I intended on continuing with the 8th course of Hubspot’s Inbound Marketing University today, but that came to a halt. While perusing through my Twitter feed I came across this:

I thought WOW, that’s kind of crazy. What happened?? Upon clicking the link you are brought to this page featuring a video from Rebecca Corliss that explains the cease and desist order that Hubspot received today. View the cease and desist order here.

I was one of the first to comment on the page because I wanted to know what was going on and how I could help. Then I noticed something fishy.

  • Emma Lewis, the Attorney who sent the letter, has a laughable website.
  • Kronus Media basically does not exist via Google.
  • Their website, KronusMedia.com, is a joke.

Hubspot’s Founder even tweeted:

At this point there were many tweets flying around as the news was spreading and concern was rising.

Anyways, I signed up to “SAVE IMU” and received a strange e-mail. It was from Captain Inbound, here’s an excerpt:

Who am I?
I’m the last person at HubSpot that hasn’t been silenced with a non-disclosure agreement. They don’t know who I am, and I’d like to keep it that way, so I’m using Captain Inbound as my alias.

Something very strange is going on, and you’re in the unique position to be able to help solve this mystery.
I can’t do it alone.”

You are then encouraged to join the Captain Inbound Agency, a new Ning community. Considering Hubspot had “just received” this letter, how would they have gotten all of this thought up and set up so fast?

That’s when I was fully convinced, I know it took me a while, that it was all a ploy in order to promote their new community. I’d like to note that the community potential is high and it can become a great engaging experience for Hubspot fans. I mean, who doesn’t like to get secret clues and try to crack codes.

Check out the Whois for EmmaLewisESQ.com and KronusMedia.com – both websites created in April of 2010.

Upon signing up for the CIA, you can provide your cell phone number to receive clues via text, you can even provide your mailing address to receive packages of clues. Within the community there is an on-line chat for members to interact with each other and Captain Inbound himself. This is where I went as far as I could with “cracking the case”.

Under the video posted by Rebecca, here, there is quite an obvious code: 978-0-470-49931-3pg16wd5let1pg34wd13let3pg43wd35let4pg59wd8let4pg60wd1let4pg66wd28let2pg88wd8let7pg100wd24let2pg119wd4let 4pg132wd4let9

978-0-470-49931-3 is the ISBN for The Inbound Marketing book. Then you can see that the rest of the code is designed to send investigators to specific letters of specific words on certain pages. I don’t own the book, so I’m already out of the running. I looked the book up on Google, but it only previews a limited number of pages.

Final thoughts:

Good job Hubspot. You had me convinced for a little while, and I’m pretty sure others are still upset and confused. While I was in the chat, I couldn’t bear to yell out “It’s staged!” to the others who were trying to figure out what’s going on, that’d be like telling a 5 year old there is no Santa. I did, however, post my opinions/discovery on Twitter.

The Kronus Media website was genius as it is the perfect traditional, outbound marketing competitor. I thought that was a nice way to promote inbound marketing. In the end, Hubspot will have received a lot of attention (website traffic, bloggers blogging, tweets, etc…) and also members to their new community. There is no telling how long this act will continue; how many clues do they have lined up and how long do they want this to last? But when it’s over I’m sure Hubspot will share their results with us, at least I hope they do.

12:45pm Update: Code has been cracked thanks to Matt Shaw

If you go through the book you get mygirlgrey. Next clue is then: @mygirlgrey – She’s an intern at the now famous Kronus Media. This will probably be my last update on the matter because I have to work. 🙂

1:15pm Update: Hubspot comes clean and announces their new Alternate Reality Game (ARG)

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