Hubspot: The ultimate con game?

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I have spent a lot of time with clients “cleaning up the mess” left by Hubspot. I’m not a big fan of them an now comes a book from a former employee, Dan Lyons, called “Disrupted: My Misadventure in the Start-Up Bubble” that talks about working at Hubspot and marketers should be aware that some bogus startups can and will drain their budgets with little results.

I’m smart enough to understand that disgruntled employees can and do trash their former employers but when those employers take steps to stop publication of the book I have to believe that there are some damning claims.

According to the NY Post (again take it with a grain of salt) “how worried was HubSpot about what secrets would emerge in the book? Very. At the company, three top execs were implicated in a scheme to suppress the book, which led to an FBI investigation of alleged extortion and e-mail hacking. The FBI closed its investigation with no charges filed. But two lost their jobs and a third, the CEO, was reprimanded. In a press release, HubSpot said the personnel actions were taken “in connection with attempts to procure a draft manuscript of a book involving the company.”

That’s bad enough but Mr Lyons also claims:

  • HubSpot comes across as a kind of kindergarten cult that plies its young charges with parties, toys, naps, playtime — and not much pay. A huge chunk of potential compensation at tech startups comes in the form of stock options, which could turn out to be worth nothing but are certainly worth nothing if employees get so burned out that they leave before the options vest.
  • HubSpot’s leaders were not heroes,” says Lyons, “but rather sales and marketing charlatans who spun a good story about magical transformational technology and got rich by selling shares in a company that has still has yet to turn a profit.
  • Their product is a chunk of buggy marketing software for businesses that HubSpot has yet to turn a profit selling. “Our customers,” Lyons notes dryly, “include people who make a living bombarding people with e-mail offers.”
  • Employees have to wear rubber bracelets containing transponders, which are needed to lock and unlock doors when moving around HQ. Which means, of course, that the Company is tracking you at all times. The Company also gives employees a lengthy, pseudoscientific, entirely scary-sounding personality test (devised by a crackpot whose claim to fame was creating the Wonder Woman comics). All of this sounds kinda like the bizarre questionnaire Scientologists take while grasping tin cans.
  • The marketing department at HubSpot features so much personnel churn that it Groovy young techies, you’ve been played. Tech startups are one gigantic millennial meat- grinder.’acquires the nickname “the French Revolution.”
  • Applicants with proven job skills get ignored because, Lyons says, they’re in their 50s and HubSpot prefers young know-nothings.
  • HubSpot, after its 2014 IPO, sports a value of $1.5 billion — without making a dime in profit.

That is a pretty dismal view of a “marketing” wannabe powerhouse. Like I said I have worked with clients who bought into Hubspot and the lack of business maturity was so bad that while on a conference call with our Hubspot account person I wrote the word “bullshit” on a piece of paper and passed it to the client.

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Who am I likely to believe? Right now it’s Mr Lyons, who is a successful writer for a TV series. I don’t think he’s going to get rich with his book, but I sure hope it’s a wake up call to potential employees and brands.

Originally published at www.newmediaandmarketing.com on April 3, 2016.

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Marketing contrarian with over 15 years of developing leading edge and award winning digital marketing initiatives.

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