Bitcoin advocate Michael Saylor steps down as MicroStrategy CEO

Michael Saylor, one of the most prominent bitcoin proponents in corporate America, announced Tuesday that he would be stepping down as chief executive (CEO) of business intelligence firm MicroStrategy. Effective August 8, 2022, Michael Saylor will assume the new role of executive chairman, and company president Phong Le will serve as the new chief executive officer and member of the board of directors.

Bitcoin advocate Michael Saylor steps down as MicroStrategy CEO

Michael Saylor founded the company in 1989 as a software developer, but in recent years has begun buying billions of dollars in bitcoin with MicroStrategy funds.

Saylor said in a statement: “I believe that separating the roles of chairman and CEO will allow us to better execute on two corporate strategies, namely acquiring and holding bitcoin, and growing our enterprise analytics software business. As executive chairman, I will be able to focus more on our bitcoin acquisition strategy and related bitcoin outreach initiatives, while Phong will be empowered as CEO to manage overall company operations.”

Le has been president of MicroStrategy since July 2020, and has held various other senior management positions since joining the company in 2015, including chief financial officer and chief operating officer.

Saylor stepped down as CEO at a time when his bitcoin bet resulted in significant losses for the company. In its second-quarter earnings report on Tuesday, MicroStrategy posted a $917.8 million charge for bitcoin impairments, reflecting the sharp drop in bitcoin’s price during the quarter.

Bitcoin advocate Michael Saylor steps down as MicroStrategy CEO

According to the company’s financial report, as of June 30, 2022, the book value of MicroStrategy’s digital assets, including approximately 129,699 BTC, was $1.988 billion, reflecting a cumulative impairment loss of $1.989 billion since the acquisition, an average of each Bitcoin’s book value is around $15,326. As of June 30, 2022, the original cost and market cap of MicroStrategy Bitcoin were $3.977 billion and $2.451 billion, respectively, reflecting an average cost per Bitcoin of approximately $30,664.

While Tesla (TSLA), another well-known company with bitcoin on its balance sheet, sold about 75% of its holdings to raise cash in the second quarter, MicroStrategy continued to hold bitcoin and even increased its position, despite Bitcoin has fallen sharply over the past few months. Between May 3 and June 28, MicroStrategy purchased an additional 480 bitcoins for about $10 million, with an average price of $20,817 each.

In the midst of a market downturn in June – with bitcoin falling below $18,000 – Saylor said MicroStrategy would “continue to HODL in adversity,” adding that the firm had prepared for volatility and adjusted its assets accordingly Balance Sheet. This strategy, he said, would allow MicroStrategy to provide collateral even if “Bitcoin falls below $3,562.”

Investment bank Jefferies reported on July 26 that it had downgraded MicroStrategy’s stock to underperform from hold with a price target of $180. Shares of MicroStrategy were flat at $278.01 in after-hours trading on Tuesday, after falling as much as 2% to 3% in after-hours trading. Its shares have fallen about 46% so far this year, slightly less than bitcoin’s roughly 50% drop over the same period.

On the company’s earnings call with analysts, Saylor reiterated the benefits of changing the management structure. Speaking of himself, Le and CFO Andrew Kang, Saylor said: “The three of us make a great team. We work well together and have complementary skills and experiences… which will benefit our shareholders, Customers, employees, partners, and the wider community as we continue to lead the way in business intelligence and enterprise adoption of Bitcoin.”

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