SAS Institute

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Statistical Analysis System (SAS) Institute Inc.
TypePrivate company
Founded1976 (1976)
Founder(s)Anthony James Barr
James Goodnight
John Sall
Jane Helwig
HeadquartersCary, North Carolina
Key peopleJames Goodnight, CEO and Co-founder
John Sall, Co-founder and Executive Vice President
RevenueIncrease $3.02 billion US$ (2013)
Employees13,814 (2013)
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Statistical Analysis System (SAS) Institute Inc.
TypePrivate company
Founded1976 (1976)
Founder(s)Anthony James Barr
James Goodnight
John Sall
Jane Helwig
HeadquartersCary, North Carolina
Key peopleJames Goodnight, CEO and Co-founder
John Sall, Co-founder and Executive Vice President
RevenueIncrease $3.02 billion US$ (2013)
Employees13,814 (2013)

Coordinates: 35°49′37″N 78°45′44″W / 35.82694°N 78.76222°W / 35.82694; -78.76222

SAS Institute is a developer of analytics software based in Cary, North Carolina. It owns the largest market share for advanced analytics[1] and is one of the world's largest private software companies.[2][3] 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.[4] SAS’ software is used by about 79% of Fortune 500 companies.[5]


SAS Institute began as a project at North Carolina State University originally funded by the National Institute of Health and later by a coalition of university statistics programs called the University Statisticians of the Southern Experiment Stations.[6] University faculty James Goodnight and Anthony Barr led the project.[7] By 1976 the software had 100 customers.[8][9] A SAS user, Abbott Labs, organized the first SAS user conference in Florida that year.[10] Afterwards Goodnight, Barr, as well as other early participants Jane Helwig and John Sall, incorporated SAS Institute as a private company separate from the university and moved into offices across the street.[6][7]

SAS' tradition of polling users for suggestions to improve the software through the SASWare ballot was adopted during its first year of operation.[11][12] Many of the employee perks the company later became known for, such as fresh fruit, reasonable work hours[5] and free M&Ms every Wednesday also became part of the company's practices that first year.[13][14][15] In the 1970s, the company established its first marketing department[16] and some of the founders sold their interest in the company.[17]

SAS started building its current headquarters in a forested area of Cary, North Carolina in 1980.[18][19] Later that year it started providing on-site daycare in order to keep an employee that was planning on being a stay-at-home mom.[5] By 1984, SAS had begun building a fitness center, medical center, on-site cafe and other facilities.[5] It had also developed some of its other benefits programs.[20][21] SAS became known as a good place to work[21] and was frequently recognized by national magazines like BusinessWeek, Working Mother and Fortune for its work environment.[15][22]

During the 1980s, SAS was one of Inc. Magazine's fastest growing companies in America for six consecutive years.[16][22] It grew more than ten percent per year from $10 million in revenues in 1980[17] to $1.1 billion by 2000.[22] By the late 1990s, SAS was the largest privately held software company.[20] The Associated Press reported that analysts attributed the growth to aggressive R&D spending.[19] It had the highest ratio of its revenues spent on R&D in the industry for eight years, setting a record of 34 percent of its revenues in 1993, as it was working on a new menu-based interface.[12] The company began its relationship with Microsoft and development for Windows operating systems in 1989. Shortly afterwards it established partnerships with database companies like Oracle, Sybase and Informix.[12]

An education division was created in 1997 to create software for schools. In 2003 the Bank of America Foundation purchased and donated licenses for the software to 400 schools in North Carolina.[23] The SAS certification program was established in 1999[24] and SAS Publishing was created in 2000 as a separate entity that works to make SAS-related books more accessible.[25] SAS funded its first advertising program in 2000 with a $30 million television and radio campaign.[22] The company considered making 25 percent of the company available on the stock market and providing employees with stock-options during the dot-com bubble before the following downturn, but ultimately chose not to.[26] SAS was one of the few technology companies that did well during the downturn and hired aggressively to take advantage of available staff.[20]

