Hawkfish, the Democratic data firm backed by former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg, is shutting down, according to people familiar with the plans.
The news was announced at a staff meeting Friday afternoon.
“We are going to wind down Hawkfish this spring,” Gary Briggs, Hawkfish chair, told employees in an all-hands call on Friday afternoon, saying that he and CEO Josh Mendelsohn couldn’t establish a path forward for the project that would “really come close to covering the cost.”
In a statement, Mendelsohn confirmed the news.
“After the election, Hawkfish’s leadership team started exploring potential avenues for the company’s future and concluded that Hawkfish would not continue in its current constitution,” he said. “The decision to wind down Hawkfish’s operations was not made lightly or without considering other courses of action. The company expects wind down by May, providing staff with a three-month runway to remain at-will employees of Hawkfish and continue to be eligible for pay and benefits while they secure their next position.”
Hawkfish was the main vehicle for Bloomberg’s failed presidential bid, which never took off despite the hundreds of millions of dollars spent. After he dropped out, Bloomberg invested another $20 million into the company, as it pitched its work to Joe Biden’s campaign. But the Biden campaign declined to use Hawkfish, in part because of fierce pushback from progressives and campaign advisers who did not want to outsource the work.
Still, Hawkfish played an active role in the general election, working for a trio of Democratic super PACs: Priorities USA, American Bridge and Unite the Country.
In the final months of the campaign, the firm focused a large share of its effort on Florida after Bloomberg pledged to spend $100 million to turn the state blue. Those efforts were unsuccessful too. Biden ended up losing Florida by 3 points.
In an internal note to employees, obtained by POLITICO, Mendelsohn commended the staff on its “meaningful impact” their work had on Biden’s victory.
“We anticipated, educated the media, and coined the ‘Red Mirage;’ we embedded several of our colleagues in the Biden campaign and powered the analytics and voter registration in key battleground states; we executed on Biden campaign media buys in the election’s home stretch; we targeted and powered the digital ads for the historically successful virtual Democratic National Convention; and we served dozens of progressive clients across 16 states where we succeeded in reaching, registering, and engaging hundreds of thousands of voters to help remove a dangerous President from the White House,” he wrote.
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