Meet Sam Yam, The Tech Guru Co-Founder & CTO of Patreon

Sam Yam

Meet Sam Yam, The Tech Guru Co-Founder & CTO of Patreon

Patreon is an online membership platform, where internet creators can run subscription services for their top fans. The company has become creators’ platform of choice. It now has over 250,000 creators who collectively has over $3.5 billion for their contents and creativity. The company is reportedly valued at $4 billion, as of an April 2021.

But that business won’t be in existence today with the entrepreneurial and technical abilities of the co-founder Sam Yam. Yes, majority know Jack Conte as the founder of Patreon and rightly so (he had the original vision), but even Conte admitted that he knew that it will take the technical skills of Sam to realize the vision.

Today, we shall seek to know more about Sam Yam, his journey into entrepreneurship, his contribution to the growth of Patreon and his net worth.

Sam Yam Background

Sam Yam is an engineer, developer and entrepreneur born in Pennysvalnia, US around 1988.


Sam Yam had his university education in Stanford University where he also proceeded to pursue his masters degree in Computer Science. For his masters degree program it was Marc Andreessen who wrote his letter of recommendation

Sam Yam Early Career

During his masters degree program Sam Yam took a leave of absence to become one of the first engineers at the social-mapping startup called Loopt.

After Loopt was acquired by Green Dot for $43 million in 2006, Yam founded AdWhirl. AdWhirl was a startup which allowed iPhone developers to dynamically select their ad networks. But AdWhirl was acquired in 2009 by AdMob, which Google then bought a few months later. That acquisition resulted in Sam working for Google, but his stay there was not very long before he moved again.

After leaving Google, he spent three years trying out new startup ideas. For part of that time, he worked out of the Dogpatch Labs incubator space, sitting next to Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger as they tinkered with early versions of Instagram, as well as media entrepreneur-turned-VC Josh Felser.

But he eventually settled for another idea he was quite excited about. And it was an online marketplace for freelance photographers. He named it OurSpot. But as fate would have it, Yam never proceeded to launch that idea to the public despite already scheduling a day for that.

What happened?

He met Jack Conte, who shared another idea that was strong enough to make him keep OurSpot by the side.


That was how Sam Yam found himself working on the Patreon idea.

So how did the whole thing happen actually?

Jack Conte, his then roommate and friend in Stanford had reached out to share the idea of what would later become Patreon with him. Though he knew he had other things he was working on at the time, particularly OurSpot, but he went ahead to honour Conte’s invitation for 2 reasons:

  1. He cherished their friendship and would want to at least hear Conte out, rather than outrightly say that he was not available.
  2. He is a restless and flexible entrepreneur, open to new opportunities and ready to try out new things at every single point in time

Sam Yam Meets Jack Conte about Patreon

So, that was how they arranged for their first meeting to hold at Coffee Bar on Bryant Street in San Francisco on March 6, 2013. That meeting did hold as planned, but honestly, Sam came with something else heavily in his mind.  That same day was the exact date he had planned to unveil OurSpot to the world and he had arranged for coverage in TechCrunch.

To underscore how much Yam’s mind was on the idea he was unveiling on that day more than in Conte’s meeting , he had started their discussion by telling Conte that there was no need for anything like Non Disclosure Agreement (NDA). According to him, ideas are a dime a dozen while execution is everything.

But guess what?

After Conte’s pitch, the idea struck with Yam immediately. At the end of the meeting he was the one now urging Conte not to disclose it to anyone else.

That very evening, even as inbound interest from the TechCrunch coverage of OurSpot rolled in, Yam went with his gut and began to code the Patreon platform.

That was how Patreon quickly became his main focus, although he kept running OurSpot in parallel until Patreon’s seed round closed.

Sam Yam and His Significant Contribution to Patreon

Patreon was Jack Conte’s idea. But Jack can never undermine the roles and contributions of Sam Yam in making the idea move from an idea to the brand it is today. Of course, it was that understanding that made Conte to agree to equal co-founders.

And the following are the highlights of Yam’s contribution to the development and growth of Patreon:

1. He had the technical skill and was the one who developed the Patreon platform

2. It was Yam’s connection in Silicon Valley (especially to Josh Felser) that helped Patreon raise their first seed target of  $700,000 the same month they launched.

3. Yam’s influence further brought in more seed round, up to $2.1 million after Patreon quickly became a hot deal among VCs in the Valley


Sam Yam is the co-founder and CTO of Patreon, the world’s leading membership platform. A company he co-founder with Jack Conte. His strong technical skill having obtained his first and second degree in Computer Science from Stanford University are the major asset he brings to Patreon.

But he was also the man with almost or the connections that brought funding to the company.

About Sam Yam
About Sam Yam

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