Why Michael Dell Loves Saying: ‘I Don’t Have To Answer That Question’

Michael Dell

Since taking his company private just over a year ago, winning an ugly battle with activist investor Carl Icahn to do it, Michael Dell has become the ambassador for big private companies.

He’s been so publicly outspoken about how much better it is to be private that at least ten other CEOs have asked him how they could do the same, he told Bloomberg TV anchor Erik Schatzker.

SCHATZKER: How many companies have you talked to about doing the kind of transaction that you did? And are we talking about companies of the size of Dell, $US27 billion or even larger?

DELL: Some in Dell’s size range, some a little larger, quite — a lot more smaller than Dell. But I’d say more than 10. But obviously I can’t tell you who they are.

These are the things he loves about no longer running a public company, he said in the interview:

  • “We are not bound by 90-day periods. We’re focusing on our future out several years from now.”
  • Being private has freed up 20% of his time. “All of the time spent dealing with governance and preparing for investor activities and dealing with various shareholder requests.” Decisions about dividends, share repurchases, spin offs, mergers “can be quite distracting, right?”
  • Maybe best of all, being private means he can make statements like Dell’s “client” business (a jargony word that means the PC business) grew grew 19.7 per cent last quarter. When asked for details, he gets to say, “that’s one of the beauties of being private is I don’t have to answer that question.”

We can see how that could be an attractive situation for 10 or more other public companies.

Here’s the full interview: