Doug Burgum

Doug Burgum
Governor of North Dakota
Taking office
December 15, 2016
Lieutenant Brent Sanford (elect)
Succeeding Jack Dalrymple
Personal details
Born (1956-08-01) August 1, 1956
Arthur, North Dakota, U.S.
Political party Republican
Alma mater North Dakota State University
Stanford University (MBA)
Website Campaign website

Doug Burgum (born August 1, 1956) is an American entrepreneur, philanthropist and politician, and Governor-elect of North Dakota as a member of the Republican Party.[1]

He joined Great Plains Software in 1983 and became the company’s President in 1984, which he later sold to Microsoft for $1.1 billion in 2001. At Microsoft he became the head of Microsoft Business Solutions. He began serving as Chairman of the board for Atlassian in 2012. He also served on the board for SuccessFactors starting in 2007, and as Chairman from 2010 to 2012. Burgum is the founder of Kilbourne Group, a Fargo-based real-estate development firm, and co-founder of Arthur Ventures.

In 2016 he announced his intention to run for Governor of North Dakota as a Republican candidate. With no formal political experience and despite losing the state Republican party's gubernatorial endorsement contest to longtime Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem at the party convention in April 2016, Burgum nevertheless defeated Stenehjem handily in the primary election two months later to claim the Republican nomination. Burgum ran against Democrat Marvin Nelson and Libertarian Marty Riske in the November 2016 state gubernatorial election.[2]

Early life and education

Burgum was born on August 1, 1956 and raised in Arthur, North Dakota, where his grandfather founded a grain elevator in 1906.[3] He attended North Dakota State University to earn his undergraduate degree in 1978 and received an MBA from Stanford University Graduate School of Business in 1980. He would later receive honorary doctorates from North Dakota State[4] in 2000 and from the University of Mary in 2006.[5]

Executive career

Early career

Following his graduation from Stanford GSB, Burgum moved to Chicago to become a consultant with McKinsey & Company. Soon afterward he mortgaged $250,000 of farm land in order to provide the seed capital for accounting software company Great Plains Software in Fargo, North Dakota.[3] He joined the company in 1983 and became the company’s president in 1984 after leading a small investment group composed of family members in buying out the rest of the company.[4][3]

Great Plains Software

During the 1980s, Great Plains was often ranked in the top 100 companies to work for in the US by Fortune magazine. Burgum grew the company to about 250 employees by 1989 and led the company to about $300 million in annual sales and a 1997 IPO, after using the Internet to help the company expand beyond the borders of North Dakota.[6] In 2001, Burgum sold Great Plains Software to Microsoft for $1.1 billion USD.[7] Burgum has stated that he built the company in Fargo because of its proximity to North Dakota State University, in order to employ its stream of engineering students.[8]


Following the sale, Burgum was named Senior Vice President of Microsoft Business Solutions Group,[9][5] the offshoot created from merging Great Plains into the corporation.[4] He stayed with Microsoft until 2007 and was responsible for making enterprise apps a priority for Microsoft during this tenure.[10] Satya Nadella, current CEO of Microsoft, has credited Burgum with “inspiring him to find the soul of Microsoft”.[11]

Board work

Burgum formerly served on the advisory board for Stanford Graduate School of Business[5] and was on the board of SuccessFactors during the 2000s, becoming chairman of the board between 2007 and the 2011 sale of the company to SAP. In 2012 Burgum became the first chairman of the board for Atlassian, after it expanded from its initial board of three members (none of whom served as the official chair).[12] During 2011 and 2014, he twice spent several months as the interim CEO of Intelligent InSites, [5] a company for which he has served as the executive chairman of the board since 2008.[13] That year he also became a member of the board of directors for Avalara.[14]

