When Hubspot Tries To Recruit Your CTO by Cold Emailing

We’re nice guys here at Team RecoVend. We’re all about collaboration, changing the old guard in stagnant industries, and making Higher Education more efficient and affordable for every student and their family. These are big lofty goals – goals which we do not shy away from despite all of the hurdles we will have to overcome on the way to the finish line.

We are working to transform an industry and disrupt inefficient incumbents, which is bound to cause some pain and discomfort. Even through this pain and discomfort, we try and run our business with one simple philosophy: Be a Mensch. This extends to our recruiting philosophy as we look to add ambitious, hungry talent to our team. Sravish Sridhar, the excellent CEO of Kinvey, sums up startup recruiting etiquette perfectly in his post Startup Poaching Etiquette: Be a Richard, Not a Dick.

Unfortunately not all startups have such an admirable ethos for their recruiting efforts. This past weekend, RecoVend co-founder Jason Woodward was sent the following cold email by a recruiter from Hubspot, the company renowned for their inbound marketing strategies (and yes, the irony of that sentence is not lost on us).


Since we figured this deserved a response, we did it in the only way RecoVend knows how – with memes!

While we joke around, we don’t bear too much ill will towards Hubspot. They’re a cool company, and if any of our loyal readers want to work there, by all means let us know and we’ll make the intro – after all, we’d love the $10,000 Referral Bonus.

How’s that for inbound marketing?

  • orisfa

    class act :)

  • HY
    • http://twitter.com/KyleJudah Kyle Judah

      Thanks for reposting – I had seen Walter’s post on BostInno earlier that week and found the timing to add to the hilarity of the situation.

  • http://joel.thegoodmanblog.com joelgoodman

    Ridic. But of course they’d want him. He’s a stud.

  • http://www.facebook.com/lougan Lougan Bishop


  • cargo

    Not sure that this is really that weird. Competitive companies are always looking to recruit from each other. You should read up on the Google v Facebook hiring battle (it’s a bit old, but far more flagrant than this)


    • http://twitter.com/KyleJudah Kyle Judah

      I totally agree it isn’t too far outside the realm of normalcy – which is a sad state of affairs. If people are poaching engineering talent, it shouldn’t be from startups just getting their legs under them – it should be from the Googles and Facebooks of the world. I’m not sure I’d consider either of those examples to be startups anymore.

      I think it comes down to basic etiquette – how do you as a founder want to treat others in and around you, because that translates nearly perfectly over to how your company ends up treating their employees, clients, partners, etc.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1301402845 Joe Sharron

        So what you are saying is it’s ok to poach as long as you poach from the big guys and not startups? The recruiting email is lame but I’m not sure if the blog post announcing it to the world trumps it. In the war on talent everyone is being recruited and nearly everyone is recruit-able. Although there are more efficient tactics than the example above.

        • http://twitter.com/KyleJudah Kyle Judah

          Thanks for the comment and the call out – perhaps we could have been more tactful in our response, but we figured we’d have fun with a funny situation.

          Tactics aside, as stated in Sravish’s blog post on Poaching Etiquette, I think poaching is fine(Darwinian even) within constraints. I feel quite strongly that it’s pretty lame to try and poach from an unfunded startup. Same goes for a startup under 10 people. And that goes DOUBLY for a startup run by a friend. I would never walk down the hall to any other companies from our Betaspring class and try to recruit their engineers.

          Haters gonna hate, and recruiters gonna recruit. But there are ways to do it with class, respect, a personal touch and etiquette.

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1301402845 Joe Sharron

            Kyle- (please) Connect with me on LinkedIn and I’ll share a more respectful and personalized method of reaching out to people – in fact I developed it while at HubSpot and was sad to see it’s no longer in use.

          • http://twitter.com/KyleJudah Kyle Judah

            I see what you did there, Joe. Well played, sir.

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1301402845 Joe Sharron

            LOL – the email I sent was a sample – we are not really looking for a CEO…at least I don’t think we are :)

  • Morgan

    haha take it as a compliment

    • http://twitter.com/KyleJudah Kyle Judah

      We absolutely do! It’s the ultimate in team validation.

  • not a hubspotter

    Clearly you are using this for attention since your companies story has yet to be as captivating as Hub Spots. The fact of the matter is recruiting for high growth companies is a contact sport and its clear you have never done it. Get off your high horse, roll up your sleeves and try recruiting geeks like you who think they are smarter than the rest of us. You’ll be sending out cold emails like this in a nano second. And as awesome as you think you are because you got this email, you are just one of many I am sure- because in the game of recruiting finding top talent is a combination of volume and strategy. Get a clue.

    • http://twitter.com/KyleJudah Kyle Judah

      Dear Not A Hubspotter,
      Thanks for your comment – I appreciate the opportunity for open dialogue and I’m more than happy to grab a coffee and discuss my thoughts on startup recruiting etiquette in greater depth.

