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April - 2000 - issue > Cover Feature

Sanju K. Bansal

Friday, November 21, 2008

If MicroStrategy were started in Silicon Valley, it would have turned out a lot different — as would its founders, Sanju K. Bansal and Michael Saylor. Instead, the company was started in Virginia, and grew to its current level of success with a vastly different way of doing business.
Its founders loathed Silicon Valley culture and hated venture capitalists. Consequently, they didn’t seek venture capital for the maker of decision-support software that dramatically fine-tuned marketing opportunities for businesses.

“VC money abounds now, and it’s good for innovation, but venture capital is the most expensive capital you can get,” Bansal told Red Herring in an interview prior to MicroStrategy’s IPO. “Our philosophy is, Why ask for money when we can figure out a way to earn it?” MicroStrategy’s original handful of employees worked 110-hour weeks for three years and accepted salaries that were about one-tenth of those in Silicon Valley in order to pour all their money back into the fledgling enterprise, according to Bansal.

Microstrategy forged ahead with a $100,000 grant from Dupont, building the company slowly over a period of almost 10 years before, grudgingly, going public. The move made them an acknowledged success. MicroStrategy remains a darling of Wall Street; its stock price has shot up several hundred percent over its IPO price. Late last year, Business Week suggested that MicroStrategy may be a good stock to short, but it still remains hot and continues to enrich Bansal, its chief operating officer. Bansal holds a stake in MicroStrategy that is now worth more than $200 million. He was listed among Technology’s richest 100 by Forbes magazine last year.

Bansal holds a degree in electrical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and an M. S. in computer science from Johns Hopkins University. He spent a couple of years at consulting firm Booz.Allen Hamilton.

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