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‘I thought I was going to die that day’: HubSpot cofounder recounts life-changing snowmobile accident

Then-CEO Brian Halligan broke 13 bones and required five surgeries.

Brian Halligan, cofounder and former CEO of HubSpot.unk

Brian Halligan, the cofounder and executive chairperson of HubSpot, ranked No. 2 on the Globe’s Tech Power Players 50 list in 2022. See the full list here.

A year and a half after a snowmobile accident almost took his life, HubSpot cofounder Brian Halligan talked about the incident in public for the first time on Wednesday, saying it had made him reconsider his priorities.

Halligan, then HubSpot’s CEO, was snowmobiling on a trail near Woodstock, Vermont, on a late afternoon in February 2021, when he missed a turn, flew over an incline, and smashed into a tree, he said.

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“Lying there in the snow, getting very cold — it’s very dark, people don’t know where I am — and it turns out I had 13 broken bones, so I couldn’t move,” Halligan recalled in an appearance at HubSpot’s annual Inbound conference. “I thought I was going to die that day.”

But Halligan was able to dial 911 on his cell phone and summon help. He was rushed to Dartmouth University’s Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center. Halligan required five surgeries and was confined to a wheelchair for months, he said.

Halligan had served as chief executive of HubSpot since he started the company in 2006 with Dharmesh Shah, a friend he met at MIT’s Sloan School of Management. But a few months after the accident, he handed the CEO job to Yamini Rangan and shifted to the role of executive chair of the board. Rangan, previously the company’s chief customer officer, had run HubSpot in Halligan’s absence.

HubSpot’s business helping small and medium-sized businesses conduct online marketing, sales, and customer support has soared since the pandemic began. The company’s revenue rose 38 percent to $817 million in the first half of 2022 compared to a year earlier.

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The accident prompted Halligan to reconsider his priorities and focus on things other than HubSpot, he said.

“I was, like, if I make it through, I’m going to live a good normal life and I’ll have as much impact as I can,” he said. “But it was kind of a reset button I needed in my life. It changed my perspective on things, where I really wanted to have impact.”

Halligan said he is working on something new but was not ready to talk about it yet. “I’m really passionate about climate change and I have some new stuff I haven’t announced yet that I think could be really cool,” he said.


Aaron Pressman can be reached at aaron.pressman@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @ampressman.