Andy on Enterprise Software

Microsubtlety

March 19, 2007

Just in case you were in any doubt that the BI software industry is going through a relatively healthy phase, you may like to ponder the latest USD 46M purchase by Microstrategy. A niche technology company perhaps? Nope – a new private jet (a Bombardier Global Express XRS to be precise) for CEO Michael Saylor. This was reported recently in, amongst others, the Washington post:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/02/04/AR2007020401106.html

Saylor has always been a charismatic but eccentric character e.g.:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn?pagename=article&node=&contentId=A2889-2002Jan5

but even so. This is a company that in December 2006 had USD 79M in cash (past tense). Its 2006 revenues were USD 313M (up from around USD 269M in 2005) and profits of nearly USD 71M (unaudited). This makes it an unusually profitable enterprise software company. However just what the board of directors were thinking when approving this particular purchase can only be a matter of speculation. Even though Saylor has a large stake in the company surely this is the kind of thing that boards of directors of public companies are supposed to be for? Perhaps it will encourage some blue sky thinking.

Still, pity their public relations manager. You have to be impressed with the creativity here: the plane “will facilitate more effective communication and more rapid coordination with its global employees, partners, and customer base” according to their SEC filing. Good one; this wins my “brassiest PR” prize of the week.

2 comments so far

It’s pretty interesting- I noted the purchase he in Feb.

Of course MicroStrategy is not a normal public company. According to the 10-K, Saylor has class B shares worth 10 votes each compared to the 1 vote provided by the class A publicly traded shares. This gives him 73.7% of the total voting power….

http://www.seriousaboutconsulting.com/2007/02/article-watch-founder-driven-software.html

It certainly seems to create an odd situation, yet the board should still have a role to play, even in family owned businesses like Ford. It looks like MSTR is operating on that well known “one man, one vote” principle of certain African democracies i.e. I am the man, and I have the vote.



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