With Dell going private, is Michael aiming for Steve’s glory?

Alex Freedland - February 11, 2013 -

There have been a lot of rumblings in the press about Dell going private lately. We care deeply, because we work closely with Dell Corporation and many of our short-term and medium-term goals can be affected by unpredictability in its behavior.  Now that the story is confirmed, I am reading articles (like this one by Dan Lyons — http://readwrite.com/2013/02/05/michael-dell-goes-to-hell) suggesting that all that is in store for Dell is to be taken apart by hungry vultures.

I thought about it for a while and this story made absolutely no sense to me. Now, I am no Michael Dell, but I am an entrepreneur and have founded several companies during my career. What is a company to its founder and what kind of person would willfully give his company up to the vultures who only see it as a consumable flesh?

A company, to its founder, is not an object or a mechanism designed to make money for its shareholders – far from it. The company is the ultimate creative element, the favorite child that comprises of all the inner beauty and innate vision that a person can put together.  Say what you want of Michael Dell, but he did build one the largest tech companies on the planet and now he is putting down a few of his hard-earned billions to get his company back. Surely, it is more than one can say about Dan Lyons (who is that again?)

Dell is facing a mountain of external challenges coupled with a lot of internal confusion. That said, Dell has been making a lot of good moves in trying to become a lot more diversified provider that can be a one-stop shop for customers with multiple needs. This kind of transformation is very hard to do when your capricious shareholders only want to know how many pennies per share will the company earn this time around.

Dan’s reference to Shelley’s “Ozymandias,” is right on: the person who named his company by his own name will not let the vultures sell it down the block. Not if he can afford to protect it. And with $15B total worth, for now Michael Dell certainly can. It takes guts to call the company by your own name. Maybe if Microsoft were called The Gates Corporation, the landscape of computing giants would look very different now.

I do not know if Michael will succeed with reinventing his firm, but I sure give him credit for trying.

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