Mark Penn Leaving Microsoft To Start Digital Marketing Services Company, Steve Ballmer Is A Core Investor In It

Mark Penn

As part of the major senior leadership reorganization, Mark Penn is leaving Microsoft. Mark Penn is now founding a new company called Stagwell Group LLC that will invest in digital marketing services. It has raised $250 million in funding and former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer is a core investor in the new company.

Satya Nadella commented the following on Mark Penn on his departure,

Lastly, a number of months ago, Mark Penn shared with me that he is planning to leave Microsoft in September to form a private equity fund, among other things. Over the years, Mark has leveraged his talents and insights on Microsoft’s behalf. From helping craft a Super Bowl ad and helping design new business and marketing models to his work in data analytics, Mark has helped me set the company on a new course. I’m thankful for the wise strategic counsel Mark has provided, and I look forward to seeing what he does next.

Read the press release regarding Stagewell group below.

WASHINGTON, June 17, 2015 /PRNewswire/ — Today, Mark Penn announced the formation of The Stagwell Group LLC, a registered investment advisory company, which will invest in advertising, research, data analytics, public relations, and digital marketing services. The Stagwell Group has closed on $250 million in investment capital and may use leverage to make up to $750 million in acquisitions.

“I believe in the ability to invest, grow and even shake up firms in the marketing industries,” said Steve Ballmer, a core investor.

“With Steve’s support and my experience in politics, marketing and technology, I will seek out investments in the exploding digital marketing arena,” Penn stated. “From finding soccer moms to uncovering Microtrends,” Penn said, “I have always believed that data and creativity have to go together and that creative talent needs to be nurtured. We will be looking for investments that understand those principles,” he said.

“I think now is the time to bring together new kinds of marketing companies into a more dynamic environment – one where entrepreneurs can really thrive,” Penn added.

Mark Penn has been in research, advertising, public relations, polling and consulting for nearly 40 years. For the past three years, he has served in senior executive positions at Microsoft, where as an Executive Vice President he has been responsible for working on core strategic issues across Microsoft’s products, value propositions, and investments and leading the company’s competitive research and analysis. He will be transitioning from Microsoft to The Stagwell Group by September.

Penn’s experience in growing, building and managing agencies is well-documented. As the co-founder and CEO of Penn Schoen Berland, a market research firm that he built and sold to WPP, he demonstrated value creation in a crowded industry serving clients with innovative techniques from being first with overnight polling to unique ad testing methods used by presidents and major corporations. At WPP, he also became CEO of Burson Marsteller, and managed the two companies to record profit growth during that period.

Penn is also known as the creator behind well-known campaigns and ads, including the 3 am ad, Tony Blair’s “forward not back” campaign and led the team on Microsoft’s hugely successful 2014 Super Bowl ad when he headed advertising there. He has been a senior adviser to global corporate and political leaders including Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer, Bill Ford, U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair, Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton and President Bill Clinton. He has worked globally in over 25 countries for their leaders. Penn is the author of Microtrends: the Small Forces Behind Tomorrow’s Big Changes (2009).

The firm is not currently accepting new investors.

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