Michael Dell: A Profile

Published On: 11 Mar 2011

 | Last Updated On: 22 Mar 2011

Born on February 23, 1965, in Texas, USA, Michael Dell is an American business magnate and the founder and chief executive officer of Dell Inc. His personal net worth is estimated to be $14 billion in 2010. He revolutionized the personal computer industry by skipping the middle man and selling directly to the customer.


Dell purchased his first calculator at age seven and encountered his first teletype machine in junior high, which he programmed after school. At age 15, after playing with computers at Radio Shack, he got his first computer, an Apple II, which he promptly disassembled to see how it worked. While a pre-med student at the University of Texas at Austin, Dell started an informal business upgrading computers in his room at the age of 19, abandoning plans to become a doctor. He then applied for a vendor license to bid on contracts for the State of Texas, winning bids by not having the overhead of a computer store.


In January 1984, Dell banked on his conviction that the potential cost savings of a manufacturer selling PCs directly had enormous advantages over the conventional indirect retail channel. In January 1984, Dell registered his company as "PC's Limited". Operating out of a condominium, the business sold between $50,000 and $80,000 in upgraded PCs, kits, and add-on components. In May, Dell incorporated the company as "Dell Computer Corporation" and relocated it to a business center in North Austin. The company employed a few order takers, a few more people to fulfill them, and, as Dell recalled, a manufacturing staff "consisting of three guys with screwdrivers sitting at six-foot tables." The venture's capitalization cost was $1,000. In 1988, Dell Computer Corporation had an IPO that valued the company at roughly $80 Million.


In 1992 at the age of 27, Dell became the youngest CEO to have his company ranked in Fortune magazine's list of the top 500 corporations. In 1996, Dell started selling computers over the Web, the same year his company launched its first servers. Dell Inc. soon reported about $1 million in sales per day from dell.com. In the first quarter of 2001, Dell Inc. reached a world market share of 12.8%, passing Compaq to become the world's largest PC maker. The company's combined shipments of desktops, notebooks and servers grew 34.3 percent worldwide and 30.7 percent in the United States at a time when competitor's sales were shrinking.


"Dell Computer Corporation" became "Dell Inc." as they moved into other areas of business. At a speech before the Detroit Economic Club in November, 1999, Dell defined the "3 C's" of e-commerce (content, commerce, and community) while articulating his strategy for offering a superior customer experience online. On March 4, 2004, Dell stepped down as CEO of Dell Inc. but stayed as chairman of the board, while Kevin B. Rollins, then president and COO, became president and CEO. On January 31, 2007, Dell returned as CEO at the request of the board, succeeding Rollins.


Accolades for Dell include: "Entrepreneur of the Year" (at age 24) from Inc. magazine; "Top CEO in American Business" from Worth magazine; "CEO of the Year" from Financial World, Industry Week and Chief Executive magazines. Dell serves on the Foundation Board of the World Economic Forum, the executive committee of the International Business Council, the U.S. Business Council, and the governing board of the Indian School of Business in Hyderabad, India. He previously served as a member of the U.S. President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology.


In 1999, Michael and Susan Dell established the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation, which focuses on children’s causes. By 2010, the foundation had committed more than $530 million to assist nonprofit organizations serving urban communities in the United States and India. The Dell family lives in one of the largest houses in Austin, Texas and has been reported to be the 15th largest house in the world. 


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