Top Places to Work

HubSpot weathers the storm, rises to the top of the list

The Cambridge online marketing company endures a corporate ethics scandal.

Keith Bedford/Globe Staff

HubSpot CEO Brian Halligan in his cubicle.

It may seem odd that a company weathering a major corporate ethics scandal would get such a strong vote of confidence from its employees — earning the No. 1 spot among the best large companies to work for in the state.

It’s less surprising if you’ve ever spent time around HubSpot.

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The Cambridge-based seller of marketing software has long been the kind of company that attracts and amplifies enthusiastic, empowered workers who believe wholeheartedly in the company’s mission. HubSpot’s brand of zeal stands out even in the marketing world, where excitement is the stock in trade. It extends from the executive suite to the customer base, which is typically small- and medium-sized businesses trying to boost their online profile and increase sales by using HubSpot’s software.

HubSpot’s annual user conference has a borderline nightclub feel, boasting the kind of guest speakers you’d expect at a major cultural event: Chelsea Clinton, Amy Schumer, Aziz Ansari. Cofounder Dharmesh Shah published a presentation about the company’s “Culture Code” online, where maxims such as “Amazing people need a purpose, not just a paycheck” have helped it rack up nearly 1.8 million views.

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That good-vibes image was unmistakably tarnished earlier this year when HubSpot said two executives attempted to obtain the draft of a former co-worker’s apparently unflattering book about the company, prompting a federal criminal investigation.

HubSpot declined to comment on the matter for this story.

Some former employees say that HubSpot’s ultra-dedicated company culture doesn’t leave much room for skeptics, creating what one describes as a “polarizing environment.” But for everyone who feels put off by the rah-rah aspects of HubSpot, there are plenty more who love the atmosphere, says Jay Acunzo, a former HubSpot employee who now works at investment firm NextView Ventures.

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HubSpot must be doing something right. The company grew remarkably fast, amassing nearly 1,000 employees and rocketing from humble startup to an initial public offering in less than a decade. “Thousands of people come and watch them present sales and marketing software,” Acunzo notes, “as if they’re at a rock concert.”

Curt Woodward is a Boston Globe staff writer. He can be reached at curt.woodward@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @curtwoodward.
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