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Who Is Michael Saylor? What's Behind MicroStrategy's Max Out BTC Play?

Who Is Michael Saylor? What’s Behind MicroStrategy’s Max Out BTC Play?

Michael Saylor, Chairman of MicroStrategy, is betting big on Bitcoin. Is he a visionary, or are we seeing a major meltdown in the making?

Every new thing under the sun needs a champion, sometimes several. Michael Saylor, the controversial former co-founder and current chairman of MicroStrategy Corp, is Bitcoin’s unwavering evangelist.

There is no room for debate in his world: Bitcoin is the future of global finance. Period. And he’s not just spouting opinions. He’s walking his Bitcoin booster talk in a big way, staking MicroStrategy’s solvency and his own fortune on his beliefs about Bitcoin’s future.

So, who is Michael Saylor? What is the source of his certainty and bias for action in a waffling world with a shortage of both? Let’s take a look.

Who is Michael Saylor?

Who is Michael Saylor?
Image source: Michael.com

Michael Saylor is a prominent figure in the tech industry, known as the former CEO and current chairman of the software company MicroStrategy. He’s become famous for his strong advocacy for Bitcoin, making him a leading “Bitcoin maximalist.” He owns the URL equivalent of a Layer 1 domain at Michael.com, where he posts his views and other content.

Born in 1965, he moved with his family and as an Air Force kid. He graduated in 1987 from MIT with a double major and quickly immersed himself in the tech world.

In 1989, at age 24, Saylor co-founded MicroStrategy, a company destined to become his defining venture. Initially focused on business intelligence software, MicroStrategy evolved under his leadership into a provider of mobile and cloud-based services. As CEO for over three decades, Saylor steered the company’s growth and direction.

Michael Saylor remains the company’s executive chairman, though he stepped down as CEO in 2022, some say to focus exclusively on Bitcoin. He firmly believes in Bitcoin’s future, as demonstrated by MicroStrategy’s bold investment strategy. Saylor remains actively involved in the company’s leadership and is a significant shareholder.

One thing is for sure: he’s certainly putting MicroStrategy’s fiat money where his mouth is – in other words, he’s risking the company’s existence by going all in on Bitcoin as a revolutionary concept. He’s also increasing his personal stake in bitcoin investments.

Saylor continues to be a vocal advocate for Bitcoin. He’s the author of The Mobile Wave and founder of the Saylor Academy, a platform providing free online education.

He is a leading voice in the Bitcoin Maximalist movement.

Bitcoin to the Max: What Do Bitcoin Maximalists Believe?

Bitcoin maximalists are a group of people who believe that Bitcoin is the only cryptocurrency with actual value. They think all other cryptocurrencies, known as altcoins, are inferior and will eventually fail. This belief stems from several core tenets:

Bitcoin’s unique design. Maximalists see bitcoin’s limited supply (21 million coins), decentralized nature, and proof-of-work consensus mechanism as critical factors that make it superior to other cryptocurrencies. They argue that these features make bitcoin more secure, censorship-resistant, and scarce, giving it intrinsic value.

Misgivings about altcoins. Maximalists often view altcoins with suspicion, believing they lack the same level of security, decentralization, and scarcity as bitcoin. They may argue that many create altcoins for profit-seeking rather than solving real-world problems.

Belief in BTC’s future dominance. Maximalists believe that bitcoin will eventually become the dominant digital currency, replacing traditional fiat currencies. They see its growing adoption and increasing price as evidence of this trend.

Other prominent Bitcoin maximalists include Nick Szabo, Natalie Brunell, and Jack Dorsey.

It’s important to note that Bitcoin maximalism is a spectrum of beliefs, and not all maximalists agree on every point. Some may be more open to certain altcoins than others, while others may be more extreme.

For example, Dan Held, a former Bitcoin influencer and head of growth marketing at Kraken, now calls himself a “Bitcoin rationalist,” not a maximalist.

The Allure of Extremes: Understanding Michael Saylor’s Polarizing Views

Michael Saylor’s unwavering Bitcoin Maximalism presents a fascinating case study in the psychology of polarizing opinions, aka fundamentalism. Whether they are correct or not is still unclear. The point is that the strategy works well for building a following.

