HubSpot goes public a week after Wayfair, raises $125 million

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

A week after Wayfair Inc. went public in one of Boston’s biggest technology IPOs, Cambridge marketing software company HubSpot, Inc. raised $125 million with its own initial public offering.

The company sold 5 million shares Wednesday night at $25 each, giving the company a market value of $759 million. It will begin trading on the New York Stock Exchange Thursday under the symbol HUBS.

HubSpot was founded by Dharmesh Shah and Brian Halligan in 2006, both graduates of the Sloan School of Business at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Its developed an almost cult following among the local tech and marketing communities, and its most recent annual conference, held at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center, drew more than 10,000 attendees.

Its software turns conventional marketing campaigns on their ear; rather than using direct mail or email campaigns, even cold-calling, to reach out to potential customers, HubSpot promotes techniques that draw customers to a company. For example, companies use HubSpot’s software to write blog posts, or social media messages that catch the eye of readers and then try to draw them in as customers.

Shah and Halligan dubbed the company’s approach “inbound marketing.”

HubSpot claims more than 11,500 users in over 70 countries. It reported revenues of $77.6 million in 2013, with a net loss of $34.3 million. And its sale pace is picking up, with revenues through the first half of 2014 already at $51.3 million.

Kathleen Smith, principal at Renaissance Capital which closely follows the IPO market, predicted HubSpot will be well-received on Wall Street.

“It’s a competitive industry, with high growth,” Smith said, and moreover, HubSpot’s stock is attractively priced compared to competitors.

Shah and Halligan have also begun to broaden HubSpot’s product line, with customer-management tools that sales people at small businesses can use without having the buy larger, more sophisticated and expensive packages offered by Salesforce.com or Marketo, Inc.

It is the fourth tech company in the Boston area to complete an IPO this year, according to CB Insights, following a drought in 2013 in which not one of the 10 companies from Massachusetts that went public were tech-centered.

As with Wayfair, Boston’s tech community has been eagerly anticipating HubSpot’s IPO. Both companies are held up as important engines of growth for the Innovation economy; they spin off new firms as employees leave to become entrepreneurs, their executives plow new-found wealth into promising ideas, and their investors recycle profits into the next generation of startups.

Lee Hower, a partner at the venture capital firm NextView Ventures said HubSpot’s greatest role as a so-called “pillar” company is to serve as a “breeding ground” for the next generation of entrepreneurs.

“I think HubSpot could be a company that produces lots and lots of entrepreneurs—lot of people who might spin out and start their own thing,” Hower said.

Already alums of HubSpot hold prominent roles as founders or executives at InsightSquared, Quantopian, BuySellAdds, and Jana Mobile. Shah and Halligan, meanwhile, have become prominent angel investors in local business ventures and Shah in particular is a leading mentor to other young entrepreneurs.

The pair have also signaled another loyalty to Boston. During its recent annual conference, Halligan suggested HubSpot had no intention of relocating as its becomes more successful.

Once a tech leader, Halligan said the Boston area “really missed the boat on the PC and Internet revolution.”

“The only way to bring that back is to build some anchor companies,” Halligan added, “so we want to build an anchor company here in HubSpot, and we’ve had that in mind since we started the company.”

Dennis Keohane was a Senior Staff Writer for BetaBoston.
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