WASHINGTON, DC—Former Burson-Marsteller CEO Mark Penn has departed Microsoft to form a new marketing investment group that has already raised $250m in capital.
Penn, who joined Microsoft in 2012 after six years at Burson, said the Stagwell Group will invest in advertising, research, data analytics, public relations, and digital marketing services.
One of Stagwell's core investors is former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer. "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.
"I have always believed that data and creativity have to go together and that creative talent needs to be nurtured," added Penn. "We will be looking for investments that understand those principles."
According to a company statement, Stagwell can also access leverage to make up to $750m in acquisitions. Penn will move into his new Stagwell role by September.
Penn was the co-founder of market research firm Penn Schoen Berland, which he sold to WPP. After leading Burson-Marsteller, he joined Microsoft as chief straegy officer before becoming chief insight officer earlier this year. A veteran political pollster, Penn has also worked for President Bill Clinton, Senator Hilary Clinton and Tony Blair.
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