SAS introduced its first reseller program intended to expand implementations in small to medium-sized businesses in 2006.[27][28] As of 2011, SAS had more than 50,000 customer sites and 200 products.[1] In 2011, SAS provided funding and curriculum to help start a Masters program in analytics near North Carolina State University.[29]


SAS Institute has grown in revenue each year since it was incorporated in 1976.[5][30][31] About 20-30% of the company's revenues are spent on research and development, which is the highest ratio among software companies of its size.[5][32] In 1994, Computerworld found that out of the world's 50 largest software companies, SAS had the highest ratio of R&D spending as a percent of revenue and 2.5 times the industry average.[33] Its revenues come relatively evenly from Europe, Africa, the Middle East and the Americas.[5] SAS has about 5,200 employees at its headquarters in Cary, North Carolina, 1,600 employees elsewhere in the US and 6,900 in Europe, Asia, Canada or Latin America.[34] CEO James Goodnight owns about two-thirds of the company and co-founder John Sall owns the other one-third.[8][35] SAS owns six aircraft.[36]


SAS is well known for its workplace culture.[30][37] The company was used as a model for workplace perks at Google[5] and is taught as a case study in management seminars at Stanford.[13] SAS has been ranked in Fortune's annual best places to work rankings each year since the award's inception in 1997.[20][38] It is also regularly in Working Mother Magazine's "100 Best Companies for Working Mothers" list.[12]


Entrance to SAS Campus in Cary, NC.
SAS office in Toronto

SAS offers on-site daycare services to its employees for 850 children for about a third of the normal cost. Medical services are provided to employees and their families for free and 80% of the cost is covered for specialists.[13] Employees are encouraged to work reasonable hours[13] and have free access to a 58,000-square-foot (5,400 m2) recreation and fitness center.[39] SAS also provides employees with life counseling services for things like picking a college for their children, elderly care,[13] adoption, divorce, or raising kids. It hosts a summer camp for kids[5] and provides 22.5 tons of M&Ms each year, in jars that are re-filled every Wednesday.[39] As of 2010, 2,300 lunches a day were made at the company's on-site cafeterias and cafes.[5] Similar amenities and perks are provided at its other offices.[40]

SAS spokespeople say its employee benefits are provided for business, not altruistic, reasons.[13][39] The company evaluates new benefits using three criteria: whether it would benefit the company culture, whether it would serve a significant number of employees and whether it would save more money than is spent on it.[39] According to academics, the company's practices improve the loyalty, focus and creativity of its staff.[5] A professor from Stanford estimated that the company saves $60–$80 million annually in expenses related to employee turnover.[16][39] SAS has an annual employee turnover of three[13] to five[39] percent, while the software industry's average is 20[13] to 25 percent.[20] According to USA Today, the workplace culture has created "intensely loyal" staff who care about the company's well-being.[20] Even though there are unlimited sick days, the average employee takes only two. The 40,000 free medical visits provided to employees annually are estimated to cost the company $4.5 million USD, but save it an additional $4.5 million USD due to the employee productivity lost when staff spend their work-hours in waiting rooms at other hospitals.[5]

Structure and culture[edit]

SAS has a limited corporate hierarchy[30] and an egalitarian culture. There are no special offices, reserved parking or special eating areas for executives.[35] As the company grew it created new divisions, instead of layers of management, creating a flat, simple organizational structure.[39] According to professor Jeffrey Pfeffer from Stanford, there are only three levels in the organization and CEO Jim Goodnight has 27 people who directly report to him. The organizational structure is fluid and employees can change roles rapidly.[41]

Managers are involved in the day-to-day work with their employees.[39] Employees are given a large extent of autonomy[39] and developers are encouraged to pursue experimental product ideas. Input from customers guides the company's marketing and software development.[12] According to SAS, 80 percent of suggestions for product improvements are incorporated into the software.[39] The dress code is informal.[39] According to Fast Company, employees describe the environment as "relaxed."[39]

Employees are encouraged to do volunteer work and the company makes donation to non-profits where employees are involved.[42] The company primarily focuses its philanthropic efforts on improving education. It funds pilot programs for new education models, donates laptops and provides free online software for classrooms called Curriculum Pathways.[35][43]


