For as long as I can remember Heroku has offered a free tier. It isn't much but it's enough to scratch an itch.
Today, we’re announcing important Heroku updates. These include an interactive product roadmap on #GitHub, support programs for students and nonprofits, as well as phasing out free product plans. See what the future of building on #Heroku looks like: https://t.co/g6J4qJnyW0— Heroku (@heroku) August 25, 2022
The conventional, or at least popular, thought when Heroku launched was that younger professionals would bring Heroku into their workplaces after having loved working with it on their hobby projects. I don't think this was ever an official marketing strategy and it's hard to say if this mentality was at all influential in their success. In either case, Heroku didn't remain independent for long. They were acquired by Salesforce in 2010 and have been under their control ever since.
If the independent hobbyist indeed was part of how they discovered their customers it's clear this era has ended. Hobbyists have moved on and Heroku knows it. Their primary source for new customers is now the boardrooms of the Fortune 500 companies where Salesforce's staff already enjoys a lot of influence. It makes me wonder where hobbyists are influencing technology today, or if we are at all.