HubSpot acquires ReKindle to add a better way to make connections

ReKindle co-founder and CEO Matt Grace. (Photo via HubSpot)
ReKindle co-founder and CEO Matt Grace. (Photo via HubSpot)

Cambridge-based digital marketing company HubSpot has made its first acquisition as a public company, picking up Boston-based professional connection application ReKindle.

No terms of the deal were disclosed.

ReKindle, founded by Objective Logistics co-founders Matt Grace and Phil Beauregard in 2014, was created as a mobile app that allowed users to reconnect with old contacts — friends, college buddies, maybe even a long-forgotten lover — by sending anonymous messages to each other.

Like dating app Tinder, ReKindle used a left-or-right swipe function to connect users. But the app also pulled in information from different social networks, showing how connected users were on various Internet applications and websites. One other key feature of ReKindle was that it required what it called a “double opt-in” to make connections happen — if you didn’t want someone connecting with you, it didn’t happen without your approval.

The application was created as a side project of the Objective Logistics’ founders and was bankrolled by a group of notable Boston-area investors, including Rich Miner and Google Ventures, Atlas Venture partner Jeff Fagnan, Dyn founder Jeremy Hitchcock, Fred Shilmover of InsightSquared, and Adelphic co-founder Jennifer Lum. HubSpot co-founder and prolific angel Dharmesh Shah was also an early investor.

Grace, Beauregard, and co-founder Michael Lisavich eventually split ReKindle off from Objective Logistics, which makes software for the restaurant industry, with Grace and Lisavich taking on full time duties running ReKindle.

So why is HubSpot interested in a mobile app that was created as a kind of cross between Secret and Tinder?

Eventually, the ReKindle evolved into something that was able to discern a lot of data about how people are connected across different Internet ecosystems. What started as a way to reconnect with someone you had a fling with years ago turned into a service to connect users with friends of their friends.

As of today’s announcement, ReKindle will cease to exist as a separate entity, and the company’s team and technology are being integrated into HubSpot’s product offerings. The application’s connection graph, which drove ReKindle’s contact-finding engine, will be folded as into existing HubSpot products such as its Sidekick contact management tool for salespeople.

“When [HubSpot] looks at opportunities like this, first and foremost, we look at the team,” HubSpot vice president Brad Coffey said. “We knew Matt from the Boston ecosystem and when there came an opportunity to bring him into HubSpot along with the domain expertise [the ReKindle team] had around the contacts graph, we were really excited.”

Of course, the business of managing people’s professional contacts online sounds a lot like what has made LinkedIn a large publicly traded company. But Coffey said HubSpot’s product is different because it relies less on profiles, resumes, and connections happening one-on-one without a lot of context.

“A key part of our Sidekick product is one-to-one communication between contacts, and we’ve done a good job of adding context around that,” he said. “But we want people to have a better understanding of the shared connections that they have by applying the contact graph technology to Sidekick.”

Dennis Keohane was a Senior Staff Writer for BetaBoston.
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