As an industry analyst, I’m frequently invited to attend “analyst day” events hosted by technology solution providers. I typically decline. I find that spending a full day listening to a management team boast of how they’re solving the marketing, business intelligence or customer service management equivalent of world hunger isn’t always the best use of my time. Usually I can get all the information I need in a 45-minute analyst briefing and without having to pass through airport security.
But I didn’t think twice about accepting an invitation to join HubSpot for their “analyst day” event, which took place earlier this week at their offices in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The reason is simple: HubSpot ranks as a true innovator in my book and is therefore a company worthy of some extra attention. It’s that rare breed of technology solution provider that seems do everything right, largely by defying conventional wisdom.
HubSpot has always been a bit of an anomaly within the realm of marketing solution providers. For starters, it can’t be readily lumped into any existing competitive arena. While HubSpot’s “all-in-one solution” includes features and functionality that straddle everything from marketing automation, landing page creation and lead management to search engine optimization and analytics, the breadth of its integrated offering makes it difficult to compare its platform capabilities to those of any other player in the marketing technology space.
Setting out to establish and own a new software category can be a risky proposition. The dustbins of history are littered with many more one-of-a-kind startups than with me-too startups. But for HubSpot, which launched in 2006, the strategy of straying from the beaten path has paid off in spades. The company has enjoyed phenomenal growth, with revenues soaring from $15.6 million in 2010 to $52.5 million in 2012. In November, it raised $35 million in new funding to expand operations (the company just opened its first European office). With more than 500 employees, 1,500 partners and 9,000 customers, HubSpot has been recently cited as one of the world’s fastest-growing software companies.
HubSpot’s success stems from the basic insight that marketers would rather use a single integrated platform rather than multiple standalone platforms to do their jobs. Part of its market traction can be attributed to its overall approach to raising brand visibility. As the leading pioneer and most vocal proponent of inbound marketing, which is all about creating and sharing content, HubSpot has led by example, publishing and promoting a continuous stream of branded, high-quality whitepapers, ebooks, infographics and other content assets (some of which are showcased on the Gleanster website) through search and social media. Incidentally, when it comes to social media, HubSpot, which sports more than 284,000 Twitter followers and 503,000 Facebook fans, is in a league of its own. No other solution provider comes close to achieving those numbers.
Another good example of how HubSpot marches to the beat of its own drummer can be seen in its attitude toward transparency and open communication. Although privately held, the company regularly discloses its earnings numbers and various aspects of its business operations that most other companies keep close to the chest. The Culture Code slide deck, which itself has gone viral, explains the company’s philosophy. True to form, the executive management team, including CEO Brian Halligan, CMO Mike Volpe, CTO Dharmesh Shah, and COO J.D. Sherman, was unusually forthcoming in their responses to analyst questions, including my own, although they seemed reticent to discuss their product roadmap for contact management and CRM capabilities. I’m sure we’ll soon learn the reason why.
Complacency could easily beset a company that has enjoyed as much success as HubSpot, which seems to have little concern about the possibility that a competitor may one day eat its lunch. Instead, the company continues to innovate. Its latest product announcement is Social Inbox. The application integrates social media monitoring and publishing capabilities into the HubSpot suite, automatically matching a prospect, lead, or customer’s Twitter account to their existing profile info and company interactions. The idea is to allow companies to be able to respond in a more personalized and context-sensitive fashion. The solution has enormous promise – and the announcement came just in time, since Gleanster’s new benchmark report Social Listening and Social Data Analytics publishes this month. With the launch of Social Inbox, HubSpot has earned itself a spot in the vendor landscape section.
I enjoyed meeting the HubSpot team – especially Brian Halligan, the CEO, who shares my long-time passion for the Grateful Dead (the primary focus of our conversation). I also enjoyed getting the update on the company’s latest and greatest in person. HubSpot is a place that seems to radiate with sunshine and daydreams – ones that produce healthy revenues and happy customers.