2012rPath, Inc.Software appliance United States[44]
2011AssetLinkIntegrated Marketing Management United States[45]
2010Vision Systems and Technology (VSTI)Advanced Analytics Professional Services United States[46]
2010MemexIntelligence Management Software Scotland[47]
2008TeragramNatural Language Processing United States[48]
2008IDeaSRevenue Management Software for the hospitality industry. United States[49]
2006VeridiemCustomer Intelligence United States[50]
2003MarketmaxMerchandise Planning and Analytics Software United States[51]
2003Risk AdvisoryRisk Management United States[11]
2003OpRisk Analytics LLCManagement Consulting Services United States[52]
2002Verbind SoftwareBehavioral Tracking and Event-Triggering Software United States[53]
2002ABC Technologies Inc.Software Developer and Wholesaler United States[54]
2001Intrinsic LtdCampaign Management Software United Kingdom[55]
2000DataFluxData Quality, Data Integration and Master Data Management United States[56]
1997Statview Life Sciences software from Abacus ConceptsBusiness Analytics United States[57]
1993GESCAN International, Inc.Document and Workflow Management Systems United States[58]
1988NeoVisuals Inc.3D Computer Graphics and Animation Software United States[59]
1986The Lattice C compiler, often considered the first C programming language on the IBM PCC Compiler United States[59]
1984The System 2000 Database Management System from Intel CorporationDatabase Management United States[59]


Main articles: SAS (software) and SAS language

As of 2012, SAS is the largest privately owned software company in the world.[60] It develops, supports and markets a suite of analytics software also called SAS (statistical analysis system), which captures, stores, modifies, analyzes and presents data.[61] The SAS system and SAS programming language are used by most of the Fortune 500.[5] The SAS software includes a Base SAS component that performs analytical functions and more than 200 other modules that add graphics, spreadsheets or other features.[12][62] Some of its uses include analyzing financial transactions for indications of fraud, optimizing prices for retailers, or evaluating the results of clinical trials.[5][60] As of 2012, SAS is the largest market-share holder in the advanced analytics segment with a 36.2 percent share and the fifth largest for business intelligence software with a 6.9 percent share.[63]

User community[edit]

SAS Institute operates the SAS Global Certification Program, which it started in 1999.[24] A SAS division called SAS Publishing hosts an online bookstore, develops product documentation and publishes SAS-related books authored by users.[25][64] There are more than 200 SAS users groups devoted to a specialty, an individual client, or a geography. There are local, regional, national and international users groups.[12]

See also[edit]


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  2. ^ Van Kooten, Michel (August 23, 2011). "Global Software Top 100 - Edition 2011". Retrieved March 14, 2013. 
  3. ^ By Steve Lohr, The New York Times. “At a Software Powerhouse, the Good Life Is Under Siege.” November 21, 2009. Retrieved September 27, 2011.
  4. ^ Forbes. “America’s Largest Private Companies: #188 SAS.” Retrieved September 27, 2011.
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  6. ^ a b Alan Agresti; Xiao-Li Meng (2 November 2012). Strength in Numbers: The Rising of Academic Statistics Departments in the U. S.: The Rising of Academic Statistics Departments in the U.S.. Springer. p. 177. ISBN 978-1-4614-3649-2. 
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  9. ^ Wayne Cascio (August 2011). Responsible Restructuring: Creative and Profitable Alternatives to Layoffs. p. 120. ISBN 978-1-4596-2635-5. 
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  14. ^ Marron, Kevin (October 14, 1999). "Firms use perks to relieve HR stress Massages, health clubs and M&Ms among extras that keep staff happy and productive". The Globe and Mail. pp. T4. 
  15. ^ a b Darrow, Barbara (December 12, 2005). "James Goodnight, Founder and CEO, SAS Institute". Computer Reseller News. p. 23. 
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  29. ^ Glazer, Emily (October 24, 2011). "Problems-and Solutions". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved April 9, 2014. 
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External links[edit]