HubSpot was founded by Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 2006. The company advocates for the inbound marketing concept in its own marketing through viral videos, Twitter, webinars and an annual inbound marketing report.
Software and services
HubSpot provides tools for social media marketing, content management, web analytics, landing pages and search engine optimization. The HubSpot suite of online tools has three primary applications: content management tools for creating or managing blogs, templates, forms and landing pages; exposure optimization applications that help the content be found, such as through search engine optimization; and lead tracking and intelligence tools, which track and manage e-mail marketing, customer interactions, qualified prospects, reports and analysis. HubSpot has integration features for salesforce.com, SugarCRM, NetSuite, Microsoft Dynamics CRM and others. There are also third-party services, templates and extensions that can be downloaded through the HubSpot App Marketplace. HubSpot offers consulting services and hosts the HubSpot Academy, an online resource for learning inbound marketing tactics. It also hosts user group conferences and offers inbound marketing and HubSpot certification programs.
The company grew from $255,000 in revenues the first year the software was released to $15.6 million in 2010. Later that year HubSpot announced its acquisition of oneforty. Oneforty began as an app store for Twitter, but shifted into an online resource for social media marketing. The company also introduced new software for personalizing websites to each visitor. According to Forbes, HubSpot started out targeting companies of 1-10 employees, but "moved steadily upmarket to serve larger businesses of up to 1000 employees."
HubSpot filed for an initial public offering with the Securities and Exchange Commission on August 25, 2014 for listing on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol HUBS.
In July 2015, Hubspot's CMO Mike Volpe was dismissed for violating HubSpot’s code of business conduct. The company's board of directors found that Volpe tried to obtain a draft copy of Disrupted: My Misadventure in the Start-Up Bubble, by Daniel Lyons. The book is a satirical look at HubSpot, its company culture, and its business practices.
Materials obtained under the Freedom of Information Act showed that certain Hubspot executives considered the book "a financial threat to HubSpot, its share price, and the company’s future potential." The FBI report discusses "tactics such as email hacking and extortion" in the attempt to prevent the book from being published. The individuals involved were ultimately not charged for any wrongdoing; the records released do not indicate why.
Inbound Marketing Concept
HubSpot promotes the concept of inbound marketing through its own marketing. According to CRMSearch, "the company promotes a message of 'publish your way in' and practices what it preaches as a prolific creator of content, including blog posts, social media posts, white papers, webinars and more."
According to Harvard Business Review, HubSpot's most effective inbound marketing has been its free online tools, such as Marketing Grader (formerly Website Grader), which grades a website's performance and gives it a score based on how it compares to other websites that have been ranked. WhoRetweetedMe.com, which was introduced in Beta in August 2011, shows the number, timing and audience of tweets containing any URL provided by the user.
HubSpot publishes "The State of Inbound Marketing Report" annually. The 2012 report found that 89 percent of businesses are maintaining or increasing their inbound marketing budgets. In 2011 it found that 65 percent of companies had a corporate blog, up from 28 percent the prior year. Additionally, 44 percent of marketers said Facebook was critically important to their marketing strategy, up from 24 percent in 2009. The 2010 report found that 77 percent of Internet users read blogs. It also publishes a State of the Twittersphere report. The Twittersphere report has found that links in a tweet are more likely to be clicked on if the tweet is short and the link is posted early in the message and that Twitter profiles with a picture attract six times as many followers on average. Additionally, HubSpot's research found that New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and London were the top tweeting cities in the world. In 2008 the company estimated Twitter had 4 to 5 million users, 30 percent of which were “brand new or unengaged.”
Writing in The New York Times in 2016, former HubSpot employee Daniel Lyons said of the company, "Imagine a frat house mixed with a kindergarten mixed with Scientology, and you have an idea of what it’s like." He called Hubspot "a digital sweatshop" where "there is no need for work-life balance because work is life and life is work" and employees are treated "as if they are widgets to be used up and discarded."
In 2012, Boston Business Journal named HubSpot a "Best Place to Work." In 2015, the Boston Globe called the company a "Top Large Employer." The company began an unlimited vacation day policy in 2010 and started an employee training program, called the HubSpot Fellows Program, the same year.
A review in CRM Search said HubSpot "is not the best product in every category ... yet may still be the single best marketing solution in bringing all the tools together." Many of HubSpot's individual applications have competitors, but HubSpot strives to provide an all-in-one approach.
A review in CRM Search identified HubSpot's "Strengths" as the sophistication of its Call to Action (CTA) tool and its online ecosystem, the HubSpot Marketplace. According to the review "Ease of use is a design hallmark for this application" and its pricing is reasonable. Under "Weaknesses" the review said "it has more breadth than depth." It said the lack of customization and design tools can be limiting. According to the reviewer, it lacks some advanced tools such as Business Process Management (BPM) tools to manage workflow.