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Why Fathom Analytics doesn’t have a free plan

opinion  Paul Jarvis · Sep 18, 2023

We believe too many huge companies on the internet have lost their way. Using ads that follow you from site to site, invasively tracking your every move, selling your data to the highest bidder, and possibly even worse things we don’t even know about.

So why doesn’t Fathom Analytics have a free plan? Well, from the jump, we started Fathom Analytics to be very different from a typical tech company. Let’s dive into our vision, some radical transparency, and a little dash of disobedience to the norms that have failed regular internet users.

Nothing is free

Google Analytics may not charge you, but their product is certainly not truly “free.” They’re a billion-dollar company that monopolises several industries, so they don’t just give their software away because they’re altruistic. They make money off the data their users provide and can track what most people do across the web because their tracking script is on most websites.

Other companies offer “free” software because they display ads or also track your every move and sell that data to advertisers (or worse). At Fathom Analytics, we decided to try something radically different: charging a fair and honest price for software that costs money to build, maintain and support. It’s worked since the dawn of currency (trading money for a product or service) and feels like a more honest way of doing business.

By saying no to “free,” our customers pay for our software and that keeps us sustainable. And by having paying customers, they’re giving a huge thumbs up to companies like ours to not invade privacy or do anything sneaky or shady with personal data.

Our investors are our customers

Free plans are popular with venture-backed companies because they’re gambling that if they can gobble up enough of the market share with a free plan, they then find a way to profit off that monopoly.

Firstly, it’s not sustainable (to amass free customers when you’re a business that requires at least some profit). Secondly, it means that once the money runs out, the paying customers must pay enough to subsidise the people on a free plan. Third, it means the company has to listen more to its investors than its customers - and those values or requirements may not always align.

With Fathom Analytics, we have thousands of investors (we call them customers). Our customers pay for our software, don’t have to pay more to subsidise a free plan (we don’t have one), and they alone guide our business.

We invest heavily in infrastructure to ensure our software is fast, reliable and redundant. We couldn’t do that as quickly if we had a free plan.

Sustainability is key

Our goal is to build a company that lasts. This isn’t a get-rich-quick scheme, nor are we looking for a massive exit. Instead, we’ve spent five years (so far) building the best, most privacy-focused, most resilient and most accurate analytics company we can.

By not having a free plan, we were able to become profitable quickly. Profitable companies don’t tend to go out of business. Profitable companies don’t grow first and then figure out revenue (hopefully) later. Profitable companies can hire slowly and take care of their employees (no need for hiring surges and then mass layoffs). Profitable companies can listen to their customers and grow slowly and strategically.

The vision for Fathom Analytics has always been a long-term one. To stay sustainable, our focus has always been a quality product and taking care of the people who pay for it. That’s the only way to succeed across a large stretch of time.

Transparency is a super-power

We go out of our way to document and make public exactly how we process and protect data. We publish our pricing for each plan on our site because that’s what customers will pay. We go to great and specific lengths to explain how we’re legally compliant with privacy laws (like GDPR) and have hired lawyers and legal experts from around the world to vet our practices and techniques.

Companies like Google obfuscate how they collect data, how it is used, and what happens once it’s collected. You won’t find a “data journey” page on their website because their business model is to offer their software for “free” and make money in the shadows from the data they collect.

We can make simple promises they can’t:

  • We don’t share or sell your website data - ever.
  • We don’t give your data to third parties, advertisers, or anyone else - ever.
  • We sell software, not data or ads. This will never change.

In having these promises to our paying customers, we can easily be transparent about how we do business, how our software works, and how it’s compliant with important privacy laws.

Is Fathom Analytics free?

No, because it can’t be. Not without being dishonest (and we’re not interested in doing that). Instead, we’re transparent about how much we need to charge each customer to build and maintain our software and infrastructure.

This whole thing isn’t just about transactions but an honest exchange of value. Our thousands of customers feel our software is useful enough to pay for it. We do so gladly because the alternative is not paying for something with money but instead with data and privacy invasions.

By being a paying customer of an independent business like Fathom Analytics, you’re part of a growing movement of companies and people saying no to Big Tech and its monopolistic influence on the internet. You’re investing in companies that don’t participate in extractive or surveillance capitalism.

A 30-day free trial

That all said, we do offer a 30-day free trial - because we are confident that once you try our analytics software out, you’ll be happy to pay for it. Most people who try Fathom Analytics become paying customers. It takes a minute or two to sign up and get started collecting privacy-focused analytics for your website.

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Paul Jarvis

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Paul Jarvis, author + designer

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