Boston startup Attend Inc. has a new board member: The former CMO of HubSpot, whose termination last summer led to a federal criminal investigation.

Mike Volpe was one of the first employees at HubSpot. Before his dismissal last July, he was the top marketing executive of the Cambridge, Mass.-based content marketing and CRM technology provider.

Now Volpe is joining the Attend board, company officials announced. Attend, backed by Boston investor .406 Ventures, provides software that helps sales and marketers get the most out of their live events. 

“Everything is ‘niche’ before it becomes something big,” Volpe told CMSWire in an email interview today. 

“SEO used to be niche. Same thing with social media. And marketing automation too. Events are usually 20 to 40 percent of marketing budgets, yet there is no modern software to manage your events in the way marketing is managed today. Attend helps you optimize and track your events so they drive more revenue, which is what everyone is trying to do with every aspect of their marketing. The message really resonates with people, and we're seeing very good traction since they just launched their latest product a few months ago.”

Controversial Road

michael volpe

HubSpot in a company press release last July said Volpe violated the company's Code of Business Conduct and Ethics in connection with attempts to procure a draft manuscript of a book. 

The book in question is Dan Lyons' “Disrupted, My Misadventure in the Start-Up Bubble.” Lyons, a journalist and author who wrote for HBO’s Silicon Valley television series, worked in the marketing department at HubSpot between April 2013 and December 2014. Lyons still claims to not know what Volpe may have done related to his pending book. 

Volpe did not respond to CMSWire’s questions about his HubSpot exit in the email interview today. Lyons did not return a CMSWire request for commentary today.

The events last summer also included the resignation of Joe Chernov, HubSpot’s vice president of content. He’s now with Boston sales analytics company InsightSquared. Federal prosecutors investigated the case but ultimately decided not to pursue criminal charges

Attend Adds ‘Pioneer’

Attend officials claim to be “transforming how companies use events to boost sales velocity.” In a statement, CEO Matt Engel called Volpe a “pioneer in the marketing technology industry.”

“We believe his strong experience,” Engel added, “especially in building a marketing technology company to a successful IPO, will be extremely valuable as Attend continues its rapid growth.”

Volpe said Attend innovates in a “part of the marketing stack that has been very much overlooked.” He was a key player in helping organize HubSpot’s annual Inbound Conference, which last September featured more than 14,000 people in Boston. Volpe was gone by that 2015 conference.

“I have personal experience with events, and their ability to drive revenue,” Volpe said in a statement issued by Attend. “Attend’s approach is going to revolutionize how businesses incorporate events into their marketing and sales strategy.”

What’s Next?

Volpe is an active angel investor and advisor to numerous startups and is on the board of directors at Boston-based Repsly. Volpe likes Boston tech; he's a grad of the MIT Sloan School of Management, like HubSpot's co-founders. Repsly offers mobile CRM software for merchandising, service and other field teams. 

Volpe told CMSWire he’s continued angel investing and has funded about 25 companies in total, of which three have had successful exits so far. He’s now advising a number of companies, spending anywhere from one hour a month to four days per month with many of them.  

“I'm way busier than I want to be,” Volpe told CMSWire. 

Beyond being one of HubSpot's angel investors and being part of the founding team, he told CMSWire he’s also invested in GroSocial (acquired by Infusionsoft), Locately (acquired by SMG), Crayon, Bounce Exchange, Friendbuy, Influitive, Privy and ThriveHive, which are all MarTech companies. 

“More generally I have an interest and experience in SaaS overall,” Volpe said, “but I'm involved with companies that make some physical products too. I'm not sure if long term I'll be a founder and operator or an investor and board member. My plan is to continue to help with building some great technology companies, especially in Boston, and help drive innovation and create more jobs and opportunities for lots of people.”

MarTech is seeing a consolidation of power, Volpe added, where customers want one centralized platform for managing all of their data. Mostly, he said, this happens with Salesforce in the enterprise and HubSpot everywhere else.  

“At the same time, there is a huge blooming of new apps in both marketing and sales,” Volpe told CMSWire. 

“Customers want these new apps to integrate with their main platform. For instance Attend has a Salesforce integration and is working on HubSpot and Marketo integrations. Or customers choose to use an integration platform like Bedrock Data to get all their systems to talk to each other. Basically there is a lot of opportunity for new startups, but you need to have an integration strategy to get going.”