Doug Burgum, the 33rd governor of North Dakota and a long-term member of the Republican Party, ended his presidential run in December 2023. However, he’s recently been touted as a potential Trump VP candidate, once again cementing his name in political circles. While most people know him for his political career, he also led an impressive career as an entrepreneur in the tech industry. As of 2024, Doug Burgum’s net worth is estimated at $1.1 billion, making him one of the wealthiest governors of the United States.

The American businessman made his fortune in tech, and while he was one of the least-known Republican candidates for the presidential position, the tech mogul doesn’t fall short in terms of wealth.

Keep reading this article to learn more about Trump’s potential choice for vice president and the incredible story of how he became a billionaire.

Doug Burgum’s Net Worth Breakdown:

Doug Burgum’s assets and earnings have been hard to pin down. Although he had to declare a detailed list of assets and financial interests when he was elected governor as per North Dakota law, he wasn’t obliged to declare their value.

When he started his presidential campaign, on the other hand, he had to disclose a range of values for each of the assets in his portfolio. Now, while this is not exactly precise, and some items come with a range of millions of dollars, it certainly helped us calculate his estimated net worth.

This, combined with some thorough research, allowed us to create a comprehensive breakdown of the politician’s fortune:

Asset or Income Source Contribution to Net Worth
Sale of Great Plains Unknown share of $1.1 billion
Microsoft shares, 2001 1.7 million, sales unknown
Microsoft shares, 2023 $500,000-$1 million
Microsoft salary, 2001-2007 Unknown
Atlassian shares $5 million – $25 million
Pinky Promise Films stake $1 million – $5 million
Total Net Worth $1.1 billion

Doug Burgum Net Worth: Early Life and Education

Douglas James Burgum was born on August 1, 1956, in Arthur, North Dakota, to parents Katherine and Joseph Boyd Burgum. He spent his high school and college years working in the family business, a grain elevator that his grandfather founded in 1906.

After high school, young Doug Burgum enrolled at North Dakota State University where he obtained his undergraduate degree in 1978. While at NDSU, he applied to study at the Stanford Graduate School of Business and, at the same time, started his first business as a chimney sweep.

“The newspaper wrote a story about me as a chimney sweep”, he explained. “It ran a photo of me sitting on top of an icy chimney in below-freezing weather in Fargo. The story made the AP wire service. I was later told it caused quite a stir in the Stanford admissions office: ‘Hey, there’s a chimney sweep from North Dakota who’s applied.'”

doug burgum chmney sweep
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A few months later, Burgum was accepted at Stanford to study business, where he met Steve Ballmer, the future CEO of Microsoft, with whom he worked on team projects. In 1980, after he obtained his MBA from Stanford University Graduate School, he moved to Chicago to work for McKinsey & Company.

Later, in 2000 and 2006, he received two honorary doctorates from North Dakota State University and the University of Mary, respectively. At one point, in 2009, he was even considered for the position of president of North Dakota State University, his alma mater, but he was passed over for another candidate.

Personal Life

Burgum has been married twice. He married his first wife, Karen Stoker, in 1991, with whom he has three children. They divorced in 2003 and, in 2016, he married Kathryn Helgaas, now the former first lady of North Dakota.

doug burgum and wife
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Doug Burgum Net Worth: Business Success and Political Career

Doug Burgum started working in his childhood, helping his family in their business. Having built a strong working habit, he started his chimney sweeper business while in high school. Even as a teenager, it was evident that Burgum had a fierce entrepreneurial spirit, confirmed a few years later when he made a risky, yet very profitable investment.

Great Plains Software

After a short stint as a consultant for McKinsey & Co., Burgum was ready to make a risky investment. In 1983, he mortgaged his inherited share of his grandfather’s farmland worth $250,000 to get seed capital for Great Plains Software, an accounting software company based in Fargo, North Dakota. Later on, when talking about his source of startup capital, he talks about this decision as “betting the farm”.

doug burgum great plains softwarae
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Great Plains Software was founded by two Fargo entrepreneurs as a retail store but quickly switched to computer programs for businesses of different sizes.

A year later, he became president of Great Plains Software after leading a few of his family members in buying out the business. By 1989, he managed to position the business to be among the nation’s top 100 companies to work with, increasing its employee count to 250.

