SAS co-founder billionaires rebuild some of their net worth

Posted March 11, 2010

— Jim Goodnight and John Sall, co-founders of Cary-based SAS, improved their respective net worth in 2009 despite the global recession.

The majority owners of the world’s largest privately held software company are now worth $6.9 billion and $3.4 billion, according to the annual Forbes magazine billionaires list.

A year ago, Goodnight’s worth totaled $6.1 billion. Sall had holdings of $3.1 billion.

Despite their recovery, each fell on the overall Forbes ranking list, Goodnight to 105th from 75th and Sall to 277th from 196th.

The rally in 2009 came after the men both lost heavily as the recession took a firm grip on the world in 2008 and stretched into last year. On the 2008 list, Goodnight was estimated to have holdings of $8.7 billion and Sall was worth $4.4 billion, according to Forbes data.

The year was not as kind to another billionaire with significant connections to North Carolina. David Murdock, who is building the North Carolina Research Institute in Kannapolis, is now worth $2.5 billion. That’s down $800 million from a year ago. In two years, Murdock’s fortune has diminished $2.2 billion.

Goodnight and Sall co-founded SAS in 1976, and the company continued its unbroken streak of growing its revenues annually with 2.2 percent growth to $2.31 billion.

“Chief executive Goodnight kept his promise of no layoffs in 2009; company says it reinvested 23% of 2009 revenue in research and development,” Forbes noted in its profile of Goodnight.

Murdock, meanwhile, took privately held Dole Food – his primary holding – public again last year and raised some $446 million.

The magazine noted Murdock’s rise from very humble beginnings.

“Dyslexic high school dropout drafted into Army 1943, settled in Detroit after WWII,” Forbes noted. “Made small profit flipping diner he bought with $1,800 loan. Took charge of struggling Dole, Hawaiian real estate company Castle & Cooke in 1985. Today Dole is world's largest producer of fruits and vegetables. Self-professed health nut's life-prolonging diet and exercise regimen: smoothies, no saturated fats and 50 push-ups a day.”

Castle & Cooke is developing the Research Campus. Murdock has been very focused on personal health since his third wife died of cancer in 1985.


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  • jhilfiker2001 Mar 11, 2010

    thank you Jim for paying people well and giving us all an opportunity to live well. IDC how much he has, without SAS, wake county would suffer.

  • Conservative Mar 11, 2010

    My hats off to both the execs. This is what America is all about. Seize the opportunity, work hard and reap the rewards. I have no sympathy for people that are lazy and compalin about others' successes. On the other hand I have extreme sympathy for folks that work very hard but are unable to make it for reasons beyond their control.

  • Scare Crow Mar 11, 2010

    I'm so happy for Jim I just don't know what to do. May he live long and well (off). As for the rest of us; some of which have no job or even a raise in several years.....suck it up and get over it.

  • fatchanceimwrong Mar 11, 2010

    jgilchr: Without these billionaires, there would would be no SAS and the hundreds that work for them would be out of work. A majority of their employees are middle-class folk. And don't think that these billionaires don't pay a hefty amount of taxes which support social programs. They run a company that provides hundreds of jobs with insurance and above average benefits. Good for them...they show that the American dream lives on.

  • mep Mar 11, 2010

    ncouterbanks69... actually a little over 40% of all Americans pay no income taxes at all. I foresee that number rising quickly with the current mindset.

  • freespeech Mar 11, 2010


  • ncouterbanks69 Mar 11, 2010

    mep....that would be great. I sure hope that my hard earned dollars can make someone too lazy to work happy. Us working folk paid enough "free money" out before Obama but finally someone is in the White House that can make us support 1/2 the country.

  • mep Mar 11, 2010

    My previous comments were pure sarcasm.... I actually believe in the American dream. The dream that a person can work hard and earn as much as they want WITHOUT the fear that the govt will unfairly target them in a vain attempt to "spread the wealth". Not until this most recent of times have Americans been spoiled into thinking that hard work does not deserve the rewards of wealth. This generation believes that everyone deserves everything, and they should not have to work or pay for it but that the govt will provide it. The entitlement mentality of 2010. Socialism only works until you run out of other peoples money.

  • p02h03 Mar 11, 2010

    wralfan "Isn't that the point of taxes?"

    ahh...No. Read the Constitution. It explains what the gov't is allowed to do. You'll be hard pressed to find authorization to do the vast majority of what the gov't does today.

    " cuts driving the country deeper into debt?"
    Please. You've lost that argument a long time ago. If tax cuts drive us deeper into debt, explain why they debt is so much higher in Obama's first year? Did he cut taxes? Gee I must have missed it. Can you spell spending?

  • mjones3 Mar 11, 2010

    Some of the sarcastic comments here are childish and unwarranted. These men have successfully created companies that employ a lot of people. They take care of their employees and have not contributed to the unemployment numbers we are seeing. Why the sarcasm? Jealousy perhaps? Well, it is very unbecoming.