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Brian Halligan

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Brian Halligan
Alma materUniversity of Vermont
MIT Sloan School of Management
Occupation(s)Executive, author
WebsiteHubSpot Propeller

Brian Halligan is an American executive and author.[1] He is the co-founder and executive chairman of software company HubSpot[2] based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and is also a senior lecturer at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Halligan coined the term "inbound marketing" to describe the type of marketing he advocates.[3]

He has co-authored two books on marketing: Inbound Marketing: Get Found Using Google, Social Media, and Blogs[4] with HubSpot co-founder Dharmesh Shah[5] and Marketing Lessons from the Grateful Dead: What Every Business Can Learn from the Most Iconic Band in History[6] with David Meerman Scott.

Early life and education


Halligan was born in Westwood, Massachusetts, and grew up and attended public schools in Westwood, Massachusetts. He received a Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of Vermont in 1990[7] and an MBA from MIT Sloan School of Management in 2005.[8][9]



His career began at Parametric Technology Corporation in several roles leading up to senior vice president of the Pacific Rim. Wanting to work in a smaller company,[10][8] he joined Groove Networks as vice president of sales, where he worked from 2000 to 2004 before it was acquired by Microsoft and rebranded as Microsoft SharePoint Workspace.[8][11]

After a period as a venture partner at Longworth Ventures,[12] he co-founded HubSpot in June 2006. In HubSpot's 2022 Year In Review, the company reported $1.731 billion in total revenue and 5,895 employees with headquarters in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and offices in Dublin, Ireland (EMEA HQ), Berlin, Singapore, Sydney, Tokyo, Japan, Portsmouth, New Hampshire, and San Francisco.[13][14] He credits the company's success, in part, to innovations like the "Alpha, Beta, Version One" policy, in which employees begin proving their ideas might profit the company "nights and weekends" (the alpha phase) before receiving additional resources (the beta and version one phases).[15] He stepped down as CEO of HubSpot after being injured in a snowmobile accident in 2021.[16]

He is a senior lecturer at MIT[8] teaching "Designing, Developing, and Launching Successful Products in an Entrepreneurial Environment".[17] He previously taught "Scaling Entrepreneurial Ventures" at MIT.[18]

Halligan is a corporation member of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.[19] From 2014 to 2016, Halligan served on the board of directors of Fleetmatics until it was acquired by Verizon.[20]

In 2022 Halligan also founded Propeller Ventures and directs a $100 million climate tech venture fund specializing in ocean innovation investments.[21] Brian is also a senior advisor at Sequoia Capital where he coaches startup founders.[22]

Publications, speeches, and awards


Halligan's first book, Inbound Marketing, was co-authored with HubSpot co-founder Dharmesh Shah. They coined the term “inbound marketing” and built a movement around the concept which included organizing the INBOUND conference. The thesis of the book is that because people block marketing that interrupts them, such as advertisements and spam, companies need to instead provide information that is useful to prospects, who will then self-identify. Reviewing the book, Meryl Evans said that it contains "elementary stuff..." but it "does a good job for those who don’t have a clue about how to use social media for business".[23] As of July 2011, the book was in its seventh printing, had sold 40,000 copies, and had been translated into nine languages.[24]

With co-author David Meerman Scott, Halligan (right) on the Marketing Lessons... book tour. The background photo montage includes Jerry Garcia, co-founder of The Grateful Dead.

