HubSpot and RentJuice: When New Technologies Meet Old Ways of Working

by Andrew McAfee on March 9, 2011

One of the themes I keep harping on here, over at HBR.org, and elsewhere is that digitization is pervasive —  it’s affecting every part of the business world. More and more, I struggle to find any industry, company, process, task, or function that’s not being affected these days by technology. And it feels to me like this trend is only picking up steam.

I got a piece of confirming evidence today with the news that Hubspot, a company founded by my friends Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah, received $32 million in a Series D investment from Sequoia, Google Ventures, and Salesforce.com (disclosures at end of post). I’m thrilled for Brian, Dharmesh, and their team, and fascinated by what they’re accomplishing.

HubSpot helps small and medium-sized companies change the way they market themselves. Its founders felt that the classic methods — cold-calling, blanketing prospects with snailmail and email, setting up booths at trade shows, buying advertising, and so on — were losing their effectiveness in a world of caller ID, spam filters, search engines, TiVo, social networking software, and limited attention spans.

So they set out to build a company that would offer one-stop shopping —  tools and support — to help their customers master the new world of ‘inbound marketing.’ This world is marked by blogs and microblogs, video and audio, professional and personal social networks, lead generation and tracking, and non-sleazy SEO. About 4000 customers later, it looks like they’re succeeding. I hope and expect that they’ll keep it up.

I also want to offer belated congratulations to former student David Vivero, whose company RentJuice also received funding this year: $6.2 million from Highland Capital, Tim Draper, and others. RentJuice is transforming how rental properties get listed, shared, advertised, and found. It’s taking a great deal of the hassle and paperwork out of being a landlord or broker, and therefore growing quickly.

HubSpot, RentJuice, and many others are showing me that digitization is spreading rapidly into mainstream industries, small companies, and both front 0ffice and back office processes. So what’s left?

The Web, the Cloud, device innovation, entrepreneurship, and customers who are willing to try something new are quickly bringing us into a new, much more digital era in business. Who on Earth can remain uncurious about this phenomenon?

Again, huge congratulations to Brian, Dharmesh, David, and their colleagues. They can count me among their fanboys as they get the cobwebs out of the economy.

(Disclosures: I am the “Dean of HubSpot University.” This means that I teach its employees classes periodically in exchange for a small amount of stock. I have no financial interest of any kind in RentJuice, although David bought me lunch the last time I was in San Francisco)

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