Michael Bloomberg has dominated the news for the past couple of weeks and managed to climb in polling for the presidential election, but he’s had plenty of media insiders to help.
The former New York City mayor and newest presidential candidate has added dozens of staffers from all corners of major media to a company he recently started, Hawkfish LLC, formed to operate his campaign online. Bloomberg is a media creature, his $50 billion or so fortune coming from his eponymous media and financial information company, but it’s uncommon for a presidential hopeful to have so many former media executives on the payroll. Political staffers tend to come from communications firms and lobbying groups or have years of experience from past political campaigns. For his media push, Bloomberg is plucking straight from the current media pool.
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Recently joining the campaign as “director of digital organizing” for Hawkfish is Selby Drummond, said to be on a sabbatical from her role as head of fashion and beauty partnerships for Snapchat. She joined Snap at the end of 2018 after spending several years at Vogue, eventually becoming its director of accessories and special projects. Her role was never filled and the magazine’s publisher Condé Nast has continued to whittle down staff at even its highest-profile publications as it consolidates due to years of financial difficulty.
Another hire is Bryson Gordon, now Hawkfish/Bloomberg’s head of digital media, but until January had spent several years as Viacom’s vice president of advanced advertising. Eric Kuhn, head of digital, just joined up, too. Until last month, Kuhn was heading up 5G partnerships for T-Mobile and before that its head of communications for TV. He earlier spent time at CNN overseeing its social media channels.
Another CNN alum to join as social video lead is Katie Walmsley. She spent several years at CNN as a reporter and producer, but most recently was chief content officer and general manager of Brut, a new online media company out of Paris. Two alums from Refinery29, recently acquired by Vice Media, are also on the Hawkfish/Bloomberg team. Michelle Chen, who led ad ops for Refinery for years is in a similar role for Bloomberg, and Kaileen Gaul, who spent time as a video producer for Refinery and Arianna Huffington’s Thrive Global is the online campaign’s social media manager.
Yet another hire is Gina Gothilf, now “growth lead” for the online campaign. She just left after a year as vice president of growth and community for Quartz.
At the end of last year, some high-profile members of media and tech also joined the campaign, including former Facebook chief merchandising officer Gary Briggs, now serving as digital director for Hawkfish/Bloomberg. Former Foursquare ceo Jeff Glueck is also now head of digital. Elisha Wiesel, an executive at Goldman Sachs for 25 years and the son of the late writer and activist Elie Wiesel, also left to consult for the campaign company.
The titles of some new members of Bloomberg’s cash-rich campaign may seem vague or even overlapping, but there’s no denying by far the wealthiest candidate in the race is willing to spend whatever he can to make a real go at the U.S. presidency. Hawkfish has added dozens of staffers in recent weeks, growing to 80 employees, and Bloomberg’s campaign team as a whole already exceeds 500 people. A number of media reports tell of Bloomberg luring staffers with high salaries and luxe perks, like Apple phones and computers and three catered meals a day. But carpeting TV and online platforms with ads and videos, to the tune of $140 million in just five weeks, is having an effect. Bloomberg jumped 15 percent in this week’s polling, making him eligible for his first debate this past Wednesday in Nevada. He’s still far behind current front-runner Bernie Sanders, but nowhere near out of money.
And Bloomberg isn’t done recruiting. There are several new and editorial-leaning job postings for Hawkfish online. Earlier this month, Recode reported that Bloomberg’s campaign scheduled a call with hundreds of tech leaders and openly asked for them to send their “most talented friends” to the campaign. Briggs was leading the call and said he only wanted people who were serious about working for Bloomberg and was not looking for industry advice.
“I used to appreciate the advice,” Briggs said on the call, “but now there’s just a lot of work to be done.”
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