I got a lovely personal email this morning from none other than Brian Halligan, CEO of HubSpot. (OK, maybe it wasn’t too personal, as it went out to all BlogMutt staff with a HubSpot account, and all the other agency partners who work with HubSpot.)
The email started with what everyone knows, that HubSpot is going public. The whole “marketing automation” world is absolutely exploding. Marketo already went public, Eloqua was purchased by Oracle, Pardot/Exact Target was purchased by Salesforce. SilverPop was acquired by IBM. There are tons of companies in this space, and for the most part they are all growing like crazy because people are figuring out that the old style of advertising is withering.
So, what was the heart of Brian’s note to me?
He said that if I wanted to, I could purchase shares of HubSpot before the IPO. Now, I will say right here that I am not a securities lawyer, and it’s clear that this email had been carefully combed over by securities lawyers. It even said:
“Should you choose to forward this email to your employees, you must do so without changes, in precisely this form (only by email, so hyperlink to the prospectus is active, and only to US residents).”
Clearly Brian and everyone at HubSpot is working under some pretty strict rules. I don’t work for HubSpot, however, and I have not talked to anyone at HubSpot about this post. Also, I’m an American and I have First Amendment rights, so I can say whatever I want!
(Just as an aside, my personal opinion is that the SEC rules are in serious need of updating. Remember when Reed Hastings, CEO of NetFlix, got in trouble with the SEC for making a “private” disclosure on his Facebook page? Nevermind that he had 244,000 followers. Nevermind that many of his followers are reporters. And nevermind that it also wasn’t even really news, just a vanity metric. He was right when he said making the “disclosure” in an obscure form to the SEC is way less public than putting it on Facebook.)
I wish that HubSpot could talk about what it is doing publicly, because what the company is doing is a great thing, and I know it must not have been easy. I know, because I did a similar thing.
What HubSpot is essentially doing is saying that the agencies who work with HubSpot have been a part of the success of the company, and so if the market rewards that success, the agencies should share in that.
We came to a similar realization a while back. We realized that the writers who create posts for BlogMutt customers are a huge part of our success, and if we get acquired someday we want them to share in our success, too. So we created “Writer Shares” and made history as the first crowdsourcing company to ever give any kind of equity in the company to members of the crowd.
It wasn’t easy. Securities laws are antiquated, so we had to thread the needle very carefully, but it was worth it. Now we have all the paperwork done to issue those special shares to writers as soon as they hit a certain level within our internal ranking system. When a writer gets to that level, we send them the paperwork, and a certificate. We’ve done that 53 times now, and it’s a great day every single time.
So kudos to Brian and all the team at HubSpot for doing that work behind the scenes, and recognizing that sharing success is a great way to help build on success.