Politics

Pro-Biden super PAC American Bridge hires Mike Bloomberg's digital firm Hawkfish

Key Points
  • Hawkfish, a tech firm founded by billionaire former presidential candidate Mike Bloomberg, has signed on with a pro-Joe Biden super PAC.
  • The PAC, American Bridge, has spent millions of dollars on ads on TV and online in support of the former vice president's bid for the White House.
  • Hawkfish will target people who voted for President Trump in the key battleground states of Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin.
Former Democratic presidential candidate Mike Bloomberg addresses his staff and the media after announcing that he will be ending his campaign on March 04, 2020 in New York City.
Spencer Platt

Hawkfish, a tech firm founded by billionaire former presidential candidate Mike Bloomberg, has signed on with a pro-Joe Biden super PAC after missing out on working directly with the presumptive Democratic nominee's campaign.

The super PAC, American Bridge, recently signed a contract with the Bloomberg firm, officials told CNBC. 

The PAC has spent millions of dollars on ads on TV and online in support of the former vice president's bid for the White House. The organization is also well known for its often-unmatched opposition research arm. 

American Bridge's president and co-founder, Bradley Beychok, confirmed in a statement to CNBC that the committee is moving ahead with hiring the firm.

He said Hawkfish will target people who voted for  President Donald Trump in the key battleground states of Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin. American Bridge is investing at least $20 million in ads in those states, with the goal of softening Trump's support there. Trump edged out Hillary Clinton in the three states during the 2016 election, but Real Clear Politics polling averages show Biden ahead of Trump in those states. 

"American Bridge 21st Century is excited to partner with Hawkfish to bring their cutting edge data, modeling, and analytics capabilities to our work," Beychok said. "Donald Trump has never been weaker and now is the time for Democrats to use the best technology to help win back seniors and small-town, rural voters in order to put Joe Biden in the White House."

Some of the PAC's most recent ads feature former Trump voters blasting the president for his handling of the coronavirus pandemic. 

A person with direct knowledge of the matter said American Bridge hired Hawkfish to use its data analytics to better target previous supporters of the president. "Among other things, Hawkfish will focus on providing traditional polling, media study habits, and data modeling and analytics," this person said. 

American Bridge has a general election partnership with another pro-Biden PAC, Unite the Country. The two committees announced in late March that they were planning to deploy a nine-figure effort backing Biden. The effort is being co-chaired by former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick and former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm. 

Hawkfish was Bloomberg's primary digital agency and technology services provider during his brief run for president. It was responsible for creating much of the campaign's digital ads, which usually targeted Trump. Data from the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics shows Hawkfish was paid at least $73 million by Bloomberg's campaign, including a $20 million payout in March after the former New York mayor dropped out of the Democratic primary and endorsed Biden. The former presidential candidate recently spent an additional $35 million on Hawkfish to help Democrats overtake Republicans this November, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Bloomberg, who has a net worth of close to $60 billion, was the sole source of funding for his campaign. He spent at least $1 billion on his run for president. 

Since Bloomberg's withdrawal from the race in March, his tech company hasn't fully hit its stride, making this new client even more significant for its hopes to be a player in the 2020 campaign.

Hawkfish previously struggled to sign potential clients, including Biden's own campaign, which opted not to use its services.

Hawkfish did manage to pick up the Democratic National Committee as a client, but, as McClatchy reported last month, those involved with the matter said it was a "small data contract." 

Hawkfish has also seen a change in its management structure. It picked their first CEO in Josh Mendelsohn, a managing partner at Hangar. Jeff Glueck, former CEO of location tracking firm Foursquare and later the head of digital at Hawkfish, is now leading a team that will focus on projects involving their "soft side clients," his LinkedIn page says. That group of clients working with Glueck does not include political candidates and focuses on nonprofits, super PACs and voter registration groups, among others. 

"We are responsible for bringing in new national organizations as clients, and overseeing client services, project delivery, and achievement of campaign metrics and goals. We tap Hawkfish experts on voter modeling and audience development, media planning, creative production, measurement and insights, and social media and programmatic optimization," Glueck's page says. 

Gary Briggs, a former chief marketing officer at Facebook, is Hawkfish's chairman. 

The new Hawkfish client could also indicate something donors have been waiting to see for months: where Bloomberg plans to put his millions in support of Biden

Bloomberg has been plotting a massive spending blitz to back Biden's campaign and that talk has included giving millions to outside groups, such as American Bridge, or a separate independent expenditure account. 

A person familiar with Bloomberg's efforts recently told CNBC that the former New York mayor is planning to put up additional donations intended to help Democrats defend the House of Representatives, including a potential investment into the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. He has already spent over $11 million on the House Majority PAC, a super PAC intended to help Democrats keep their majority in the chamber. 

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