The creator of Microsoft’s notorious Scroogled campaign, Mark Penn, is leaving the software giant to form an investment company in the coming months. Former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer is a "core investor" in Mark Penn’s new company, The Stagwell Group LLC. Penn is planning to invest in advertising, research, data analytics, public relations, and digital marketing. Ballmer’s support forms part of $250 million in capital that Penn has raised to create the firm.
"I believe in the ability to invest, grow and even shake up firms in the marketing industries," says Steve Ballmer, who now owns the Los Angeles Clippers basketball team. It’s not a surprise that Penn is sticking to digital marketing and analytics. Alongside his Scroogled work, Penn also helped Microsoft create an impressive Super Bowl commercial last year. He also has a long history of running political strategies, assisting President Bill Clinton in the past and serving as the chief strategist for Hillary Clinton during her 2008 presidential campaign.
Microsoft has distanced itself from Scroogled, and CEO Satya Nadella moved Mark Penn away from his advertising duties less than a month after Nadella was promoted. Penn has been handling strategy at Microsoft ever since, but it’s clear without Steve Ballmer in charge Penn’s responsibilities weren’t as broad. "With Steve’s support and my experience in politics, marketing and technology, I will seek out investments in the exploding digital marketing arena," says Penn in a statement.