HubSpot: We’re not trying to replace Salesforce, we want to be a Boston anchor company

HubSpot founders Dharmesh Shah and Brian Halligan (image via HubSpot)
HubSpot founders Dharmesh Shah and Brian Halligan (image via HubSpot)

Yesterday, HubSpot launched a new customer relationship management system, HubSpot CRM, and a new product, Sidekick, which it calls a sales acceleration product. Immediate reaction was that the inbound marketing company is going after the large market share of the current king of the CRM space, Salesforce.

In a meeting with HubSpot chief executive Brian Halligan and chief technology officer Dharmesh Shah last night, the co-founders said that their new product isn’t intended to compete with Salesforce, but to appeal to new CRM users and make the use of customer relationship management systems—a key tool for sales and marketing representatives in any industry—more “sticky.”

“We’ve been Salesforce customers for a long time, partners for a long time—HubSpot is a big Salesforce customer,” said Dharmesh Shah.

“The intent behind HubSpot CRM is not to go after the existing Salesforce customer base. We want to go after people who are not using CRMs yet. We are trying to get a very different market,” he added.

Shah said that Salesforce is targeting large organizations, such as Oracle. HubSpot is targeting  mid-market companies with its CRM.

“I’ve been seeing HubSpot as a mid-market company for a long time,” said Halligan. “I think there is a big gap with companies that have between 10 employees and 1,000 employees where they tried a CRM, it’s failed, they aren’t using it now, and they need a better one that just works for them.”

“The big problem with CRMs is that people don’t use them,” he said.

Shah added, “The thing that really kind of bothered us is that the [lack of adoption for] CRMs is holding up everything else, we want to solve that problem.”

With some in the media saying that the company’s IPO could come sooner than expected, and others speculating that the company could be acquired before going public, there is a fair amount of uncertainty as to what the next few months hold for HubSpot.

In some way, Halligan hinted that the idea of selling to another company is not, and never has been, part of HubSpot’s plans.

“I grew up around here in Boston. [Boston] kind of crushed the Valley for a long time…but we really missed the boat on the PC and Internet revolution,” Halligan said. “The only way to bring that back is to build some anchor companies, so we want to build an anchor company here in HubSpot, and we’ve had that in mind since we started the company.”

“We are on the right path,” he added. “We’ve got to keep going and executing well. That’s the idea.”

Dennis Keohane was a Senior Staff Writer for BetaBoston.
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