HubSpot brings conference back to Boston after going virtual for two years

It was the first year since 2019 that HubSpot held its in-person conference after two years of virtual incarnations in the age of the pandemic. About 10,000 people attended this year’s event, the company said. As the tech industry adjusts, a growing number of in-person events are back, including Apple’s iPhone debut this week. And the Boston TechJam returns in person for its annual block party next week after a two-year absence.

“Being in person is invaluable,” said Ken Armes, recruiting manager at HubSearch in Hartford. “It’s super important. Not that virtual isn’t great either, but in person it’s just a different beast and I love it.

HubSpot pulled out all the stops to decorate the convention center with gigantic lighted displays and corporate products. The company has also brought in high-profile speakers, including actress Viola Davis, primate scholar and author Jane Goodall, and former President Barack Obama, who will address attendees on Friday afternoon.

Amanda Ward-Smith and two colleagues from Waters Corp.’s marketing department. posed for a photo in front of a huge illuminated HubSpot sign.

It was the first year since 2019 that HubSpot held its in-person conference after two years of virtual incarnations in the age of the pandemic. Lane Turner / Globe Staff

“It’s like the Apple event for marketers,” she said. “It’s not something you attend once…You always want to come back.”

Waters doesn’t use HubSpot’s software, but Ward-Smith and his colleagues had used it in previous work. “It’s so valuable for all marketers to attend,” she said.

The conference included dozens of sessions on marketing and customer communications with titles such as “How to Stand Out in the Crowd on LinkedIn” and “Three Things Keeping You From Doubling Your Sales This Year.”

During a panel on podcasting, John Lee Dumas of the “Entrepreneurs on Fire” podcast shared tips with Emily Thompson of the “Being Boss” podcast.

“If you can become the number one solution to a real problem in this world, you will win,” Dumas said. “There is an unresolved problem in your area of ​​expertise, in your knowledge base, in your passion, enthusiasm and enthusiasm.”

Despite the signs and star power, Jones, who lives in Jackson, Mississippi, was more interested in meeting potential clients and also his own colleagues at RevPartners, who all work remotely. “It’s the first time I’ve met them all,” he said. “After being here, I will never do it digitally again. I will come every year.

One of the themes of the conference was building community, and HubSpot leaders shared personal stories to connect with the audience.

Participants listened to a lecture on one of the many stages set up on the congress floor. Lane Turner / Globe Staff

In a keynote on Wednesday, Chief Executive Yamini Rangan (of California) shared her feelings about her father’s death a year ago.

“He was my rock,” she said. “And that was two weeks into my new role. It was tough. So I had to establish myself as a daughter, as a mother, as a CEO all at the same time.

“My year, I’ll tell you, has been like a roller coaster ride.”

Since Rangan took over last September, HubSpot’s revenue has surged. As more small and medium-sized businesses turn to online marketing during the pandemic, sales increased 38% to $817 million in the first half of 2022 from a year earlier.

Brian Halligan, co-founder of HubSpot and Rangan’s predecessor as CEO, captivated audiences as he spoke publicly for the first time about the snowmobile crash that nearly claimed his life in 2021.

“I thought I was going to die that day,” he said as the crowd fell silent.

Later in the conversation, he explained that the accident gave him a new outlook on life. “It was kind of a reset button that I needed in my life,” he said. “It changed my perspective on things, where I really wanted to make an impact.”


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

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