Here are some key factors of a polarizing strategy:

  1. In-group/Out-group Dynamics. Saylor’s strong stance distinguishes between “Bitcoin believers” and “outsiders.” This view fosters a sense of belonging and shared identity within the maximalist group.
  2. Confirmation Bias. Maximalists primarily seek information that confirms their beliefs, filtering out dissenting voices. Saylor’s pronouncements and the community’s echo chamber can reinforce their views, making them more entrenched.
  3. Cognitive Ease. Simple narratives are easier to grasp and share than nuanced ones. While lacking complexity, Saylor’s “Bitcoin fixes everything” message resonates with those seeking quick answers in a complex world.
  4. Emotional Appeal. Fear of missing out (FOMO) and the potential for immense wealth can fuel maximalist sentiment. Saylor taps into these emotions, painting traditional finance as broken and Bitcoin as the revolutionary solution.
  5. Agency and Control. Maximalism can offer a sense of control in an uncertain world. By advocating for a single “true” asset, individuals feel empowered to navigate the complexities of the crypto landscape.

In essence, Saylor and Bitcoin Maximalists promote a fundamentalist stance on Bitcoin. We can see analogies at the extreme ends of any range of opinions, such as the political or religious spectrum.

What Do Critics Say About Bitcoin Maximalism?

Critics of Bitcoin maximalism accuse it of being narrow-minded, ignoring the potential of other cryptocurrencies within the evolving ecosystem. They argue it creates division by promoting Bitcoin as the sole “true” asset and advocate for open discussions across the broader crypto landscape.

They also find maximalist predictions about Bitcoin’s future overly optimistic, citing challenges like scalability, regulation, and energy consumption.

Company Snapshot: What Does MicroStrategy Do?

Michael Saylor co-founded MicroStrategy in 1989. He remains the company’s executive chairman, stepping down from CEO in 2022.

MicroStrategy is a public company traded on the Nasdaq (MSTR). It offers business intelligence (BI) and mobile app development solutions to large enterprises, government agencies, and developers. Their products and services help organizations analyze data, generate reports, and create insightful visualizations to make business decisions.

In February 2024, Saylor told CNBC he believes the demand for Bitcoin products is 10x the supply. He revealed that MicroStrategy is rebranding as a Bitcoin development company.

MicroStrategy’s financial health is a complex picture. Revenue has been steadily growing, but profitability remains a concern due to factors like acquisitions and investments.

The company carries significant debt due to its unique strategy of raising debt to buy bitcoin, aiming to repay it later by selling less of its appreciating asset. This bold yet risky move is catching on, with other companies starting to follow their lead.

MicroStrategy’s Bitcoin Holdings

Public companies hold over 1.35% of all bitcoin, or roughly 264,136 coins. We are seeing a growing trend in institutional adoption.

MicroStrategy began investing in bitcoin in the second quarter of 2020 when the BTC price was trading around $10,000. Since then, the firm has continued with high-profile BTC purchases.

As of February 2024, MicroStrategy owns 190,000 BTC, the most BTC of any public company. For an updated list of MicroStrategy’s bitcoin purchasing, you can check out this site.

This has put MicroStrategy’s stockholders on a roller coaster as share price fluctuations have mirrored BTC’s volatility.

MicroStrategy's Bitcoin Holdings
Source: Yahoo Finance

Bitcoin’s Implications for MicroStrategy

MicroStrategy’s focus on Bitcoin has impacted its financial standing in positive and negative ways, introducing new risks that also lead to new opportunities. Company leadership faces the challenge of balancing innovation with responsible financial management.

Belief in Bitcoin’s future. Saylor firmly believes in Bitcoin’s potential as a digital store of value and a hedge against inflation. He views it as “digital gold” with superior properties like its limited supply and decentralization.

Long-term investment strategy. MicroStrategy sees bitcoin as a strategic investment for the long term, hoping to benefit from its potential price appreciation.

Marketing and visibility. The company believes its bitcoin holdings increase its brand awareness and attract new customers.

So, What is Michael Saylor? Visionary or a Crypto Pied Piper? You Decide.

As the leading voice of MicroStrategy, it’s Job One for Michael Saylor to evangelize the company, including its strategy regarding Bitcoin.

He’ll be seen as a visionary and genius if he’s right. If he’s wrong and Bitcoin crashes or simply peters out over time, the naysayers will cheer, shareholders will blame him, and he will face extensive personal financial losses.

What do you think? Are you a Bitcoin maximalist, an alt-coin collector, or somewhere in between?

One thing is sure: if you invest in bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies, you must plan for tax time. ZenLedger can help you stay organized. The platform aggregates transactions across exchanges, computes your capital gain or loss, and generates the necessary paperwork. In addition, you can identify opportunities to reduce your tax burden using strategies like tax-loss harvesting.

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This material has been prepared for informational purposes only and should not be interpreted as professional advice. Please seek independent legal, financial, tax, or other advice specific to your particular situation.

Kala Philo

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