Sex and the City's Kristin Davis turns 44 today. Dakota Fanning is turning 15. Guitarist Brad Whitford of Aerosmith is 57. Choreographer Elizabeth Streb is 59. Dell founder and CEO Michael Dell turns 44. Actor/director Peter Fonda is 70. Comedian Aziz Ansari is 26. Actress Emily Blunt is turning 26. And Marc Price, the actor who played "Skippy" on Family Ties is 41 today.
Dude, Russia's not getting a Dell. That's a polite version of what Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, Russia's testy KGB agent turned autocrat, told Michael Dell in Davos. Dell's sin? After Putin delivered a fiery 40-minute sermon about the doom of the West, Dell asked if there was any way his company could help Russia with its computers. Yes, he gave a tacky sales pitch at the high-minded World Economic Forum. But he didn't deserve the tongue-lashing Putin gave him next, as reported by Fortune: "We don't need help. We are not invalids. We don't have limited mental capacity."
Wall Street types are worried because Michael Dell's company hasn't delivered the new music player that had been in the works for the holiday shopping season. The launch has been canceled, says an anonymous insider. That's the best news I've heard from Dell in a long time. Here's why.Competing with Apple on the iPod front seems like a Formula for Fail. My guess is Dell made an honest effort to develop an iPod competitor, then killed the expensive marketing campaign and production run after deciding that they'd built another Zune. Dell has also fallen behind on its downsized-laptop "netbooks", which have neither the power of a full-size notebook nor the portability of an iPhone. Why bother? The biggest segment of the consumer electronics market is still standard-size notebook computers. Dell has fallen from No. 1 to No. 3 position in sales, but that's still a lot of sales. Instead of diluting the company's resources across smaller, trendier markets, it seems more sensible for Dell to refocus on its core product, the cheap-but-impressive PC. Hey, I'd buy one. (Photo by AP/Manish Swarup)
Call it Company (Red). Michael Dell is asking employees at his computer maker to take five unpaid days off and thus help the company trim costs instead of slashing jobs. Extorting your people by suggesting they take a small hit now as opposed to a larger hit later on isn't particularly original. “We’ve seen a slowdown in spending,” says a Dell spokesbot, “but the primary reason is to ... to better position Dell for long-term competitiveness.” That makes no sense: Skimping on five days of payroll may temporarily give the company's bank account a fillip, but it doesn't change its permanent cost structure. Then again, maybe Dell's strategy is to drive away employees who are capable of doing math.
In a briefing with journalists, Dell CEO confirmed the completion of his company's 8,500-people layoff. He was not demonstrably saddened, as is normal founder practice when discussing layoffs. But he did point out a recent IDC report showing Dell "outpacing" the rest of the PC industry. If Dell's falling stock price is any indication, the company might be outpacing everyone to the poorhouse. (Photo by eschipul)
Insiders have blabbed to the Wall Street Journal that Dell "has approached contract computer manufacturers with offers to sell ... its computer factories." Founder Michael Dell is a Texan, not a Valley guy. But he did build a $1,000 investment into the world's biggest PC maker, starting from his college dorm in 1984. Shedding its factories would be a huge change for Dell, which made its name on build-to-order sales. Why would Dell dump its plants?The WSJ recounts how Dell got from there to here:
A Citigroup analyst says "netbooks" — cheap mininotebook computers like the Asus Eee — will make up a third of all notebook sales in the future, and the majority of sales in developing nations. Michael Dell pitched his company's NetBook product line as something telcos could offer to customers for free, subsidizing the hardware with monthly subscription fees. [ZDNet]
Dell replaced departing CFO Don Carty with Brian Gladden, former CEO of a plastics company. Carty is the third exec in recent weeks to leave Dell as its founder Michael Dell, recently returned to the CEO role, cuts payroll costs in an effort to turn around the company. Carty, a Dell board member who stepped in after a former CFO quit in late 2006, is also the chairman of Virgin America. [WSJ]
Adam Dell, Michael Dell's younger brother, is a venture capitalist with some successes under his belt, including HotJobs, which Yahoo bought. He'd make a fine Yahoo board member. So why does Carl Icahn feel it necessary to inflate his qualifications? Dell's biography, as supplied by Icahn, claims that Dell "is a contributing columnist to the technology publication, Business 2.0." Not since 2001, in fact, and the magazine itself closed last year.
Michael Dell is adding one more bronco to his stable, email backup service MessageOne. The company is ho-hum — boring enterprise software; the founder, not so much. That's because his last name is also Dell. As in Adam Dell, Michael's younger brother. That's not the only part of this deal that's staying in the family: The $155 million addition will kick $12 million back to Michael, who invested in MessageOne. He says his profits will go to charity. Adam will walk away with $1 million, and the brother's parents, another $500,000.
Having returned to his own company, Michael Dell has seen his namesake PC maker fall behind Hewlett-Packard and stagnate on Wall Street. So far, he hasn't done much to duplicate fellow company-founder Steve Jobs's stunning second act with Apple. Forbes, in its profile, seems to be hoping he will, but Dell's own words show why it's unlikely:
Seeking to expand his company's storage offerings, Michael Dell is buying EqualLogic for $1.4 billion. This is a monumentally bad move. Leave aside the details of what EqualLogic does. (Something to do with tying storage servers together on a network.) Let's remember what Dell does. Dell is a highly skilled repackager of commodity tech, like Intel microprocessors, Seagate hard drives, and the Windows OS. Add a few extra parts, slap some plastic around it, and you've got a PC. Sure, it can make some money installing that PC, too. But what it doesn't do, and shouldn't do, is try to advance the state of the art on its own. His own hard experience should have told Michael Dell not to make this deal.
Dell's Michael Dell, EMC's Joe Tucci, Oracle's Larry Ellison, AMD's Hector Ruiz and Intel's Paul Otellini, drunk on power and hubris made the most upsetting corporate ad I seen to date. Even the poor Linux penguin is debased in this flick, but Larry jumping out in gold armor is priceless.