Advertising, marketing and PR veteran Mark Penn has formed The Stagwell, which will invest in advertising, research, data analytics, public relations, and digital marketing services, Penn confirmed Wednesday. Penn, currently an executive-level strategist with Microsoft, will leave the software giant by September to devote full time to Stagwell.
Stagwell Group has closed on $250 million in investment capital and may use leverage to make up to $750 million in acquisitions. Former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer is a core investor in the new firm.
"With Steve's support and my experience in politics, marketing and technology, I will seek out investments in the exploding digital marketing arena," said Penn. "From finding soccer moms to uncovering micro-trends, 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.
Penn has been in research, advertising, public relations, polling and consulting for nearly 40 years, the last three at Microsoft. Earlier, he co-founded and served as CEO at Penn Schoen Berland, a market research firm that was sold to WPP in 2001. At WPP, he also became CEO of Burson Marsteller, and managed the two companies to record profit growth.
Penn has been a senior adviser to global corporate and political leaders including Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates Ballmer, Ford Company’s Bill Ford, U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair, Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton and President Bill Clinton.