His second book, Marketing Lessons from the Grateful Dead, was co-authored with David Meerman Scott. It uses the marketing activities of the rock band The Grateful Dead as an example of this. Scott Kirsner, reviewing this book in The Boston Globe,[25] mentions that the authors say that they were inspired, in part, by an article in The Atlantic by Joshua Green.[26] In 2017, Halligan purchased the "Wolf" guitar once owned by Garcia for $1.9M at a charity auction. An anonymous donor made an additional donation of $1.6M and so the total benefit the Southern Poverty Law Center was $3.5M.[27][28][29] He is also co-authoring a Harvard Business Review case study on the group.[30]

Halligan speaks on marketing and business topics, including at TEDx.[31] Halligan has been named to Glassdoor’s annual top CEO list several times, listed by Comparably as one of the Top 5 Best CEOs of a Large Company as well as Top 5 Best CEOs for Women and for Diversity.[32][33]

He is also an occasional lecturer at Sloan on the science of selling and marketing.[34] MIT Sloan honored Halligan in 2023 with the Monosson Prize.[35]

Daniel Lyons incidents


In his book Disrupted: My Misadventure in the Start Up Bubble, which is sharply critical of HubSpot's management and culture, former HubSpot employee Daniel Lyons accused Halligan of age discrimination.[36]

Materials obtained under the Freedom of Information Act showed that certain Hubspot executives working under Halligan considered the book "a financial threat to HubSpot, its share price, and the company’s future potential". The FBI report discussed "tactics such as email hacking and extortion" in an attempt to prevent the book from being published.[37]

Halligan was forced to pay financial penalties by the HubSpot board of directors because he failed to promptly alert the board after he discovered that staff members at HubSpot behaved inappropriately. "There was definitely some fishiness. But I didn’t report it. That was my bad," Halligan said about the incident.[38][39][40][41]


