In 1989, DuPont asked Saylor to build a "war game" that could predict business trends. He agreed to do it, but as an independent contractor–he had decided to start his own company. He was 24 years old. DuPont paid him $250,000 for the war game and gave him office space and contacts.
He finally had control of his life.
"There are many paths to happiness but few maps," he says. "If you had given me what I wanted at any point of my life, I wouldn't have got what I have now. There are some things where fate has a hand."
Michael Saylor is a serious man. His inspirations are Winston Churchill, Julius Caesar, and Gandhi. In his spare time he reads books like Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, plays classical piano, and enjoys spirited debates.
Not that he has much free time. His Vienna townhouse remained unfurnished for two-and-a-half years after he moved in—he made do with a bed, a milk crate turned upside down with a lamp on top, a piano, and his books. Finally his mom took him shopping, buying 50 pieces of furniture in a week.
"I live essentially as a middle-class engineer, in a townhouse with a mortgage and one car, a black Lexus," says Saylor, who is single. "I have about $10,000 or $20,000 in cash. I pay myself a modest salary. If any one of my salesmen makes their quota, they make more money than me. I've invested every dime back into the company."
Saylor is passionate when talking about his company. Last January, during a new-employee orientation session, Saylor's remarks went on for eight hours—he took no breaks and used no notes.
"Mike gets a little excited about the company," says Sanju Bansal, laughing. "Those people came out at 2 in the morning a bit dazed. But Mike can go two, three days with little food and an hour of sleep."