      For the record, both our technical and non technical talent alike enjoying reveling in our geekhood. Give it a shot, it’s liberating.

    • http://twitter.com/dylanw Dylan Wilbanks

      I work for one of those “high growth” companies, and we sure as hell don’t recruit with poorly written cold emails. In fact, I can’t think of anyone off the top of my head that was hired via a cold email. And this is a startup that’s added 200+ employees in 18 months — all while not pulling this crap.

      The game of “recruiting finding top talent” has as far more to do with strategy than it does volume. The 3-5 poorly written, poorly targeted cold emails I get each day are a testimony to the failure of volume. Volume is the Red Sox e-mailing every single baseball player in the US offering them an interview as a #4 starter. Strategy is the Red Sox identifying the kind of person they need for a starting pitcher, asking all the players and front office if they knew of any pitchers like this, and then targeting a select number of those potential pitchers to fill the hole. The former has an abysmal signal-to-noise ratio that just wastes everyone’s time. The latter, while potentially missing some hidden gems, means the Bosox would have a #4 starting pitcher that fit their needs.

      I’ve worked with exactly three recruiters in my life that did their homework. When they contacted me, they’d read my LinkedIn profile, told me why I was a good fit, and asked if I’d be interested in having a conversation. Compare that to the 100+ emails I received in the last four months from people like you who insist “recruiting finding top talent” has anything to do with volume. Who would I have that conversation with, you think?

      The one thing I will say about the HubSpot recruiter is that he (or she) at least did enough of their homework to identify that Jason was a “rock star” that could be poached. It was ham-handed, but at least they tried. And they spelled his name right… you know how many e-mails I get from recruiters who can’t even spell my name right? It’s on MY FRIKKIN LINKEDIN PROFILE. All you have to do is COPY and PASTE.

      In short, If you email me about “recruiting finding top talent,” not a hubspotter, I probably won’t respond, mostly because I’ll be talking to a recruiter who proofread their email before sending it to me.

  • http://twitter.com/mvolpe Mike Volpe

    Thanks for pointing this out, I would not have known about the email without this article. This email is weak for a number of reasons, including spelling mistakes and an inappropriate tone and the IPO language is lame. We may have an IPO sometime, but that is a step along the journey, not an endpoint, and the timing is more controlled by the stock market than the company so I have no idea when it might happen. Plus it is just poor form to use that in a cold recruiting email.
    We will improve. Thanks for calling us out.
    That being said, we are changing the world (of marketing) and building a huge, successful, profitable company based here in Boston, helping to grow the overall software and startup ecosystem. We love the Boston startup scene; we are part of the community and we give a lot back to it. Our management team contains active angle investors who have invested in over 30 startups and we all advise and help out many Boston startups. Another way we want to enhance the Boston tech startup scene is by building a company that can be one of the large players anchoring the community at the top end of the ecosystem, which is a huge hole in Boston tech. Without a Google, Facebook, Salesforce.com, Oracle, etc. we are missing a key ingredient of a proper tech ecosystem. In order for HubSpot to grow to be like those companies, we need more engineers, more sales people, more marketers, more everything (we hired 75 people over the past 3 months and need more). Recruiting is a contact sport, and just like lots of other companies are constantly pinging our superstar employees, we will continue to be aggressive in our recruiting and do lots of different things to try to find more amazing folks to add to our team. This particular email probably should be called a foul, but that does not mean we are heading to the bench.

    • http://twitter.com/KyleJudah Kyle Judah

      Thanks for the timely and thoughtful response. Both of us were quite sure that yourself, Dharmesh, Brian and the other senior leadership didn’t know how Hubspot was being represented. As mentioned, we have a great deal of respect for you guys, both individually and collectively, and love that Hubspot is making itself one of the anchor institutions in the Boston startup ecosystem. We need more people and companies like you.

      Again, appreciate the response and thanks for all that you/Brian/Dharmesh/etc do for the Boston ecosystem.

      • http://www.HubSpot.com Dharmesh Shah

        Wanted to jump in and offer quick thanks for your understanding and kind words.

        Go Boston!

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  • http://jonathan-kim.com/ Jonathan K

    Agreed that that the content of that email is a bit inappropriate. However, I read the post on poaching etiquette, and I’d like to offer a counter-point.

    Not many people enjoy visits from evangelistic religious missionaries. It’s annoying and much like a cold sale, despite their attempts to make it “a conversation.” Annoying right?

    But these people truly believe that they are going to save your “soul” from eternal damnation, and they’re spending a serious chunk of their lives doing this. Regardless of your religious views, that’s a noble cause.

    If you truly believe that what you’re doing is going to change the world, why wouldn’t you want to get the best people to help you?