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Dell—Back in form

Zafar Anjum | April 7, 2014
Speaking in Singapore recently, the founder and chairman of Dell Inc. Michael Dell discussed his journey as an inventor and businessmen, why he took Dell private and what he foresees as the emerging opportunities in technology.

Michael Dell

Michael Dell was speaking at the IDA Distinguished Speakers Series in Singapore

For 25 years, Dell Inc. grew quite a lot and the stock went up by more than 13,500% and yielded 27 times better returns among the top 500 ICT companies but 6-7 years ago, 'we started developing our business in a different way', said Michael Dell, American investor and philanthropist, best known as the founder and chairman of Dell Inc. "We needed more than products to succeed."

Speaking at the IDA Distinguished Speakers Series in Singapore on April 2, Dell was addressing a large gathering of customers, researchers and businessmen.

Steve Leonard, Executive Deputy Chairman of Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA), who introduced him to the audience, said that Dell was just one month shy of completing its 30 years of incorporation.

As the Forbes magazine once noted, 'Michael Dell defined the myth of the American tech prodigy before Mark Zuckerberg and Kevin Systrom, Drew Houston and David Karp. Only Bill Gates and the Apple founders could come close.'

During his hour-long talk, Dell discussed his journey as an inventor and businessmen, why he took Dell private and what he foresees as the emerging opportunities in the world of technology. He shared his insights with the audience.

Referring to his legendary journey of entrepreneurship, Dell said that he started his company with US$1,000 from his dorm in the University of Texas. It grew to become a US$25 billion company.

"It has been a fun journey," he said. 'Dell was only 23 years old at his IPO in 1988, five years younger than Zuckerberg at the same milestone. He was 29 when his company hit $1 billion in revenue and 31 when it hit $5 billion.' (Fortune) "I was fortunate to be born in America where all people are allowed to take risks. I feel very blessed," he said.

Dell, a biology major (pre-med freshman), had little knowledge of economics or finance (though he had done a module on macroeconomics) and yet he went on to build a great company. Did he make any mistakes in the early stage of his company? "Yes," he said. "In the first two-three years of Dell, we could have destroyed ourselves. But we differentiated ourselves by services and quality."

When Dell had started out, his competitors saw his venture as a "mail-order company". They could not understand his business model, he said. But that was his strength-his way of disrupting the PC business. According to the company's first president, Lee Walker, 'Dell possessed both brilliance and the bravado to think he could take on HP and IBM as a college freshman simply because he was willing to assemble PCs himself and sell them directly over the phone'.

 

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