James "Jim" Goodnight is a businessman and software programmer. He co-founded SAS Institute as a faculty member of North Carolina State University in 1976. Since then he has been the CEO for more than three decades. His leadership style and the work environment he created at SAS, now a multi-billion dollar company, have been studied by other businesses and by academics.
Goodnight joined other faculty at North Carolina State in a research project to create a general purpose statistical analysis system (SAS) for analyzing agricultural data. The project was operated by a consortium of eight land-grant universities and funded primarily by the USDA. Goodnight along with another faculty member Anthony James Barr became project leaders for the development of the early version of SAS. When the software had 100 customers in 1976, Goodnight and three others from the University left the college to form SAS Institute in an office across the street.
Goodnight remained CEO of SAS Institute for more than 35 years as the company grew from $138,000 its first year in business, to $420 million in 1993 and $2.43 billion by 2010. Under his leadership, the company grew each year. Goodnight became known for creating and defending SAS’ corporate culture, often described by the media as "utopian." He rejected acquisition offers and chose against going public to protect the company's work environment. Goodnight has maintained a flat organizational structurewith only 27 people who directly report to him.
SAS Institute is a Cary, North Carolina- based developer of analytics software. It owns the largest market share for advanced analytics and is one of the world's largest private software companies. SAS (pronounced "sass") develops and markets its software (also called SAS), which helps companies gather, store, access, analyze and report on corporate data to aid in decision-making. SAS’ software is used by about 79% of Fortune 500 companies.