It’s been about eight months since Michael Dell took his company private in a $US25 billion deal, fending off activist investor Carl Icahn in a nearly yearlong battle for control.
And he’s not above gloating. He just told USA Today’s Jon Swartz in an interview:
“I won. It’s over … I feel liberated and unleashed. There is an infectious feeling with winning. … I can do whatever I want,” he said, laughing. “I’m the boss.”
But there was a very public moment when Dell was not laughing, he was crying.
It was during the shareholders meeting last September when the official votes were being tallied that would approve the $US25 billion sale.
In truth, the outcome was a near certainty because Dell had successfully lobbied for a change in the way that the votes would get counted.
Still, when Dell had gathered enough votes to win, the company threw a party and employees lined up to attend. When Dell took the stage, employees spent 10 minutes cheering him in a standing ovation.
It moved him to tears, Karen Quintos, Dell’s chief marketing officer, told Swartz:
“It was my most memorable moment (in 14 years) here,” Quintos told Swartz, choking up at the memory.
The rest of us might think on that emotional scene with a sense of irony.
After all, when Steve Jobs successfully won back control of the PC company he founded, returning to Apple in 1997, Dell famously trash-talked him.
Someone had asked Dell what he’d do with Apple if he were in Jobs’ shoes and Dell said:
“What would I do? I’d shut it down and give the money back to the shareholders.”
Apple was in financial trouble and trading at about $US17 a share at that time.
Dell actually sort of followed his own advice. When his company’s stock took a nose dive and he felt he couldn’t turn it around under Wall Street’s watchful eye, he actually did give the money back to the shareholders, taking out loans and getting partner Silver Lake to help him buy Dell’s shares back at $US13.75 apiece, even purchasing employees’ underwater stock options.
But, like Jobs, Dell didn’t shut down his company (although he did trim staff with voluntary resignations and layoffs.)
Now he’s got the formidable task of turning Dell into an enterprise company in a crowded field against the likes of HP, IBM, Cisco, IBM, VMware, EMC, and others.
Meanwhile, Apple shares have been soaring for years. At a share price of about $US645, Apple executed a 7-for-1 split on Monday.