Bradley Tusk (born October 3, 1973) is an American businessman, venture capitalist, philanthropist, political strategist, and author of The Fixer: My Adventures Saving Startups from Death by Politics. He is the founder and CEO of Tusk Holdings, a multi-faceted platform featuring multiple businesses (Tusk Ventures, Tusk Strategies, Ivory Gaming, Kronos Archives), politics, philanthropy, and writing and commentary.
He previously served as the campaign manager for New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg's successful 2009 re-election bid, as Deputy Governor of Illinois, and as Communications Director for US Senator Chuck Schumer.
Bradley Tusk was raised in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn and in Nassau County, Long Island. Tusk is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania where he received his BA in 1995. He has a JD from the University of Chicago Law School, which he received in 1999.
In 2015, he launched Tusk Ventures, the world's first venture capital fund dedicated solely to working with and investing in startups facing political and regulatory challenges or pursuing political and governmental opportunities. His work with startups began in early 2011, when he agreed to work with then-brand new transportation startup Uber to help the company overcome regulatory issues posed by the Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) of New York City.
Fast Company reported after "winning the TLC's blessing in New York City, Tusk moved onto cities including Boston, Philadelphia, Chicago, Miami, Los Angeles, Denver and Washington D.C." Tusk gained his first exposure to the world of venture capital by taking equity in Uber as part of his fee and gained financial capital to take greater venture risk.
In 2015, Tusk ran a high-profile campaign featuring TV, radio and digital ads, direct mail, grassroots outreach, earned media, social media and mobilizing community leaders to oppose New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio's proposed plan to cap the number of vehicles Uber could operate.
The campaign argued that "the company was good for the city, providing jobs and transportation for less affluent residents in the outer boroughs." The bill was dropped before it could go to a vote. Tusk Ventures was launched two weeks after the Uber victory.
Tusk Ventures has worked with over two dozen high growth startups including Bird, FanDuel, Lemonade, Handy, Eaze, Nexar, GlamSquad, Altschool, Ripple, Saucey, Kickback, Nurx, Roman, Kodiak Robotics and Care/Of, solving a variety of political, regulatory and media challenges solely in return for equity in each company and for investment rights in each company's next round of financing.
Tusk founded Tusk Strategies in 2011, a political consulting firm based in New York City. The firm develops and runs large-scale, multi-jurisdictional campaigns for companies, including Comcast, Google, Walmart, AT&T, Pepsi, and institutions including Stanford University, the Rockefeller Foundation and Texas A&M, and individuals including Michael Bloomberg and George Lucas.
Tusk Strategies also leads major issue advocacy campaigns around education reform and good government; campaigns to help political candidates, non-profits and trade associations. Tusk Strategies has led 72 regulatory, legislative, or reputational campaigns in 47 states throughout the United States.
Ivory Gaming Group was co-founded by Bradley Tusk and Christian Goode in 2015 to develop and manage casinos, including their day-to-day operations which include food and beverage services, marketing and media.
Kronos Archives is a company founded by Tusk which creates personal digital libraries for clients using any and all media such as videos, photos, documents and more to tell the story of a family, individual, company or institution. The finished product is searchable, metatagged and fully digitized.
Tusk created Tusk Philanthropies. Tusk Philanthropies has funded and led state legislative campaigns to expand school breakfast programs in states like Illinois, Pennsylvania and Washington. In 2017, Tusk Philanthropies launched an initiative to popularize the need for mobile voting to citizens and elected officials across the country. The New Yorker reported on the mobile voting initiative, describing Tusk's efforts as "searching for a way to make it easier for people to vote."
Tusk began his career in politics as an undergraduate student working for former Mayor of Philadelphia, Ed Rendell, during Rendell's widely documented efforts to save Philadelphia from bankruptcy and decline. After graduating college, Tusk became the spokesperson for the New York City Parks Department and helped run various divisions of the agency, most notably launching a successful campaign to change the way New Yorkers obey the leash law. Tusk later returned to serve as Senior Advisor to New York City Parks Commissioner Henry Stern,
Tusk then joined U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer as Communications Director from 2000-2002, handling communications, strategy and policy for the Senator, most notably in the aftermath of the September 11th attacks on New York City.
Tusk then joined the administration of New York City's Mayor, Michael Bloomberg, as special advisor to the mayor, where he led the successful effort to re-write the New York City Charter and created the Mayor's campaign promise index, making Bloomberg the nation's first public official to publicly report on the status of every one of his campaign promises.
In 2003, Tusk was appointed Deputy Governor of Illinois. Tusk led the effort to make Illinois the first state to guarantee health care for all children, the first state to offer pre-school to all 3 and 4 year olds, the first state to import prescription drugs from Europe and Canada, and the first state to convert its entire tollway system to Open Road Tolling. Under Tusk's leadership, Illinois reduced the state workforce by 20% and materially increased funding for education and health care without raising taxes.
Tusk later testified as a witness in the criminal trial of Governor Rod Blagojevich, recounting the occasion when Blagojevich asked him to hold up a government grant until a fundraiser was held. Tusk put a stop to Blagojevich's plans and reported the incident to the Chief Ethics Officer.
After serving as Deputy Governor, Tusk served as Senior Vice President at Lehman Brothers, where he created the lottery monetization group and headed all of its efforts regarding U.S. based lotteries. Combining his backgrounds in finance and politics, Tusk developed a successful framework to help state's monetize their lotteries.
In 2009, Tusk was named campaign manager for Michael Bloomberg's bid for a third term as Mayor of New York City. In referring to Tusk's role with the Bloomberg campaign, The New York Times opined: "Mr. Tusk's high level of organization, and his demand for corporate-style accountability, earned him admiration and occasional resentment within the campaign. He kept meticulous checklists and spreadsheets on a dozen topics at a time, and sought daily, sometimes hourly, updates from staff members. Over the summer, he ordered staff members to work until 8 every night. They were unhappy, and let him know it. He refused to back down, worried the large staff was becoming complacent. Yet the campaign rarely, if ever, missed an internal deadline, and it committed few serious missteps."
Tusk writes regular columns for Inc. Magazine and the Observer, and has been a featured guest columnist for outlets including CNN, CNBC, VentureBeat, Fortune, Hollywood Reporter and TechCrunch.
Tusk...is widely credited with spearheading the administration's most notable successes, such as broadly expanding medical insurance for children, and for effectively overseeing a massive proportion of the state's operations, including its $60 billion budget and its 57,000-person workforce.
The tougher approach to the leash law was the brainchild of Mr. Tusk, the agency's former spokesman, who had left his job for two years to attend the University of Chicago Law School.
A man named Bradley Tusk ran the Mayor's entire campaign. He was a genius. We loved Bradley. He was brilliant, yet approachable.
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