By Elizabeth Culliford and Katie Paul
February 21 (Reuters) – US Democratic presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg’s campaign has pumped $ 25.7 million into the billionaire candidate’s little-known digital arm Hawkfish since he entered the race last November. This is clear from information from the Federal Election Commission.
Hawkfish LLC, founded by former New York City Mayor in 2019, has quickly hired technical leaders, data scientists, software engineers, and machine learning experts to counter the digital advantage of Republican President Donald Trump ahead of the November 2020 election.
The company, based in the Bloomberg campaign in Midtown Manhattan, currently has at least 200 employees.
Bloomberg, who was attacked by other democratic rivals trying to get Trump off the pitch during his first debate on Wednesday, is spending unprecedented amounts of money on his advertising campaign.
According to campaign data submitted this week, the Bloomberg campaign spent $ 409 million on its run through January, with most of the money spent on a TV advertising flash. According to democratic digital company Bully Pulpit Interactive, $ 87 million was spent on Google and Facebook ads. ,
Hawkfish describes itself on its LinkedIn page as “a new startup for building a state-of-the-art data and technology infrastructure for democratic candidates, good causes and sensible solutions”.
Gary Briggs, former Facebook marketing director, former Foursquare CEO Jeff Glueck, has held senior positions. On Thursday, CNBC reported that Hawkfish had hired ad manager Tim Castree, who was previously CEO of WPP Group’s subsidiary GroupM in North America.
Other employees and consultants are alumni of Google, the ad tech company The Trade Desk and Goldman Sachs.
Eric Kuhn, who identified himself as the first Hollywood agent to focus on social media while at United Talent Agency, has joined Hawkfish as a senior digital organization advisor and influencer, a signal that the campaign could build on that recent controversial strategy to pay popular Instagram meme accounts for content posting.
The campaign has announced that Hawkfish will continue to be “heavily funded” through November regardless of whether Bloomberg wins the nomination.
“Bloomberg is not only the best funded, but frankly the most sophisticated with data,” said JT Kostman, a data scientist who worked on the social media strategy for Barack Obama’s 2012 presidential campaign.
Using social network analysis to identify the most influential people and target them to share messages, Hawkfish can create the feeling that “everyone says this,” he said.
Hawkfish says it worked for Democratic candidates in the Virginia and Kentucky state elections in 2019, but calls Bloomberg’s campaign “our first big customer.”
The campaign states that Hawkfish is competing with the digital team at Trump’s current campaign manager Brad Parscale in 2016, which is performing a data-driven operation to create content and send paid ads to the voters.
According to the campaign, the name stems from Bloomberg’s interest in marine life. When he was mayor of New York, he installed huge aquariums in the city hall and the offices of his financial news and data company Bloomberg LLC are known for housing aquariums. (Reporting by Elizabeth Culliford and Katie Paul in San Francisco; editing by Greg Mitchell and Kim Coghill)