When Jonathan Wu co-founded BASE Consulting Group in 1994, he and his two colleagues set up a virtual office – with just cell phones and email addresses. They worked 70-hour weeks from home or from client locations. Each wore several hats, handling everything from payroll to marketing and sales.
Wu, who lives in Alameda with his wife, Heather, and two children, Sam (5), and Maggie (2), apparently knew exactly how to steer a company to success. “As many as 90% of start-ups fail within their first year,” he notes. “But if you can stay the course, until you have five or more employees, the failure rate drops to one-fifth.”
“We definitely went to dinner when we hit our fifth employee!” he recalls of those early hectic days. “It was extremely exciting.” BASE, which provides business intelligence and data warehousing consulting and education, now has a roster of ninety employees. It has household name clients such as Pfizer, Genentech, Sun Microsystems, M&M Mars, Sony Computer Electronics, and Visa.
It was while Wu was working as an accountant, then as manager at PricewaterhouseCoopers that he recognized a business opportunity. “I took a look at what the clients were struggling with – it was all related to data and data retention to make sound decisions,” he reflects. He attributes his connections from Haas as instrumental and invaluable to his business’ development. Appointed for a one-year term as president of the Haas Alumni Network, Wu has hired several graduates for top positions, and BASE also initiated a relationship with one of its major customers, Cisco Systems, through alum Sandy Hopkins, MBA 86.
For the last two years running, BASE has also been recognized as one of Inc. Magazine’s 500 fastest-growing private companies. “We expect to make the list again this year,” adds Wu matter-of-factly. The company – based in Oakland and with regional offices, in Los Angeles, Denver, and Boston – has several strategic alliances, including one with Oracle Corp and the UC Berkeley Extension.
A true Cal faithful, Wu helped develop the Certificate Program in Business Intelligence and Data Warehousing at the UC Berkeley Extension. He lectures too as a way of giving back: “I just love lending my knowledge and expertise to help students out.” Even in his personal life, he has an unusually deep connection to Cal. His wife is a UC Berkeley alum, as is his father.
Wu was named president of the Haas Alumni Network in 2002,
and made it his priority to encourage fellow alumni to give back to the school by donating their time or making a gift.
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