. A lot of people use Airplane for scheduled operations. There's not a seat concept that really makes a whole lot of sense if you're running a schedule. But if you're running 100,000 instances of a scheduled job every week, that should be monetized in some sense. Right now, it's not being done. There's actually people who have like five seat accounts that are getting massive amounts of value in compute for free. That is something we have to fix, but that's how we've done it for now.

Find this answer in Ravi Parikh, CEO of Airplane, on building an end-to-end internal tools platform
lightningbolt_icon Unlocked Report