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Mark Penn
Mark Penn

Mark Penn, the political strategist and advertising executive known for his work on the Clinton presidential campaigns, is leaving Microsoft as part of broader management shakeup announced by the company this morning. But he’s bringing Microsoft’s former top leader along with him for his new venture.

Former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, whose friendship with Penn dates back to Harvard in the 1970s, is named as a “core investor” in the announcement this morning of Penn’s new investment advisory company, The Stagwell Group LLC.

According to a news release, Stagwell has raised $250 million and will invest in advertising, research, data analytics, PR and digital marketing, leveraging the capital to make as much as $750 million in acquisitions.

“With Steve’s support and my experience in politics, marketing and technology, I will seek out investments in the exploding digital marketing arena,” Penn says in a statement.

Penn was originally brought to Microsoft by Ballmer in 2012, leading strategic and special projects. He was a divisive figure inside the company, pushing an aggressive approach that included Microsoft’s “Scroogled” campaign against Google. He’s expected to officially depart Microsoft in September.

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said in his email to employees this morning, “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.”

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