Dell, Michael

▪ 2006

      During the first calendar quarter of 2005, Michael Dell's eponymous company, Dell, Inc., the world's leading seller of personal computers, shipped some 8.7 million PCs and attained a worldwide market share of just under 19%. In its fiscal first quarter, ended in April, the firm's net earnings per share rose 32% from a year earlier, setting a company record, while revenue rose 16%. The PC maker's phenomenal success could well be seen as a personal triumph for its 40-year-old board chairman and founder.

      Dell, the son of a Houston orthodontist, was born on Feb. 23, 1965. He started his PC business (originally called PCs Limited) in 1984 while he was still a college student. Initially he operated the firm from a dormitory room at the University of Texas at Austin with $1,000 in start-up capital; by the second half of his freshman year, Dell had sold $80,000 worth of computers and had taken a leave of absence from college. He never graduated.

      Dell's business philosophy was to gain PC market share through a combination of cutting costs, reducing delivery time, and providing customer service. To do so, he hired outside industry executives, both to fill jobs in the company and to act as personal mentors, and emphasized direct sales outside the usual retail outlets. In 1992 Dell became the youngest CEO in history to have his firm enter Fortune magazine's list of the top 500 corporations.

      In his book Direct from Dell: Strategies That Revolutionized an Industry (1999), Dell revealed that he had been driven to achieve even when he was in grade school. When he was eight years old, he applied to take the high-school equivalency test in hopes of avoiding nine more years of school. Much later, in a 2005 video conference with college students at Abilene (Texas) Christian University, Dell said his advice to young entrepreneurs was, in part, “Don't be afraid to make mistakes. That's how you learn, so I believe a lot in trial and error and course corrections.” He also urged students to think about business in global terms and to be prepared for continuous learning throughout their careers.

      In 2004 Dell stepped down as CEO of the company, but he remained chairman. He served on the Foundation Board of the World Economic Forum and the executive committee of the International Business Council. He also was on the U.S. President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology and sat on the governing board of the Indian School of Business in Hyderabad.

      Through the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation, established by Dell and his wife in 1999, he used some of his personal wealth to help children around the world by focusing on health, education, safety, youth development, and early childhood care. The foundation, which in 2005 had an endowment of more than $1 billion, gave millions of dollars to help victims of the 2004 tsunami in southern Asia.

Steve Alexander

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▪ American business executive
born Feb. 23, 1965, Houston, Texas, U.S.

      American entrepreneur, businessman, and author, known as the founder and CEO of Dell, Inc. (Dell Inc.), one of the world's leading sellers of personal computers (personal computer) (PCs).

      As a student of the University of Texas at Austin, Dell started his computer business (originally called PCs Limited) in 1984 with $1,000 in start-up capital. By the second half of his freshman year, Dell had sold $80,000 worth of computers. He dropped out of college at age 19 to run his company full-time, eventually going public in 1988. PCs Limited later became the Dell Computer Corporation and ultimately Dell, Inc., when the product line expanded to include more than personal computers.

      Dell's business philosophy was to gain PC market share through a combination of cutting costs, reducing delivery time, and providing excellent customer service. To do so, he hired experienced executives, both to fill jobs in the company and to act as personal mentors, and he emphasized direct sales outside the usual retail outlets. In 1992 Dell became the youngest CEO in history to have his firm enter Fortune magazine's list of the top 500 corporations. In his book Direct from Dell: Strategies That Revolutionized an Industry (1999), Dell outlined the story of the company's development and provided strategies applicable to all businesses.

      In 2004 Dell stepped down as CEO of the company, but he remained chairman of the board. He served on the Foundation Board of the World Economic Forum and the executive committee of the International Business Council. He also was on the U.S. President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology and sat on the governing board of the Indian School of Business in Hyderabad.

      After experiencing setbacks in 2006—including a 4.1-million-unit recall and an overhaul of the customer service division struggling with complaints—Dell, Inc., lost the title of world's largest PC manufacturer to Hewlett-Packard (Hewlett-Packard Company). In response, Dell was reinstated as CEO in 2007 to oversee Dell 2.0, a far-reaching revamp designed to meet the needs of consumers and regain the company's control of the market.

      In 1999 Dell and his wife, Susan, formed the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation to manage the investments and philanthropic efforts of the Dell family. Through the foundation, Dell used some of his personal wealth to help children around the world by focusing on health, education, safety, youth development, and early childhood care. The foundation, which by 2005 had an endowment of more than $1 billion, gave millions of dollars to help victims of the 2004 tsunami (Indian Ocean tsunami) in southern Asia. In 2006 it donated $50 million to the University of Texas at Austin.

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Universalium. 2010.

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