Investment firms

Burgum is the founder of the Kilbourne Group, a real-estate development firm focused on downtown Fargo.[15][16] In 2013 Burgum created plans to build the tallest building in Fargo—a 23 story mixed-use building—to be named either Block 9 or Dakota Place.[17] The company has also advocated for a convention center to be built in downtown Fargo.[18] The company has acquired and renovated multiple properties in Fargo, including the former St. Mark’s Lutheran Church and the former Woodrow Wilson alternative high school.[19] He is a co-founder of Arthur Ventures, a venture capital company.[13] Several of the companies he has invested in are located in Fargo.[7][20]


Burgum supports philanthropic causes like the Plains Art Museum.[21] In 2001[22] he donated a refurbished school building he had acquired in 2000 to North Dakota State University. It was named Renaissance Hall and became home to the university’s visual arts department, major components of the architecture and landscape architecture department and the Tri-College University office.[23] Burgum started the Doug Burgum Family Fund in 2008, which focuses its charitable giving on youth, education and health.[5]


In 1989 Burgum received the North Dakota Business Innovator of the Year award.[24] In 2009 he received the Theodore Roosevelt Rough Rider Award, the state of North Dakota's highest honor, from then-Governor John Hoeven.[25]


  1. "Doug Burgum elected Governor; speech upcoming on WDAY". Retrieved November 10, 2016.
  2. Forum staff reports. "Live stream: Doug Burgum announcement at 11 a.m.". INFORUM.
  3. 1 2 3 Gretchen Heim Olson. "Spring 2006: Doug Burgum's Prairie Fire 20 Years and Blazing". North Dakota Horizons.
  4. 1 2 3 "Magazine - Burgum - North Dakota State University".
  5. 1 2 3 4 5 "Douglas J. Burgum".
  6. Rich Karlgaard (September 16, 2002). "Microsoft Is Plain Crazy". Forbes.
  7. 1 2 LibNelson (December 11, 2014). "North Dakota's quest not to blow its oil wealth". Vox.
  8. "The Next Hundred Million".
  9. Stacy Cowley (March 10, 2005). "Interview: Doug Burgum on Microsoft's business apps plan". InfoWorld.
  10. Joshua Greenbaum. "See Ya Later Doug: Burgum Leaves Microsoft Much the Wiser". ZDNet.
  11. "Fireside Chat with Satya Nadella and Jessi Hempel".
  12. "Atlassian Expands Its Board, Appoints Former SuccessFactors Chair Doug Burgum As Chairman". TechCrunch. AOL. July 19, 2012.
  13. 1 2 Robin Huebner Forum News Service (October 25, 2014). "Ebola: Fargo company's real-time tracking tech 'game-changing'".
  14. Deborah Gage. "Avalara Becomes A Bitcoin Supporter". WSJ.
  15. John Hageman / Forum News Service. "Businesses cite workforce struggles in push for discrimination ban". INFORUM.
  16. "LEADERSHIP: Proving Success on the Plains".
  17. Sam Black (September 9, 2013). "Software entrepreneur Doug Burgum wants to build North Dakota's tallest office tower, Dakota Place - Minneapolis / St. Paul Business Journal". Minneapolis / St. Paul Business Journal.
  18. Tu-Uyen Tran. "River of dreams: Fargo city leaders OK downtown riverside master plan". INFORUM.
  19. "Kilbourne Group buys another downtown Fargo building".
  20. "Arthur Ventures looks to provide capital lift to local innovation". Silicon Prairie News.
  21. John Lamb. "Weekend Watch: Gala brings a taste of Brazil to the Plains". INFORUM.
  22. "Northern School Supply".
  23. "Fargo 2.0: It's not like the movie". The Seattle Times. June 24, 2014.
  24. "Center for Innovation". Retrieved November 10, 2016.
  25. "Doug Burgum named 37th Theodore Roosevelt Rough Rider Award recipient". Grand Forks Herald.
Party political offices
Preceded by
Jack Dalrymple
Republican nominee for Governor of North Dakota
Most recent
Political offices
Preceded by
Jack Dalrymple
Governor of North Dakota

Taking office 2016
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