  1. ^ "HubSpot Management Team, Brian Halligan, CEO & Founder". HubSpot. Retrieved December 3, 2011.
  2. ^ "HubSpot's Next Chapter: Yamini Rangan Appointed CEO, Brian Halligan to Step into Executive Chairman Role". HubSpot.
  3. ^ "Brian Halligan, HubSpot CEO & Co-Founder". Inbound Marketing. Archived from the original on November 18, 2011. Retrieved December 3, 2011.
  4. ^ Halligan, Brian; Shah, Dharmesh (2009). Inbound Marketing: Get Found Using Google, Social Media, and Blogs. John Wiley & Sons Inc. ISBN 978-0-470-49931-3.
  5. ^ "Dharmesh Shah, HubSpot CTO and Founder". HubSpot. Retrieved 2021-08-25.
  6. ^ Scott, David Meerman; Halligan, Brian (2010). Marketing Lessons from the Grateful Dead: What Every Business Can Learn from the Most Iconic Band in History. John Wiley & Sons Inc. ISBN 978-0-470-90052-9. Archived from the original on 2011-12-12. Retrieved 2011-12-04.
  7. ^ "How to Succeed in Business". The University of Vermont. UVM Today. 3 January 2019. Retrieved 7 September 2023.
  8. ^ a b c d "Entrepreneur In Residence: Brian Halligan". Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Archived from the original on January 2, 2012. Retrieved December 3, 2011.
  9. ^ "Faculty: Brian P. Halligan MIT Sloan". mitsloan.mit.edu. MIT Sloan School of Management. 20 October 2022. Retrieved 7 September 2023.
  10. ^ "HubSpot: Key People: Management: Brian Halligan, CEO & Founder". VentureBeat Profiles. Archived from the original on February 20, 2011. Retrieved December 2, 2011.
  11. ^ "Microsoft, Groove Networks to Combine Forces to Create Anytime, Anywhere Collaboration". Microsoft. March 10, 2005. Archived from the original on December 8, 2011. Retrieved December 19, 2011.
  12. ^ "Brian Halligan". General Catalyst Partners. Archived from the original on November 19, 2011. Retrieved December 3, 2011.
  13. ^ "HubSpot Reports Q4 and Full Year 2022 Results". HubSpot.
  14. ^ "Contact Us". HubSpot. Retrieved 2017-06-16.
  15. ^ Markowitz, Eric (September 2010). "My Story: Brian Halligan of HubSpot". Inc. Retrieved December 3, 2011.
  16. ^ "HubSpot cofounder to step down as CEO after accident - The Boston Globe". BostonGlobe.com. Retrieved 2023-08-14.
  17. ^ "15.392 Class Home". stellar.mit.edu. Retrieved 2017-06-16.
  18. ^ Chen, Elaine; Halligan, Brian. "15.S16 H2 Special Seminar in Management: Entrepreneurial Product Marketing and Development". MIT. Archived from the original on February 14, 2012. Retrieved December 6, 2011.
  19. ^ "Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution Elects New Corporation Members" (Press release). Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.
  20. ^ "Fleetmatics Group Expands Board of Directors". Fleetmatics. Archived from the original on April 7, 2014. Retrieved 2017-06-15.
  21. ^ "HubSpot's Brian Halligan launches $100 million investment fund focused on climate change". BostonGlobe.com. Retrieved 2023-07-16.
  22. ^ "Brian Halligan". Sequoia Capital. Retrieved 2024-05-08.
  23. ^ Evans, Meryl (March 9, 2010). "Inbound Marketing: A Social Media Primer". The New York Times/GigaOm. Retrieved December 19, 2011.
  24. ^ "Brian Halligan, Nominated for a Small Business Influencer Award in: Leaders". Small Business Influencers. July 2011. Retrieved December 3, 2011.
  25. ^ Kirsner, Scott (July 16, 2010). "New book casts the Grateful Dead as brilliant marketers". The Boston Globe. Retrieved December 19, 2011.
  26. ^ Green, Joshua (March 2010). "Management Secrets of the Grateful Dead". The Atlantic. Retrieved December 3, 2011.
  27. ^ Blistein, Jon (2017-06-01). "Jerry Garcia's Legendary Wolf Guitar Sells for $1.9 Million at Auction". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2017-06-05.
  28. ^ Rosen, Andy (2017-06-01). "HubSpot's Brian Halligan buys Jerry Garcia's guitar for almost $2 million". BostonGlobe.com. Retrieved 2017-06-05.
  29. ^ "Auction of legendary guitar to benefit SPLC". Southern Poverty Law Center. Retrieved 2017-06-16.
  30. ^ Clifford, Kasie (2022-07-19). "From Funnels to Flywheels". Rita McGrath. Retrieved 2023-07-16.
  31. ^ Halligan, Brian; Shah, Dharmesh; Caruso, Joe (June 29, 2011). "How do you catch an angel investor's eye?". TEDx Boston. Archived from the original on April 15, 2013. Retrieved December 7, 2011.
  32. ^ "HubSpot Company Culture". comparably.com.
  33. ^ "Top CEOs". Glassdoor.
  34. ^ "MIT Sloan's inaugural Marketing Conference to reveal the future of engaging the digital consumer". MIT Sloan. September 1, 2011. Archived from the original on January 22, 2012. Retrieved January 14, 2012.
  35. ^ Wymer, Greg. "Awards". The Martin Trust Center for MIT Entrepreneurship. Retrieved 2023-07-16.
  36. ^ Primack, Dan (April 16, 2016) "Why Tech Workers and Investors Should Read 'Disrupted." Forbes. (Retrieved 8-16-2016).
  37. ^ "Extortion, hacking claims sparked HubSpot investigation, FBI records show", Boston Globe, 24 March 2016.
  38. ^ Adams, Dan (2015-07-29). "HubSpot fires marketing chief, sanctions CEO over incident involving book about the company". betaboston.com. Archived from the original on 2022-06-27.
  39. ^ Lyons, Dan (April 2016). "My Year in Startup Hell". Fortune.
  40. ^ Woodward, Curt (2016-03-24). "Extortion, hacking claims sparked HubSpot investigation, FBI records show". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 2016-04-12. Chief executive Brian Halligan was fined for failing to promptly alert the company's board of directors after finding out about the incident.
  41. ^ Kirsner, Scott (2015-07-30). "HubSpot CEO and CTO discuss firing of company's 'third founder' over attempts to obtain book manuscript". The Boston Globe. Archived from the original on August 1, 2015. Retrieved 2016-03-16. I did the math on how many days I've been a working professional. It's something like 6,250, and yesterday was the worst.