In 1997, the business was blossoming, earning hundreds of millions in annual sales and having its IPO, expanding its reach beyond North Dakota. At the IPO, the company had a valuation of over $200 million. Two years later, Great Plains Software acquired Match Data Systems, a Philippines-based development team to help its growth.

great plains software acquisition newspaper
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In 2001, Doug Burgum decided to sell his successful business to Microsoft for $1.1 billion. Once Burgum sold Great Plains Software, he became a senior vice president at Microsoft and in this position was given over 1.7 million Microsoft shares, worth around $100 million in the deal.

Burgum’s Work in Microsoft

When Great Plains Software was merged into the Microsoft Corporation, Burgum was named senior vice president as part of the contract. At Microsoft, his responsibilities mainly revolved around enterprise apps.

In 2005, though, Doug Burgum decided to step down from his position as senior vice president and become a chairman of Microsoft Business Solutions. However, the following year, he announced that he’d be leaving the company entirely by 2007.

Eventually, Burgum was replaced by Satya Nadella at Microsoft – the man who would eventually become the CEO – and he started selling off stocks regularly.

By 2006, he had sold and lost around 20% of his Microsoft stock following his divorce. Today, he reportedly owns between half a million and a million dollars worth of Microsoft stock, according to the financial disclosure which was part of his presidential campaign.

doug burgum bill gates
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Philanthropy and Charitable Giving

Over the years, Doug Burgum has supported several philanthropic causes. In 2001, for instance, he refurbished a school building he had bought in 2000 and donated it to his alma mater, North Dakota State University. The building was named Renaissance Hall and is now the school’s visual arts department.

In 2008, the politician and entrepreneur started a charitable fund called the Doug Burgum Family Fund. His fund is mainly focused on education, youth, and health.

Doug Burgum’s Political Career

Burgum has had a lengthy, versatile political involvement. He initially became involved in politics when he endorsed Republican Steve Sydness for one of the US Senate seats in North Dakota in 1988. Later on, he would support the campaigns of two other Republicans, John Hoeven in 2008 and Jack Dalrymple in 2012.

doug burgum dalrymple campaign
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In 2016, Doug Burgum announced his candidacy for governor of North Dakota. He didn’t have much political experience at the time, and this was most likely the cause for him losing the gubernatorial endorsement of the Republican party to Wayne Stenehjem, the attorney general.

However, he defeated Stenehjem despite the lack of endorsement two months later, and successfully claimed the nomination.

In November of that same year, Burgum faced Libertarian Marty Riske and Democrat Marvin Nelson in the general election. He won with over 75% of the vote and was sworn in as the North Dakota governor on December 15, 2016.

doug burgum governor election
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Governor of North Dakota

In 2018, two years after he was elected governor, Burgum joined forces with the North Dakota Department of Transportation to establish the Vision Zero project, successfully minimizing traffic deaths in the state.

Burgum leads North Dakota differently from other Republicans. For instance, he shared his goal with the public that he plans to turn North Dakota carbon-neutral by 2030, doing so while using carbon capture and storage technology. When he shared his plan, this announcement led to $25 billion in private-sector investments.

After a successful term, he was reelected to the position in 2020, this time with over 65% of the vote.

In his second term, Burgum made some serious changes. In 2023, for instance, he vetoed a bill to raise the state interstate speed limit to 80 mph. That same year, he signed a bill that exempted members of the North Dakota National Guard from paying income tax.

On January 22, 2024, Doug Burgum publicly shared that he would not run for a third term as a governor, and in the following month, he endorsed Tammy Miller to succeed him.

Presidential Campaign

Back in March 2023, while still holding the position of governor of North Dakota, Burgum expressed an interest in running for president in the 2024 presidential election. In June of that same year, he posted a video on Twitter teasing his “big announcement” that would come two days later.

On the morning of June 7, Burgum formally announced his campaign in The Wall Street Journal, launching an official campaign website with a Fargo rally scheduled the following day. His campaign trail started in Iowa and included several stops.

doug burgum presidential campaign
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Being one of the wealthiest governors in the US, Burgum spent more money on his campaign than any other presidential candidate. He had reportedly spent over $2.9 million on broadcast TV ads by June 21st, which is more than twice the spending of the candidate after him, South Carolina Republican Sen. Tim Scott.

To boost his campaign, Burgum started offering $20 gift cards for any donation amount, a tactic that helped him meet the threshold for individual donors required to join the first Republican debate. Despite some mockery on social media, he qualified not only for the first Republican debate but for the second as well. He did, however, fall short of the November 5 debate in Miami.

As a presidential candidate, Burgum supported the US Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision, believing that states should have the power to set abortion restrictions, but he pledged not to approve a national ban on abortion if elected president.

