Executive Resignations Cause MicroStrategy Shares to Stumble

Earlier this month, business intelligence software company MicroStrategy Inc. revealed in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing that the firm is losing a significant portion of its executive suite following the resignation of two key officers. The July 8 filing divulged that both Kevin Norlin, senior executive vice president of worldwide sales, and Stephen Holdridge, senior executive vice president of worldwide services, have resigned. No reason was given for either resignation, both effective immediately.

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According to the SEC filing, MicroStrategy’s chief operating officer and chief financial officer Phong Le will take over the role and responsibilities of both positions. The company plans to launch a search for a new CFO.

Norlin was at MicroStrategy for a little over a year, hired in April 2018 as a replacement for the prior head of worldwide sales. He was previously an executive at Hewlett Packard Enterprise and NCR Corp. Holdridge had been with MicroStrategy since November 2017.

On news of the resignations, MicroStrategy saw its stock tumble. The company’s share price dropped almost 10 percent—or $13.62 per share, to $126.62 per share—by 3:00PM in same-day trading following over double the average trading volume.

The business intelligence software company already has experience with sudden executive resignations. MicroStrategy saw its co-presidents and chief legal officer, Paul Zolfaghari and Jonathan Klein, suddenly resign in early 2016, leading to a consolidation of power under the firm’s CEO, founder and majority-vote shareholder Michael Saylor. The company’s chief marketing officer was then abruptly replaced by former Ionic Security CMO Marge Breya in mid-2018.

Overall, MicroStrategy has displayed lackluster performance in recent quarters. Revenue has been steadily dropping over the past few years, from $513.5 million in 2016 to $497.6 million in 2018. The trend has continued this year, with first quarter 2019 revenue down year-over-year. Net income has seen a similar decline, experiencing a first quarter loss of $7.9 million versus a $1.6 million profit during the same time period last year.

Through spokeswoman Claudia Cahill, MicroStrategy presented Norlin and Holdridge’s sudden resignations as an opportunity for growth for the company: “The MicroStrategy Cloud Platform and HyperIntelligence offerings, in particular, have shown that the combined efforts of our sales, services, and support teams result in faster customer adoption and time to value. As a result, we have the opportunity to aggressively scale and further streamline our customer-facing initiatives. To accomplish this goal, we are consolidating sales, services, support, and administration functions of our revenue-generating businesses under the leadership of Phong Le…we believe this organizational structure will provide increased line of sight and operational impact."