/// Eight Questions for Dell the Man About Dell the Company

July 17, 2012  |  All Things Digital


Michael Dell, founder, chairman and CEO of the computer company that bears his name, made some news from the stage of a tech conference being held in Aspen today. First, he announced that Dell Ventures had launched a $60 million venture capital fund intended to invest in start-up companies working in the data storage space. Second, asked on stage whether Dell is experiencing a slowdown in China, its largest geographical market outside the U.S., he confirmed, without elaborating, that it is. “That would be an accurate statement, yes,” he told interviewer Andy Serwer. Dell shares closed down 7 cents at $12.12. The rest of his hour-long appearance on the stage at Fortune Magazine’s Brainstorm Tech conference, here in Aspen, Colo., (now much sunnier than yesterday, thanks) revolved around the standard fare of other interviews Dell has given in recent months: Dell is transforming itself. Its goal is nothing less than to make the personal computer business for which it has been best known for more than two decades the minority of its business, and to make its enterprise-oriented IT solutions operations — servers, services, software, security — the unmistakable majority of its business. The trouble is that transformation takes time, and investors are an impatient bunch. A well-worn stat that Dell and other executives like to share is that about half of Dell’s business comes from businesses, which on its face is good until you realize that business-oriented half includes personal computers, or as Dell called them on stage — apparently confusing Serwer at one point — clients. The other big story about Dell in recent years has been its acquisitions. Its most recent deal is a $2.4 billion purchase of Quest Software , which it won after a weird on-again, off-again bidding scrum with a private equity group. Before that was a string of three deals in three days, the most significant of which was Wyse Technology . Oh, so there was a third bit of news, but only for those with the right kind of ears: Dell disclosed that it had spend a grand total of $5 billion on acquisitions this year, including the $2.4 billion for Quest. Since many of the recent acquisitions have been of smaller private companies, the exact amounts have been undisclosed. The acquisitions are part of the transformation: Dell is in the classic build vs. buy conundrum, but lately finding that it’s easier to buy companies that have established products and customers. Investors have been hard to convince , largely because Dell’s business is still tied so fundamentally to the personal computer business, which is experiencing something of a nasty storm right now . After sitting on the stage for an hour, Dell agreed to an interview with AllThingsD . My first question was about the new fund: AllThingsD: So you announced today the creation of this $60 million investment fund aimed at storage companies. You’ve been acquiring storage companies in the last few years and were also an early investor in Fusion-IO, which is a storage company of sorts.

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Eight Questions for Dell the Man About Dell the Company


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