On December 4, 2023, Burgum announced that he was suspending his campaign, driven by frustration with the RNC’s high threshold of donations and polling requirements to qualify for the debates.

Throughout the campaign, Burgum didn’t criticize former president Donald Trump, who remains the front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination. And, even though he told CNN that he wouldn’t serve as a running mate for Trump, he is on most people’s shortlists today.

On the other hand, he made comments criticizing Joe Biden and his work as President of the United States in public messages and social media. Even so, on January 14, 2024, Burgum endorsed Donald Trump for president and he announced that he would not seek a third term as governor of North Dakota.

After endorsing Trump, he started campaigning for the presidential candidate. In an interview, Trump shared that Burgum would be “very good” in the vice presidency position, though he hasn’t made any public decision about his running mate at the time of writing. Burgum is considered one of the top candidates for Trump’s VP pick along with Tim Scott and Kristi Noem.

Doug Burgum Net Worth: Investments, Assets, Board Seats & More

The successful businessman with the “salt and pepper hair” has been a prominent member of the business world, as well as in politics. His most successful business sold for $1.1 billion, but this wasn’t the only source of his income.

Board Seats

Over the years, Burgum has served on numerous boards, including:

  • Advisory board for Stanford Graduate School of Business
  • Board of SuccessFactors (and chairman before the company’s sale to SAP)
  • First chairman of the board for Atlassian
  • Executive chairman of the board of Intelligent InSites (where he spent months as interim CEO in 2011 and 2014)
  • Member of the board of directors at Avalara

Since he was a member of SuccessFactors’ board of directors and a shareholder, when the company was sold to SAP for $3.2 billion, Burgum earned an undisclosed amount, most likely millions, from the deal.

As a board member of Atlassian, the business software company, he acquired 700,000 shares in the first year, worth around $4 a piece. Since the company’s stock grew tremendously after several acquisitions, his shares have become much more valuable. According to reports, he still owns between $5 and $25 million worth of Atlassian shares.

Other Businesses

The successful businessman is the founder of at least two more businesses:

  • Arthur Ventures, a software venture capital company (co-founder)
  • Fargo-based real estate development firm called Kilbourne Group

Burgum co-founded Arthur Ventures in 2008, a group that invests in businesses involved in clean technologies, technology, and life sciences, which started operations with an $11 million fund. In 2013, the business announced the establishment of the Growth Fund II with a $47 million investment.

His other successful business is Kilbourne Group, a real-estate development firm mainly focused on downtown Fargo. The company has renovated and acquired many properties in the area such as the Woodrow Wilson Alternative High School and the former St. Mark’s Lutheran Church.

In 2013, Burgum created plans to build the tallest building in all of Fargo through his Kilbourne Group business, which was to be named Dakota Place or Block 9. In 2020, the building was completed.

dakota place
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In his reported assets for the presidential campaign, Burgum has shared that he has had a stake in Pinky Promise Films, a production company owned by his daughter, since 2020. It was listed as worth between $1 and $5 million.

What Can We Learn from Doug Burgum’s Story?

Doug Burgum’s ascent from a humble upbringing to becoming one of the wealthiest governors in the United States is chock full of important lessons. His career is a testament to his business acumen and entrepreneurial spirit.

Burgum has a diverse portfolio of assets, including shares in Microsoft and Atlassian, which demonstrates a strategic approach to business development and investments. This teaches us that it is important to diversify one’s investments and sources of income for better financial security.

Burgum’s transition from an unlikely tech mogul to a prominent figure in business and politics teaches us of the power of vision and adaptability.

Beyond his ventures in the business realm, Burgum has also made significant contributions to politics, serving as the 33rd governor of North Dakota and becoming a presidential candidate during his second term. As governor, Burgum has wielded his influence to enact change and champion causes close to his heart. From initiatives aimed at economic growth to efforts to combat climate change, his leadership has left an indelible mark on the trajectory of the state.

Despite his immense wealth and influence, Burgum remains grounded in his commitment to philanthropy. Through the establishment of his family fund and support for various causes, he teaches us the importance of making a positive impact on society.

As Burgum’s political ambitions extend beyond the borders of his home state, with his recent foray into presidential politics, his story takes on new dimensions. His bid for the White House might have ended, but his role in shaping the future of American politics is far from over. Whether in business or politics, Burgum’s legacy is an inspiration for aspiring entrepreneurs, highlighting the importance of innovation and perseverance.