Ever since it launched in 2011, the Cambridge-based marketing startup ThriveHive has publicized itself as the HubSpot for small businesses. On Tuesday, when Propel Business Solutions of Quincy announced it was acquiring ThriveHive for $11.8 million, its chief executive threw down a good-natured challenge to the bigger marketing rival.
“Watch out!” Propel chief executive Pete Cannone said with a laugh.
In reality, the ThriveHive-Propel combination may not leave Hubspot co-founders Dharmesh Shah and Brian Halligan all that nervous. But it does mean big things for the two companies, who have independently created successful marketing platforms for small- and medium-sized businesses. Propel is owned by New Media Investment Group Inc., publisher of the GateHouse newspaper chain, and now has 220 employees in several offices in the Northeast. It provides website design, social media marketing, and search engine optimization, and delivers a fast-growing revenue stream to the news company.
ThriveHive, which was founded by MIT Sloan alums Max Faingezicht and Adam Blake, offers small businesses a suite of plug-and-play tools such as email marketing analytics, mobile-friendly web designs, and video support. The 25-person Cambridge-based team had raised $5.5 million, and was in the Boston-based Techstars cohort last year. It was through Techstars, Faingezicht said, that he was introduced to the team at Propel.
“We have a really complimentary set of things comping together in this acquisition,” Faingezicht said. “Boston is becoming a marketing hub, we’ve seen HubSpot do a great job for the marketer for the big companies. We have focused on building the platform for the long tail for small and medium businesses.”
“It’s a marriage made in heaven,” added Cannone. “We were looking for a complimentary partner, and we knew that this was the perfect fit.”
ThriveHive will report to Propel, but will continue to operate out of its Cambridge office–just a few blocks from HubSpot headquarters.