Why HubSpot just bought a media company

HubSpot is a niche media company that just happens to monetize through a SaaS product.

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Axios: HubSpot is acquiring The Hustle for $27 million

Huh. Well this is interesting.

For the initiated, HubSpot is a SaaS tech company that sells everything from a publishing CMS to web analytics software to a CRM — all tools that are utilized in inbound marketing. It also runs a huge annual conference called Inbound. The Hustle is a business-focused newsletter that has 1.5 million subscribers, and it monetizes through advertising and a paid subscription. I actually profiled the company awhile back.

This might have people scratching their heads, because HubSpot isn’t typically thought of as a media company. Sure, it produces a lot of content, but mostly as a form of marketing to get people on board with purchasing its expensive software products. Viewed under that lens, then I guess you could say that The Hustle’s business niche will expand HubSpot’s lead generation, theoretically driving even more customers.

But I don’t think that’s the play here. Instead, I think you should view HubSpot as a niche media company that just happens to monetize through a SaaS product. Here are some stats from its press release:

HubSpot has built a large community around its educational content, with seven million people each month reading the company's blogs and hundreds of thousands viewing HubSpot videos on YouTube. HubSpot's Academy is another source of education for its community. More than 100,000 people take lessons every month, and over 300,000 people have received a HubSpot certification

By acquiring The Hustle, it’s essentially broadening its niche a little bit while also diversifying its revenue streams. Here’s how it’ll make money going forward:

  1. SaaS product

  2. Conferences

  3. Advertising

  4. Content subscriptions

It’s also worth noting that HubSpot isn’t the first B2B SaaS product to purchase a media company: Mailchimp bought a company called Courier Media early last year.

My latest: How Newsflare monetizes video from over 60,000 contributors

Across YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram, Newsflare has over 3.5 million followers, and videos posted to those channels have collectively generated billions of views. It managed to accomplish this in a rather unique way.

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The Newsflare article I linked to above is 2,500 words. I had to interview multiple employees at the company and pore over hundreds of videos posted to its various channels. I then spent multiple days writing the piece. My podcast also requires a significant time commitment for booking guests, researching discussion topics, interviewing guests, and editing the audio.

This is a lot of time and energy I spend delivering insights aimed at helping you in your career. I monetize all this work through paid subscriptions. Subscribing gets you exclusive deep dive case studies about super successful digital content businesses, and you can also say that you support an independent journalist.

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The Drum: ‘We put journalists in charge of the algorithms’: Flipboard CEO on misinformation battle

Flipboard has been claiming it has 100 million monthly active users for years, and that number hasn't budged up or down. Seems a little fishy.

Hollywood Reporter: The High Cost of Chasing Netflix

The rise of streaming has been great for consumers and Hollywood filmmakers, but it continues to be a terrible business for the streaming companies themselves.

Tubefilter: CNN Ends Distribution Deal With Facebook Watch, Brings ‘Go There’ Series In-House

This is interesting. CNN is known for pulling original programming off platforms if it isn’t able to generate a real profit. It did the same with Snapchat a few years ago.

CNN's also one of the few media companies that still invests in its owned and operated video. NBC, on the other hand, recently went all-in on YouTube.

I have a secret Facebook group

I only promote it in this newsletter, and it’s grown to over 450 members who work in media. We have pretty vibrant discussions about industry news and trends. You can join over here. [Facebook]

Hollywood Reporter: Joe Budden to Launch Membership Business via Patreon

This is interesting to watch because Budden was one of Spotify's first exclusive podcasters. Now we get to see whether he can generate even more money on an open podcast ecosystem than he did behind Spotify's walled garden.

My prediction is that he’ll generate much more money and reach a bigger audience as a result of this move. Not only does his Spotify audience remain intact, but he now gets to grow on other platforms as well. He might even push some of his listeners off of Spotify and onto competing podcast apps, since Patreon-exclusive feeds can’t be accessed on Spotify’s more closed ecosystem.

Medialyte: Portrait of a Clubhouse skeptic

I've received a few invites to join Clubhouse, and I suppose as a media industry journalist I'll eventually need to try it out, but it just sounds like such an exhausting platform to participate in, and there are only so many hours in the day.

Occasionally I’ll see someone on Twitter make the silly claim that Clubhouse will replace podcasting. Podcasts are on-demand audio files, and prior to firing up a new episode I have a fairly good idea of what to expect when I listen to it. With Clubhouse, you’re simply dropping into the middle of a live conversation with no guarantee that you’ll enjoy or even be able to follow it. Those are two entirely different use cases.

Digiday: How The Washington Post’s new Instagram editor will try to boost its subscription business

This is interesting. You don't typically think of Instagram as a driver of paid subscriptions.

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Simon Owens is a tech and media journalist living in Washington, DC. Follow him on TwitterFacebook, or LinkedIn. Email him at simonowens@gmail.com. For a full bio, go here.