Bloomberg campaign to use little-known company he founded for digital strategy

Bloomberg campaign to use little-known company he founded for digital strategy
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Billionaire presidential candidate Michael BloombergMichael BloombergFormer Bloomberg staffer seeks class-action lawsuit over layoffs Bloomberg spent over 0M on presidential campaign The Hill's Campaign Report: Officials in spotlight over coronavirus response MORE is relying on a company he founded earlier this year to run his campaign's digital strategy, an unusual move that underlines the unique benefits the former mayor enjoys in the race due to his enormous wealth.

Bloomberg's presidential campaign is relying on Hawkfish, a tech firm that he founded earlier this year, to act as the "primary digital agency and technology services provider for the campaign," said Bloomberg spokeswoman Julie Wood.

She said Hawkfish is "now providing digital ad services, including content creation, ad placement and analytics" and plans to aid other Democratic races in the future.

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Wood said Bloomberg's decision to run for president "surprised many of his advisors" as well as the Hawkfish leadership team. The tech firm had worked on Democratic groups in Virginia and Kentucky during the 2019 election cycle.

CNBC first reported on Bloomberg's use of Hawkfish on Monday.

Hawkfish is hiring for multiple positions, including senior software engineer and graphic designer. Its leadership team already includes a few tech industry heavyweights, including former Facebook marketing officer Gary Briggs and former Foursquare CEO Jeff Glueck, CNBC reported. 

"I have joined as Head of Digital for Hawkfish, a new startup to build state-of-the-art data and tech infrastructure for Democrats and progressive causes," Glueck tweeted earlier this month. "Our clients are political campaigns, advocacy groups, and PACs." 

"Our first major customer is Mike Bloomberg for President," Glueck added, "but we have already done work on behalf of Dem candidates in state elections. The talent here is really impressive. A mix of people from Silicon Valley companies, data scientists, and experienced Dem campaign veterans."

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Bloomberg reportedly founded Hawkfish in the spring, months before he announced his presidential candidacy, with the intention of helping Democratic campaigns hone their digital strategies.

Bloomberg has poured millions of dollars into his digital advertising strategy already, and has committed to spending $100 million on online advertisements against President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump fires intelligence community inspector general who flagged Ukraine whistleblower complaint Trump organization has laid off over 1000 employees due to pandemic: report Trump invokes Defense Production Act to prevent export of surgical masks, gloves MORE.

Over the course of one week in December, Bloomberg — one of the richest men in the world — spent an estimated $23.7 million on advertising, more than one-third of what the rest of the Democratic field has spent since the beginning of the year. He has sought to muscle his way into the crowded Democratic primary using his huge reserve of wealth and a data-driven strategy targeting potential voters in key areas.

Using Hawkfish, a company he founded, is likely not a violation of campaign finance rules for Bloomberg, experts told CNBC, but the firm emerges as Democrats grapple with how to match the Trump reelection campaign's formidable digital strategy. The progressive organization Acronym earlier this year unveiled plans to spend $75 million on digital ads to counter Trump, who has been spending tens of millions targeting messages at supporters online.

Updated at 5:27 p.m.