HubSpot Absorbs Oneforty in Latest Boston Area Social Marketing Acquisition

8/18/11Follow @gthuang

Leave it to two of the most talked-about social media and marketing companies in town to orchestrate this bit of news to maximum effect.

HubSpot is announcing this afternoon that it has acquired Oneforty, in a press release that is written in easy-to-tweet form. What is not easy to gauge is the size of the deal, as financial terms are not being released. That would suggest it is fairly small. However, the merger of the two Cambridge, MA, startups yields a combined company that is 285 people strong, and Oneforty founder and CEO Laura Fitton and her team are joining HubSpot in the latter’s First Street office, according to the release.

In deals like this, there is always the question of whether the acquisition is a talent grab, or whether the acquirer actually wants to integrate the acquiree’s products and make money from them (or at least use them to improve its own offerings). This case appears to be a little of both: HubSpot says it is merging Oneforty’s directory of social media apps, as well as features from its social marketing tools, into HubSpot’s existing products. But HubSpot CEO Brian Halligan also said in a brief interview that his company was “trying to pick up talent” as it has grown its R&D team from 29 to 69 people. He called Fitton an “absolute guru” in social marketing and praised Oneforty’s “rock star developers.”

Back in February, Oneforty’s Fitton said the startup had evolved from a Twitter app store into the broader realm of social business—including social media marketing tools, how-to guides, and competitive reports for business customers. Oneforty had raised a total of about $2.35 million in angel and venture financing. Fitton’s exact role at HubSpot is still being ironed out, but it will be evangelical in that she will be “telling the world” about the company’s marketing products and platform, she said. She called the deal outcome “an absolute dream” and praised HubSpot’s “most amazing sales team.”

Halligan added in a statement that the “combined social media expertise” of the two companies will benefit all of their 5,000-plus customers. In March, he told me that HubSpot was planning to make some acquisitions after raising a $32 million Series D venture round. He has been true to his word. In June, HubSpot bought Performable, another Cambridge-based marketing tech startup, snatching it from the jaws of a Series B venture round.

So who’s next? “We’re sniffing, we’re looking around at stuff,” Halligan said. “If we can find the right talent that fills a gap for us, we’ll go for it.” But probably not in the next month, he said, as the company has its hands full right now.

One local VC (not involved in either deal) told me recently that HubSpot might be a “black hole that’s getting too big,” sucking in all the other marketing companies in its orbit. Too big for what is the question. We’ll be watching to see how the integration of talent and culture from the newly acquired companies proceeds—and what bigger future might be in store for HubSpot.

Gregory T. Huang is Xconomy's Deputy Editor, National IT Editor, and the Editor of Xconomy Boston. You can e-mail him at gthuang@xconomy.com or call him at 617-252-7323. Follow @gthuang

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